Make sure you’re protecting your pH when you use personal care products
From liquid cleansers to freshening wipes and beyond, all it takes is a trip to Target, CVS, or any other drugstore to see shelves stocked with pH-balanced personal care products. We know what they are and where to find them, but do we know how they work? More importantly, do we know if they’re truly safe? These are important questions to answer, especially now that the personal care market is expanding to include products from luxury and indie brands.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, it’s important to mention a couple of things. The first of which is that no one should feel like they have to use them. The vagina (the muscular tube inside the body) is self-cleansing, but the vulva (the external skin around the vagina) is not. As Tracy Bennett, M.D. and VP at CEEK Women Health says, “A healthy vagina has good bacteria that helps it maintain the right pH. The vulva on the other hand can be washed with warm water or you can use a mild cleanser that is dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free.”
First of all, what’s pH?
Let’s head back to high school chemistry class for a second. The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline a solution is. When pH is thrown off, it affects things like biological functions and microbial activity. In other words, throwing off the natural pH of your vagina is not a good thing. “An ideal pH value for a vagina should be 3.5 to 4.5, which is slightly acidic. At this pH, our vaginas can prevent ‘bad’ bacteria from flourishing,” Dr. Bennett says. When this “bad” bacteria does flourish, it can lead to things like irritation, bacterial vaginosis, and yeast infections. No, thank you.
Why are pH-balanced personal care products important?
It’s important to choose a personal care product that won’t disrupt your body’s pH since the skin down there is so sensitive. The good news is that there are a lot of pH-balanced personal care products that are both gentle and effective. Just ask Dr. Bennett. “Cleaning the vulva can be a part of your daily hygiene routine and warm water is all you really need to adequately clean your vulva,” she says. “There are some good products you can use if you really want to cleanse or freshen up down there. I would recommend a mild, unscented soap like Dove Sensitive Skin Bath Bar and use as little as possible.”
Shop it! $19.35 for 10 bars, Amazon.com
If you’re interested in trying out a specific pH-balanced personal care product to clean your vulva, Dr. Bennett says it’s generally safe to do so, just be sure to choose one that’s formulated with mild ingredients. She also recommends choosing those that are hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested, and fragrance-free.
What kinds of pH-balanced personal care products exist?
There are so many options when it comes to this product category (seriously… so many). If you’re interested in testing some out, we’ve got your back. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the most popular products the market, from gentle cleansers to ingrown hair-preventing oils, disposable wipes you can drop in your gym bag, and more.
pH balanced personal care products:
1. Goodwash Down There Wash
Shop it! $4.99, Target.com
This aloe-based wash uses rosewater, calendula, and clary sage to balance pH. Plus, it has a lovely and subtle scent.
2. Rael Organic Cotton Feminine Wipes
Shop it! $6.99, Amazon.com
This cleansing cloths are made with organic cotton, purified water, and that’s it. Users don’t need to worry about added chemicals and ingredients since all these wipes use are purified water. This makes them perfect for people with hyper-sensitive skin. Plus, they’re individually wrapped so you can take them wherever you go.
3. Fur Fur Oil
Shop it! $46, Ulta.com
This oil is specifically designed for pubic hair and skin. A blend of grapeseed, jojoba, clary sage, and tea tree oils soften skin and pubic hairs. Plus, it clears pores and prevents ingrown hairs.
4. Queen V Pop The Bubbly Bubble Bath
Shop it! $15.16, Amazon.com
All of Queen V’s products are pH-balanced and tested by gynecologists and dermatologists, including this bubble bath, which gently moisturizes the skin without irritating intimate areas (it’s one of the brand’s most recognizable products). We love it so much, we gave it a 2020 Beauty Crush Award!
5. Love Wellness pH Balancing Cleanser
Shop it! $24.99, Ulta.com
This cleanser from Love Wellness is OBGYN-recommended for external cleaning and super-easy to use thanks to its pump.
6. LOLA Cleansing Wipes
Shop it! $10, MyLola.com
These wipes are pH-balanced, hypoallergenic, and made from organic cotton. They’re safe for all-over use, which makes them the perfect gym bag companion.
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