It’s 2018 and no one is here for vaginal dryness. Vulva care is in.
For those who are late to the self-love party, there no better time than now to start taking proper care of yourself, starting with the body. Women are very practical creatures. We will invest in an extensive skincare routine dedicated to the face, splurging on products to target problems such as dry, irritated, or even saggy skin; but this effort is somehow lost for areas that are less visible.
Whether it is because we still lack ample education (sex education in school was hilarious) or speaking of the area “down there” is still considered something dirty in our society, it is time to let these pussies out of the bag.
Launched in August earlier this year, TWO L(I)PS embodies one woman’s radical desire to turn the tables by recasting taboo as an indulgence. The vulva skincare brand is the latest addition to the Spa Esprit’s eclectic portfolio of lifestyle, beauty, and dining names, including Tippling Club, Strip, Browhaus, Ding Dong, and Tiong Baruh Bakery.
Positioned as a luxurious, organic option for women to treat themselves where they matter most, TWO L(I)PS is more than a hedonistic skincare option. It represents, perhaps, the beginning of a more open-minded and liberal attitude in society, a time where we can finally see feminine products targeting our most intimate areas blown up to billboard sizes, penetrating everyday conversations, and redefining the norm for self-care.
It is also an urgent call for us to #LoveYourVulvaMore; to bring it out of the dark and into the mainstream narrative.
Homegrown girl boss, beauty maverick and lifestyle trend-spotter, Cynthia Chua, the founder of TWO L(I)PS and Spa Esprit, preaches a similar ethos across her lifestyle and personal grooming empire. She shares more about her journey with TWO L(I)PS, the truth behind vulva care, and a piece of important advice for grown-ass women to treat themselves right.
Tell us a bit about your background and how did you eventually become interested in skincare products.
I studied Economics and Statistics in National University of Singapore and was previously in the banking industry, which I hated.
I have a very sensitive sense of smell and I’ve always been interested in the science of fragrance, amongst many other interests of fashion, foods, alternative therapy, etc. I’m generally interested in anything with a cultural and lifestyle element. I’m curious about how these elements can effect change if you spot a progressive idea early enough – one that can turn into a trend, and how I can offer this to people in a way that is unexpected, fun and useful for them. I did my aromatherapy training in Beaumont College in the UK, and a training stint in hot stone massage in Brooklyn.
One thing led to another and I opened the first lifestyle outlet Spa Esprit in 1996 at Singapore’s bohemian hub, Holland Village. We were one of the first to introduce hot stone massage in Singapore and we offered quirky treatments that combined eastern and western therapies.
Spa Esprit was the beginning of everything, and it sets the tone for everything we’ve done since: a great experience with an element of surprise, a lot of fun and wit, and quirkiness. Over the years we developed 16 signature aromatherapy blends and as our beauty business expanded across facial and beauty treatments, we started to develop our own beauty products too. A natural progression of all things, and to date, we have 15 different brands across beauty, lifestyle and food – each one unique and always bridging gaps that I see in the market.
What inspired you to create TWO L(I)PS?
The initial idea for TWO L(I)PS was seeded 5 years ago. More women (and men) were getting Brazilian waxes and AFT hair removal (a more progressive technology than IPL) at Strip. Through the years we were hearing from customers, our friends and therapists, asking – what’s next? What else can they do after? If they had a dryness in their vulva area, what can they do about it? And they were more likely to be asking their beauty therapists because we were there, and we had the knowledge. That was a gap in the market, which I knew we could fill.
We’re going through a time where people are generally taking better care of themselves, be it their physical health, bodies or mental health. It’s about self-love, self-care and finding a more holistic way of taking care of ourselves. What we do for our faces and the rest of our bodies, why not the vulva, which no one talks about? TWO L(I)PS provides women with the tools for these choices – if they want to pamper their vulva area – we’re here! We’re taking skincare to the next level.
The market for intimate care is growing – how does TWO L(I)PS differentiate itself?
All our brands have always embraced humour, wit and fun. The subject of TWO L(I)PS can be overwhelming, and even taboo. I’ve never shied away from difficult topics – I see this as an opportunity to create conversation and for people to consider changing social and cultural stigma and remove their own reticence.
Through wit and humour, we’re making TWO L(I)PS accessible and fun. Obviously, underneath all the fun and humour, the product itself has to be efficacious and beneficial! We’ve put in a lot of effort to make really good products that actually work, making sure that the formulas in TWO L(I)PS are effective, safe and luxurious to use. That aside, women will not try these for themselves if they were shy about talking about their vulvas or pretending it doesn’t exist.
So not only are we offering women choices for vulva self-care, we aim to kick-start conversations, and remove the shame and shyness that we tend to have surrounding the vulva.
It was through wit and humour that we changed the perception of hair removal when we first opened Strip. Back then everyone thought waxing was only for porn stars! We’ve changed that perception and we will do the same with TWO L(I)PS. In terms of product difference, TWO L(I)PS will always launch products that are innovative in their formulas and fun in their usage. Blackout Mask is possibly the world’s first activated charcoal sheet mask for the vulva.
What is the top benefit from using the Blackout Mask?
Blackout Mask offers not just one but four benefits in a single sheet mask for your vulva: detoxing, soothing, hydration and brightening. It detoxes through activated binchotan charcoal which has pretty powerful but safe properties that boosts lymphatic drainage from the groin lymph node area, pretty much in the same way that a lymphatic drainage massage is helpful. It hydrates, soothes and brightens dull areas caused by chaffing and friction from clothing, or marks left by shaving/ingrown hair with organic botanical extracts.
All the ingredients used in Blackout Mask have been specially chosen for their scientifically-known hydrating, calming and safe benefits, and are free of alcohol, sulphates, parabens and petrochemicals. We designed the Blackout Mask to be used after hair removal sessions or activities such as tanning and swimming that might cause dryness and sensitivity to the vulva area.
What has creating TWO L(I)PS taught you about the beauty and/or skincare industry as a whole?
It’s never easy to pioneer a new concept, especially those that touch on taboo topics attached with cultural stigma, such as Strip and TWO L(I)PS. It’s definitely simpler to ride the wave of whatever is trendy at the moment, and you’ll see this across beauty and food – waves of products extolling a super ingredient of the month.
However, I see more fun and longevity in braving new ideas and concepts. Our journey of innovation and invention is never-ending; that’s important, if we are to stay ahead. I’ll only launch products that I believe in, have tested on myself, and believe to be beneficial to women… and men.
As a woman who juggles many hats, what is the one tip you wish more women knew when it comes to self-love?
No matter how busy you are, you have to take time out for yourself. Whether it’s a breather, a metal detox or physical activity that will take your away from the daily grind of life. Creating your own ritual that takes you to a comfortable place is the least you can do for yourself. It provides clarity and balance in everything you do. I believe in positivity and good energy. Self-love and self-care can exist in so many ways.
In TWO L(I)PS, we’ve made products that specifically addresses this – not just for your mental well-being but also products that have beneficial effects for your body – take the 15min for yourself to mask on and blackout. Self-love comes with loving everything that you are. It is important to note that TWO L(I)PS isn’t about “perfecting” your vulva. It’s awesome and powerful the way it is. We’re here to provide you with the tools of choice to pamper yourself if you want to.
What can we expect from TWO L(I)PS in 2019 and beyond?
We’ll be launching 15 new products in the next 24 months under TWO L(I)PS! These will be luxurious skincare products for your vulva that are luxurious, luminous, and ultra-fun. I won’t reveal too much yet as that’ll spoil it all. Hint: serums, creams and Day & Night scents. We will also be opening standalone TWO L(I)PS stores in Singapore. Right now, you can buy Blackout Masks at Strip outlets and our online store.