Two Lips Undercover: A Singapore dermatologist on the treatment promising a blemish-free, even-toned vulva
Euphemisms are aplenty where female genitalia is concerned. From the dignified 'private parts' to, uh, the less-so 'meat sandwich', it seems that womankind are more than willing to jump through hoops to avoid an upfront conversation on female anatomy.
It is precisely this mindset Cynthia Chua, founder of multi-brand outfit Spa Esprit, is looking to shatter — with Two Lips, the world's first-ever luxury intimate care range focused on the vulva. Aiming to eradicate the stigma surrounding genitalia-related care and talk, the brand has released a range of vulva-care products that does everything from brightening your nether regions to hydrating it. The most recent of which has caught our attention: The Two Lips Undercover, a highly concentrated cream formulated to reduce pigmentation and blemishes on the vulva.
In these uncharted waters, we can't help but wonder: is it safe for use? Should we even be using vulva-care products? Below, dermatologist and founder of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, Dr Teo Wan Lin, tells us what she thinks.
Would you recommend vulva-care products to those seeking an even-toned, blemish-free vulva?
It could be slightly misleading to consider vulva-care to be another category of products just for that area. Firstly, vulva skin is extremely sensitive, as it is lined with tissues called mucosal epithelium rather than stratified squamous epithelium on other areas of skin. What this means is that if any product applied on the vulva area has any irritating components such as preservatives like alcohol, it is much more likely to react and become sensitive, i.e. get inflamed with symptoms of redness, pain, stinging, itchiness or flaking, than other parts of the body.
The second concern is whether such products can correct pigmentation as well as blemishes in the vulva area. Currently, application of specific topicals around the vulva area is not backed by medical research or evidence. However, the use of products with ingredients such as niacinamide, oligopeptides have been proven to have lightening effects on skin in general, although whether or not they have the same function on the vulva area which is naturally a more pigmented part of the body, remains to be seen.
If we want to use vulva-care products, what should we look out for?
For products marketed for rejuvenation of the vaginal area, they should have the function of a good moisturiser, based on ceramides (naturally found as the "cement" in healthy skin). For example the Multi-Ceram, which my patients with eczema use both on their face as well as their body, has plant-based phytoceramides derived from seed oils in addition to bovine ceramide which is structurally similar to human ceramides. This also serves as a good moisturiser as it doesn’t contain fragrances or harmful additives that would be helpful for patients with any vaginal or vulva dryness. I would refrain from using fragrance products around the vulva area, with the area being lined with a different type of tissue —the skin here is more sensitive and this can increase chances of getting vaginal infections or allergies.
In general, body wash can be used for the vulva area as well. The types of body wash that I recommend my patients, whether or not they have sensitive skin, would generally be those that are non-heavily perfumed and tend not to foam up too much because the more foam it contains, the higher the content of sodium laureth sulfate which a common detergent used in bath wash.
How can we take care of the skin around the vulva area?
Avoid powder and talcs, or any substances that can dry out the skin. Instead apply a non-perfumed dermatologist-recommended moisturiser. I generally do not recommend Brazilian waxing because it can cause folliculitis, a condition where the hair follicles get inflamed. This can lead to recurrent skin infections. On that note, do not pluck hair in around vulva area. I recommend shaving, trimming or laser hair removal.
The Buro. conclusion: whether you should give the Two Lips Undercover a pump or two is entirely up to personal choice. For what it's worth, the product is gynecologically- and dermatologically-tested, and made without harmful petrochemicals, parabens, and fragrances. The product can be used on the face as well, so we’ll be testing the cream there first before taking it downtown.
Dr Teo Wan Lin is the founder and Medical Director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre. She is also a dermatologist accredited by the Ministry of Health specialising in medical and cosmetic dermatology.