A sanitary environment is key to ensure that clients are going to experience the best post-wax results. Proper sanitation and sterilization is important during every treatment, but especially important when it comes to waxing. The infection rate and susceptibility to disease at the time of waxing is much higher because the follicles are open — and yes, it is very possible to contract anything from a minor infection to a serious disease. In 2009, two New Jersey women were hospitalized for infection related to unsafe Brazilian waxing, leading the state of New Jersey to consider implementing a ban on the service altogether. It is important for aestheticians to know the complications that can arise from poor sanitation. It will be a constant reminder of why waxing rooms must be kept sanitized.
I know it has been said a million times, but I could not write a waxing article without touching upon the dreaded double dip. It is 2015 – clients know by now that double dipping the same applicator into the wax pot is a tell-tale sign of an unsterile and potentially-dangerous waxing environment. Just say no to double dipping! Your wax pot cannot kill bacteria. The proper temperature to kill bacteria is 100 degrees Celsius, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit, for at least 30 minutes. Wax at this temperature would be scalding hot and extremely dangerous to clients if aestheticians were to proceed to wax. Wooden spatulas are not cutting into anyone’s budget, so why risk it? Every time the applicator touches wax, it must be thrown away. It is as simple as that. Place a clean garbage can near the work station and empty it after each client. It is a simple step that will make all of the difference to clients.
As a skin care professional, you can never go too far above and beyond when it concerns safety and cleanliness. If you are using tweezers, make sure that you are sterilizing them in an autoclave before and after each service. All disposables, such as spatulas, used during the service should be placed in a closed lid jar and kept near the waxing station. This way, you are not setting them on a surface that is potentially contaminated.
Do not forget to sanitize your hands either! As always, hair should be neatly pulled away from the face so as not to get in the way of the service. If you constantly have to put your hair behind your ears during the service, you will be contaminating your hands each time. Before each service, thoroughly wash your hands in the sink. Not sure how long you should wash your hands? Take a tip from my grandson, who sings “happy birthday” when he washes his hands. When the song is over, he knows it is time to rinse. Federal law states that “Everyone should be considered as contaminated and that service providers who are occupationally exposed, or have the potential to be, are required to use preventive measure to prevent cross contamination.” This means federal standards already state that aestheticians must wear gloves and perform one-time-use per applicator of hair removal products. See the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website, www.osha.gov, for more details. Wash your hands in front of your client and utilize an antibacterial wipe. These are great before facial and body treatments, or before makeup application. You can discard them after one use.
It is the level of cleanliness and carefulness that goes into providing clients with safe and sanitary treatments that serve as the foundation in creating a standout salon or spa. Client safety should be the number one priority of every professional. We must put our clients first!
First Time Waxing Clients
As you all know by now, first impressions count. You have one opportunity to show your client that you know what you are doing. When booking the appointment, make sure that the client understands that you will need three to four weeks of hair growth for body waxing or hair should not be shorter than a quarter of an inch. For facial waxing, two weeks should be sufficient. Ask them to arrive 15 minutes early for their appointment and provide them with a full waxing consultation, just as you would do before your facial treatments. I recommend that you continue these consultations with each procedure. If you are doing a facial waxing, it is important that you know what your client is currently using on their skin. For example, if they have recently had a chemical peel or are using Retin-A, you may not want to proceed with their waxing service. These products can make the skin much thinner, therefore, it is sensitive and at great risk of tearing. It is also important that what the client is looking to achieve is understood. If they are coming in for an eyebrow wax, it is important to discuss the desired shape. These are all important questions that need answers before starting the procedure. Opening a dialog with clients will help set their mind at ease that they are in good hands and it will help aestheticians provide them with the best results.
For some, waxing can be an uncomfortable experience – but it does not have to be! Turn a waxing service into a relaxing spa experience. When you are doing a short treatment, such a facial wax, perform a quick shiatsu massage on the face utilizing calming essential oils. Teach them to take deep breathes – the more tense they become, the more difficult the waxing experience. If you are performing a longer service, such as a leg wax, make sure that the client is comfortably situated and allow them to influence the atmosphere, such as selecting the music. This example allows them to listen to what they like while you perform the treatment. You should even offer them a quick and easy, hydrating sheet mask to enjoy during their treatment. This is an easy way to provide instant soothing, cooling, and moisturizing effects that will help to drive home the spa experience. It is also important that sections of the client’s body are covered with modesty towels when you are not working on them. Depending on the temperature of the room, you may want to turn your bed warmer on and provide blankets for your client. These are the little touches that can set your wax treatments apart from competitors.
Choosing a Wax
To make sure you are using an effective waxing product, there are a few things to keep in mind:
How smooth is the application? I have to tell you, it drives me crazy when I go in for a waxing service and it takes the aesthetician 10 strokes to get the wax on one area. The wax should move in a smooth, fluid movement across the skin without pulling on the hair.
Does the removal of hair seem painful to the client? Some waxes can be more painful than others, and this is certainly something that your clients will be taking into consideration. Does the wax remove the hair shaft with the hair root? Clients do not want to see hair re-growth within the same week as their service. If your wax is not removing the hair root, then the next stage of hair growth will surface, appearing to your client as regrowth. Removing the root is also important as it will help prevent the formation of ingrown hairs.
After using the wax, are there bumps, redness, irritation, or stickiness on the skin? When it is comes to waxing, many of us are so focused on the removal of the hair that we forget about what is left behind – the skin. Clients are coming in for waxing appointments and leaving hair free, but they are also leaving with newfound redness, bumps, irritation, and swelling. Some of the side effects of waxing can be even more unsightly than a few stray hairs. As aestheticians, it is important that we pay special attention to the skin in areas that are being waxed to make sure that your clients leave feeling smooth, comfortable, and sexy.
Sanitation and the waxing product are very important, but perhaps the most important aspect of a professional waxing service is you, the professional. If you are the owner of the spa, it is important to discuss protocol and procedures with employees. It is important that your team is providing the same service each and every time. This relates directly to the safety of the client and the outcome of the waxing process. To begin, understand that there are two types of waxing: face and body.
Before any procedure, a client consultation should be completed. Then, the skin of the face or body must be properly prepared for waxing. When a client comes in with oil, sweat, and bacteria on their skin, the client can easily break out after waxing without proper sanitation, as you are opening follicles and letting in bacteria. Waxing is an invasive procedure and without sanitizing the area before performing the service, clients are put at risk for infection.
Body Waxing Protocol
Preparation for body waxing is simple. Before beginning the procedure, spray alcohol or swipe clean cotton with alcohol over the area to be waxed and pat the skin dry with a disposable towel. Then, brush the skin with a dry body brush, preferably one made of goat hair, to lift any ingrown hairs. Body brushing is presently a huge trend! Aestheticians have been doing it for years, but today the media is running with this exfoliation option. Your clients will love that you are performing this trendy service for them. While applying body wax, spread the wax in the direction of hair growth by doing one long, smooth movement. Do not exceed coverage of a six by three inch area and make sure the wax strip does not exceed eight inches in length, leaving just enough room for grip. Apply a thin layer of wax and press down. Remove in one swift, quick motion in the opposite direction of the hair growth. Repeat on all areas to be waxed until all superficial hair is removed. After the hair has been removed, the skin should be sprayed with an alcohol/water mixture (50/50) and patted dry. Then, apply a hot towel to the legs with a soothing gel. An effleurage massage can then be administered with a nourishing oil.
Facial Waxing Protocol
For preparation of facial waxing, saturate a cotton swab with alcohol and wipe over the area to be treated. Pat the skin dry with a medical-grade tissue. It is especially important with facial waxing to be sure that the wax is the correct temperature and to apply a cold compress or cold stones on a cotton square immediately after waxing. Follow with an alcohol-based astringent.
For an eyebrow waxing procedure, the hairs should be brushed upwards and trimmed if necessary. The wax can then be applied in the direction of hair growth. To avoid unwanted hair removal, apply petroleum jelly to the hair that you do not want waxed. Applying a cold towel to the area can tighten pores and be beneficial when followed by a soothing and calming gel containing active ingredients like thermus thermophiles, antioxidants, or green, white, black, and red teas, which repair damaged skin. This calms the area after having been agitated by the hot wax during removal of the hair. For sensitive areas like the chest and back, especially with men, complete the service by applying a calming mask like one made with calamine calcium powder and blended teas. Leave it on for 10 minutes to fully calm the treated skin. For added soothing, place cold stones on top of the mask. Gently remove it with lukewarm water and apply a cooling gel and a calming lotion that contains antioxidants and other soothing ingredients. As a final step, veil the skin in a quality body oil to help replenish the skin’s moisture barrier and provide deep-conditioning benefits. Avoid mineral oil-based products and opt for skin-benefiting, natural oils such as mafura, carrot, and olive fruit oils that contain antioxidants like beta carotene and vitamins A and E.
To make the very most of waxing for your business, do not miss out on the retail opportunity. If a client comes in for a body service, offer them a body wash, body cream, and dry-finish body oil at the end of the treatment. Let them know the benefits of at-home care. A sea-salt scrub is great for them to take home and can help prevent ingrown hairs. Recommend that they use it in the shower each day for a week before their next appointment. If they come in for a facial wax, make at-home recommendations based on their skin type. At the very least, everyone needs a facial cleanser, so let them buy it from you instead of leaving your spa and heading to a drugstore. Every appointment should be seen as a retailing opportunity and waxing is not an exception!
At the end of each treatment, be sure to rebook your client for their next waxing appointment. Waxing is a continuous process, which is why it can be such a money-maker for skin care businesses. Offer clients benefits when they book a package. For example, if they buy five of the same waxing service, offer them the sixth service for free. Or if you are offering facials at your business, use this as an opportunity to cross-promote your different treatments. When they book a package of five facial waxes, upgrade them to a complimentary express facial treatment. When they book five leg waxes, upgrade them to a detoxifying treatment for the leg. It helps to keep them booking in multiples. After all, everyone likes to be upgraded.
Clients today have a choice as to where to go for their skin care needs. Attention to detail is important for today’s consumers. Clean, sanitary, customer-friendly, and professional spas and salons will win their business. So choose to be the best!
Lydia Sarfati, president and founder of Repêchage, is an internationally recognized skin care expert quoted in Vogue, In Style, Glamour, and New York Times, as well as featured on CNN, CBS, and FOX. Sarfati is the creator of the world-renowned Four Layer Facial® and has over 30 years of experience as an aesthetician, spa owner, manufacturer, and consultant. She authored Success at Your Fingertips: How to Succeed in the Skin Care Business. She has recently been appointed honorary chair of EstheticsAmerica, CIDESCO USA and is Skin Care & Spa Council Director of Intercoiffure North America.