Medicine Mama works its VMagic!

This personal care brand is on a mission to support women’s health and demystify the vulva. It won a NEXTY Award in the process. This must-read article will tell you how.

Dawn Reiss

April 28, 2024

5 Min Read
Medicine Mama

Not enough time or attention is spent on women’s health. Dr. Clare Bertucio, CEO and chief medical officer of Medicine Mama, is hoping to change that gender disparity.

“We don't talk about our bodies as women, especially what lies between the navel and the knees,” Bertucio says. “It's sort of ‘down there.’”

Her mission: to create awareness for women’s needs and health care issues and offer empowerment while helping them with intimate skin care for their vulva and vagina.

That’s caught the attention of many.


Khloé Kardashian gave bonus points to Medicine Mama’s VMagic Vulva Balm for it being 100% organic, calling it "Aquaphor for your vagina.” Elle magazine named the product to its list of “Best Doctor-Recommended Feminine Washes,” while Yahoo rated the balm as the best natural product for vaginal dryness.

The organic, hormone-free vulva balm combines extra-virgin olive oil, beeswax and avocado oil to soften and moisturize skin. It’s a product that helps maintain the pH and moisture of the vulva, Bertucio says. The large tub of intimate balm is easy to use at home—but it doesn’t exactly travel well.

To make it more portable, Medicine Mama created an “on-the-go” size packaged in a discrete lipstick-like format, aptly named Lips Stick, to help women relieve feminine dryness, itching, burning, redness and irritation.

“It’s the same balm, but in a really cool package so you can take it wherever you go,” Bertucio says. “So if you feel a little bit dry, irritated, chafing, excuse yourself to the restroom and you have your Lips Stick.”

The ingenuity helped Medicine Mama’s Lips Stick earn the 2024 Natural Products Expo West NEXTY Award for best personal care product. It’s one of 35 winners across 35 categories narrowed from nearly 1,500 nominated products and 154 finalists.


Photo: Dr. Clare Bertucio, at left, celebrating Medicine Mama's NEXTY Award win at Expo West 2024.

"It was so exciting,” Bertucio says. “Because it felt like such a validation and recognition of all the hard work and sacrifices that [me] and my team have put in. As much as you believe in something, you never really know until you make it huge, and we’re not there yet.”

Still, Medicine Mama’s organic vulva balm is the top-selling vulva balm on Amazon, Bertucio says, where one is sold every five minutes.  

See it, name it, own it

Bertucio says the journey has been a labor of love. About 15 years ago, she and her husband became angel investors in the brand when it launched. Roughly five years ago, Bertucio pivoted from being a full-time practitioner to running the company.

In the last year, Medicine Mama went through a rebrand. Much of the sales are direct-to-consumer through its website or Amazon.

The decision to focus on virtual sales is due in part to the educational component and the conversations that Bertu­cio is trying to have with women publicly. There aren’t enough discussions around how to wash the vulva versus the vagina, Bertu­cio says, or about dryness or the importance of keeping your natural pH level intact.

“As a physician, I am sadly and sorely aware of the dearth of education that women get and have about their own bodies,” Bertucio adds. If women don’t know about and aren’t able to discuss this vitally important region of their bodies, that’s a problem, she says.

“I always say, ‘the world is birthed over the vulva,’ and yet we don't talk about it,” Bertucio says. “We don't name it. We don't own it.”

As a physician and an educator, Bertucio says a huge push has been to educate women about their bodies, the importance of taking care it, and how to recognize and understand when something is healthy and something isn’t.

Some of Medicine Mama's kits include a handheld mirror and a card that includes details on how to do a vulva and vaginal exam.

That’s because most women learn from a physician how to do a breast exam, so they notice if something isn’t right. Women are just as quick to run to dermatologist if they notice something new on their face.

“We don't do that with the vulva and the vagina,” Bertucio says. “Most women don’t know what’s normal. Your vulva is as unique to you as your fingerprints.” And yet, most women don’t know what their own vulva looks like, Bertucio says.

“When you can't name something, you don't own it,” she adds. “You don't recognize it for its own innate inherent beauty. That’s why our new packaging, our rebrand and the focus is on the vulva.”

Now featured on its direct-to-consumer packaging is a raised diagram of the vulva that includes the parts of the vulva named on it so that customers can understand their own anatomy.


“It was a risk,” Bertucio says. “But it was really important to me not to buy into representing your vulva as a shell, or even a beautiful rose, because that's not what it is. It’s all part of the educational piece of what we're trying to do.” 

Ready for retail?

Right now, most retailers aren’t ready for that type of explicit education on packaging. Bertucio says she has been told the packaging is too graphic, that the public is not ready to see a realistic picture of a vulva, even if it’s done as a relief with labeling and not a photo.

After a big internal discussion, Bertucio says Medicine Mama opted to offer the products sans vulva diagram to get on the shelves at retailers. Products sold directly to consumers still feature the diagram.

“Retailers said, ‘Hey, we can’t put this on our shelves,’” Bertucio says. “We went back and forth about it, and ultimately decided that it was still more important to get our messaging [and product] out there than to just be stubborn.”

The compromise is starting to pay off. In mid-April, Sprouts Farmers Market began carrying Medicine Mama products in its stores.“I’d still rather have the product and the messaging out there than deny women access to the product,” Bertucio says. “Part of the education leads directly to empowerment. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about your body, the more you are able to talk openly about your body and the more powerful as a person you are.”

About the Author(s)

Dawn Reiss

Dawn Reiss is a Chicago-based journalist who has written for TIME, The New York Times, The Atlantic, AFAR, Travel + Leisure, Civil Eats,, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, among others. Find her at

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