I’m a girl and I have sex with other girls. I’ve noticed sometimes their lipstick gets on my vulva and just inside my vagina. Is that bad?

Nope! Unless you notice that the lipstick irritates your skin, there’s no reason to worry. If it still bothers you though, you can always just ask your partners to wipe off their lipstick before you have sex—no big deal.

Keep in mind that even though oral sex is lower risk than penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex or anal sex, some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like herpes, HPV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis can still be spread during oral sex. Even though it’s extremely rare, HIV can sometimes also be spread through oral sex. Consider using dental dams to protect yourself and your partner, and remember to get regularly tested for STIs. (Bonus: dental dams will also keep lipstick off your vulva, if that bothers you).

Dental dams are sheets of latex or polyurethane that work as a barrier method to prevent the spread of STIs. You can use them during cunnilingus (oral sex performed on someone with a vulva) or rimming (any contact between a mouth and an anus). You can get dental dams at many drug stores, grocery stores and online. If you don’t have them handy though, you can make them from condoms! Just cut off the tip and cut it lengthwise.

Here’s how to use a dental dam:

  1. Check the expiration date first.
  2. Carefully open the package with your fingers (not scissors or your teeth, which could tear the dental dam).
  3. Make sure there aren’t any tears in it.
  4. Use a bit of water-based or silicone-based lube on the side of the dental dam your or your partner’s mouth is NOT touching. This keeps it from breaking and can make oral sex feel better for the person receiving it!
  5. Lay the dental dam over the vaginal opening and vulva. Keep it on the whole time you’re having oral sex.
  6. Be careful to not stretch it—this can make the dental dam tear.
  7. When you’re done, wrap the dental dam in tissue and throw it in the trash—NOT the toilet, since it can get clogged.
  8. Do NOT reuse dental dams. Instead, use a new one for each new partner or sex act.

If you’re 10-22 years old and live in NYC, you can get free, confidential, nonjudgmental sexual and reproductive health care at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. Here, you can get STI testing & treatment, free dental dams and/or other barrier methods, and answers to any other questions you have about health or relationships!