In addition to sanitation and sterilization, it is important to discuss protocol and procedures. This relates directly to the safety of the client and the outcome of the waxing process and is not uniform throughout all salons and spas. To begin, there are two types of waxing: face and body.
First, 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, without proper sanitation the client can easily breakout after waxing, as you are opening the 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.
Preparation is simple: body waxing – simply spray alcohol or swipe a cold cotton with alcohol over the area to be waxed and pat skin dry with a towel. Brush the skin with a dry body brush, preferably one made of goat hair, to lift any ingrown hair; face waxing – saturate a cotton swab with alcohol and wipe over the area. Pat skin dry with a towel. Now, skin is prepped to be waxed.
Always consult clients before waxing procedures. Make sure they are not currently on Retin A, because this product makes skin much thinner, therefore it is sensitive and at great risk of tearing.
Apply wax in the direction of hair growth, not exceeding coverage of a six inch by three inch area, for body waxing, with a strip not exceeding 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 opposite the direction of hair growth. Repeat this on all of the area to be waxed until all superficial hair is removed.
With facial waxing, be sure the wax is the right temperature and apply a cold compress or cold stones on a cotton immediately after waxing. Follow with an alcohol based astringent.
Skin should be sprayed again with alcohol upon completion of the waxing service. Apply a cold towel to the area to tighten pores and follow with a soothing calming gel with active ingredients like Thermus Thermophilus, antioxidants, 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, and leave on for 10 minutes. For added soothing, place cold stones on top of this mask. Remove gently with lukewarm water and apply a cooling gel and a calming lotion containing antioxidants and other soothing ingredients.
Now that proper waxing procedures are out of the way, it is time to discuss the sanitary aspects of waxing services. It is my belief that double dipping will never stop; the minute an inspector leaves the room, there will be double dipping again. By providing small metal bowls to use individually for each client, the technician can pour the amount of wax needed for one client into a bowl and double dip away. If this is not possible, then it is imperative not to double dip at all; every time the applicator touches wax, it must be thrown away.
Proper temperature to kill all 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 we were to proceed to wax.
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.
When this controversy arose, Susanna Disotto, Director of Satin Smooth®, took the opportunity to voice to the New Jersey State Cosmetology Board that the danger is not within the waxing service itself, and suggested guidelines for safe waxing practices.
The letter states, “Absolutely No Double-Dipping: A new applicator should be used every time wax is applied to ensure the wax container does not become contaminated. The no double-dipping rule is not only for Brazilian/genital waxing, but any type (i.e. brows, facial, arms, back, etc...)” This is something I could not agree with more. I have stressed this in training aestheticians throughout my entire career and believe it needs to be the cardinal rule taught to all future technicians.
Disotto continues to say, “Establishments that offer Brazilian waxing to their customers are encouraged to partake in advanced and ongoing education classes to further their skills and ensure proper technique and hygienic procedures are followed.”
My tips for recognizing an unsanitary waxing room:
- Tweezers or scissors are pulled from aestheticians pocket or drawer and not autoclaved and visibly removed after you have entered the room
- Wax is left behind on trolley or table
- The aesthetician does not clean hands and wear gloves
- Tools are strewn across the trolley and not kept in sanitary quarters
- The table is not sanitized or sheets are not changed upon your entrance into the treatment room
Clients today have a choice as to where to go. Spas and salons that are clean and sanitary will win the business. Remember, it is the first seven seconds that count! Do research to find salons that follow these sanitary practice methods and provide high quality service. These salons will be the winners in this economy; and now it is time to do it better!
As a salon and spa professional, you can never go too far above and beyond when it concerns safety and cleanliness. Place all disposables in a plastic bag and keep it close to the waxing station so that no other surface is contaminated. Then seal and discard in a closed trash bin after completing each service.
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.” That 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 at www.osha.gov for more details.
Disotto suggests do’s and don’ts in order to keep a low risk of infection before, during, and after services, including:
- Clients should not shower within the two hours prior to a waxing service for risk of infection
- In winter, allow your client to “warm up” before waxing. In summer, let the client “cool down” and remove all perspiration
- Warn clients not to expose newly waxed skin to direct sun for at least 24 hours before or after waxing.
- Soaps, perfumes, or makeup should not be applied for at least 12 hours after a waxing service.
- Do not wax if a client is having any dermabrasion services.
- Do not wax over a previously waxed area.
- Do not wax over an area that has had a Botox injection for at least 72 hours.
- Do not wax if the client has protruding varicose veins, diabetes, phlebitis, or any skin irritation.
I am a firm believer in customer service and customer satisfaction at every level. Therefore, it is the level of cleanliness and carefulness that go 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.
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 contributed to the elevation of the aesthetics field in the U.S. and abroad and has recently been appointed honorary chair of EstheticsAmerica, CIDESCO USA and is Skin Care & Spa Council Director of Intercoiffure North America. Sarfati is also the recipient of both AIA/DERMASCOPE Magazine’s Legend Award and LNE’s Crystal Award. Lydia Sarfati was granted the ICMAD’s Cosmetic Entrepreneur Award for Leadership and the NCA Pillar Award for Education Leadership and was recently presented with the prestigious Chevalerie “Knight Award” by Intercoiffure Mondial.