It's not just waxing and trimming anymore. We got into the weeds on the latest vaginal-beautification trends.
2 of 7James Worrell
What it is: Dolling up waxed pubic skin with stick-on gewgaws. Jennifer Love Hewitt put this trend on the map when she talked about it on TV.
Is it safe? Chances are you’ll get away with it. But there’s no telling how your freshly waxed crotch will react to the adhesives. Those rhinestones might also get scratchy once you get down to business. “I would say spend your money on sexy lingerie or a good pair of shoes instead,” says Jennifer Gunter, MD, an OB-GYN and director of pelvic pain and vulvovaginal disorders at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. “They’ll last longer.”
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What it is: Coloring pubic hair to match your other ’do, cover up gray, or amuse your partner on Halloween.
Is it safe? The skin beneath your pubic hair is far more easily irritated than your scalpwhich is what most hair dyes are intended for. “Does it mean you shouldn’t dye your pubic hair? That’s a personal choice,” says Libby Edwards, MD, chief
of dermatology at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina,
and a specialist in diseases of the vulva and vagina. “But I would certainly test it out on another part of your body first.” (Try your armpit, since the skin in that area is almost as sensitive.)
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What it is: Chemically lightening the skin of your vulva.
Is it safe? Whether it’s designed for your laundry or your labia, any type of bleach can cause irritation, blistering, even chemical burns. “Most women get away without a problem,” Dr. Edwards says. “But considering the risk and what the objective here is, I think bleaching is a pretty stupid idea.”
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What it is: Using wax to take off most or all of your pubic hair.
Is it safe? Most everyone’s vulva is better off with the extra protection and padding of pubic hair, Dr. Gunter says. Waxing can also irritate or tear delicate skin, as well as lead to ingrown hairs, rashes, and infections. Unhygienic salons can increase the potential for problems, says Reny Ryan, author of Confessions of a Brazilian Bikini Waxer. Post-waxing, Dr. Taubel warns, “If you notice anything funky going on, call your doctor immediately, since an abscess can quickly travel up your genital tract.”
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What it is: Female genital piercingusually the clitoral hood, but sometimes the inner labia, outer labia, or perineum.
Is it safe? Poking a hole in any part of your body carries a risk of infection. If you pierce, be meticulous about aftercare and watch for redness, swelling, or other symptoms.
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Feminine genital cosmetic surgery
What it is: Surgical alteration of a woman's genitals, including shortening and reshaping the labia, clitoral unhooding, and tightening of the vagina.
Is it safe? All surgery has its risks, and this has significant ones: scar tissue, permanent disfigurement, and painful nerve damage, to name just a few. “For women whose labia are so enlarged that they can’t do basic activities like bike-riding or have sex without considerable pain, labiaplasty might be worth considering,” says Lissa Rankin, MD, author of What's Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend. "But barring any medical issues, you’re better off learning to love your beautiful labia just the way they are."
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