Special Considerations for Hair Removal

When it comes to hair removal services, most clients—and providers—know what they’re getting into. But certain circumstances may require a different approach to ensure maximum comfort and results. Prepare for sticky situations with these tips from top educators in the field.

hair-waxing-beads[Image: BrandeeMeier/istock]

Sensitive Skin

Lindsay Miller, president, Lycon USA: Sensitive skin is very common, and you must take the appropriate cautionary steps when waxing. Select a high quality wax that has added aloe, arnica, argan oil and other soothing ingredients to reduce sensitivity. Additionally, waxes formulated with titanium dioxide will help minimize post-treatment redness and irritation, and a hard wax will be gentler and more comfortable for the client.

Always start by cleansing the skin to ensure there is no debris, then use a pre-waxing oil as an additional barrier. After the wax, cleanse again to close the hair follicles and soothe the area. Finally, choose an after-care product that’s intended for sensitive skin, such as lotions containing antibacterial tea tree or soothing chamomile. You can also recommend that clients apply a cold compress within a couple of hours to further reduce inflammation—especially if they’ve had reactions in the past.

Trisha Williams, Nufree educator and owner/master esthetician, Bare Bliss in Yakima, Washington: I opt for hair removal that only sticks to the hair (not the skin) so it’s super gentle for everyone, including those with sensitive, aging, oily and acneic concerns. In other words, it’s suitable for all skin types because it doesn’t directly impact the skin.

Elham Jazab, global educator, GiGi: If a client has sensitive skin (which will become apparent when you do a thorough consultation), I almost always choose a stripless or hard wax. Applying a few drops of pre-epilation oil with grape seed oil will create a cushion and allow the wax to grab hair without sticking to the skin. I also use a gentle post-wax gel with aloe and cucumber, or a cortisone cream; I pre-chill these products by keeping them in a small bucket of ice. The combination of the calming actives and cool temperature means less redness and swelling. If a guest is super prone to hives, taking an antihistamine a couple of hours before their service can help. Always have them check with their physician regarding any medication.

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Uncommon Areas

Miller: Many clients don’t realize that just about any area with hair can be waxed! Some uncommon areas include the nostrils, nipples, sideburns, toes, knuckles and bellybutton. Education is key to letting them know what services are available and answering any questions they may have. Opening up the conversation about what you offer and gently providing suggestions is a great way to grow your business while ensuring your client is happy and confident. Additionally, choose quality waxes that are versatile for different areas; having both a hard and strip wax on hand will allow you to tailor your services effectively.

Jazab: For the inside of the nose, don’t go all the way up into the nasal canal; you need the hair (cilia) inside. I use a stripless wax and only apply a small amount to the visible part of the nostril opening, press firmly with my fingers, then quickly pull off the wax. For testicles, I use hard wax, applied in small strips going against the hair and back over. Have the customer help by holding onto the area being waxed to stabilize the loose skin. When waxing areas on the feet and hands, ideally you’ll apply some numbing solution to the skin, as those spots are pretty bony with minimal underlying fat. Tell clients to avoid harsh hand soaps afterward to avoid irritation, and skip the tight shoes to help prevent ingrown hairs.

Williams: It’s important that the formulation can ‘melt’ into all of the cracks and crevices without any difficulty. I’ve removed hair from noses, the back of the neck, between the toes and outside of the ears; I find that with the right formula, it’s no more difficult to remove hair from these areas than it is to remove it from the more common ones.


Super Fine Hair

Miller: Fine, fluffy hair—often found on the face or even the arms—requires a wax that’s strong enough to shrink wrap those hairs and pull them up from the root.

Deborah Merhar, founder, Relax & Wax: This can be as frustrating as thick, coarse hair. Again, you must use pressure and get the wax to the skin. Adding just a touch of oil or powder will make them stand up for easier removal.

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Super Thick Hair

Merhar: Ask your client to trim their hair to one-fourth of an inch prior to their appointment. Use pressure when applying the wax to ensure that it gets all the way down to the skin and the base of the hair. I also recommend smaller strips in this case. The biggest challenge will be avoiding any surrounding hair in your strip, so you should hold the hair away if necessary.

Jazab: Anytime I’m waxing coarse, curly hair, I apply stripless wax going against the hair growth, then smooth it back over like I’m frosting a fuzzy little cupcake. Next, I press the wax against the skin with my fingertips to make sure it really adheres well to the hair, and pull off against the hair growth.

Miller: Thick hair is removed most effectively with hard wax, which will grip the hairs and pull them up from the root, making the service go more smoothly. Always remember that the thickness of the patch of wax you apply must mirror the hair’s thickness, otherwise the wax will not have the strength to pull it out. Although a good hard wax should get everything the first time around, having the option to reapply is always a plus, as sometimes hairs do get left behind. Quality waxes will be able to be reapplied (especially if you use a pre-wax oil).


Delicate Areas

Chrissie Paraschos, head trainer, RefectoCil North America: I suggest a wax containing titanium dioxide to maintain grip on hair but release more easily from the skin, therefore reducing redness and irritation.

Merhar: I’m a firm believer in oil. It puts a barrier between the skin and the wax, so that the wax just sticks to the hair. For delicate skin, I only use hard wax with an oil barrier to protect the skin.

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Ingrown Hair

Paraschos: Ingrown hairs and pimples are extremely common. After waxing, a serum formulated with natural fruit acids will help soothe irritated skin and prevent ingrowns from occurring. If your client already has existing ingrown hairs, recommend a targeted spot treatment, which is ideal for quick healing and can also be used on pimples to draw out the infection. These products are an easy upsell for any waxing treatment, plus they’re the perfect addition to a spa’s retail area. Don’t forget to encourage clients to exfoliate daily, too; prevention is always better than a cure!

Jazab: Part of the ingrown hair issue comes from bad waxing technique. If a tech isn’t experienced, she may do something like yank her hand up, rather than roll it close to the skin when removing the wax; when that happens, hairs can break off at the skin’s surface and a few days later: ingrown hairs. But some clients are just prone to ingrowns. In that case, suggest that—starting a few days after waxing—they use a salicylic solution to gently exfoliate and prevent dead cells from clogging pores. Tell them to follow that with an aloe-based gel mixed with some azulene to soothe the area and lubricate the skin. They should stop salicylic treatments a couple of days before their next wax appointment.

Merhar: Ingrown hair is the No.1 reason clients stop waxing. Proper application—all the way down to the skin—will stop breakage, which in turn will result in fewer ingrowns. Regular mild exfoliation with an ingrown hair serum, followed by a moisturizer, is necessary.

—Laura Waldon

This story first appeared in the September issue of DAYSPA Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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