A new intimate wellness company aims to help women with common but neglected problems

dr. Beri Ridgeway and Susan Goldsberry are a unique duo in the startup world: Ridgeway, an obstetrician-gynaecologist, and Goldsberry, a successful formulator of cosmetics and skincare. Through their new company In athey try to solve problems that at one time or another affect nearly 50 percent of the population, but are rarely talked about: vaginal health and comfort.

Goldsberry was caring for her elderly mother when she realized that there are very few products on the market for women over 55 who are dealing with vaginal dryness due to decreased estrogen levels. When she looked at drugstore options, they were loaded with ingredients she found problematic: chemicals and fragrances that, as a formulator, she knew not to be used on a sensitive area of ​​skin.

So she turned to an old friend, Dr. Beri Ridgeway, to develop a new line of vaginal care products free of these ingredients. In 2018 Goldsberry put the idea on paper, developed the concept, the possible line-up of products and the branding. In 2019, Goldsberry allocated some of the money she had earned from her previous job as owner of Benchmark Laboratories, which was sold to KDC/ONE to get Ina to work.

This week they debut their flagship products: a cleanser, balm, oil elixir, hydrating serum and anti-chafing cream. Priced between $29 and $42 each, they hope to help more women, especially mature women, who want gentle vulva products.

“These are common issues that women complain about, but there are so few products that are made from safe, gentle ingredients,” says Dr. Beri Ridgeway. Vulvovaginal dryness can occur in perimenopause, during menopause, or after menopause, she explains, because women’s bodies go through a hormonal shift. With less estrogen, the skin in the vulva area can tighten, leading to painful sex, general irritation and overall dryness. “Not everyone is a candidate for topical estrogen, and not everyone wants to pursue that. So what are the alternatives?”

For this, Ina recommends their cleanser and serum. But the second common problem, she notes, is somewhat the opposite: excess fluid in the vulva, which can lead to infection or a bacterial imbalance. “This could be due to excessive sweating, leakage, or wearing pads regularly, which means the area is often moist,” she adds. “When that happens on the thinnest sensitive skin in our bodies, it starts to break down and cause irritation.”

She recommends the barrier balm to protect the skin. “It’s a lofty safe product and there’s nothing quite like it on the market yet. Remember that the skin of the vulva is more sensitive than the skin of your face.”

Goldsberry, who has been formulating for more than 40 years, notes that their products are made from 97 percent natural ingredients and have been clinically tested for safety and effectiveness. But she’s also amazed why the industry hasn’t come up with something like this sooner. Part of it, she says, comes down to companies not having the deep knowledge or relationships with their formulators and manufacturers. Because Ina is made in-house and she’s an experienced formulator, it’s easier for her to pinpoint ingredients she’d like to avoid, and others she’d rather include.

In fact, much of the collection reads like any other skincare line, infused with botanicals, aloe, and other soothing ingredients, she says. But getting there took time; in fact, the barrier balm she said went through 50 iterations before getting to the final formulation. “It’s also about the feeling. So many of the products on the market that I saw did not have a good user experience. They were sticky, tacky, not pleasant to use.”

Although Goldsberry developed Ina with her elderly mother in mind, the products are not limited to adult women. “We say they are for daily or regular use to maintain a healthy vulva. And they are for all women.”