Here's everything you need to know: the highs, the lows, the extractions.
If you thought facials were just for your face, today I’m here to change your mind. I recently had the unique experience of getting a vagina facial, and believe it or not, I would do it again.
I first heard of the treatment when D A P H N E, a European skincare and sugaring studio in New York City's Nolita neighborhood, emailed me to offer me a complimentary facial called "The Lotus." They described the treatment as targeting ingrown hairs and hyperpigmentation in the bikini area, as well as cleansing, exfoliation, extractions (!), and brightening.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let me fill you in on the basics. The facial is priced at $60 and lasts around 20 minutes with no extractions, or up to 45 minutes if you have ingrown hairs that might need some extra attention. I'm told that it's usually recommended for women who wax or sugar, but anyone with ingrown hairs can benefit from the treatment. Personally, I opt to shave, but I’m all about treating my skin, so although the concept seemed bizarre at first, I decided it made sense to pamper this sensitive area like I would anywhere else on my body.
So I headed to D A P H N E with an open mind and an open Notes app on my phone, ready to document my experience in detail. In my naiveté, I assumed bikini area meant bikini line—as in, underwear on, some exfoliation and extractions, nothing major. However, moments after arriving at the crisp white studio, I was lying on a spa bed with my lower half exposed, legs parted in full birthing position. The world’s brightest light was glowing over my private parts, and I was trying to remember why I volunteered to write this story.
The facial began with cleanser applied everywhere to clean and prep for the rest of the treatment. Slightly cold and surprising, I was not expecting to go from zero to person-cleansing-my-vagina in the first two minutes of the session. Luckily, my esthetician, Natalia, was a total pro. She approached the entire process as if treating the face or any other less-private area, which, while somewhat bizarre, was also comforting and made the experience significantly less awkward.
After cleanser, Natalia applied an organic toner meant to balance the PH. She explained that the toner doesn’t sting before extractions, but that it might after—something to look forward to, except not really. Next, she exfoliated the area using a body scrub rubbed in circular motions. For me, this felt abrasive, but she assured me she was being gentle, and I chalked it up to it being a very new and unfamiliar sensation for me. She explained that this type of exfoliation is important and can be done at home in the shower as well, as long as the scrub is intended for the body and the motions are circular.
Post-exfoliation, I was informed (to my slight horror) that my vagina would be steamed for two to three minutes to open my pores and prepare for extractions. The steam was hot, but not necessarily uncomfortable—the true discomfort was in having a stranger wait and watch for the pores on my vagina to "open up." Again, I stress the professionalism of my esthetician, but it is hard to not feel a bit awkward under the circumstances. (Don't try down-there steaming at home, since it could lead to second degree burns if you're too close.)
Next up: Extractions. I let Natalia know that I was terrified, and she said that I might not need any at all. I was elated and honestly, quite proud, until she took a closer look and informed me that I actually required two small extractions. She used a lancet and tweezers to expertly extract, which felt more surprising than painful, and a second after each, I felt perfectly fine. I told her that one of my friends often tries to self-medicate their ingrown hairs, and she explained how dangerous and unsanitary that can be. At that point, I realized how incredibly beneficial this treatment might be for someone who really struggles with ingrowns, and I texted that friend in the moment and encouraged her to make an appointment soon. I was officially on the vagina facial bandwagon.
After my minor extraction session, more toner was applied, then a hydrating mask was coated on and I was left for ten minutes to Snapchat everyone I know—waist up, of course—and wonder how I got myself into this situation in the first place. Normally a lover of face masking, my vagina was a mask virgin to say the least, but the hydrating and soothing properties were welcome after the extraction process.
After the mask was wiped off, she applied a hydrating cream, and The Lotus was complete. I waited until Natalia left the room to examine the results, and noted that everything looked much the same as before we began, althought it did feel slightly smoother and cleaner. The next day, though, I was definitely noticeably softer and smoother around my bikini line. I was hoping for results that would wow my ob-gyn at my appointment the next day, but she didn’t seem to notice, and I tried not to be offended.
I should mention, though, that someone with a lot of ingrown hairs might notice more of a drastic difference than I did. And even though there weren’t visible results, I felt like my skin had benefitted from the exfoliation process. More than that, it felt like I had embraced my body for what it was—after all, you get pretty comfortable with yourself after sitting in birthing position for 25 minutes straight.
While I was admittedly relieved when The Lotus had ended, I found myself encouraging friends to try it out for themselves. If you're someone who struggles with ingrown hairs in your bikini area or just want to go the extra mile to give your body the pampering it deserves, I think a similar treatment is more than worth it. After all, what more could you hope for from a vagina facial besides a smooth bikini area and a crazy story to tell your friends?