Manufacturers offer a wide range of feminine care products, but many of these products contain ingredients that shouldn’t go anywhere near your intimate areas.
According to experts, in the United States alone, women spend well over $2 billion per year on feminine hygiene products, including tampons, pads, feminine washes, sprays, powders, and personal wipes.
But until recently, scant research existed on how chemicals in these products may affect women’s health.
Current regulations on chemicals used in feminine care products are insufficient to protect public health, and often don’t require the ingredient disclosure needed to assess safety, according to Women’s Voices for the Earth’s report.
Manufacturers offer a wide range of feminine care products, but many of these products contain ingredients that shouldn’t go anywhere near your intimate areas because they may cause irritation and itching, as well as upset the pH balance of your vagina and cause a weird odor and/or discharge.
Keep reading to learn more about the ingredients to avoid in feminine care products.
Feminine care products are not just your average cosmetics, because they are used on an exceptionally sensitive and absorbent part of a woman’s body. Vulva skin is the most permeable skin on the body due to the high concentration of sweat glands, hair follicles and increased blood vessels. In fact, vulva skin it is up to 7 times more permeable than the rest of our exposed skin.
The vagina is filled with blood vessels and lymphatic vessels – this means chemicals that touch the vaginal opening or go inside the vagina can be directly transferred into our bloodstream within a few seconds.
There are many skincare products on the market that contain dangerous ingredients and whose safety is completely questionable. Below is a list of ingredients that you should always watch out for when buying a feminine intimate wash.
SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)
Surfactants are compounds that act as detergents and foaming agents. They are the key ingredients in most shampoos, body washes, intimate washes, toothpastes, facial cleansers, and many other products.
While many surfactants are considered safe for human skin, SLS has been shown to irritate the skin, especially that of the sensitive lady parts. To be on the safe side, stick to feminine washes with natural surfactants that are derived from coconut oil, sugar, or vegetables.
Some feminine washes contain soap instead of synthetic surfactants. Although soap is definitely natural, it’s bad for your vagina. The thing is, your intimate areas have a low acidic pH, whereas soap has an alkaline pH. It disrupts the natural balance of your intimate areas and has a negative effect on the vaginal flora. Moreover, soap can cause the mucosal lining in these areas to become dry.
Parabens are a class of widely used preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. They are valued because they are active against a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi. Although parabens are considered safe at low concentrations, they are known to cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis in individuals with sensitive skin. And even if you’ve never experienced allergic reactions before, you never know how the skin of your female genital area might react to parabens.
Phthalates (phthalate esters) are mainly used as plasticizers in the production of polyvinyl chloride and other plastics, but they can also be found in some cosmetic products, including feminine washes.
Although there are no direct links between phthalates and any health problems, these chemicals are plausibly endocrine disruptors. Although it is highly unlikely that you will find phthalates in your feminine wash, we suggest that you study the ingredient list carefully.
Perfumes or synthetic fragrances
Perfumes or synthetic fragrances can contain hundreds of chemicals. Some, such as methylene chloride, are carcinogenic and others can cause headaches, dizziness, cough, vomiting and skin irritation. These ingredients are almost never beneficial or appropriate to the needs of our skin.
Most manufacturers simply state that their products are formulated with “fragrance”, but don’t specify the exact chemicals they contain. Some synthetic ingredients found in fragrances may cause skin dryness and irritation. Fragrance-free feminine products probably are the safest choice, but if you want yours to have a smell, look for products that contain natural fragrances such as floral water.
Bottom line? Carefully read the list of the components on the labels and do some internet research about their adverse effects. Before using them on your skin, find out what they are and what they exactly do.
Then, research reliable companies that offer 100% organic and natural products that provide the same protection as the big brands with respect for your most sensitive skin.
Being mindful of feminine hygiene is certainly important. Nobody enjoys having to deal with stickiness and odour, but if you want to feel fresh and clean all day, simply washing your vulva and perineal area (between the vagina and anus) thoroughly with mild soap and water in the shower is enough.
If you’re out and about or in a rush, just clean your intimate area with tissue that’s been moistened with water, or try out our unscented bamboo wet wipes.