OB-GYN Manuela Maria Vazquez Launches LaMaria With Skincare Designed For Hormonal Changes
While gen Z may be the darling demo for many emerging beauty companies, OB-GYN Manuela Maria Vazquez is targeting the 30-and-over set with her new brand LaMaria.
Launching today, the luxury feminine wellness brand, which she describes as created to “complement and celebrate the natural hormonal changes that occur throughout a woman’s life,” is starting out with two products: $158 Mineira Phytoestrogen-Infused Facial Moisturizer and $68 Carioca Feminine Moisturizer, a hydrator designed for the vulva. LaMaria is selling direct-to-consumer on its website, where subscriptions providing a 15% discount will be available at 45-, 60- and 75-day intervals.
Like skincare before it, the sexual health and wellness space is seeing an influx of merchandise linked to physicians. Along with LaMaria, there’s Urja Beauty, a skincare brand that’s released feminine intimate care range Urja Intimates by Dr. Sherry Ross, and Glissant, a line of luxury lubes from urologist Karen Eilber. In addition, there’s been a surge of brands recognizing that women experiencing menopause and those with it in the rearview window have skincare needs and money. Pause Well-Aging, State Of and Kindra are among the brands that preceded LaMaria with skincare products aimed at menopausal women.
Named after her mother, the idea for LaMaria came to Vazquez over a decade ago when she was completing her residency. “One of the most common complaints that I would hear from patients was vaginal dryness,” she says. “For women over the age of 50 who are in menopause, about 50% of them do complain of vaginal dryness, whether it’s chronic vaginal dryness that affects their quality of life on a daily basis or vaginal dryness just prior to intercourse or with intercourse. Then, about 20% of women under the age of 50 also complain of vaginal dryness throughout their lives.” Breastfeeding, antidepressants, birth control pills, additional medications and medical conditions can contribute to vaginal dryness in younger women.
Though some women turn to synthetic hormones to address symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause, including vaginal dryness, a substantial portion of them don’t want to go the hormone replacement therapy route. Those women are left with topical treatment options to deal with dryness, but Vazquez believes those options have left a lot to be desired.
“I would [tell my patients] to go to your local supermarket and look for the yeast infection medications aisle and, next to these infection medications, you’ll find a gel in a little box that looks very medicinal. It’s full of toxins. It’s not natural,” she says. “It’s, I thought, a sad experience for something that was being treated as a disease state, and vaginal dryness is not a disease state. It’s a natural hormonal change that should be treated as such, as something natural that happens to all of us.”
In 2018, Vazquez began researching naturally derived ingredients that can boost vaginal moisture. She discovered phytoestrogens, plant-based estrogen-mimicking compounds that have been shown in studies to attach to the estrogen receptors in the skin and mimic the effects of estrogen. “As women, estrogen is one of the most important hormones that we have, and it’s necessary to increase collagen production, hyaluronic acid production, elastin production,” details Vazquez. “Without it, skin feels dry, and you just don’t retain that moisture. These estrogen-mimicking compounds basically maintain that moisture for you. A lot of our [Carioca Feminine Moisturizer] users say that it feels like my own body created this. It feels like a natural secretion.”
Vazquez was intent on Carioca Feminine Moisturizer not having a greasy, heavy texture. “It feels very luscious, and it should feel like a pampering experience for your labia,” she says. “I have this instant yumminess down there. It feels so rehydrated so quickly.” The yumminess from the moisturizer is made to last unlike a lube that delivers it for short spans before or during sexual activity. LaMaria customers report improved moisture for hours and hours. “There’s a huge difference between a personal lubricant and a feminine moisturizer,” instructs Vazquez. “A personal lubricant is meant to be used just prior to intercourse or when you need some fast hydration, whereas a moisturizer is meant to have a long-lasting effect like when you apply it to your face.”
“I have this instant yumminess down there. It feels so rehydrated so quickly.”
LaMaria’s formulas are free of ingredients that can be vaginal irritants such as fragrance, glycerin and parabens. Carioca Feminine Moisturizer is pH balanced in order to not disrupt the vaginal ecosystem. Vazquez had originally plan to introduce LaMaria in January with only Carioca Feminine Moisturizer, but pushed back its launch to pair the product with Mineira Phytoestrogen-Infused Facial Moisturizer and be a broader feminine wellness brand rather than a narrow sexual wellness player.
Vazquez says, “Our plan was to do the feminine moisturizer first and, then, follow a few months later with the facial moisturizer, but we were getting such an overwhelming response for both that it was like, ‘Let’s just do this all at once to make it more cohesive and a more robust, strong brand.’”
To Vazquez, providing an elevated brand experience worthy of LaMaria’s price points was critical. “I wanted even just the box that it came in to be able to sit on your vanity next to your beautiful products that you use for your hair, your skin,” she says. “I wanted the outside to show the amount of time and effort that went into the box and the bottle—just as much as the actual product, a beautiful experience from beginning to end.”