The wellness industry once again told us we could all be healthier, happier and more attractive this year – if only we parted with some hard-earned cash. And if anything, 2019 has been the year of the vagina.
We saw the opening of the world’s first Vagina Museum and big brands starting to accurately use the terms “vagina” and “vulva”. But those steps forward were not enough to stem the flow of the eyebrow-raising, vaj-related merch that followed. They were joined by the usual culprits in anti-ageing, crystal-gazing and “motivation mist” form.
Here’s a look back at the weird and (occasionally) wonderful products of 2019, that have had us wincing, gasping and giggling in equal measure.
The post-sex sponge on a stick
California-based FemTech entrepreneur Frances Tang launched ‘come&gone’ in October – an invention to “mop up all the excess fluids” after sex. The disposable absorbent sponge, fastened to a stick lolly pop-style, is designed to be inserted in the vaginal canal, swirled and then thrown away.
We may have scoffed (not least at the name), but the site was soon awash with testimonials from women praising the end of the “bathroom waddle”. We’ll stick to tissues.
The endless CBD products
The CBD industry shows no signs of slowing down. You’ll now find oil, beauty products, foods and even vaginal suppositories infused with the cannabis-derived compound for sale. Advocates claim they have a seemingly endless list of health benefits, from easing anxiety to curing acne.
But leading experts told HuffPost UK the commercial CBD market is largely unregulated, meaning it’s impossible to know what’s in these products and what impact (if any) they may be having on our health. “Because these products are not licensed as medicines, the controls over what they contain are far less than they would be if they were medicines,” explained Roger Knaggs, associate professor in clinical pharmacy practice at the University of Nottingham.
When it comes to CBD vaginal suppositories, Dr Jen Gunter told HuffPost UK: “We have very little data on CBD for pain. And when there’s no data, it’s very ripe for abuse. What we know right now is that any cannabis product that is designed to be inserted into the vagina is untested, so you should be very wary of any company making health claims.”
The stick designed to ‘tighten’ your vagina
The Jamu Stick is designed to be inserted into the vagina to “clean and regenerate” a woman internally, and is said to help “tighten the vagina, strengthen vaginal muscles, and increase libido”.
HuffPost UK originally spotted the product being sold on Etsy, but after gynaecologists labelled it “stupid” and said it could potentially “cause harm”, the online retailer removed the item from its site, saying: “We do not allow content that promotes prohibited medical claims.”
It’s still being sold by the makers of Jamu Stick. At the time, a spokesperson told Refinery29 that claims the product is unsafe are “not true”. Studies to support Jamu Stick’s use were not available, they added, because the stick is “made based on the traditional recipes in home industry”.
The vagina spa selling a ‘vajacial’
You know what your perfectly clean vagina doesn’t need? A spa day. But the VSPOT Medi Spa, which currently has sites in Philadelphia and New York, announced plans to expand to London this year.
While a branch in the capital is yet to materialise, the treatment list certainly got us talking. Options include the the ‘O-Shot’, which involves having your own blood platelets injected into your vaginal tissue, and the gold vajacial, which involves having wax infused with 24K gold smeared over your pubes and whipped off, before your bikini area is blasted with LED lights. Because everyone wants a glowing vulva, after all.
Dr Vanessa Mackay, spokesperson for Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), told us the vagina is designed to clean itself. “The vagina contains good bacteria, which are there to protect it. If these bacteria are disturbed it can lead to infection, such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush, and inflammation.”
The tuning forks to “restore balance”
Reminding us that wellness isn’t all about vaginas, Marie Kondo made her mark on the industry by opening her first online store in November, specialising in what could be called “wellness knick-knacks”.
The queen of tidying – who found fame telling us to throw out useless items – suggested fans fill that empty space with “meaningful objects”.
Products on the site – which sells “a collection of items that spark joy for Marie and enhance your everyday routine” – include a selection of crystals and accompanying ‘tuning forks’ costing $75 each – “helping to reset... and restore a sense of balance”. There’s also a $27.00 “motivation mist”. The question is, will these products actually “spark joy”?
The pillow bra to fight ‘cleavage wrinkles’
Last but not least, we give you the Sleep & Glow “pillow bra”, designed to “fight skin creases and cleavage wrinkles when sleeping on the side”.
This product split readers in September; while some of you said it would make sleeping easier with bigger boobs, others asked: “What the hell are cleavage wrinkles!?”
Do we really need another anti-ageing product aimed at yet another body part?