In This Article
The skin on the vulva is delicate, so it deserves specially-formulated products and a routine all its own. However, for years, vulvar care products have lagged in innovation. The category had yet to receive the love it deserved—until now. As people have become more comfortable talking about personal care, the industry has started to evolve.
Still, Susan Goldsberry, a world-renowned Filipina-American scientist and cosmetic chemist, and Dr. Beri Ridgeway, a leading OB/GYN, noticed a white space for modern, intimate wellness products. So, they decided to harness their decades of experience to create a solution. Enter: Ina, one of the first intimate skincare lines to be developed in-house. The approachable line aims to transform the market with its first five products. Ahead, learn more about Ina, including my honest review.
Meet the Expert
- Susan Goldsberry is a cosmetic chemist, scientist, and entrepreneur. She has developed thousands of beauty products for brands worldwide, many of which popular retailers stock on their shelves. Goldsberry sold her contract R&D lab, Benchmark Cosmetic Laboratories, in 2019.
- Dr. Beri Ridgeway is a leading OB/GYN specializing in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. She has helped thousands of women navigate common female issues like pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic floor disorders that too often go untreated.
Ina wasn't born overnight. Goldsberry discussed the idea with Dr. Ridgeway for 15 years before it came to fruition. "After selling my business, I cared for my ailing, elderly mother and couldn't believe how many of her personal care products contained questionable ingredients and had an overall bad user experience," Goldsberry says.
In many personal care products, these harsh ingredients and fragrances work to mask issues (like odor) instead of treating them. They can also be highly irritating to the skin. "When a woman is in her reproductive years, her body is much more forgiving because of high estrogen levels," Dr. Ridgeway explains. "But, in post-menopausal and post-pregnancy women and even pediatric patients that haven't started their period yet, the estrogen levels are low, and the vulvar skin epithelium is extremely thin and vulnerable."
Dr. Ridgeway says her patients constantly asked for gentle and effective product recommendations, yet she couldn't find anything aligned with her medical knowledge. "I kept waiting, thinking a brand would launch some amazing product. Years went by, and it never happened," she shares.
Providing an improved user experience while eliminating intimate health stigmas is precisely what Ina's vision is about. Goldsberry is quick to say her mother is the inspiration behind Ina (it means mother in Filipino, Goldsberry's native language). However, the line isn't just for mothers but for women at any stage of life.
According to Goldsberry and Dr. Ridgeway, creating the elevated formulas, branding, and messaging took three years to nail. Each hand-selected ingredient is expertly curated, and the high-performance products are clinically proven and backed by science. All the products are tested for safety through consumer use and gynecological testing, proving that the formulas are stable while remaining vegan, hypoallergenic, and free of gluten, talc, synthetic fragrance, and parabens. "To us, less is more because when dealing with sensitive skin," Dr. Ridgeway says. "You don't want to use too much fragrance or too many surfactants."
Simply put, Ina stands out in a sea of new-wave intimate care products because of its thoughtful approach. "Ina products aren't just beautiful and a pleasure to use but rather designed to create the foundation for overall intimate health and wellness," Goldsberry explains. "It's not about a regimen per se but more about products that suit each individual's needs."
Each product is made with 97 to 100% naturally-derived ingredients and contains the brand's patented Ina-VTM complex, consisting of a blend of powerhouse hydrating, soothing, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant ingredients, including Centella Asiatica, sea buckthorn, and moringa.
The Balancing Cleanser ($24) is formulated with gentle surfactants and a just-right pH to cleanse sensitive areas without stripping moisture. The clear gel cleanser contains traditional, well-proven ingredients, like witch hazel, panthenol, and vanilla extract, to keep sensitive skin soothed, hydrated, and conditioned. "This product is gentle and doubles as an all-over-the-body cleanser, too," Dr. Ridgeway adds.
In the moisturizing department, two different yet equally effective products alleviate dryness. The easy-to-apply water-based Hydrating Serum ($38) contains five types of hyaluronic acid. It's a gel-like formula with a good amount of slip that quickly dries down for long-lasting moisture. Dr. Ridgeway describes it as helpful for alleviating vulvar irritation and dryness, common issues in perimenopausal and menopausal women. The light Nourishing Oil Elixir ($42) features marula and jojoba oils further enhanced by fermented green tea seed and Shiunko oils. Goldsberry explains that fermentation makes the other oils more bio-available with better stability and greater antioxidant properties. The oil is Dr. Ridgeway's favorite product; she says its cushiony effect helps soothe the skin. You can also use the Nourishing Oil Elixir before or after shaving, waxing, or lasering to prevent ingrown hairs and condition the skin.
The Ina range also tackles issues like sweat and excess moisture. The pH-appropriate Anti-Chafe Liquid Powder ($26) is a unique cream-to-powder product. It quickly dries to powder consistency, reducing skin friction and chaffing while absorbing moisture and sweat. Goldsberry calls the powder "very elegant" and says it features super absorbent, odor-reducing arrowroot powder (a natural alternative to talc, cornstarch, or tapioca powders). It also includes squalene to lock in moisture and aloe vera, jojoba seed oil, and licorice root to soothe and moisturize the skin. "You can use it for intimate parts, as well as under the breasts to help control sweat from exercising," Dr. Ridgeway shares.
Rounding out the assortment is the Barrier Balm ($28), a unique patent-pending formula that creates a non-greasy protective and soothing barrier to repel water. Goldsberry says most personal health products on the market contain lanolin, petrolatum, or mineral oil, but this doesn't. Instead, it's packed with coconut alkanes, a silicone alternative, and menthol to cool and calm the skin. It's also lightweight and introduces 15% zinc oxide to create a moisture barrier with a transparent finish. "Skin irritation can be caused by excess moisture from incontinence and heavy menstrual and post-partum bleeding," Dr. Ridgeway explains. "Exposing the sensitive vulva to continuous moisture can cause irritation and a little tissue breakdown. The product has been clinically tested to provide instant relief with moisture barrier protection for the most technologically challenged area."
The expert duo teamed up with The Inlay, a New York-based boutique design agency, to create the packaging. They decided on an elevated design featuring a chic, nude color palette. "Women shouldn't be ashamed to have these products on display—they're for the confident woman," Goldsberry notes.
Eco-conscious packaging is also a mainstay feature of Ina. The brand's cartons are made from 100% FSC-certified paper responsibly produced and made from recycled content. The packaging for the Barrier Balm, Anti-Chafe Liquid Powder, and Balancing Cleanser is made from 50% PCR plastic. Goldsberry and Dr. Ridgeway say they plan to use 100% PCR packaging in the future.
I took all five products for a test drive for about one week. While I don't suffer from vulvar dryness, I did notice a bit more moisture below the belt. The Balancing Cleanser was a favorite, and I used it from my neck down to my feet and everywhere in between with nary an inch of post-cleansing dryness or that dreaded (at least for me) squeaky clean feeling. I've tested other washes for the vulva, and most tend to have a lotion-like consistency that doesn't rinse off easily, but this one feels like and works like a cleanser (a big plus in my book). I also enjoyed the Anti-Chafe Liquid Powder to stop the dreaded under-boob sweat during my workouts. Finally, the Nourishing Oil Elixir felt lovely on my skin.
So rather than using your regular body care products on the delicate vulvar skin, invest in one—or more—of these products to keep all the skin on your body healthy, nourished, and protected while instilling some new self-care rituals. Trust me; you'll be happy you did.