Two words I did not expect to find in press releases from beauty brands, now or ever: “menopause” and “vulva”. Both stopped me in my tracks last week, and that in itself speaks pretty poorly of the current offering. Menopause, an inevitability for half the world’s population, routinely affects skin condition, structure and appearance quite dramatically – yet the very products designed to help are practically never kind enough to use “menopause” for the benign and quotidian word it is.
A nation’s hormones will feel grateful to Indeed Labs for not being so pathetically squeamish. Me-NO-pause is its new, euphemism-free product duo for women experiencing the sensitivity, extreme dryness, flushing, dullness and other skin complaints associated with female middle-age.
First up we have Cooling Mist (£19.99 for 75ml), a very lovely spritz of instant calm. It contains chilling cucumber extract and calming magnesium, as well as the glycerin and hyaluronic acid one would expect, to top up moisture levels at any time of day. It’s so gentle that anyone could use it – even with retinols – to no ill effect. The accompanying Restorative Cream (£24.99 for 50ml) is also carefully conceived. I expected an unctuous ointment, but the texture is much more elegant. Calming stalwart allantoin, phytoestrogen extracts, some good fatty acids and antioxidants all make for a gentle but helpful cream that doesn’t leave flushing skin smothered in oil. Very good work all round.
While we’re on perfectly helpful but rarely spoken words in beauty, let’s talk about microbiome specialist Gallinée’s new Perfume-free Cleansing Bar (£10 for 100g), approved by gynaecologists for use everywhere, including the outer vulva. As someone who only has to flip open a fruity shower gel before acquiring a scorching case of cystitis, I had the Gallinée lightly lathering within an hour of opening the post. I’ll spare you the details, but it works. The key is its pH of 5.6 – exactly the same as a healthy downstairs – whereas most cleansers leave things too alkaline and disrupt the balance of the microbiome, causing irritation, itching, yeast infections and the dreaded UTIs. I’m delighted to have discovered it, as my beloved Derma Sukin Daily Wash has been discontinued (if you see it, grab it – I’ve rinsed eBay) and, unlike my other favourite for intimate washing, La Roche Posay’s Lipikar Syndet AP+ Shower Gel (£12.35 for 400ml), the Gallinée isn’t packaged in plastic. Back to more glamorous – if possibly less crucial – things next week.