The first time I came across the word 'vajacial', I thought I was hallucinating or delusional or both. But no, it turns out that getting a facial-esque treatment specifically tailored to your vaginal area is a real thing — a popular one, at that. Intrigued and always up for something new, I decided to try the vulva-focused treatment myself to see what all the fuss is about. And, reader, you’re in for quite the ride.
I headed to my appointment at VSPOT, a medi-spa in New York City, in mid-November — I didn’t know much about what vajacials were but knew that it was only external, so I felt pretty comfortable trying it out (a former R29er also got one herself and lived to tell the tale, all on camera). I soon found myself naked from the waist down in what felt like a pinker, calmer, and far more aesthetically pleasing OB-GYN’s office. My esthetician, Andrea Escoboza, made me feel at ease pretty quickly. Which was handy, as I was feeling pretty exposed.
Despite the name, a vajacial doesn’t actually involve your vagina, which is an internal part of your body — it focuses on your bikini line, pubic area, and vulva. In a follow up interview, Escoboza tells me that the steps to a vajacial usually differ at each spa, but the basics for VSPOT are: cleanse, steam, scrub, wax (not every time), extract, condition, LED light therapy, and a hydrogel mask. At VSPOT, there’s also an option for a medical grade brightening peel in place of the wax. And yes, to reiterate, this is all happening to the outside parts of your vulva — never to the inside of your vaginal canal.
It’s unclear who really invented the vajacial. Although the origins are murky, they’ve been going in and out of the online discourse since around 2010, as beauty and wellness trends often do. But data from Google Trends suggests an upward spike began in October 2019, and the interest hasn’t died down quite yet.
Now, I’ve gotten facials before so the steps felt pretty similar, just in a different area. “You’re getting all the benefits of a facial, but for your vulva,” Escoboza tells Refinery29. “[Vajacials] can brighten your skin, they can condition your skin to be healthier so you’re getting less ingrown hairs.” She also says they’re beneficial for those who have ingrown hairs that they can’t remove themselves and for those who are prone to acne in that area. Besides that, though, there aren’t really must-have benefits for your health.
So, there I was — spread eagle on a spa bed, getting my vulva cleansed, scrubbed, and waxed. I was a little nervous at first to be so exposed, but it really did feel safe and hygienic, like I was at the doctor’s office. My vajacial was paired with a wax, and after hanging out under the LED light with a hydrogel mask from Bushbalm — the brand that invited me to the vajacial — for ten minutes, then I was out the door. I felt like I had just walked out of an actual facial. Although I didn’t have any ingrown hairs that needed tending to, my pubic area felt refreshed, cleansed, looked brighter, and, tbh, felt the softest it has ever been. Just like a facial, this treatment wasn’t a necessity for me, and probably wouldn’t be a necessity for most people out there.
And, a vajacial at a reputable spot will cost you, just like any facial will — VSPOT’s signature vajacial will run you $175 a pop, and $250 if there’s waxing involved. “It’s perfectly fine to get them whenever you feel they’re necessary,” Escoboza says. “There are some people who get vajacials for fun because they are fun, and there are people who have issues with their skin, they can get them monthly.”
Tiffany Clay, MD, board-certified dermatologist, agrees, and says vajacials are “definitely not something that you have to do.” She says the main benefits are that it’s a self-care practice, that the area is in a hard-to-reach place so if you need to have extractions done it's nice to have somebody who can get it for you, and if you do them regularly, it can help with discoloration. Still, “I think you can go your entire life without having a vajacial done,” Dr. Clay tells Refinery29.
The more up-in-the-air part of a vajacial is if your spa offers steaming, which has often been touted as an iffy wellness practice due to the possibility of burns, and could be irritating if the steam itself has any essential oils or herbs in it. And it’s true, if the steam finds its way into the vagina, it could become irritated, according to Mary Jane Minkin, MD, OB/GYN at Yale University School of Medicine. She says the use of certain topical products also have the chance to upset the pH of your vagina, so just be wary if you’re someone that’s prone to imbalances. Dr. Minkin also notes that the vulva is home to some of the most sensitive tissue on our body, so the less products we put there, the better.
For those who have assessed any risks and still want to take the plunge, it’s important to find a reputable, hygienic spot — exposing your vulva to treatments and products that may be unfamiliar to the area can be nerve-wracking, so you’ll want to head somewhere that you’ve vetted and feel safe at. Read reviews, reach out to the spa, and even reach out to your OB/GYN if you’re even a little concerned. Escoboza recommends heading to a spa that offers consultations before your treatments so you can suss out exactly what you’ll be getting. Dr. Clay also adds that making sure your spa is licensed is a big one, and if you can get a referral from a friend, even better.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Dr. Clay says. “It’s such a sensitive area of the body and you definitely want to make sure that you’re comfortable with the person doing it. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, feel free to ask them to stop.” Also, she says to double check what kind of ingredients and products the spa is using — if you end up getting any kind of rash or reaction, then it’ll be easier to find an explanation for what went wrong.
It’s all up to you if you decide to take the plunge. Remember, vajacials aren’t a necessary or needed part of self-care — your vulva is fine just the way it is, treatments or no treatments, vajacial or no vajacial.