Vaginas. Once seen as a taboo subject, there has been a recent uptick in conversations surrounding vaginal wellbeing on apps like TikTok, where a number of people are sharing their journeys and speaking openly about treatments targeting what was previously considered a private area.
A quick search will show thousands of videos discussing both “yoni steaming” and vaginal “facial” treatments, also referred to as “vajacials”.
Salon owners and beauty therapists are sharing in-depth videos of them performing such treatments through the app, leading to a rise in conversation and debates about whether there really are any benefits for clients undergoing the treatments.
Yoni steaming is believed to be an ancient technique, with a number of indigenous cultures and regions having evidence of the practice from centuries ago.
Fast forward to 2023, and consumers are able to pick up yoni steaming kits from independent online sellers and shopping platforms such as Etsy, where bags of herbal and floral blends can be purchased for as little as £2 for at-home use.
Everything you need to know about yoni steaming
These treatments claim to benefit those struggling with their menstrual cycle, suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome [PCOS] and endometriosis, and even shrinking ovarian cysts, with added benefits such as increasing libido and sexual sensations.
Tuesday Simmonds, founder of Wombon Wellness in Norfolk, describes yoni steaming as “a beautiful treatment of self-love, a reconnection to our sacred place of creativity and ancestral wisdom”.
Five years ago, when Simmonds decided to offer yoni steaming, she was unable to find a training course in the UK, so crossed the pond to Atlanta to learn about the treatment ritual, and has since begun to work on her own course to offer in the UK later this year.
Explaining how the treatment works, Simmonds shares, “Specifically chosen herbs are prepared as a tea in a bowl, which is then placed under a seat with a space cut into it to allow the warm medicinal vapour to reach the vulva.”
On the topic of the demographic of the clients who come to her for yoni steaming, Simmonds shares, “It is for anyone with a vulva, from menarche to post menopause – even a surgically created one, as this will have created scar tissue which is softened and relaxed with the steam.”
As for the risks with yoni steaming, aside from the possibility of a burned labia, Simmonds adds that, “Those with short cycles or bleeding between periods should look at yoni smoking rather than steaming. Also, some forms of contraception can be affected by steaming.”
While the treatment is often performed by consumers at home, Simmonds says this should preferably only be done following a consultation with a practitioner to establish the suitable herbs and protocol to follow.
Is yoni steaming safe?
Aesthetic nurse Katie Alex, founder of non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation clinic Katie Alex Aesthetics in Altrincham, says that, from a medical perspective, she “wouldn’t recommend vaginal steaming to clients” due to the delicacy of the area.
“Vaginal and vulval tissue is very delicate and therefore at risk of burns and irritation,” explains Alex, adding, “Prolonged heat and steam can also alter the pH of the vagina, which could lead to yeast and bacterial infections of the vagina and urethra.”
Everything you need to know about vajacials
Vajacial treatments, or “facials” for the vaginal region, are designed to remove dead skin cells, treat ingrown hairs and help with razor bumps and hyperpigmentation issues.
Mariam Ajibola, chief executive of Yèmaya Beauty in Streatham, shares that this treatment is ideal for “clients looking for a refreshing change to their usual skincare programme.
Those with any concerns about skin in the vulva area are encouraged to experience a vajacial and lap up all the benefits that comes with it”.
Ajibola believes the treatment is rising in popularity due to women being more open and honest about concerns that have previously been dubbed “personal issues”.
“In recent times, women seem a lot more willing to discuss health and beauty concerns in areas of the body that in previous times were deemed taboo,” she shares, adding, “Women are coming forward to discuss and reach out for treatments instead of suffering in silence.”
Within the aesthetic spa, Ajibola offers two vajacial services – classic and advanced. “Both include a combination of treatments, and you must be qualified to NVQ/diploma level in each of those individual treatments in order to do a vajacial.”
As for homecare, Ajibola explains, “After clients have had their treatment, we provide them with an aftercare card that states what they should avoid for the next 24 hours. This includes no hot baths or showers, no massages or steam treatments, no tanning treatments or activities, no tightfitting clothes and no sprays or powders.
“We recommend products to clients once they have had the treatment that will best help to maintain the results of the vajacial. We have our own vajacial oil for clients to purchase and take away.”
When it comes to at-home treatments, Ajibola says, “While great results can be achieved at home with the right guidance and preparation, it is still incomparable to what can be achieved in a clinic due to the machinery and facilities available. There is a limit to what products we can provide to clients to use in the home kits.”
Do vajacial treatments work?
Alex recognises that vajacial treatments “can absolutely help the skin surrounding the vagina, especially on the mons area and groin where ingrowing hairs may occur”.
She does, however, remind us to be aware that, “Intimate skin is extremely delicate and susceptible to irritation and dermatitis, so extreme caution should be taken when deciding on the extent of treatment needed, the products and the practitioner.”