A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry

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Simply by nature of the vulva’s biology, there’s a slew of factors that can occasionally contribute to some (very normal) smell and sweat. So, if you’re here looking for the best feminine wipes, just know that you’re certainly not the only one who’s shopped for ’em. But it’s important to choose products that are safe for your vulva, and we’ll get to that in a second.

Let’s talk basics first. For one, the vulva—which, to be clear, is the area outside the vagina, including the labia—is covered in sweat glands. And just like the glands in your armpits, these are apocrine glands, or a particular kind of sweat gland in hairy areas that produces a thicker sweat. Mix that with the teeming bacteria of the vaginal flora, and put it all beneath the double layer of underwear and pants, and it’s no wonder you might feel like your vulva could sometimes use some freshening up. Enter: the best down-there wipes.

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Designed to gently clear some of the natural funk that can happen around the vulva (which, unlike the vagina, doesn’t have its own self-cleansing mechanism), feminine wipes can be used anywhere in the external genital region whenever you’d like. That might be after sex, when you’re on your period, or post-workout…or, really, anytime your nether regions are feeling less-than-fresh, and you aren’t able to pop into the shower.

But as with any product that’s safe to use near the vulva (including the best personal washes), good vulvar wipes aren’t just any ol’ wipes. According to Stacy Henigsman, DO, a practicing OB/GYN at Allara, they need to be formulated without any ingredients that could mess up the bacterial balance in the region or alter its natural pH (because doing either could lead to irritation or infection). And at the same time, the wipes should include one or more ingredients that can naturally soothe the vulvar area, so you’re not feeling stripped dry after using one—not unlike a good makeup wipe.

Key qualities of the best feminine wipes, according to a gynecologist

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This is one of those situations where the ingredients that the item doesn’t include are just as important as the ones it does. To that end, good intimate-care wipes won’t include chlorine or formaldehyde releasers of any kind (like DMDM hydantoin or bronopol). “Both can kill the good vulvar bacteria, making you more prone to yeast infections,” says Dr. Henigsman. Other ingredients on her “no” list? Parabens, alcohol, dyes, and the common cosmetics preservative iodopropynol butylcarbamate (IPBC), all of which can irritate sensitive vulvar skin.

When it comes to fragrance, things get a little dicey, too. “Because they can contain hundreds of chemicals, synthetic fragrances and perfumes can cause skin irritation and alter the pH of the vulvar and vaginal areas, which can make you more prone to infections like bacterial vaginosis,” says Dr. Hengisman. But not all naturally derived fragrances fall into this camp, particularly if they’re made with skin-friendly plant extracts like lavender—so, if you’re looking for a wipe that’s lightly scented, it’s best to do some careful inspecting of the product’s label to be sure that the source of the fragrance is clearly listed. One particular red flag in this realm: Any version of the words “odor control,” which typically refers to harmful chemicals added to allegedly fight off odor, says Dr. Henigsman: “Any of these can kill the good vulvar bacteria and even make odor worse.”

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By contrast, many of the best feminine wipes will include a smattering of skin-supportive ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, and coconut oil, all of which Dr. Henigsman says can be soothing on the vulvar area and helpful for preventing dryness. Both calendula and chamomile, which have known anti-inflammatory properties, are also good ones to look for in any feminine wipe, she adds.

A gynecologist’s tips for safely using intimate wipes

In general, the toilet paper rule applies here: Always wipe from front to back to minimize the risk of back-door bacteria making their way onto or into the vagina, and triggering an infection, says Dr. Henigsman. Also, the wipe should never go inside the vagina (remember the vagina’s self-cleansing mechanism?) to avoid, quite literally, wiping out the healthy colony of bacteria thriving within.

Even though the best feminine wipes are soft to the touch, you also want to avoid rubbing or scrubbing the vulva vigorously with a wipe, just to prevent any minor abrasions in this sensitive area, Dr. Henigsman adds. A gentle swipe is usually all it takes.

The 10 best vulva-safe feminine wipes

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
Rael Natural Feminine Wipes — $4.00

As safe for your vulva as they are for the planet, these Rael wipes are made of an eco-friendly pulp that you can feel totally fine about flushing after use. Thanks to a blend of organic aloe vera and camellia sinensis leaf extract, they’ll leave you with a smooth, clean feeling. And slim packaging makes it a cinch to keep a few wherever you might need them.

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
SweetSpot Labs Unscented Soothing Wipes — $10.00

This whole brand is about maintaining optimal vulvar skin health and pH balance, so you can rest assured their unscented wipes are no exception: They’re gynecologist-tested and approved on actual vulvas. Made without fragrance or alcohol, they’re gentle enough for sensitive skin and won’t cause even a speck of dryness in their wake. In fact, an infusion of seaweed sodium hyaluronate works as a humectant, gently drawing moisture into the skin, while witch hazel helps prevent the growth of bad bacteria or fungi in the region.

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
Lola Feminine Cleansing Wipes — $7.00

With the gynecologist seal of approval (Dr. Henigsman herself signs off on them, too), these Lola wipes are hypoallergenic and safe for use really anywhere on the skin (of course, including the vulva). Thanks to honeysuckle flower extract, they’re naturally soothing. Just take note: Because the wipe fabric is made of a more durable bamboo viscose, these should always be tossed into the garbage after use, rather than flushed.

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
The Honey Pot Company Sensitive Wipes — $10.00

Even the “regular” Honey Pot wipes meet all our parameters for a vulva-safe product. But for an extra dose of reassurance that the wipe won’t leave a smidge of irritating residue behind, go for these ones, made with sensitive skin in mind. The formula includes a full slate of nourishing natural ingredients (like aloe vera, sunflower seed oil, and cucumber extract), alongside lactobacillus ferment, which is designed to safeguard the balance of healthy bacteria in the vulvar and vaginal regions.

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
Attn:Grace Wipes — $7.00

The soft, featherlight texture of these wipes—which are flushable and biodegradable—is as much of a win as their simple organic formulation (which also gets Dr. Henigsman’s personal stamp of approval). They’re hypoallergenic and dermatologist-approved, and contain calming aloe and coconut oil for a clean, hydrated feel.

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
Love Wellness Do It All Wipes — $11.00

Love Wellness’s founder, Lo Bosworth, was talking vaginal pH and healthy vaginal flora long before the terms “pH-balancing” and “microbiome” were all the rage in intimate skin care. So, you can trust that her wipes are as safe for the whole vulvar environment (healthy bacteria included) as possible. A run-down of organic ingredients—aloe vera, coconut oil, and chamomile extract—gives them their soothing quality. (Just note, they should be tossed in the garbage, and not flushed after use, due to their thickness.)

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
Uqora Cleansing Wipes — $6.00

A line of products designed to naturally boost urinary health, Uqora sprang from its founder’s own recurring experience with UTIs. As a result, keeping the vaginal microbiome balanced is at the very heart of the company’s mission. Enter: pH-balanced cleansing wipes. Their nourishing blend of natural ingredients like Matricaria flower extract, aloe leaf juice, and avocado oil cleanses and moisturizes, while witch hazel helps keep bad bacteria and fungi in check. Done and done.

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
DeoDoc DeoWipes — $15.00

One of the co-founders of DeoDoc is gynecologist Gunvor Ekman-Ordeberg, MD, PhD, who’s involved in the creation of each product to ensure its vulvar and vaginal safety. And that certainly applies to the brand’s DeoWipes, which are individually wrapped for easy use on-the-go. A medical-grade olive oil and aloe leaf juice form the base of the wipes’ moisturizing solution, which is also dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic.

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
Maude Wipe — $12.00

A travel- and eco-friendly twist makes these wipes uniquely compostable and biodegradable: They’re compressed towels (made with OEKO-TEX-certified viscose rayon) that expand into soft towelettes when water is added to them. A hypoallergenic, pH-balanced, and fragrance-free formula makes them safe to swipe anywhere on the body.

A Gynecologist’s Top Tips for Choosing Personal Wipes That Won’t Make Your Vulva Angry
Athena Club TLC Wipes — $9.00

A flushable blend of cellulosic fibers and fluff pulp makes using these individually wrapped wipes as easy as can be, no matter where you are. And a comprehensive combo of anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredients work together for a fresh, smooth clean. Among them, you’ll find cucumber, mushroom root, and chamomile extracts, all of which can help calm and condition the vulvar skin.

Editor’s note: We use the term “feminine wipe” several times in this article, since this is the most popular term searched, but we realize this is a bit of an outdated word. However you call it (feminine wipe, personal wipe, intimate wipe), we’re here to give you the most accurate, trust-worthy information!

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