Let’s begin with a brief true or false session, if for nothing more than to debunk a few old myths and unnecessary concerns to help professionals and clients alike better understand how to manage unwanted facial hair.
First: full facial hair cannot be safely extracted. This is false. With correct knowledge, skillful techniques, and purposeful experience, the skin care professional can safely extract hair from anywhere on the body, including complete facial hair, with the exception of deep inner ears (using round-tip scissors, only trim hairs that may be too close to the eardrum), up into the nostrils (the only hairs that can be safely extracted are the ones growing near and exposed at the exit of the nose – the actual edge of the nostrils), and eyelashes. Everything else is fair game.
Second: removing facial hair will cause it to grow back darker and thicker. This is also false. Hair removal is not the cause of hair coming back thicker and darker. Other than factors such as medication, stress, and hormones, which are the most common culprits of hair changes, what the client might believe to be the reason for thicker, darker hair growing back is likely the growth of a shaven or broken hair caused from attempted extraction. The hair will no longer have its tapered point and will appear darker and thicker than before as it continues to grow out with its larger base.
Third: people with curly facial hair are more prone to getting ingrown hairs. This is actually true. Although a person with straight facial hair can also be prone to ingrown hair, a curly hair physically faces a greater challenge passing through the opening of a follicle and the pore as it coils itself to the opening. The fine point of the hair is challenged by its collective diameter in comparison to the diameter of the pore. Ingrown hairs are caused when the hair is unable to push through the pore and instead gets trapped beneath it. There are various types of ingrown hairs caused by several issues and the most common causes are excess dry skin cells, congested follicles, extraction of hair against its natural direction, broken hair, and shaving.
Keeping this information fresh in mind, let’s jump into the general rules of facial hair removal.
THE 411 ON FACIAL HAIR REMOVAL
A hair removal service should always begin with a consultation to help the professional learn more about the client’s expectations. The more information learned, the better the professional can guide the client into a safe, effective, and result oriented program.
Aestheticians are encouraged to maintain a client record card from the onset of the first consultation and continue to update it at each future treatment. Along with gathering basic important information about the client, their skin habits, challenges, and product usages, there are specific questions to pay attention to when a client seeks full facial hair removal treatment (and other body parts where vellus hair can be involved in treatments). For example:
- Are you prone to allergies or skin reactions? If yes, do you know the causes?
- Do you take antihistamines? If yes, for what purpose and how often?
Any indication towards allergic reactions should alert (not alarm) the professional to be cautious, especially when dealing with the full extraction of facial hair. Unlike terminal hair, which is rooted deeper, vellus hair sits shallow in the skin, near or on the nerve endings, and is usually denser in growth, meaning more hair per square inch, like a soft peach fuzz covering of the skin.
Because vellus hairs sit on or near the nerve endings, they will raise the body’s nervous system alarm when they are extracted, sending signals of damage. As a result, histamines may be produced and account for the itching, redness, and swelling that can occur following the extraction of hair, especially on delicate facial skin. In addition, with a dense amount of vellus hair being extracted, bacteria can develop and cause white blood cells to rush to the follicle to protect it from infection, which can result in whiteheads (sometimes more yellowish in color) forming over the pore.
PROTECT THE CLIENT – PROTECT THE BUSINESS
Some clients may experience a reaction on their first treatment and none thereafter, while others may get minor breakouts for several treatments or no reaction at all. Hair extraction is a skin-related issue. The professional has no control over a client’s genetic skin uniqueness nor how their body and skin reacts to discomfort and actions taken to it, such as extracting hair from the roots.
What is in the professional’s control is the information they share with a client during their consultation. Take time to explain the reasons for possible reactions and what can be done together to help prevent them, or at the very least to manage them during the first couple of treatments. Help clients feel confident about buying into treatments by arming them with relevant knowledge beforehand.
Beyond sharing knowledge, patch testing should be a favorite go-to protocol. There is no way to know who will or will not have a reaction from a hair extraction. Consider extracting a little bit of hair between the cheek and jawbone, near the ear, because of its sensitivity and generally heavier density of vellus hair. After the patch test, wait five days to determine whether they will get a reaction and, if so, how severe.
What happens if a client comes back to the spa and says they have developed a reaction or breakout? Should the professional still consider performing a full treatment?
At this point, that answer depends on the client (and sometimes their schedule). For example, if they have a big event scheduled soon after their appointment, then the professional might recommend they reschedule for after the event. As mentioned earlier, vellus hairs are shallow in the skin and are near nerve endings. As one can imagine, for example, a mom excited to see her daughter married might already be on edge with nerves alerted – even if due to great joy. Extracting facial vellus hairs for the first time might throw off more nerve activity than if the client was coming under a more regular time in their life. Why risk it?
Otherwise, the answer is yes, the professional can still perform the full treatment. There are some pre-and post-care steps that can be taken to prevent, lessen, and treat reactions to facial vellus hair removal.
The most important step to apply is to provide sound advice and products that will help them cope with or prevent a reaction or breakout.
Sugaring well hydrated and exfoliated skin makes it easier for hair to be extracted and minimizes the chance of hair breakage, which can exacerbate histamine reactions. Clients should stop exfoliating at least 48 hours prior to their appointment, as it can increase their skin’s sensitivity.
Topical treatment can also help pre-treatment. Use an all-natural, topical cream that helps to calm the nerve endings and cool the skin. This will reduce the severity of histamine reactions and, in some cases, prevent it. Apply the cream 15 minutes before treatment to give it time to do its magic. Alternatives to this type of product are all-natural options such as lavender or tee tree oil.
Like the pre-treatment, an all-natural, topical cream can be re-applied afterwards to further help reduce histamine reactions and aid in the healing process. Again, tea tree and lavender oil are great alternatives. Proper at-home care is also essential. Try recommending non-scented, chemical-free lotions and cleansers following their treatment to help prevent irritation. They should avoid exfoliation for at least 24 to 48 hours. Having them use a detoxifying mud with a high concentration of silicon dioxide will also provide further aid in the healing process.
For a period of 24 to 48 hours, recommend that the client avoid heavy workouts where they perspire a lot, saunas, submerging their face into water if they are swimming, hot tubs and steam rooms, and so on, to help avoid introducing bacteria to the treated areas of their face.
Pustules can last upwards of two weeks if not properly treated. If offering facial hair removal treatments, spend time learning the methodology. And, do not be afraid to ask questions to the brand’s representative or even from the manufacturer of the selected products or method.
It is important to remain within the bounds of one’s knowledge and expertise, not to mention our legal qualifications. It is never okay to recommend clients take medication, even over-the-counter medicines such as antihistamines. Aestheticians are not qualified to do this and will be liable should a client have an adverse reaction. During a consultation, try to draw out as much relative information as possible. This is the time to suggest they seek professional medical advice if a reaction seems an evident possibility. Antihistamines might be a good solution for them but leave that up to their doctor.
Vellus hairs can be a serious game for hair removal. There are more complicating factors associated with it than with any other hair type. A general rule of thumb is “less is best” until fully recovered and protected from bacteria.
MEN'S FACIAL HAIR REMOVAL
Men too can benefit from facial hair removal treatments. Here are several treatments to consider incorporating.
Most men do not require an eyebrow shaping and, instead, could benefit from just a simple cleanup to get the perfect “non-structured” look. Clean eyebrows can make a huge difference and sugaring can offer a perfect solution because the professional can control one hair at a time if need be to get that perfect yet imperfect look.
Like women, most men need a good cleanup. Extracting nose hair by means of sugaring can be quick and painless. At most, a client might feel an odd sensation but it is nothing compared to the pain of plucking them individually. Under no circumstance should the professional try to yank inner nose hairs that grow up inside the nose away from the nostril area. Clients depend on the professional to be ethical, educated, caring, and professional. They depend on professionals to use common sense. Improper methods can put the client at a serious risk of infection, potential tissue damage, and potential ingrown hair problems which can also be a later cause for infection. Additionally, inner nose hairs are there to filter pollutants and prevent them from entering the body through the nasal passages.
Some men grow hair further up along their cheekbones and it is easy to clean and freshen up their look by taking care of the strays.
Some men suffer from hairy ears. This is an easy fix using sugaring. Not only is it painless, it will remove coarse, stubborn hair, along with vellus hair, leaving their ears feeling softer than ever. And, any hair that grows again will be softer and lighter in color. Never extract hair from deep within the inner ears, as the risk of damaging the eardrum is high. If a hair looks like it is near the eardrum, trim it with small rounded scissors. Everything else can be extracted.
Back of The Neck
Men often have their necks shaved following a haircut. This can lead to itchy, coarse regrowth, not to mention those nasty ingrown hairs. Instead, fully extracting the hair in the early anagen stage with a pro-sugaring methodology will give the client the softest skin right away. But, the tell-tale will be with their regrowth where they will notice the growth minimized with each treatment, as well as the hair becoming much softer to the touch.
While a man’s full beard can safely be extracted, complications with potential bacterial infections are more prominent due to possible “network rooting systems” or large pores having full hair extraction (in the early anagen stage if following the pro-sugaring protocol), which leaves the follicles more at risk of contracting bacteria. Male clients seeking full beard extraction should always get a series of patch tests to assess if they are good candidates or not. For men who show no complications with beard extraction, they can achieve smooth skin with an ongoing refinement of hair and reduction of growth.
A word of caution, always have a waiver signed explaining all possible reactions, listing the at-home protocol they are to follow, and stating that the client will seek medical assistance should they incur an infection that will not go away.
If this scares a potential male client away from having their full beard treated, then so be it. The risks are real, but the results can also be fantastic.
HORMONAL FACIAL HAIR GROWTH
As women age and go through menopause, it is common for them to develop hormonal or terminal hair growth on the chin, neck, and along the jawline. These are terminal hairs and tend to be coarse and stubborn. Unfortunately, many women of all ethnicities have and continue to succumb to shaving as a way of managing the growth.
The methodology the professional chooses for this treatment must be able to effectively deal with the hair when it is actively growing in the anagen stage. Otherwise, the professional is wasting the client’s time and money.
Hormonal terminal hair growth will never go away 100% – not unless the hormonal problem is properly balanced, and even then, 100% permanent hair removal is not a reality.
Professional sugaring will help most clients with hormonal hair growth to get it under control. It is the definition of “under control” that requires dissecting and better understanding of facts.
For optimum results, add a minute package to the spa menu. Women with hormonal facial hair will want to keep their growth well managed. By paying upfront for a specified number of minutes, clients are then free to book appointments as often as they need. Require clients to book a minimum of five minutes per treatment and as frequent as one to two times per week for the first month. Unfortunately, some clients may not come as often as they should and will require more time per session.
The goal of this package for the client is two-fold: to provide affordable permanent hair reduction and to reach daily ease of growth management.
The goal for the spa is also two-fold: to reach or excel results as discussed in the client consultation and to be respectful of the spa’s overall profits. The professional can make that happen with a simple calculation of your fixed costs and average variables, adding the targeted goal profit and dividing by the spa’s hours of operation to get how much money the professional needs to make per hour.
To keep this math simple, let’s say the professional wants to make $60 an hour to reach their goal. Then, the lowest price should be one dollar a minute. That means the highest package of minutes should cost no less than one dollar a minute. All other packages with fewer minutes will cost more, for example, one dollar and 25 cents a minute. The fewer minutes in the package, the higher the cost per minute. Then, the professional is always guaranteed to respect their bottom line, while helping a client affordably reach their goal.
There is a bottom line to facial hair removal and to preventing or stopping related potential reactions. Basically, reduce the hair growth and reduce all reactions. It is marvelous. And, the only way to make that happen is to affect the hair follicles, so that the hair growth process is stopped.
Lina Kennedy is the president and CEO of Alexandria Professional, a worldwide leader in body sugaring epilation and skin conditioning. Kennedy is the pioneer of professional body sugaring and master trainer of professionals and distributors in more than 30 countries. As a beauty industry innovator, Kennedy has developed a full line of all-natural, vegan, and cruelty-free skin care products and treatments that are safe and effective for all hair and skin types. Kennedy is dedicated to ensuring that each professional trained in body sugaring learns and understands the exceptional results they and their clients can achieve through the Kennedy Theory. She is a motivational speaker, the author of numerous articles in beauty magazines, and a multi-patent holder.