You probably haven’t heard much about Lo Bosworth since her days on Laguna Beach and The Hills. But the former reality TV star — and BFF to Lauren Conrad — has been busy with her blog (called the LoDown). And now, she’s launched a line of vaginal health products.
Called Love Wellness, Bosworth’s line is designed to be used in four steps: Step 1 “erases infections,” Step 2 cleans your vagina, Step 3 helps maintain it and Step 4 is for getting “intimate.” Among the products offered is a $24 “pH-balancing” cleanser (which is already sold out), an $8 “pH-balanced” do-it-all wipes, an $18 sold-out vaginal “moisturizer” and $24 boric acid suppositories — called “The Killer” — that promise to “effectively relieve oneself of pesky female infections.”
“I am a woman, like many others, who have suffered from irritations, infections, and haven’t been satisfied with the care that I’ve received from doctors with prescription drugs, and even more so with what’s available at the drugstore from big brands,” Bosworth told Elle magazine, about why she decided to launch her line.
Although having myriad products available to care for your vagina sounds good in theory, experts say many of these just aren’t necessary. “This is a part of a multimillion dollar business, but it’s absolutely ridiculous,” Lauren Streicher, M.D., an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Beauty. Streicher says the products range from unnecessary to potentially harmful, a sentiment shared by Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago.
Here’s what experts think of the product offerings:
pH-balancing cleanser and wipes:
According to instructions, both products are made to be used externally (meaning, the cleanser is not a douche). That’s good, since the vaginal canal is self-cleansing and does not need to be cleaned with soap, Shepherd tells Yahoo Beauty. But, she says, cleansers for the vulva (i.e., the external part of the vagina) have the potential to irritate the skin. However, if they don’t contain a lot of detergent or fragrances, she says they may be OK for the area.
Streicher says that a woman’s internal vaginal pH is important, but her vulvar pH isn’t. “Vulvar pH is the pH on your skin,” she says. “It doesn’t matter when it comes to your vaginal health.” She agrees that cleansers can be irritating to the area: “At best, it will be harmless; at worst, it could exacerbate someone who has sensitive vulvar tissues.”
You could spend $24 on a vaginal cleanser, or you could simply use a mild soap and water on your vulvar area, Elizabeth Roth, M.D., a primary care physician with Women’s Health Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, tells Yahoo Beauty.
“The vagina makes its own lubrication and secretions and therefore does not need moisturizing,” Shepherd says. But Streicher notes that the term can be misleading and “moisturizer” can be a marketing term for “lubrication” (it’s not entirely clear from the Love Wellness site if that’s what it’s intended to be). “Most things that are called ‘moisturizers’ are for vulvar use,” Streicher says. “They’re essentially vulvar hand cream and are, therefore, worthless.”
Boric acid suppositories:
Boric acid can help clear up yeast infections for women who have excessive or recurring yeast infections by restoring the normal pH of the vagina, Shepherd says. However, she also says, “it should be monitored in use by a health care provider.”
Streicher points out that boric acid is what was used for yeast infections before modern medicine developed creams to take care of the condition. “Right now, boric acid is something that is marginally recommended if all else fails,” she says. But, she notes, there’s no long-term safety data on its use and it can be “incredibly irritating” to vaginal tissue, which is why doctors don’t typically recommend it. “I have never prescribed it — ever,” she says. “We have so many other things that are known to work better and are safer.”
If you have concerns about your vagina, experts say it’s really best to talk to a doctor. As for vaginal hygiene products … it’s probably better to take a pass. “The average woman does not need vaginal hygiene products,” says Roth. “Really, the vagina is self-cleaning.”