For most women, a bikini wax is briefly painful and then totally rewarding. But for some, complications can range from discomfort to life-threatening infections. Are you willing to gamble with the tender skin of your bikini area?
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Singing the bikini wax black and blues

The very first time I got a bikini wax, I was 22 and getting ready to embark on my first cruise. I figured a cramped bathroom wouldn't allow for much personal grooming. My wax technician struck me as hesitant and unsure, but I didn't say anything since the salon itself had a great reputation. I should have trusted my instincts. I ended up with deep bruising that lasted for the entire cruise. I definitely would have preferred a little vacation stubble to looking like someone punched me in the crotch repeatedly.

Surprise, you're baby-smooth and in horrible pain

A few months ago a good friend of mine, who happens to be European, tried her first bikini wax. I told her my horror story and she insisted that she trusted her salon tech. She found the process mildly painful and didn't really love how her body looked with no hair, having been accustomed to growing up where women go natural. (Can I move there?) Within a few hours, she had a lot more to complain about. Her skin swelled, turned purple and throbbed painfully. What started as a fun experiment in personal grooming ended with an emergency doctor's visit and a lot of pain and embarrassment.

Why do some bikini waxes go wrong?

An inexperienced waxer is more likely to cause small tears in your skin, which leave you vulnerable to infections...

What makes the difference between a good bikini wax and a waxing nightmare? A lot depends on your tech and a little bit depends on your personal health. Some salons just aren't sanitary. An inexperienced waxer is more likely to cause small tears in your skin, which leave you vulnerable to infections like cellulitis — which can actually kill you if left unchecked. Some women experience allergic reactions to the wax itself or products used before or after treatment. Others have sensitive skin that doesn't stand up to the heat. Women with skin conditions and compromised immune systems should not get bikini waxes. With so many potential ways for a wax to end up ruining your week or even permanently scarring your lady parts, is it really worth it to go bare?

If you insist on the Brazilian

I'll be honest, despite my first bad experience I've been waxed a few dozen times in my life. I don't love the way it hurts like hell, but I love being smooth for a while. (I actually got waxed before I delivered both my sons. Part of me hoped it would scare them from the premises.) If you still want to get waxed after considering potential complications, make sure you visit a pro who's been trained specifically in Brazilian waxes. She should scrub in, should never reuse wax and she shouldn't appear hesitant or fumbling in any way. We're talking about having hot wax spread across your butt crack here — you really want a professional involved. I prefer visiting salons that specialize only in bikini waxes. Don't head into the back room at your cheap-o nail salon.

Know the signs of infection

Even shaving can lead to infection, so it's good to know your body and how to treat it well. After you get waxed, clean the area thoroughly and gently with soap and water. Don't scratch, ever. If you're itchy and uncomfortable, ask your technician about safe aftercare lotions and creams. If you develop redness, serious discomfort or swelling skin, call your doctor. If you develop a fever, visit urgent care or the emergency room.

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