Skincare as self-care is “in” right now, as it should be! The act of cleansing, moisturizing, and revitalizing the skin is a ritual that people all around the world indulge in not only to maintain the health and appearance of their complexion, but to meditate in the rhythmic and intimate practice of tending to your own body. Sounds sensual right? Rosebud Woman thought so too, and carefully crafted a line of all-natural and deeply self-loving intimate skincare products specifically for women and people with vulvas.
Rosebud Woman’s Refresh body wipes cool and cleanse without compromising the vulva’s delicate pH balance. Soothe calms the area in times of irritation, swelling, or abrasion. Arouse is a buzzy stimulating serum that creates a tingling sensation and promotes natural lubrication, which can be especially helpful for pre and post-menopausal women, and immediately post menses. Anoint is an all-over body oil with organic properties that can improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of burns, stretch marks, and scars – a perfect companion to restore the skin during the postpartum period. Although we love and use Rosebud Woman’s entire suite of products, Honor is our favorite. It serves as a nourishing balm to moisturize and condition your body’s most intimate skin when dryness occurs or as a part of your nightly routine. It is also amazing for perineal massage throughout pregnancy, helps heal tissue, and is safe to use on sore, cracked nipples after breastfeeding.
To accompany their intimate skincare products, Rosebud Woman also offers two companion workbooks, The Invitation and Body Love, which work with you to improve your relationship with your body with written prompts and thought-starters to engage with over time.
We LOVE the whole suite of products Rosebud Woman has to offer, and love that they are encouraging women to care for themselves intimately as part of a regular routine, not just when something is “wrong” or in preparation for sexual activity. We talked to Rosebud Woman’s founder, Christine Marie Mason, about the importance of supporting women through each stage of their reproductive lives, the future of sexual health education, and how we all can better get in touch with ourselves intimately as a radical act of self-love.
Rosebud Woman is defined as an “intimate skincare” brand. Can you explain the distinction of intimate products from those marketed to sexual health?
Sex is only a tiny slice of living in a body — maybe once or twice a week (or if you’re lucky, everyday). For many people, it’s even less frequent. But we women live with our intimate parts 24/7/365 for 81 years on average. It’s not like this part of the body vanishes when we’re not engaged in sex. Women have many more needs throughout their life cycle than solely sexual support. This is why we call the category intimate wellness, not sexual wellness.
What inspired you to create a line of products that would support women across the reproductive continuum?
Many of the problems women are having with intimacy and sexual health can be solved by philosophy and attitude toward their own body, relaxation and topicals. I think of the products as a delivery mechanism for the message of reverence, sovereignty, and self-love and self-care through all the cycles of a woman’s life.
From our women’s circles around the nation, we have learned that shame around “women’s issues” (such as beliefs of being dirty, not being a complete female, not being adequate) inhibits women’s willingness to talk about a wide range of intimate concerns. It also inhibits seeking family or spousal support, inhibits or delays a willingness to seek professional help, and impacts subsequent rates of healing. Lack of education on what’s “normal” with regard to genitalia, menses, reproduction, sexuality, and sexual appetites, STDs and pregnancies, life cycles and changes in hormones leaves a lot of people suffering unnecessarily. In short, I wanted to bring more joy and less suffering to women.
Do you have any tips for people looking to get more in touch with themselves intimately and improve body literacy?
In our book “The Invitation” (and our free course “The Body Love Upgrade”) we say:
- learn the names of your body parts and what they do;
- examine the inherited beliefs you still carry around sovereignty, pleasure, shame and more;
- learn what kind of touch you really like and practice asking for what you desire.
What is Rosebud doing to help de stigmatize the way we talk and think about sex and intimacy?
What we’ve noticed is that women’s health concerns are often treated as if they don’t live nested in larger cultural, familial and personal contexts and beliefs. The optimization of a woman’s psycho-emotional experience of sensuality, embodiment, arousal, and sexual pleasure is hardly discussed at all, and when it is, it’s quite often treated as a personal libido deficit, rarely a communal cultural issue.
In sex ed, we’re taught a lot about how to prevent and treat STIs and other bacterial infections, but very little about caring for and maintaining healthy vulvas. How can we change the way people with vulvas are caring for themselves on a daily basis – not just when something is “wrong?”
The vulva is very resilient in some ways, and in others it benefits from care. For example, dryness is uncomfortable in and of itself, but it can create all kinds of other more serious problems- such as microtears which lead to frequent UTIs and sexual pain. Not touching yourself or getting enough movement can limit blood flow in the pelvic basin which leads to all kinds of atrophy.
We rarely talk about the vulvar needs that arise throughout a woman’s life, such as:
- Dryness from perimenopause or menopause, or surgical menopause
- Dryness from medications (antidepressants, statins, chemotherapy)
- Lack of sensation from pelvic basin numbing, trauma, blood flow
- Discomfort from childbirth: perineal preparation, healing from perineal tearing (NIH study), scarring, postnatal intercourse
- Irritation from chafing, sex, fabrics, hot box environments, certain sports, waxing, soaps and surfactants
- Discomfort arising from external bacteria that migrates into the vaginome
There are many things you can do that are simple lifestyle hacks, and others that are product-based. For example: Keep your clothes dry and don’t create a hot box environment around the vulva and vagina; Don’t remove all of your pubic hair- it protects the introitus and vaginal canal from bacteria; When you do remove care use quality ingredients on that tender skin; Never use petroleum jelly or other derived products on the labia or the internal tissues; Massage yourself often for blood flow and/or masturbate to generate oxytocin; Don’t use drying ingredients, like soaps; Use a daily moisturizer on the outer and inner labia and the clitoris; If you are planning to have a vaginal birth, prepare the perineum before hand (and treat it after); If you have lost sensation in the area, work with plant ingredients to bring back feeling. Just take care of it, with as much care as you would use on your face.
Why is intimate care an integral part of the ever-growing self care movement?
A core idea of self-love is that you are worthy just as you are. You don’t need to prove yourself worthy at every turn, or be prettier or stronger or smarter or more clever. Loving yourself includes taking your seat and finding your center and accepting the responsibility of self awareness, owning your own happiness, triggers, words, and impact. To us, self-care falls out of this. If you are deeply worthy as nature, and taking responsibility for your life, many actions flow from that: speaking to yourself kindly, asking for what you need, telling the truth, expecting the best from yourself, treating your health and wellness as a priority- and we mean ALL of yourself. No part is rejected, shameful or ignored. You care for ALL of you.
What is your wish for people with vulvas this Sexual Health Month?
I see a future in which all womxn and girls know their worthiness and their capacity; we revel in the wonder that is their body; we enjoy bearing and raising children in choice; we play sensually and sexually in deeply satisfying ways until the desire to do so departs (very late in our lives, ideally). Womxn will be embodied, happy, and sovereign, and connect with men and/or other womxn who are embodied, happy, and sovereign. We will be free of shame and clued into desire. Every human will express her or his individual gifts in an environment where all people get to be strong, and all people get to be receptive—regardless of gender- and as each moment demands. This is my dream for people with vulvas.