The One Product You Should Never, Ever Put On Your Face

If you descended on earth from another planet, unaccustomed to our culture of shame surrounding sexuality and frequent usage of discreet terms like “feminine wash” when we really mean “vagina cleanser,” it would be easy to mistake Summer’s Eve for any old shower gel. The label features the same swirly, ambiguous pattern and catchy buzzwords — pH-balanced, dermatologist-tested, gentle, safe for sensitive skin — as countless other skin-care products not expressly formulated for vaginal use. And though some will attest, publicly, on the internet, that their firsthand experience yielded positive results, there’s a bit more to it than assuming that if something’s safe for your vagina, it must be safe for everything else. Here’s where things get tricky: Despite the claim that using Summer’s Eve will help you maintain pH balance, the right pH level for your vagina is not the same as it is for the rest of your body, and it’s especially not the same as it is for your face. “The skin naturally has a slightly acidic pH, which allows it to properly maintain proper hydration and protection from the environment,” explains dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “Disruptions in what is referred to as the skin’s acid mantle can result in skin barrier dysfunction, dryness, and inflammation.” These disturbances can occur when the skin’s pH level, which is generally around 5.5, becomes too low or too high. The same can happen to the pH of the vagina; a disrupted pH balance can cause bacterial overgrowth. But, Dr. Zeichner says, “The pH of the vagina is much more acidic than that of the face, and a feminine hygiene product designed for the acidic pH of the vagina should not be used on the less acidic skin of the face.” It seems simple enough — you know, just don’t put vaginal cleanser on your face skin and everything will be fine. But if you need more convincing, Dr. Zeichner wants you to know this: “Extremely acidic products may also result in chemical burns on the face, causing peeling and potentially scarring.” No matter what you read on Reddit, that’s the price you might pay for trying to get rid of breakouts by washing your face with Summer’s Eve. So don’t.

More from Skin Care

R29 Original Series