Rip It Real Good: The Whys and Hows of Waxing

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The benefit of learning to be a great waxer is that it can produce an excellent income with minimum investment and little overhead. The benefit of waxing for clients is smooth and hairless skin. Simply put, hairless skin looks and feels softer, smoother, cleaner, clearer, and younger.

JerryPre and Post CareJerry Seinfeld is quoted as saying, “I know I am never going to understand women. I’ll never understand how you can take boiling hot wax, pour it onto your skin, rip the hair out by the root, and still be afraid of a spider.”
Yes, there is some discomfort in ripping the hairs away from the skin with wax. But a skilled professional can use techniques to minimize the pain. Certainly, there are other alternatives for hair removal, but waxing will always be a highly beneficial solution for clients. Shaving is less costly than waxing, but the prickly hair resurfaces in a day or so. Waxing can last between three and six weeks and not having to shave every day saves clients time. Shaving is also irritating for many people and there is a chance of discoloration, nicks, cuts, and razor burn. Topical hair removal creams contain chemicals that could irritate the skin and do not last as long as waxing. Most people find that waxing causes hair to grow back finer and sparser over time. When there are fewer and finer hairs, waxing becomes more tolerable. Threading and electrolysis are good solutions, too, but take longer because they are only treating one hair at a time. Laser hair removal is wonderful, but not everyone is a good candidate. It works best on dark hair and light skin. People who want to be tanned, who take medication that makes them sensitive to light, or who have tattoos in treatment areas are also not good candidates. Even in the case of IPL, when a client has light-colored, stubborn hair, they are often waxed first. After waiting about 10 minutes for the microscopic pool of blood that forms at the base of the follicle after waxing to turn brown, the brown color at the base will attract the laser light. The blood feeds the hair, so treating the food source will cause the hair not to grow back. Most clients that have laser hair removal achieve 80 percent or higher hair loss, but they still have minimal remaining hairs and they become loyal waxing clients. As long as people want smooth, hairless skin, waxing will be a lucrative addition to any business. And, on top of this, professionals find that waxing clients discover the spa’s other services offered too.

History of WaxingHistory of Waxing
Waxing is nothing new, but the popularity has skyrocketed. Ancient Egyptians removed unwanted hair with a sticky mixture of honey and oil, much like sugaring. Middle Eastern women traditionally used a sugaring paste made up of warm sugar, lemon juice, and water. In ancient Greece, Rome, and Turkey, pubic hair on women was thought unattractive and was removed as soon as it came in. Turkish public baths had special rooms for the ladies to have their unwanted hair removed.
Here in the United States, in 1922, Sears started selling razors to women and the ability to have soft smooth legs and underarms began. In the 1940s, during World War II, the United States government ordered less material to be used in making womens' bathing suits, causing some women to have hair stick out the sides of the bottom. As a result, women began shaving their bikini line. In the 1960s, waxing products became available. Today, even men are gravitating towards regular hair removal.

Implementing Waxing into the Spa
If a professional is considering starting to offer waxing, the best advice is to get hands-on training. In fact, even for those currently offering waxing, taking a hands-on refresher training class every so often is a good idea. Professionals will learn from the instructor, as well as from the other students. When staff are receiving such training, they should be able to watch an experienced waxer and, perhaps more importantly, have an experienced waxer watch and critique them. With enough training anyone can be a great waxer. Professionals sometimes forget that practice makes perfect and limit offerings by not investing in advanced training classes. Every once in a while, a professional may say waxing is not their thing. But if these individuals challenge themselves and take a hands-on training class, they will often find they can learn how to wax well.

Implementing Waxing into the SpaBest Practices
Waxing is wonderful but implementing safe waxing practices is key. In 2007, the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling came close to banning genital waxing because some severe infections landed two clients in the hospital. Thankfully, sanitation has improved a lot over the years. Most professionals now use gloves and do not double dip to avoid cross-contamination. When waxing, the hair is being ripped out of the skin and it can be painful. Redness, swelling, and, sometimes, welting can occur. Skin can be lifted (especially if skin has been lifted in that same area in the past). Allergic reactions and folliculitis can happen. Hairs can get infected and present as painful ingrown hairs.
Professionals must be careful not to wax clients that are sunburned or have weakened immune systems like uncontrolled diabetes, chronic kidney and liver diseases, bleeding disorders, and so forth.
Informed consents are a must for every wax treatment, as well as written before and after instructions for each client. Insurance is also crucial. Quality wax and proper techniques are necessary and proper sanitation is key. If unsure about any of these necessities, reach out to a professional wax supplier and they should be able to assist on the matter.

Types of WaxesTypes of Waxes
There are two types of wax, one that uses a strip (strip or soft wax) and one that does not (stripless or hard wax). Strip wax can be cold or hot. Although it is called hot wax, wax should never be applied hot, only warm, to not burn the client. Stripless wax is applied and then must set. After, the wax is removed with the hair attached- no strip is required. Hard wax is more gentle on the skin, if properly applied, because it only adheres and wraps itself around the hair, not the skin. If applied too thin it can stick to the skin.
Cold strip waxing is when a semi-solid form of wax is already applied to the strips that will be placed on the skin. They are applied against the growth of the hair to enable the wax strips to get a strong hold on the hair when they are pulled out. Cold waxing is considered less painful but it is more cumbersome, as it can only be applied in a small area at a time. Professionals usually prefer to use a warm strip wax that can be spread thinly to cover larger areas more efficiently, in less time and for less cost.
Best PracticesAs the name suggests, warm strip waxing is a method where warm wax is applied to the skin, then, a strip is applied on top with slight pressure. When the strip is removed, the hair is removed with it. The wax can be rolled onto the skin or applied with a disposable applicator. If the state allows roll-on wax cartridges, only use the cartridge on a single client. Put the client’s name on the cartridge and use white electrical tape to seal the top and keep it on hand for the next time the client comes in. Another suggestion is to use a heater with a visible strip, so the client’s name can be seen even though the wax cartridge has been inserted into the heater.
Hard stripless waxing is when the wax is melted, then, applied to the skin. It sets up in a matter of minutes and the wax itself is peeled off the skin, along with the hair. Hard wax is often more expensive to use than a strip wax because it cannot be spread as thin, but it is more gentle on the skin and hurts less than a strip wax. It is the preferred wax for intimate areas.

Choosing a Wax
It is best to avoid any unnecessary ingredients, including fragrances and colors. Most professional waxers use a cream hard wax for sensitive skin, a gel hard wax, and a strip wax for cleaning up stubborn hair that is left behind after waxing with a hard wax. The strip wax is usually used for larger areas of waxing, such as the arms, legs, back, and chest. Hard waxes are used on the face, neck, intimate, and sensitives areas (like the upper chest on males). Look for a reputable supplier that offers quality waxes at good prices and has excellent customer service, along with training opportunities.

Choosing a WaxStation Setup andStation Setup and Other Tips
Sanitation is key. First, lay a disposable paper towel on the working area. It may be a good to have all the items ready to prepare, but then actually prepare the station while the client is getting ready to be waxed. Keep everything on the towel and throw anything disposable away after waxing. Items to have in a waxing station include: two pairs of gloves, hospital-grade disinfectant spray, two pairs of tweezers, extra cotton pads, portion cups turned upside down, strips to remove wax, disposable sticks to apply wax, and magnifying glasses. Keep cleanser in a pump bottle on hand to apply on cotton pads and put into small disposable cups. Professionals should use the back of their hand to pump more product onto an extra cotton pad if needed. Try not to touch the bottles, but, if this occurs, put on new gloves and spray disinfectant spray onto the gloves and wipe down the bottles. Wait 10 seconds and wipe down again with wet paper towels. The skin needs to be completely clean and disinfected before waxing to reduce the potential of infection. Apply cleanser after waxing, especially if it has calming ingredients, such as lavender essential oil. Also have protective oil in a pump bottle available to put on cotton pads and pour into small disposable cups. Oils are used on the skin before waxing because cleanser dehydrates the skin and wax can stick to dehydrated skin, and, then, there is a greater possibility of removing skin. Oil can also be used after waxing to remove any sticky residue. Pour talc-free powder into a small disposable beaker, and, then, sprinkle on areas as needed. Use gauze to rub powder onto clients' skin and to pick up hair for easier removal. Powdering also adds another layer of protection for the skin and it helps to get the hair to stand up when applied with gauze. It also helps in areas where clients tend to sweat.

Pre- and Post-Care
It is a great idea to create and have clients sign a pre- and post-waxing guidelines form and give them a copy to take home, as well.
An example pre- and post-waxing guidelines form might look like this.

Educating Clients on Homecare Between VisitsEducating Clients on Homecare Between Visits
Between visits, clients should use a post-wax serum containing alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids to prevent ingrown hairs. They should refrain from using it for 72 hours pre- and post-waxing. They should also moisturize their skin daily. For bikini lines, buttocks, and underarms, clients should use a gentle, fragrance-free, antibacterial scrub twice a week. They should leave the product on two to three minutes before rinsing it off and should not use it 72 hours before or after waxing. Ice or an antihistamine cream can be applied if red bumps appear. This can be normal after waxing. It is the follicles’ natural reaction to trauma. Encourage clients to use exfoliating gloves in the area waxed until 72 hours after the wax. Clients should not apply highly fragranced products after waxing or use harsh, abrasive, or exfoliating products on the waxed area for 72 hours. Remind clients that they can expect pinking of the skin to disappear within six to eight hours and that natural mineral makeup can be used to cover this discoloration immediately after the wax. Heavy makeup should be avoided for one hour after waxing. It may be good to educate clients on avoiding having intercourse or exercising for 24 hours after waxing to prevent infection, rashes, or irritation. They should not pick at any ingrown hairs or swim or allow heat or sun exposure on the skin for 24 hours after the wax. They should also avoid shaving the area between waxing. Remind clients not to touch the area after waxing to avoid transferring bacteria and to wear sunscreen to protect the waxed area.

Retail/Add-Ons/Upselling
If professionals want to make more money with waxing, it is easy. They can suggest other areas that the client can have waxed and offer a 20 to 30 percent discount. Some waxing services can also be bundled together for a discounted price. Most clients who receive Brazilian waxes are also interested in a deal on their underarms. It is also a good idea to give clients a $5 to $10 discount if they come in again within six weeks, to keep them coming back. Waxing clients need exfoliating products like scrubs and gloves to use at home, so dead skin cells do not cover the open follicle and cause ingrown hairs. Their skin also needs a non-drying body cleanser, a hydrating moisturizer, and sunscreen. These are all easy products to recommend to clients, as they will help improve their overall experience and satisfaction with their wax, and they will boost bottom line. As professionals explore the benefits of this historically popular hair removal method, incorporate best practices and quality products, and educate clients on proper pre-and post-care, sales and client size will increase.

Kathleen Carney2019Kathleen Carney, founder and formulator for Skin Blends LLC, is a licensed aesthetician and aesthetic instructor, has a degree in education from Wayne State College in Nebraska, and attended graduate school at the University of Arizona. Carney’s passion continues to be helping aestheticians keep loyal clientele and be profitable doing what they love. Carney heads the Advanced Skin Care Training Academy (ASCTA) in Nixa, Missouri. Skin Blends also manufactures Mineral Makeup and Lashes LTD and distributes Agape Pure Wax, Cirepil Wax, Refectocil, and Tweezerman, making it a one stop shop for professionals. skinblends.com, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 877-754-6253

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