By now, you have surely heard time and again about how the vagina is self-cleaning and that scrubbing away with soaps and such can either not make much of a difference at all or even throw off your natural pH balance. But at times, you may need to expand beyond simple water for lubricant or an intimate wash.
The important thing to remember Is that not all ingredients are harmful, but some do disrupt or irritate the mucous membrane the soft layer of tissue that does not have a protective outer skin layer, meaning it is more susceptible to irritation caused by chemicals and synthetic ingredients.
While water-based and plant oil-based washes are generally irritant free, these are the ingredients you want to keep an eye out for and avoid if possible:
Menthol oil or peppermint oil: These may sound all-natural and wholesome but are actually skin irritants and can damage mucous membranes.
Grapefruit seed extract: Similar to peppermint oil mentioned above, while it is technically a natural, plant-based ingredient, citrus oil stings and the acidity can not only cause irritation but also disrupt that pH balance.
Glycerin: This is another mucous membrane irritant, one that feeds thrush at a concentration below 5% and, when present in higher concentrations, can cause actual damage to the mucous membrane as well.
Parabens: Parabens (inclusive of Methylparaben) are a range of synthetic preservatives that mimic estrogen and, in some studies, have been potentially linked to correlating to breast cancer.
Glycerin: This is a sugar alcohol that is conducive to the growth of Candida albicans in certain conditions and so can cause a bout of thrush in women.
Propylene glycol: A penetration enhancer often used in cosmetics (as well as lubricants) to “pull” other chemicals into the skin, which, as you can imagine, pulls harmful chemicals into the membrane.
L-Arginine: An amino acid that can initiate a Herpes outbreak in people with genital Herpes.
Petroleum byproducts such as Mineral Oil, Petrolatum aka (petroleum jelly), Paraffin oil or
Paraffin wax: There are two concerns: Firstly, they coat the skin, thus preventing its normal functions and, secondly, they are potentially contaminated with impurities that have been linked to cancer or other significant health problems. In fact, outside of America, the EU has restricted the use of Petrolatum in cosmetic manufacture
Silicone oils: Much like Petroleum byproducts, they also coat the skin, not allowing it to breathe.
Not all chemicals are, of course bad, but when it comes to our health ‘down there’, it is best to research first and avoid pain, irritation or more serious problems down the road.