Two Lips breaks boundaries with the first ever vulva-care sheet mask
The love below
Cynthia Chua, the founder of the Spa Esprit Group is a woman used to breaking boundaries. She was the first to introduce and popularise the Brazilian wax in Singapore with her Strip range of outlets and brought brow threading to the masses. And now she has taken on a completely new taboo: The vulva. Chua is making it her personal mission to draw attention to this never-talked about, and deeply hidden area of a woman's body.
Chua’s newest baby is Two Lips, a range devoted to luxury skincare for the vulva. The first product on offer is the world's first activated charcoal mask. The Blackout Mask is a charcoal sheet mask that offers detoxification, soothing, brightening, and hydration with ingredients that include white liquorice, cornflower, elderberry, chamomile, ylang-ylang and aloe vera. And if you assumed the mask would only be brightening the vulva, you would be wrong, as it also boosts lymphatic drainage and is a relaxing, 15-minute experience in itself. In case you were wondering how this works, it is a sheet mask designed to fit the entire vulva area, which begins from the monpubis — the pelvic bone region — right down to the labia majora and inner thighs. It is made to be one-size-fits-all and is best used after semi-permanent hair removal treatments such as IPL or waxing. And yes it doesn't matter what state your lady garden is — it can be all-natural, coiffed or completely bare down there. The mask will work no matter your grooming situation. We spoke to Chua about the challenges on taking on a new taboo, and how she responds to naysayers who say that a mask for your vulva is vulgar or even insulting.
Why did you create Two Lips and what did you think was missing from the market when it came to vulva care?
I have always liked starting conversations about difficult subjects. I wonder why certain subjects are off-limits, why it's deemed taboo. If there's a lifestyle element attached to it, or if it's bucking a cultural or lifestyle trend, it makes me want to tackle it full-on. Ideas are always percolating in my head. My solutions are to embrace difficult conversations with wit — let's change the narrative of taboo subjects and approach this through education by making it fun and cheeky. People are generally more likely to listen when it's kind of funny!
We can change social and cultural stigma with Two Lips — our mission is to get everyone talking about the vulva! Let's strip ourselves of the cultural conditioning that the vulva needs to be hidden, that it must stay silent. We need to reclaim this intimate part of the female body as an asset that needs to be cared for and nourished with the same love and attention we give to the rest of our body.
As women, our upbringing and behavioural conditioning require us to spend much time focusing on the face and general body parts. I think attitudes need to start shifting south of the border as we embrace a more holistic way of looking after ourselves. It's really about self-love and self care. Vulva care is a commitment and your choice. Don't do it for anyone, do it for yourself. I wanted to provide this choice to women through Two Lips. These are care regimes that I personally would love for myself. Why not share it with everyone?
For Two Lips, it was an idea that seeded around five years ago. We were hearing from our therapists and customers at Strip — how do we continue treatments at home? Can you make it just as convenient? I need help with dryness and sensitivity below, but I don't know what I can use or who to go to... These were important questions, and it also indicated that the market was ready. We had already conquered the hair-removal market with Strip, and made it mainstream. What would be next? Hence Two Lips was seeded.
We aim to put the vulva front and centre of a woman's care regime, hence Two Lips will be about offering products that will help women — whether it's hydration, soothing the area, smelling good, or feeling good about themselves. One of my most important criteria that Two Lips products must hold, is the promise of convenience. They need to be highly efficacious products that are safe to use for the most sensitive of vulvas. Take it home, use them in your own space at your own time. Blackout Mask is our first product — but the other products down the line will feature duo uses — good to use for your base as well as your face!
How do Two Lips complement Strip treatments, if at all?
The Blackout Mask was created with the intention to be used immediately after waxing, IPL, and laser treatments. I think I drove my chemists and R&D team crazy with my criteria and directions for the kind of product I wanted, and know women will find useful. I went something like, "Make it soothing so that it's the perfect thing after waxing or IPL, but it also needs to smell very good, but it can't have alcohol — it needs to be safe, only the best essential oils will do; and it needs to be organic; and it needs to be cute! Oh, make it detoxifying too — that area is always forgotten. Let's make it work. All of it!!
So that's how Blackout Mask came to have all these effective benefits! It was always my intention to have Two Lips complement Strip. Where Strip offers treatments and services with professional therapists, Two Lips offers take-home products so that you can create your own beauty rituals in your own space and time.
Tell us more about the mask and how it works. How do you ensure that the products are safe for use and are they approved by gynaecologists or any skincare experts? Are there any side effects if the product is used wrongly?
Blackout is the world's first infrared activated charcoal mask for your vulva. Blackout is a sheet mask that has four benefits in a single product: detoxing, soothing, moisturising and brightening for the vulva.
One of the key ingredients in the mask is a infrared activated charcoal. It's not just any charcoal either, but precious Binchotan activated charcoal made from Ubame oak in Japan's Wakayama prefecture. It's known for its purifying power and ability to boost lymphatic drainage. The Binchotan charcoal in the mask is very important. Most masks will hydrate you, but it can be superficial. The groin area can become dull in colour if the lymph area doesn't flow very well. Binchotan has the ability to activate and stimulate the lymp area — it's similar to how a lymphatic massage works. So apart from its powerful detoxing properties, the mask also hydrates with botanical ingredients like cornflower, elderberry, Indian cress and chamomile. These are all organic. There's white liquorice to brighten and even out the skin tone, which might have become dull due to pimples from ingrown hair, and friction from clothing; antioxidant-packed Centella asiatica that helps dull skin regain luminosity. And ylang-ylang and aloe vera are used to soothe and hydrate the skin.
Blackout is 100 percent free of all the nasties such as sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals and alcohol. It was specially formulated with ingredients that were selected for their safe and calming properties, which makes it great for even very sensitive vulvas.
Blackout is very safe, but on the off-chance that you experience an allergic reaction, stop using it immediately and rinse off any product from your skin. Visit a doctor if the condition persists. We also don't recommend the Blackout Mask for pregnant ladies or mothers who are breastfeeding, owing to highly potent essential oils present in the product.
What would you say to critics of this brand, or those who think that this idea is insulting to women —that they would now have to take care of this hidden part of the body as well? Why did you want to create the brand and who do you think it will benefit the lives of women?
It is exactly because it's unspoken about and hidden that I feel it's important to have this conversation. Being quiet is the worst. But how do you approach a topic that people find taboo and don't want to talk about? We are offering a friendly platform to have this conversation — we're opening up the doors to dialogue. And we're making it fun, cheeky and witty — I've always believe that there is the best way to tackle a difficult subject is with humour!
My solution is to make things fun so that people can giggle about it and start a conversation with their friends. The topic of the vulva shouldn't be silenced. It's beautiful and an emblematic part of being female, why shouldn't we embrace this, and why shouldn't we take care of it? It was the same with Strip before — back then no one wanted to talk about it, people thought a Brazilian wax was only for porn stars — it was a long road and education to changing perceptions. Strip changed that.
I want to change the current narrative with Two Lips too. That we can celebrate the vulva, and at the same time present women with choices — the choice of self-love and self-care with the benefits of Two Lips. Women don't need to do this for anyone but themselves. But if they choose it, Two Lips is there to help them.
I'm so used to naysayers! I hear what they are saying but I also think that ideas and opinion can be changed. That's how we all progress. Cultural influencers, tastemakers and early adopters will always lead the change. You can't stop a movement that's already rolling. We didn't invent this ourselves — the need for a product like Two Lips was already there. We are just particularly good at catching cultural change quickly, and we are ready to build a community of people believing in this too. We merely provide a friendly platform to propel this movement, make it fun, cheeky and sexy, and amplify the need for conversation, and get even more people to participate in it. Eventually the mainstream will follow.
What other products are in the works for Two Lips and how do you plan to take it globally?
We are launching 15 more exciting products in the next 24 months. These include a brightening cream, a serum to plump up your other lips and a Day & Night scent for your vulva, which I'm very excited about!
Two Lips will be sold through our Strip stores and through our online store. International shipping is available to countries such as the US, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia. In the future, we will be making this available at our overseas brick-and-mortar stores. That's a plan that we are working towards.
You're famous for breaking taboos in Singapore. What is the hardest part about convincing people to try a new brand or product that is eyebrow-raising, and how do you go about broaching this?
It is never easy to pioneer a new concept; nothing works perfectly from the get-go, it's always simpler to let go and do what everyone else is doing, but where is the fun in that? Our journey of innovation and invention is never-ending, and our mindset and culture must reflect this if we are to continue to break new ground.
It took us close to five years to seed the idea to create Two Lips, a new range of revolutionary luxurious skin care products for the vulva; the naysayers said no one is ever going to use it; that the concept is too out there; too ahead of its time. It took us close to 18 months of research and development, constant tweaking, redesigning and testing to get to where we are today.
As a brand, Two Lips is now in its infant stages. We want consumers over time, to be able to emotionally connect and resonate with its personality; its a tad of rebelliousness, intimate cheekiness and a whole lot of fun, wrapped up in the science of ingredients, formulated to deliver what future-forward customers want.
At the end of the day, to overcome any challenges, you must have a vision of what you want to achieve and believe in it even when nobody else believes in you. Have the passion for working on it, the tenacity to keep going no matter how difficult it gets and the creativity to tweak and seek resolution.
$28 for one mask. Available now at Strip outlets and on its online store