Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop is known for touting some pretty out-there wellness products. Between bamboo toilet paper and $200 smoothie recipes, Paltrow isn’t afraid to embrace controversy with her lifestyle brand. She even tried to convince people that putting a jade egg in your vagina can regulate hormones and improve your sex life—a claim that California prosecutors later deemed misleading and not scientifically sound.
In case anyone was concerned that Goop was running out of outlandish ideas, the brand recently started selling a candle called “This Smells Like My Vagina” . Yes, you read that right.
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The candle is a blend of geranium, citrusy bergamot, cedar, Damask rose, and ambrette seed, according to Goop’s product description. Totally what a vagina smells like, right? Well, apparently Paltrow and Douglas Little, founder of Heretic Parfums (whom GP partnered with to create the candle), believe that to be the case.
When Paltrow and Little first began collaborating on the candle, Paltrow apparently “blurted out” that the scent reminded her of a vagina, per Goop’s product description. But the candle wasn’t “perfect” by GP’s standards. So, the duo continued to work on it until the candle “evolved into a funny, gorgeous, sexy, and beautifully unexpected scent,” according to Goop’s description.
Your Vagina Does Have a Scent
But uh, for the record, while most vaginas do indeed have their own natural scent, it’s completely fine if your vagina does not smell like a citrusy blend of flowers.
The reason there’s a scent down there in the first place is that the vagina has its own microbiome—meaning, similar to the mouth and the gut, it’s loaded with bacteria that keeps the vagina in a healthy state and keeps less favorable bacteria (which can lead to bad odors) in check, Karen Brodman, M.D., an ob-gyn in NYC and assistant clinical professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Everything from sex to the type of clothing you wear (and how long you’ve been wearing it) can affect the bacteria down there, and in turn, your vaginal scent. That said, it’s kind of tough to pin down what a vagina “should” smell like. “Every woman has her own scent,” Allison Hill, M.D., an ob-gyn at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, told us in a previous interview.
What Your Vagina Shouldn’t Smell Like
But experts are pretty clear on what a vagina shouldn’t smell like. “It shouldn’t smell fishy, or be strong enough to smell from afar,” explained Dr. Brodman, adding that if you notice any foul, fishy scents down there—or anything at all that strays from your own “normal” odor—it’s not a bad idea to consult your doc about it.
Seriously, though, if your vagina doesn’t naturally smell like flowers, that doesn’t mean you need any kind of scented spray or special vagina-cleansing products (reminder: the vagina cleans itself). In fact, douching products can actually increase your risk of problems like pelvic inflammatory disease, Lauren Streicher, M.D., author of Love Sex Again, previously told Shape. Again, since the vagina is self-cleaning, all you need to do is clean the outside of the vagina (your vulva) with some water and maybe a mild soap once a day, and leave the inside (your vagina) alone, explained Dr. Streicher.
As for Goop’s candle, no judgment if the scent sounds like something you’re genuinely into. But equating geranium and Damask rose to a vagina? That’s probably a stretch.