Ingredients to keep away from your vag – bubble bath, here’s looking at you!

Here’s our ever-growing hit list of ingredients used in personal care products that should never touch your vulva.

Do what you will with the rest of your skin, we don’t care, just keep these bad boys away from your delicate labia. We shouldn’t have to say this, but also never stick this stuff inside your vagina.

1. Sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) – stripping agent

SLS is pubic enemy number one – researchers use SLS as the standard skin irritant in scientific studies. That means they compare the effects of their product to known skin irritant, SLS, to see just how irritating it is.

Check your shampoo, bubble bath, etc. It’s in a lot of supermarket brands, and even in ‘fancy’ brands. Read the ingredients list before you buy!

Don’t confuse SLS with these plant-based non-irritant ingredients:

  • Sodium hydroxypropylphosphate lauryl glucoside cross polymer
  • Sodium coco-glucoside tartrate
  • Sodium cocoyl glutamate

2. DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine) – foaming agent

DEA, MEA and TEA are what causes products to foam, from toothpaste, bubble bath, cleansers, shampoo, and body wash. These ingredients are known allergens and irritants and will dry out your hair and skin.

There is also evidence that these ingredients soak in through the skin and can interfere with hormones. These ingredients may also interact with other components in your product and turn into a carcinogen (nitrosodiethanolamine, NDEA).

3. Synthetic fragrance

Yeah, bubble bath smells good, but what is that smell? It’s chemicals, that’s what. Some are harmless, while others are not.

Fragrance can irritate your skin. Some fragrance might be used as a preservative, so a product can be labelled as ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘fragrance-free’ when actually they’ve used a nice-smelling preservative. Sneaky!

4. Triclosan – antibacterial soaps

You don’t need antibacterial soap. Stop using it. This type of soap containing triclosan may be contributing to antibiotic resistance, but soap is also drying. This is a bad combo.

Use naturally-based products that keep the chemical structure of their ingredients in one piece, don’t irritate your skin, and aren’t highly allergic!

Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)