Yes, unfortunately Waxidents do happen.
Being a Beauty Therapist myself with more than 25 years’ experience in waxing, it always makes me a little annoyed that as Beauty Therapists we’ve been conditioned to believe that waxing is a simple, easy treatment. This mind-set is totally ridiculous and unrealistic, and NOT correct!
I’m even more annoyed that the new Auckland Health & Safety Bylaw require all Wax Therapists to have a Health Protection Licence; however this licence does not require Wax Therapists to hold a recognized Industry qualification! An Industry qualification is only required for treatments that potentially "penetrates the skin" e.g. IPL, Laser & electrolysis.
In my opinion waxing is NOT easy and NOT everyone should be waxing, especially if they don’t understand that waxing requires a clear understanding of skin, hair, wax, waxing technique, and how to get out of these “sticky situations” we all find ourselves in from time to time. Waxing is all about trouble-shooting - learning what to wax, what not to wax, what wax to use, making sure your client is comfortable, along with the proper waxing techniques.
The reality is that waxidents are part and partial of the job as a Beauty Therapist, regardless of your skill level and experience. So let’s take closer look at the most common sticky situations you’re most likely going to find yourself in; how to solve them - and, hopefully, prevent them from happening altogether.
The wax gets sticky, gooey and unremovable
It is one of the most terrifying experiences when this happens to you. Those of you who have experienced this will know exactly what I mean! A sticky, gooey mess can happen with hot and warm (strip) wax for very different reasons.
What causes the wax to get sticky and gooey in the first place?
With both hot and warm wax, the temperature of the skin plays a big part. Regardless of what wax you’re using, wax begins to dry immediately when it’s applied to the skin.
How come you get into a gooey sticky mess with Hot wax?
As you know, the temperature of hot wax is much higher (68 degrees Celsius) than warm wax. When the client’s skin is warm, it can greatly slow down or stop the drying process of the wax. In fact, it can raise the temperature of the wax, creating an even stickier, gooeyer mess. This issue most commonly occurs when performing Brazilian wax treatments. In particular, the labia is the most common area for wax to turn into a sticky mess. That’s because the labia is a very warm part of the body.
When it comes to hot wax, generally anything that increases body heat can increase the sticky factor, e.g. if it’s a warm day outside, if your treatment room is warm and doesn’t have good ventilation, or if your client has been rushing around or just come in from a workout at the gym, all of these can create the perfect hot waxing storm!
Additionally, when wax is applied incorrectly to an area with longer hair, it can become matted gooey mess, creating a very sticky situation! If you don’t know how to deal with this, you will spend a lot of time tugging and pulling at your client in an attempt to get the wax off. This pulling and tugging is not only mentally stressful, it puts a great deal of stress on the skin and can cause severe damage!
How to prevent a sticky mess with hot wax:
- Make sure your treatment room is cool and well ventilated. If your client feels a little chilly, an extra towel for draping areas not being waxed will do the trick.
- To help the wax set, place a cool damp folded tissue over the wax.
- If your client’s skin is very warm, give her a cool, damp towel to freshen up with prior to the treatment. Make sure the area is fully dry before waxing.
- When working with longer hair, apply wax to the root only, then trim the hair along the waxing line. This prevents the wax from matting in the excess hair.
- Be patient. Allow the wax time to cool down and set properly before you start tugging at it! Trying to pull on wax that has not fully set will not only cause bruising, it is extremely uncomfortable!
The temperature of warm wax is much lower (43 degrees Celsius) than hot wax, so it will cool down quicker.
On areas applied where the skin is naturally cooler (extremities like ankles) the wax will get cold extremely quickly, creating a sticky mess that is impossible to remove. The same can happen on areas where the skin is a bit thicker, like the knees.
How to prevent a sticky mess with warm wax:
- Make sure your wax temperature is correct & not too cool/thick.
- Apply thinly to the skin – a thick application will mean the wax is cold touching the skin & warmer near the strip….creating a sticky mess!
- If your client has poor circulation, treat cooler areas of the skin like the ankles & knees separately & quickly. Keep your patches small and work quickly.
This is the most serious of the sticky situations. Just to clarify, there is a difference between lifted skin and torn skin.
Lifted skin is when the outer layers of the stratum corneum is removed or lifted, revealing live skin cells underneath. This is like a mild abrasion on the skin. Typically, there is no blood involved or visible and often, it’s hard to see that skin has been lifted, until the end of the treatment when a little patchy redness shows; or when the aftercare products sting a little.
Torn skin is just what it sounds like. A tear has been created in the skin, causing bleeding - there is no mistaking torn skin! And there are only two reasons why skin can be torn during waxing: poor technique on the part of the therapist, or the client has informed you of all contraindications, such as medications (Roaccutane or other Acne drugs) or conditions that have caused the skin to be compromised during the consultation.
For the most part, poor technique is the number one cause of a torn labia during Brazilian waxing, and it can happen regardless of what wax is used. However it’s is way more common if warm (strip) wax in this area.
How does poor technique cause tearing of the skin?
- Not holding the skin taut is poor technique. The skin on the labia and is looser (and softer) than other areas and MUST be held very tight to protect it during waxing.
- Not keeping your hand parallel with the skin with removal is also a recipe for disaster. When you pull up and away from the body (not horizontal with the skin), this also pulls the skin up and away, making it more likely for the skin to be torn.
- Hold the skin very tight and taut; keep your hand parallel to the body when removing the wax at all times.
- ALWAYS do a consultation and have the client fill out a health history form to rule out possible contraindications. Make a mental note to check whether your client has taken Roaccutane in the past 18 months - the skin-thinning effect of this drug will make waxing a contra-indicated treatment for a LOT longer than your client may realize!
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