This article originally appeared on InStyle.
Facial wipes? They’re a beauty routine mainstay. But feminine care wipes? With all the conflicting info and opinions out there, maybe you haven’t formed a firm opinion if you’re going to rely on wipes or even cleansers made specifically for down there.
Maybe your BFF hates them, but Khloé Kardashian, your imaginary BFF, gave them her official stamp of approval. And the market is booming! Sweet Spot, Honey Pot, and GoodWipes are just three brands that have formulated wipes and cleansing products for women, and many even consult with gynecologists when they are formulated.
To get the real deal, we chatted with two pros to find out the benefits of using them, the possible cons, and everything in-between.
So we’ll get right to it—should we be using them? Simply put, it all depends on you.
“Some women can use anything on their V and suffer no consequence, explains Dr. Alyssa Dweck, practicing gynecologist at CareMount Medical in Westchester County, New York and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “Many women, however, are super sensitive when it comes to the ‘V’ skin (vulva) and often will suffer itching, irritation, burning, and propensity to infection.”
But here’s the thing. She says the products, like Sweet Spot and Honey Pot, are made for vulva, which is part of the outside structures. They are not meant for inside the vagina, which is composed of even more sensitive skin. “As far as specific ingredients, glycerin might increase the chance of yeast infection for those already prone,” says Dr. Dweck. “Parabens have been controversial due to their potential as hormone disruptors, so women concerned about breast cancer typically stay away, although FDA considers the ingredient safe. A Strong fragrance is very often irritating for many particularly those in the peri-menopausal or menopausal time when intimate tissue is more sensitive. Alcohol can be drying and essential oils can be caustic unless uber-diluted.”
Another interesting note? While many products are not harmful, they are classified as cosmetic products, Dr. Erica Hinz, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the NYU School of Medicine. That means, she continues, that the FDA doesn’t require approval before they hit the market.
She also says they have the potential of disrupting the natural ecosystem of the vagina. “Some general advice that I give to my patients is that while these products are likely not harmful, they are actually not necessary as the vaginal pH is self-regulated,” she explains. Basically, you don’t need them to balance the pH down there, but many are regulated so they don’t mess up that natural chemistry.
“If patients do feel strongly about using feminine wipes, I would suggest using ones that are unscented, glycerin and alcohol-free, as these ingredients can cause vaginal or vulvar dryness and potentially lead to a change in the natural pH of the vagina. Other advice is to always wipe from front to back, avoid douching or other scented perfumes/products on the vagina/vulva and allow air to circulate after taking a shower or bath.”
If you do decide to put them into use, Dr. Dweck recommends testing on a very tiny area of skin in case of a reaction.