Today is the day I share with the world that until recently, my pubic region looked like a basketball with buzz cut—that is, red and bumpy with irritation. The only reason that changed was thanks to an Instagram post I stumbled upon singing the praises of a topical vulvar product called the Momotaro Apotheca Salve ($35). I tried it, and quickly my life—or at least the texture of my mons pubis—changed for the better. In fact, within a week, the skin began to feel baby-smooth, which is the exact intention of the product.
“The salve was created out of necessity,” says Momotaro Apotheca co-founder, Lindsay Wynn, who has a long personal history of contending with bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and external bumps and blemishes. “The over-the-counter and chemical-laden treatments I was being suggested and prescribed were actually exacerbating my problems.” That’s why she and co-founder Taylor Samuelsen took matters into their own hands (or at least home lab).
The two researched and tested ingredients to create a formula to help vagina-havers reduce severity and incidence of bacterial vaginosis, UTIs, and yeast infections, while remedying external chafing, irritation after sex, razor burn, itching and dryness, and even pain associated with a genital herpes outbreaks.
The base of the pH-balancing salve they ultimately created is a concoction of all-organic moisturizing oils: coconut oil, kokum butter, beeswax, and jojoba oil. “These moisturizing oils can help to ward off irritation due to dryness,” says board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, Lucky Sekhon, MD, OB/GYN. The mixture also contains anti-inflammatory ingredients like calendula, echinacea, and tea tree oil, which Dr. Sekhon says can help counteract inflammation in the hair follicle and reduce risk of ingrowns. The mixture also contains goldenseal leaf, a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient that has studied benefits for helping with a number of conditions, including those related to skin issues.
Here’s what happened when I tried Momotaro Apotheca Salve
Shop now: Momotaro Apotheca Salve, $35
To be frank, by the time the salve arrived in my mailbox, I was capital-D desperate for a solution to my bumps. I was uncomfortable and also seeing someone new—and we’d both gotten STI tested, COVID-19 tested, and had extensive convos about our intentions to get together in more ways than one. But I kept delaying the event of getting naked together, and not because I wasn’t ready. Rather, I wanted to get to the bottom of the bumps on my mons pubis first
Thankfully, after generously applying the subtly scented balm to my mound and bikini line twice a day for three days (after my morning shower and before bed), I started to see slight improvements. After a week, the irritation was about 80 percent cleared. And after 10 days, I finally let my new lover take a peek. (ICYWW, she used the phrases “so smooth,” and “smells like laundry detergent.” Of course, the vagina is meant to smell like a vagina—but I welcomed the sentiment from her this time.)
I’ve continued applying the salve anytime I notice irritation from shaving, clothes, exercise, or sexual activity. Do I still get ingrown hairs from time to time? Sure. But, only a small fraction as often, which is why I recommend the product to anyone who’s contending with ingrowns and irritation the way I was.
As for whether or not the salve can solve other issues, Dr. Sekhon says it depends. “The salve may help to make you feel more comfortable and to calm irritated skin, but it will not correct the underlying infection or eliminate the source of the problem.” Usually, anti-fungal medications are needed to treat a yeast infection, and antibacterial treatment is needed to treat bacterial vaginosis, she says. Furthermore, she adds, “the anti-inflammatory activity in the salve may help during a genital herpes outbreak, but it will not be the solution to treating an outbreak, as this would require antiviral treatment prescribed by your doctor.”
So, use the salve and love the salve, but if you’re experiencing pain, unusual discharge, odors, or lumps or bumps, give your health-care provider a ring.
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