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Inside the bizarre world of vabbing, a TikTok trend where users apply vaginal fluid as perfume

Hey there, fellow human with a vajayjay! Are you tired of sliding into people’s DMs and resurrecting dry Bumble chats? Do you want your ideal match to be attracted to you organically instead of seeking them out yourselves? Most importantly, do you want to do all of this in the most Gwyneth Paltrow way possible?

If your itinerary for today checks all of the boxes above, meet vabbing, a viral TikTok trend taking ‘eau de toilette’ to the next level by using pheromones to lure a potential partner. So how exactly do you vab to nab a match? Where did the sketchy practice originate from? Heck, does it even work in the first place? Let’s dig in.

What is vabbing?

Vabbing or vab refers to ‘vaginal dabbing’, a practice where you apply secretions from—you guessed it—your vagina onto all the pressure points you would typically put perfume. Yes, this means your coochie juice would go on your wrists, inner elbow, base of your throat, behind your knees and even your ears.

Urban Dictionary does a pretty good job in defining vabbing, with the most decent entry on the platform reading: “This is when you stick your lady fingers in between your lady lips and put your lady juice behind your lady ears so that people want to sex your lady box.” Pretty much, yeah.

@jewlieah

♬ Wii - Mii Channel - Super Guitar Bros

Although claims of vabbing can be traced back to 2007 in the comment section of VabTok, it was first introduced to mainstream culture in the November 2018 episode of the Secret Keepers Club podcast, hosted by comedians Carly Aquilino and Emma Willmann. In an episode, the hosts discussed their gay male friend who used his “genital sweat” as cologne after learning about pheromones and sexual attraction. It was then that a vagina-having listener decided to give the technique a shot using their own juices. The enthusiast reportedly went on to dub the practice ‘vabbing’ after witnessing impressive results.

In 2019, sexologist Shan Boodram also illustrated the act in her book The Game of Desire but instead of calling it ‘vabbing’, she dubbed it the ‘Love Potion Number Vagine’. Fast forward to 2022, vabbing is all the rage on TikTok—with users uploading intensive tutorials and sharing their experiences after applying the bodily fluid at the gym (another reason why you should wipe down equipment before using them) and even while meeting their exes in public.

“I swear if you vab, you will attract people like a date or a one-night stand or you’ll just get free drinks all night,” TikToker Mandy Lee was heard saying in a now-deleted video that went viral on the platform in June. User @jewlieah then followed up with a series of TikToks about her experiences. “I don’t know who needs to hear this but vabbing works. Vabbing 100 per cent works, I got offered two free drinks at the pool and then a guy literally came back and gave me this,” she explained in a video while holding a luxury hair product.

@jewlieah

♬ original sound - jewlieah

Vabbing 101

Now onto the unpleasant nitty-gritty of the trend: What’s the proper way to vab? Is it safe for every vagina-haver to do? Are there any side effects or risks to consider?

Well, the ground rule of vabbing is that it should be done after you step out of the shower squeaky clean. The second rule is to wash your hands both before and after you vab. TikToker @jewlieah also went on to note how one should avoid rubbing vabbed areas, like your wrists, inner elbows or neck, on other people and things. Humanity might as well reel back to social distancing if this happens.

“If you’re on your period, simply wait,” the creator continued. “If you have an STD or spreadable disease, please refrain from vabbing… and of course, if you have an unusual smell or any bad odour down there, don’t vab and consult a doctor. You don’t need a whole lot of your own scents and juices for a successful vab, just a simple damp vab on your wrists and behind your ears will work perfectly fine.”

According to Healthline, there are no drawbacks, side effects or risks related to the practice either. “There’s no reason to think that vabbing wouldn’t be safe,” the outlet mentioned. “However, as always, it’s important to ensure that your hands are clean before vabbing, as you don’t want to transfer any germs to your vagina.”

@flxameboo

What the fuck im never wearing perfume again. #flxameboo

♬ original sound - Bill💸

So, does vabbing actually work?

On TikTok, several users have equated vabbing to witchcraft and called “serial vabbers” out for using their bodily fluids as a “gross love spell” to trap mates. This makes you wonder: does vabbing even work in the first place, despite claims from several creators on the platform who are also seen dousing themselves in body lotions and mists at the same time?

Well, before you plan on sanitising your hands and reaching down there for a dab of mother nature’s perfume, it’s worth knowing that there’s no proven science behind the practice.

Although it’s a fact that pheromones affect mating behaviour in animals, researchers have been trying to find a human sex pheromone for decades but the research has come up short so far. There have also been several debates within the scientific community as to whether or not humans produce pheromones in the first place.

“We cannot say for sure based on the studies that human pheromones affect human mating behaviour,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Blair Murphy-Rose told The New York Post, adding that most research has been done using animals and not humans. “While some may argue they have anecdotal evidence to suggest a significant effect in attracting a mate via one’s pheromones, we just don’t have the hard data to back it up at this point.”

@snazzy.jazzyy

♬ original sound - Aaron 🫢

The publication also noted how researchers in Egypt concluded that pheromone-phenomenon studies conducted before 2021 are “weak”—noting that, unlike most mammals, humans have “large and complex brains” in which pheromones only play minor roles in attraction. “The data available on human olfactory communication is inconclusive to date, with some results suggesting a significant effect exists, and others, the opposite,” Dr. Murphy-Rose continued.

The expert, however, believes the alleged spike in interest might be due to pumped-up confidence. “It is thought that if those who have tried vabbing and experienced enhanced attraction abilities, it could be a placebo effect due to increased confidence out in the field,” she explained. This checks out, considering how some VabTok creators have admitted to witnessing a boost in sexual confidence right after exiting the bathroom with a fresh swipe and dab.

With all that being said, remember that there’s nothing gross about being comfortable with your body’s natural and healthy secretions. If a light vabbing sesh gives you a massive confidence boost then march right into your bathroom and get twirling—you should be good as long as you don’t do it at the expense of making someone else uncomfortable.

Because at the end of the day, if your potential match isn’t attracted to who you are as a person, there’s no guarantee that violent dabs of coochie juice on your neck is going to change that anytime soon.

@k.onzii

#FaceZoom uhmmmmm😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭#fypシ #relatable #vabbingperfume

♬ Use this if you are Connor Hesse or Spencewuah - 80

Can a cosmetic procedure influence an entire subculture? TikTok’s ‘BBL effect’ proves so

We previously talked about gen Z’s increasing obsession with baby Botox. Administered in smaller doses than traditional Botox, the non-surgical treatment essentially embraces an impending anti-ageing beauty boom among the demographic. But what happens when an invasive cosmetic procedure initiates recipients into a whole new subculture altogether? Introducing the ‘BBL effect’, one of the costliest TikTok trends that everyone can ironically get ‘behind’ free of cost.

What is BBL?

Sorry to burst your bubble but ‘BBL’ is not the acronym for ‘Be Back Later’ like it is speculated. The TikTok-native term translates to ‘Brazilian Butt Lift’—a surgical procedure in which fat is removed from various parts of the body and re-injected into the hips and buttocks. Using a combination of liposuction and fat-grafting, the procedure results in added volume, defined curves and an overall lift to the lower contours of the body.

Performed under general anesthesia, a BBL usually starts with a cosmetic surgeon outlining the planned areas of liposuction—a procedure that involves making incisions in the skin and then using a tube to remove fat from the body. The fat here is usually taken from the abdomen and lower back of the surgery’s recipient. Once the fat is collected in a specialised system that separates live fat cells from liposuction fluid, it is then injected back into the marked areas of the butt. About three to five incisions are made again for fat transfer, which are later closed up with stitches. The surgeon quickly follows up by applying a compression garment against the operated areas to minimise the risk of bleeding.

In terms of the aftercare, one factor is a given: you won’t be able to sit on your butt for about two weeks following surgery. You’ll also be advised to sleep on your side or on your stomach until the area has completely healed. Strenuous exercise is also advised against for several weeks. Experts in the field divide the recovery process of the procedure into three stages: the first few days, first several weeks and first several months.

Over the first few days, the recipient can generally go back to work. But a desk job would essentially require them to be either seated on a donut-shaped seat or a pillow placed under their thighs to avoid direct pressure on their buttocks. During the first several weeks, most of the swelling reduces and the bruising starts to heal. This is the ideal period for them to return to gyms and travel on any kind of public transport. The last stage is where the remaining swelling evens out and the transferred fat settles.

According to a recent survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of BBLs performed globally has grown by 77.6 per cent since 2015. Dubbed as “the fastest growing cosmetic surgery in the world,” BBLs can range anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000. This demand, however, is considered to be ill-favoured, given the list of side effects associated with the procedure.

Between 2011 and 2016 alone, there have been 25 deaths related to the surgery. In 2017, a plastic surgery task force revealed that three percent of plastic surgeons who performed the procedures had witnessed the death of a patient. Overall, one in 3,000 BBLs have resulted in death, making it one of the world’s most dangerous cosmetic procedures at the same time.

So, what is the ‘BBL effect’ on TikTok?

Pioneered by a New York-based creator, Antoni Bumba, #bbleffect is a TikTok trend playing on the iconic Point Of View (POV) narrative. Users here can be seen channelling the cosmetic procedure into an entire subculture—with a highly specific mannerism, behaviour and fashion sense.

“POV: Someone with a BBL goes to the gym,” a video title reads, as the TikToker proceeds to lift a pair of weights emphasising her butt in the workout. She then engages in a highly superficial activity of pout-sipping a drop of water from a glass tumbler—all the while fixing her hair behind her ears with ‘those hands’. Those hands, you know, the ones you pull when your nail polish is air-drying. Your fingers would avoid touching each other while your nails social-distance from everything on Earth. It’s almost as if you’re constantly waiting for someone to take and kiss the back of your hand while exuding a royal aura.

Another video features a TikToker role-playing a Pope after getting a BBL done. Sitting cautiously on the couch, the user is seen flipping their cape instead of hair and sifting through the pages of the Holy Bible before staring into an aesthetic distance. Although there is a significant amount of backlash in the comments section, the video goes on to show the versatility of the procedure in itself.

@antonibumba

shoutout @shaayyne for being paparazzi

♬ knock knock pitched - Tik Toker
@antonibumba

it’s a state of mind.

♬ knock knock pitched - Tik Toker

From restaurants to community pools and graduation ceremonies, recipients of the BBL are alleged to have faced an evolution in terms of their attitude and fashion style after the procedure. Their character is now a bad bitch incarnate—constantly fixing their hair, fluttering their lashes and brooding into a distance while holding three-ply masks two inches away from their faces. All of this, done to the same chaotic TikTok audio ‘Knock Knock’ by the 19-year-old Atlanta rapper SoFaygo.

Although the trend was started by Bumba, many have jumped on with their own spin-offs—including the contrasting POV of “someone who doesn’t have a BBL.” Often spotted heading to beaches and pool parties, a non-BBL recipient on TikTok is someone who refuses to take off their pants in the sun or hides behind hand towels. The TikTok trend has also inspired #lipfiller POVs, currently at 1.1 billion views and counting.

Be it to mock or merely manifest the cosmetic procedure, TikTok’s ‘BBL effect’ is out there and multiplying as we speak. Neither is the trend exclusive to women on the platform nor is it necessary to go under the knife to jump on it. And even if you are “someone with a BBL,” you’re more than welcome to head over and share your experience. TikTok is bound to listen.

@tirsdagen

pov: someone who doesn't have a bbl goes to the beach #bbleffect #fyp #foryou

♬ knock knock pitched - Tik Toker