Despite living in the information age, there’s a lot that remains obfuscated. In the world of beauty, that’s often the purpose of marketing jargon. Words like “nourishing” famously don’t mean much but there’re no worse offenders than so-called “clean” beauty products. There are some qualifiers on what constitutes “clean” products, often in the form of off-limits ingredients. But just because ingredients look familiar doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the most optimal — and artificial ingredients don’t always constitute danger, either. While the beauty industry grapples with those definitions, they’ve spilled over into another area: sexual and vaginal health. At Foria, a brand formed at the cornerstone of sexual health and pleasure, there’s a commitment to not only educating customers on the ins and outs (so to speak) of their own bodies but to make sense of the wellness industry at large, too.
“As sexual wellness is becoming a more popular topic, both as part of public conversation and in the marketplace, we’ve been really excited to continually push the envelope,” says Kiana Reeves, Foria’s Chief Brand Educator. “Not in the traditional, shock-value sense, but in a genuine, soul-searching way.” For Foria, that takes the form of accessible, unflinching information hosted on the site’s blog and a full collection of ethically sourced products — and the ingredients found in them.
CBD’s Use In Sexual Wellness
CBD, a cannabinoid compound that can deliver physical relief and anti-anxiety benefits without the psychoactivity found in THC, is central to the line’s products along with a slew of other plant-based hero ingredients. In fact, Reeves says that in her experience, CBD and sexual wellness are a match made in heaven.
Reeves points to the hemp and cannabis’ historical use spanning thousands of years for uses ranging from arousal stimulators to relief for cramps and pain. “While the research is still out on exactly how CBD is working when used on the genitals, we do know that CBD has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, help muscles to relax, support blood flow, and effectively reduce stress,” she explains, adding that those factors all play a role in sexual pleasure. “We like to think of CBD as something that helps you relax, feel more available to pleasure and sensation, and gets you out of your head and into your body.”
To that end, Foria sells CBD-infused goods like suppositories, bath soaks, and personal lubricants, but the brand is committed to contributing to a larger mission of sexual health. Foria’s currently supporting a Harvard research physician's study on the potentially beneficial effects of the brand’s Relief suppositories on menstrual cramps.
Is All-Natural Always Good For You?
And while CBD is a key ingredient in Foria’s lineup, it’s far from a solo star. “There are a few reasons we choose to make 100% plant-based formulas — and they aren’t just plant-based; we’re also committed to sourcing all of our ingredients organically,” Reeves says, citing environmental concerns as a primary one along with formulating products with plants and extracts the consumer can truly trust. “Anything we put on or in the vagina gets absorbed into the body, so we’re incredibly careful and committed to only making products that are bodysafe for all people, and especially safe for people with vulvas,” she says, pointing to other naturally derived Foria ingredients like relaxing kava, stimulating mint, ginger, vanilla, and more. “These are well-known plants for a reason, and we’ve chosen to work with them based on their efficacy and safety,” Reeves explains. “This is an intimate and sensitive part of the body we are working with, and requires a lot of trust.”
A large reason why the brand’s current customers do trust Foria is its commitment to avoiding empty marketing terms for the sake of pushing a product. The same way many makeup initiatives were quick to re-label items as “clean” to effectively jump on the health-focused bandwagon, plenty of wellness and intimacy companies are doing the same thing — with the added gravity of working with products that are consumed or inserted into the body. While Reeves says it’s crucial to shop reputable brands with high trust ratings, she’s also quick to point out that all-natural doesn’t mean it’s innately great for you the same way something formulated with synthetics doesn’t automatically equate to harmful. “You can have an all-natural ingredient that was grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, extracted with methods that contaminate it even more, and then you end up with an ‘all-natural’ ingredient with a lot of unnatural components,” she says. “There is no regulation around using ‘all-natural’ as marketing language” — Foria likes to call the practice greenwashing — “so look for other qualifications or certifications, i.e. certified organic, regeneratively grown, GMO-free.”
Breaking Down The Sexual Stigma
Foria likes to make it clear that it’s not just here to talk about and facilitate sex and sexual pleasure — though it does that undoubtedly well. For Reeves, intimacy spans beyond just the bedroom, encompassing intimacy with partners, the planet, and one’s self. That means education and resources but also frank conversations about sex and the body in ways that have been traditionally skirted. “We don’t shy away from topics that can be triggering or bring up shame in people, and we still want them to feel like it's an invitation to the most important conversation of their lives,” Reeves says. “There is so much internalized shame about genitals in our culture (people with penises, included), yet for those of us with vulvas, we are often fretting about how we look to our partners, how we feel, how we smell, how we taste and so on.”
Reeves and Foria ultimately believe that the way to a satisfying, nourishing sex life isn’t through finding the right lubricant or stimulant (they do have those, too) but through a deeper understanding, connection to, and appreciation of one’s body. “This may take a lot of time to develop,” she says, “but it all starts with the simple act of radical self-acceptance.”
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.