Vabbing is the new beauty trend you probably won’t want to try

Suddenly, we’re all ‘vabbing’ | Soho House

Intimate fluids doubling up as perfume? Introducing the most polarising development in fragrance since Gwynie’s vaginal candle

Thursday 28 July 2022    By Tilly Pearman

‘Vabbing’, a sickly portmanteau of ‘vagina’ and ‘dabbing’, is – for those not in the know – one of the most controversial beauty trends to hit TikTok since, well, the platform was a twinkle in Zhang Yiming’s eye. In short, vabbing involves rubbing yourself downstairs, assuming you are in possession of a vagina, before patting the pheromone-laced juices onto your erogenous hotspots: a dab behind each ear and one for each wrist.
You can thank TikToker Mandy Lee for reigniting a trend that made its debut back in 2018. First picked up by comedians Carly Aquilino and Emma Willmann on their podcast, Secret Keepers Club, ‘vabbing’ was the term one inventive listener gave to her own DIY perfume, after she ‘double-tapped the puss’ in response to hearing how a male friend had used his ball sweat as cologne.
Next to board the ‘vag wagon’, was Shan Boodram, a sexologist and self-described ‘intimacy expert’ whose book, The Game Of Desire – in which she discusses her divisive habit and trials it, no less, at Soho House – caught the attention of Refinery29, which published an excerpt in 2019: ‘if copulins (chemicals secreted by the vagina) are used as perfume, then they will attract anyone traditionally attracted to women with vulvas.’
Suddenly, we’re all ‘vabbing’ | Soho House
Suddenly, we’re all ‘vabbing’ | Soho House
Today, TikTokers are focused less on the science, and instead split into two opposing camps: those in complete bafflement – ‘I know we’re in a cost of living crisis, but seriously, ladies, just buy some perfume’, and veteran vabbers who claim that it makes them feel like a ‘sexy feral god’ and that ‘Elle Woods should have been teaching vabbing instead of bend and snap because it’s more effective’.
Whichever side you see yourself on, it’s interesting to ask why, three years on, vabbing is back in the spotlight. One argument is that the trend is a direct response to a recent spate of vulva shaming. Last year, a study by Callaly reported that one in four women has negative feelings towards their vulva, and that nearly half (46%) of 16 to 24-year-olds don’t actually know what a vulva is. Rates of labiaplasty were up 45% year-on-year in 2017, and ‘vajacials’ (vagina facials) continue to serve as a dubious route to vaginal palatability. 
Could vabbing be the latest (admittedly divisive) mode by which vagina advocates are hoping to celebrate the beauty and diversity of all vaginas? Perhaps. 
Suddenly, we’re all ‘vabbing’ | Soho House
It’s not the first vaginal-positive beauty development of late, either. From Goop’s ‘This Smells Like My Vagina’ candle and Erykah Badu’s ‘Badussy’ incense (crafted from burning her own underwear) through to the opening of London’s first Vagina Museum and a recent movement to ‘free the lips’, aka the welcoming back of the camel toe, vagina positivity is having a moment. 
As for vabbing, this writer remains on the fence (with her legs firmly crossed). With no factual evidence to support anecdotal claims of its effectiveness (the scientific community, perhaps unsurprisingly given recent world events, hasn’t felt the need to prioritise the studies of using vaginal fluids as perfume) and a pervasive sense of grubbiness tricky to scrub from my mind, I think I might hold out a while (forever) before giving it a try. 
If you do fancy a vab this weekend, however, @jewlieah’s vabbing 101 video is worth a quick watch, not least for the fact that you’d be surprised how many people overlook the basics (no, you shouldn’t vab when you’re menstruating *inserts sick-face emoji here*). 
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