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13.4.14

THE FEMFRESH DEBATE: BODY SHAMING OR ESSENTIAL INTIMATE CARE?

There are few products that are as polarising and controversial as 'intimate hygiene' brand Femfresh. Marketed as a range of washes, wipes, powders and deodorants for your lady garden, many believe it condemns our natural scent as something to be ashamed of. As many beauty brands capitalise on our insecurities to make a fast buck, it becomes easy to become obsessed with 'outing' those we object to and shaming their approach to body maintenance. Only this week, hair removal brand Veet has come under fire for suggesting having leg hair makes a woman a 'dude', while Dove has been celebrating our beauty and trying to increase our confidence - it seems that beauty is a more complex issue than we've ever been brave enough to talk about before. So what about Femfresh? Is it a brand that should be praised for helping women maintain their intimate areas with targeted products, or one that should be left lingering on the bottom shelf of Boots?


Femfresh offers a range of products that include body washes, spray deodorants and freshness wipes to help keep your intimate area feeling and smelling fresh. Although I'm up for anything that provides a solution to a confidence issue, it's also important to remember Femfresh is all about pH - a measure of how acid or alkali something is. Skin has a normal pH of between 5.4 and 5.9, but our intimate skin has a pH that is less than 4.5 - significantly lower than the rest of our bodies. The normal pH balance in the intimate skin is regulated by good bacteria in the vagina called lactobacilli, which helps to prevent the growth of harmful organisms. If the pH of the vagina increases (making it less acidic) the quantity of lactobacilli can fall and other bacteria can multiply, increasing the likelihood of infections such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush.

There are many things that can upset our pH balance, including antibiotics, pregnancy, sex, contraception, heat, sweat, hormonal changes and things such as scented panty liners. These everyday factors can irritate our intimate areas, causing itching that in itself can leave us open to bacterial infections. Although using water to cleanse and soothe our lady areas, a lot of people prefer to use a more targeted and appropriate solution; Femfresh is soap free, hypoallergenic, pH balanced, dermatologically and a gynaecologically tested product that offers a pleasant alternative to fragranced shower gels we automatically turn to. Femfresh's resident gynaecologist, Dr Ian Currie says: "The benefits of using femfresh is that it is designed to maintain the natural pH balance of the intimate skin. For women who want to use anything more than water, it is important to choose a product that works in harmony with your body and does not upset this pH balance. Femfresh is specially formulated by experts to care for the intimate skin to gently cleanse, soothe and moisturise your skin without disturbing your delicate pH balance."

Although doubling up on shower gel and deodorant for your vagina may seem a little excessive for some, for others it's great to know there's something for them when they feel like they need to pay their lady parts a little more attention. Femfresh washes are actually really pleasant to use all over the body, providing a light foam and delicate scent, so there's no reason why you can't swap your regular bottle of Radox for something that won't irritate. Like many women, I become a little more aware of certain areas during my period and prefer to be fully equipped with all the tools to help me feel more confident. I know that nobody else can detect or smell I've surfing the crimson wave, but having a little packet of wipes to freshen up or a deodorant to spritz on does make a difference. Surely that's not a bad thing?

I'm a firm believer in discussing women's health openly and honestly, ensuring that we all have a positive outlook and understand what is actually on the spectrum of 'normal'. I've spent the last nine months on a roller-coaster of smear tests, procedures, operations and after care because of a cervical cancer scare, so I've spent more time discussing my cervix than is probably necessary for one person. As a result, I'm more conscious of looking after myself and using the products that can help just a little bit. For me, Femfresh may have made some marketing mistakes in the past (remember the hoohah about the noonahs?) but they actually are trying to help - rather than shaming us into buying their products. They're not telling us our lady bits need to smell of strawberries and candy floss, or trying to guilt us into washing away the day, but providing a little confidence boost in a bottle that just happens to be good for your bits too.

What do you think about Femfresh and feminine hygiene products in general?
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21 comments

  1. I agree so much with you! I use femfresh, It makes me feel clean, and if its the wrong time of the month, its a must!

    Catherine x

    http://www.beautyisintheeyeofthebeholder.co.uk

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  2. Preach. My only beef with Femfresh is that it's pretty much the only brand I find in stores for targeted intimate hygiene. I mean, what is one to do if one is intolerant to the ingredients, or they don't particularly like the marketing - it's not like there are many competitors to go to that I'm aware of.

    That said, I do like using these, because it's formulated specifically for that purpose, and the wipes especially are very useful to have on hand.

    Great post.

    Foncie @ http://overthecauldron.blogspot.co.uk/

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  3. I really don't see the point of these, I find that they irritate me more than normal soap and water. The wipes are a great idea for festivals and when you don't have access to washing facilities, also for cleaning your erm intimate toys too.

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  4. I actually find it quite an offensive product. Men aren't encouraged to 'freshen' up (although some really need it!!!) but women are encouraged to be these perfect unnaturally scented beings. I don't and have no plans to use in the future.

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    1. I don't think you really read the post - the products aren't designed to make your vag smell like lollipops. They have a biological function and an option to those who wish to take it.

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    2. I don't quite understand how taking care of your lady bits can be offensive. These products are especially designed to work with our vagina's. Men have different anatomy and their parts are more internal than external, yes they still need to keep clean but they don't need special penis wash for that.

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    3. how so Jeez louise? , our parts may be external but they can still be sensitive to normal body wash products and we should have a wash for down there but we don't . body washes can irritate our parts too ya know.

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  5. I think that femfresh making sure they dont disturb the ph balance is so so important. And wipes being very convenient.

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  6. FemFresh body powder is probably the greatest thing since sliced bread in my opinion. I bought it for chub rub on my boobs originally as I wanted something more delicate than talc but now I use it everywhere- I even buy it for my boyfriend intimate areas.
    Fantastic product I only wish more brands marketed products like this and more people spoke about it. Being in healthcare nothing is taboo for me but not everyone is so open.

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  7. I use Femfresh wash most days. I've got a very sensitive lady garden and it helps keep me fresh without giving me an horrible itchy infection like most shower gels do. When you've got 'innie' bits naturally we have to take care of them more than fellas with their dingly danglies. It's not really a question of it being a sexist thing - at least I don't think so. x

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  8. Ive been using one of their soaps because I thought it was super important to wash down there with the right sort of thing!! I'm so glad you posted this to get people aware!!
    Little Beauty Blog
    Elizabeth x

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  9. It's lovely to read this post and learn more about why this type of product exists as opposed to people just thinking that it's pointless and sexist!
    I have to say that I'd now consider trying it myself although I do agree with the other comments that it would be nice to see some other brands in the market in case of sensitivity or other objections there might be to FemFresh as a brand.
    Thankyou for an informative post :-)

    http://thats-just-her.blogspot.co.uk
    Xx

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  10. Thanks so much Hayley for writing about this in such an honest way: it gives such a great viewpoint and asks all the right questions in a balanced way that is rare to see. Throwing in my tuppence worth I don't have a problem with Femfresh and similar products in theory, and you explained the importance of maintaining pH balance well, and I don't think the products themselves that are the issue, it's, as you say, the advertising. As you mentioned, I found the whole "hoohah about noonahs" (excellent phrasing, just excellent) so infuriating - a brand for feminine hygiene that can't use the word "vagina" or "vulva", presumably for reasons that some unevolved men and women hate the mention of it, is shocking, and ultimately harmful. Their current campaign seems much better, although I still sense a bit too much euphemism - I hope that as a brand in a unique position to do away with body shaming and embarrassment, Femfresh will get a bit braver. I'll believe more in them when their marketing team have the wherewithal to say "vagina" in a TV advert! Thanks again for a wonderful post.

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  11. A fantastic post. I don't think Femfresh are advertising that women's bits should smell of sweets or freshly cut flowers, but simply providing a product to us to clean our lady bits other than traditional soap or shower gel - I know I definitely do not feel clean with a quick spritz of water! I think these products are aimed purely at women and not men because men probably don't really care about the smell of their manhood, plus the fact that they don't have periods, or daily vaginal discharge to contend with!

    Laura x | Life and Lipstick

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  12. I've never really taken notice to any of their products but I do have their wipes for use during the time of the month

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  13. Thank goodness for this post! I've always used Femfresh as ever since I was little I've had problems using regular shower gels and soaps in intimate areas and now I use it all over. However, I feel very uncomfortable about the stigma attached to it. Its a great product!

    Nat || http://www.rocketdreamers.co.uk

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  14. I've been using these products for years, on pretty much a daily basis. I like to carry the wipes with me and I actually like the spray when the weather is warm, lets face it, none of us like a sweaty cooch, and when I use these products I don't have to worry about heating up down there, or anything like that. I like to carry a body spray and a facial spray and my vagine spray, it just feels nice to take extra care of yourself.

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  15. i can live without the spray, when i finish my current bottle of femfresh wash though, i am going to invest in an organic brand (some are reasonably price) as i think we should be v.careful about what goes near there!

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous27.3.16

      You're right, you do need to be careful - so why change?

      The wash is also excellent for under the bust especially for those hot sweaty times, yuck.

      The powder is brilliant and the fact that it is 'talc free' is the most important part as talcum is carcinogenic. I remember reading about ladies who developed cancer from using talc in the vaginal area.


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  16. Anonymous5.7.16

    Am I the only one who would have no problem at all with a product that makes your down-there smell like flowers and candies?

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