Valerie Monroe
Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: When I get a bikini wax, the technician dips the wooden application stick into the pot of wax repeatedly. Could I catch anything?

A: How are you feeling right now—good? I hope so, because if the technician isn't changing the pot of wax for each new client (ask her; she may not be), you could catch a lot of stuff you'd be a whole lot better off without. Infection in the vaginal area can be quite severe; you could be exposed to group A strep, staph, human papillomavirus, and herpes, says Jennifer Linder, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco. Waxing induces areas of microtrauma to the skin, making cross-contamination from client to client more likely, she says.

Bottom line: The technician should never double-dip the application stick; she should wear gloves during the treatment and use new paper or sheets for each client. If you're concerned about the cleanliness of a facility, take your waxable parts elsewhere.