From Brazilians to Beads: Everything You Need to Know About Decorating Down There

With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, romance is in the air, and for many women that goes beyond the fragrant scent of roses to the smell of hot wax. In an effort to surprise someone, spice things up with a lover, or just make themselves feel a little sexier, every year aestheticians see an uptick in requests for everything from Brazilian waxes to dye jobs for your land down under. But a recent report from the University of California, San Francisco, shows that injuries from botched lady-scaping have grown exponentially over the past few years.

Pubic waxing and shaving were the primary causes of beauty-related injuries to that area, with scientists citing nearly 2,500 cases in 2010. And those were just the ones severe enough to send the poor girl hobbling to the ER. The scientists note that this is a "vast underestimate" of the real number of cases, many of which go unreported because, honestly, who wants to 'fess up to trying to wax their own back door?

If you’re considering a nether region redesign, learn the health risks and best practices for four common popular procedures so you spend Valentine’s in pleasure, not pain.

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Waxing
When it comes to hot wax and blades near your business, it's worth the time and money to find a professional since this can be tricky to DIY, says Bridget M. Riley, laser hair removal specialist, esthetician, and electrologist, and owner of Boston Skin Solutions. Check to be sure the facility and aesthetician you are considering are licensed—not simply trained—by the state when you make your appointment.

Even with a skilled esthetician, waxing comes with a risk of ingrown hairs, which can lead to infections and abscesses (a collection of pus under the skin—sexy, eh?). To minimize the chances, Riley recommends coming clean and dry. “Avoid hot yoga or heavy cardio for a few hours before and after your appointment, as well as saunas and steam rooms,” she says, “and take tepid showers.” You need to be a stickler for hygiene on the salon's part as well: All tools should be sterilized in an autoclave and absolutely no double-dipping in the wax. "A lot of technicians believe the wax is hot enough to keep it germ-free,” Riley says. “But it isn't.”

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Dye Kits
He no longer has to know you’re not a real blonde. But if you decide to match your drapes and carpet—or go wild with a neon bush—be cautious. "The dye can be really irritating, and if it migrates to any of the inner area, you could get a burn or a rash,” Riley says. Go with a temporary dye, preferably one with a non-toxic vegetable pigment base, which is less irritating. For more lasting color or to dye your vulva—we are not making this up!—which naturally changes color as you age, seek out a pro with lots of experience and keep sharp eye on sanitation.

Vajazzling
First popularized by an overshare from Jennifer Love Hewitt, vajazzling is any technique that involves the temporary decorating of the pubic area with things like stickers, glue-on gems, glitter, and henna tattoos. And thankfully this one is as safe as it is entertaining, as long as you stay away from your inner labia. "This shouldn't cause any long-term harm," says Dana Jacoby, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist in New Jersey. “However it can be a problem for those with sensitive skin, eczema, or allergic conditions."

RELATED: Stars are doing more than vajazzling. Read all about eight bizarre Hollywood beauty secrets.

If you want something more permanent, perhaps a piercing or real tat—you guessed it—seek out a licensed professional and be sure the facility is sterile. “The risks with these become more serious because you may be exposing yourself to HIV and hepatitis B and C,” says Renee Horowitz, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist and director of the Center for Sexual Wellness in Michigan.

Edible Lotions, Gels, and Underwear
Eat it up, says Tanya Kormeili M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles, as most products are made from vegetable oils combined with various flavorings. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, however, test a lotion or gel on a small patch of skin at least 24 hours before you want to use it.

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