As a board-certified OB/GYN, Dr. Manuela Maria Vazquez has been at the front line of feminine wellness for 12 years. With the launch of her DTC brand LaMaria, and the Carioca Feminine Moisturizer (a nod to her Brazilian roots), she is looking to further celebrate women of all ages. The brand was inspired by Vazquez’s mother, who instilled her with a celebratory and positive attitude towards all hormonal stages and changes of life. “For me, a feminine wellness brand looks at us as women as a whole, supports us from head-to-toe, both on the inside and outside, mentally and soulfully,” she states. “I created LaMaria to continue the honoring of who we are, to respect what our bodies have done for us, from the beginning all the way to the end.”
The feminine intimate care market is worth $1.24bn and expected to grow to $1.45bn by 2025, but the sector has previously been divided between pre-menopausal and menopausal customers. LaMaria aims to unify them. The Carioca moisturizer targets vaginal dryness, one of the most prominent symptoms of menopause, but which can also be influenced by birth control, antidepressants, and breastfeeding. 50% of women over the age of 50 and 15-20% under 50 suffer from the condition. Even without external factors, the body’s natural estrogen levels start to decline around 35 and take consecutive dramatic dips in the 40s and 50s, leading to decreased moisture levels. “Estrogen is one of the most important hormones we have as women. It is used in some form or another in all of our organ systems. We have so many estrogen receptors in our vulva and on our skin,” Vazquez explains. “I made this moisturizer in hopes that it would be a beautiful experience for younger and older women, that it would be a pampering experience for all and viewing dryness as a natural hormonal change rather than a diseased state.”
The moisturizer’s star ingredient is phytoestrogen, a plant nutrient compound that supports the body’s production of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin that also carries potent antioxidant properties. The formula also includes coconut extract, olive oil, and aloe vera leaf extract, while omitting parabens, alcohol, synthetic fragrance, silicone, sulfates, petroleum, phthalates, and synthetic colors. The result is a non-irritating cream that is compatible with the vagina’s pH levels, emulates the body’s own natural secretions, and offers long-lasting moisturizing effects. Its sleek, elegant, and discreet packaging further embodies an elevated and self-care-driven experience. The effective cocktail of ingredients has also been adapted for the facial region in the upcoming Mineira moisturizer.
Ultimately, Vazquez hopes to create more candid discussions around, and reframe, how women perceive their individual evolution—with plans to launch an educational platform on the LaMaria website that will help the brand evolve into a trusted resource for consumer questions. “All the women that come into my practice around their 40s and 50s, which is when their hormones start to decline, see it as their own personal decline. That’s so sad and we need to change the way society views that, and the shame and taboo that’s associated with hormonal changes,” she explains, pointing to the lack of conversation and personal shame around feminine wellness, especially regarding menopause, which comes with often-overlooked benefits. “You’ll never have to buy tampons or pads again, you’re free to have intercourse whenever you want and not have to worry about getting pregnant,” she explains. “Most women at this point in their lives are sure of who they are and still have a journey ahead of them with a sense of self that they didn’t have in other years. This is a celebration, a new freedom.”