Women are embracing an unexpected new dating practice because of the “love potion” tendencies — but there’s one big misconception.
To say that there is a lot of dating advice on TikTok would be an understatement.
Gone are the days of Dolly Doctor: explanations of everything from the deceitful “ick” to color theory and the reign of the short king are treated like gospel, exchanged in singles’ group chats like old wives’ tales.
But “vabbing” – the latest trend to grab the platform – is a tad more alternative than simply embracing romantic partners who are different in stature from you.
A portmanteau of the words “vagina” and “dabbing,” the Goop-esque practice promotes the use of vaginal fluids as perfume, encouraging you to dab them in the areas where you would normally wear fragrance — behind the ears, the wrists, and on the neck.
According to the women of TikTok who embraced the deed, the pheromones from your vagina will help you attract throngs of potential mates.
“I swear if you vab, you’ll attract people, like a date, a one-night stand. Or just get free drinks all night long,” influencer and fashion writer Mandy Lee, who introduced “vabbing” into the site’s vernacular a few weeks ago, said in her now viral clip.
“Elle Woods should have learned vabbing instead of bending and breaking — it’s more effective.”
The reactions of the thousands of women in the comments were mixed, with some not sure if Lee’s video was a hoax.
“Every time I think I’ve seen it all, I see a few more,” one person wrote.
“What in the Gwyneth Paltrow??” commented another.
“This sounds like something Gwyneth Paltrow would do,” joked a third.
“I keep watching this over and over because I can’t believe my ears lmao.”
However, an overwhelming majority stated that they were happy to “try it out”, while other experienced vabbers shared their own experiences.
“I had a friend do this for job interviews!” one woman wrote, while another said she “uses it for bartending”.
“I’ve kept this for SO long. Let’s take over the world ladies,” a third commented.
As evidenced by the comments below Lee and other creators’ videos, vabbing isn’t new: The practice first caused a stir in a November 2018 episode of the Secret Keepers Club†
A female listener called up the podcast after a man in a previous episode used his “ball sweat” as cologne and told presenters Carly Aquilino and Emma Willmann that he had inspired her to produce her own… perfume.
The experiment had “overwhelmingly positive results,” with the listener targeting all her friends and the group calling it “vabbing.”
Author Shan Boodram – who hosts the podcast Lovers and friends with Shan Boodram — has also been a long-time advocate of vabbing.
The popular sexologist sparked interest in the act, which she “indulged in” for 15 years, when she explained its intricacies on YouTube, forcing many to give it a try.
“I might give this a try! It makes sense that it has to do with your natural scent and pheromones. And it is certainly a lot cheaper than perfume!” wrote another.
But if you’re considering trading your Baccarat Rouge 540 for your personal home brew, hold on to your horses.
While animals and insects have a gland that produces pheromones — the chemical that transmits information — humans have a nearly useless vomeronasal organ, which is why vabbing won’t work, OBGYN and author of The Vagina BibleDr Jen Gunter, explained to: the cut†
It doesn’t hurt to carry your vaginal fluids — as long as your hands are clean and you don’t have hepatitis B (which can live on surfaces for a long time) — but, said Dr. Gunter, humans’ positive response to smell is an evolutionary response, not a hormonal one.
“People confuse conditioning with the concept of pheromones. It only takes a few exposures to something that we think is pleasant to love that scent,” she added.
“If people really believe there are pheromones, they are misled. I think it shows us how very easily medical disinformation can be seen as fact.”
Professor Mark Elgar, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Melbourne, echoed a similar sentiment to the ABC.
“I think the whole idea of vabbing is hilarious, and I hope no one takes it too seriously,” he said.
When it comes to attracting potential lovers, Prof Elgar added, people look for “a whole host of other cues,” not just personal scents.
“It could be how you look, it could be how you speak, the frequency, your voice that seems to have an influence,” he said.
“No matter how amusing you are, or how charming you are, it could be anything.”
While Boodram also acknowledged that there was “no conclusive evidence about the impact of vabbing,” she wrote in her 2019 book, The Game of Desire: 5 Surprising Secrets to Dominance Dating — and Get What You Wantthe act is more about how it makes you to feel†
“Vaginal fluids…really any time you want to feel an extra boost of confidence can serve as a love potion,” Boodram said.
“Regardless of whether vaginal pheromones really make a person irresistible or not, the fact that you think this is the case will make you act more courageously and confidently. There are no health risks to others and unless you suspect you have bacterial vaginosis, it won’t make you smell bad.
“I’ve used this technique countless times over the past 10 years and had mixed results: sometimes people flock to me, sometimes I don’t notice a difference.
“So while I’m not sure how effective this experiment is, I’m sure every time I use it, I feel like an enchanted goddess with a delicious secret.”