June 12th, 2013
In 2011 I wrote a blog on bikini waxing because I had received so many e-mails from nervous first time waxing clients. Since that time I have received even more e-mails from esthetic students, nervous about performing this highly popular service. In my book The New Esthy Handbook: An Essential Guide for Novice or Nervous Estheticians http://amzn.to/YmKM59 I advise beauty students to seek out advanced waxing training before applying for a spa job. Unfortunately most schools don’t teach waxing in great detail for various reasons; therefore it becomes a tremendous advantage for new beauty grads to have this skill set.
Waxing is like driving a car; I can tell you the rudiments but until you climb behind the wheel and get out in traffic you won’t feel confident.
When dealing with ethnic skin in particular it can be tricky because of the potential for hyperpigmentation issues. Anytime skin with melanin perceives that it has been damaged it seeks to correct the issue. Waxing qualifies as damage so extra measures must be taken to protect and soothe the delicate tissues.
With that said here are some tips that I hope help the esthys who have written to me.
One size may not fit all when it comes to wax. It helps to have a variety simply because different ethnicities have different textures of hair and many women even have different hair textures on their own body. If you have ethnic clients or wish to expand your clientele you want more than one wax in your repertoire. What works brilliantly on a bi racial girl with soft curly hair may not put a dent in the coarser hair of an East Indian or Latina customer. I often use different waxes on the same woman for the best result.
Also a wax that will cause irritation on one person may work well on another. It’s nice to have a strip wax for precision work and a hard strip-less wax for more delicate areas like the labia or interior of the ears or nose.
Stay away from honey based waxes which are found in many beauty supply stores. They tend to be inexpensive but extremely harsh to the skin. Many quickie nail salons use this type of wax. You get what you pay for and often those waxes are not only more difficult to work with, they cause undue pain to your client. However if you are using it simply to practice your technique they can be a good choice as they are easy on your wallet.
Never apply wax to a client without first testing the temperature on yourself. Rule of thumb; if the wax is runny it’s too hot. Test the temperature on the inside of your wrist. It should feel perfectly comfortable to you. If it’s too warm remove the pot from the warmer- and allow it to cool prior to applying it to your client’s skin. If your client tells you that it’s too hot listen to her/him! Cool it down before continuing.
Prep your client’s skin first by using a commercial pre waxing antibacterial cleanser. Ensure that the skin is dry and apply a buffer like talc powder before applying the wax. Never place wax on bare skin. You’ll cause undue irritation and may run the risk of lifting more than hair. This is critical if your client is using an alpha hydroxy based product.
Eliminating Client Discomfort
During waxing, any time you perform a “rip” the skin will vibrate or shake. This is the case whether you are working on a thin tight 15 year old girl or a looser skinned mature woman.
To reduce discomfort as much as possible during bikini waxing, I place a small thin towel as close to the area to be waxed as possible and have my clients place their hand flat on the towel and pull their flesh up as tightly as possible. This decreases vibration and also flattens the nerve. Position their hand for them and explain that their hand must stay on the towel not on their flesh otherwise you’ll end up removing wax from their hand which is a time waster. Their hand has to be flat as opposed to using their fingers because their fingers will become cramped and tired. The towel absorbs nervous sweat and prevents slippage. Even with very thin girls this is a good process to use because it distracts them and allows you to move more quickly through the waxing process.
This is particularly helpful when waxing pregnant women as they will be hyper sensitive.
You may have a lot of clients who are big, fleshy, thick, bodacious, whatever term you want to use. And they can be challenging to wax if you don’t know how. Using the above method you’ll also want to find other ways to create even more tension on the skin depending upon their size.
First understand that this is no time to be shy. They are well aware that they are “extra” and just want to get through the process as quickly and painlessly as everyone else so be empathetic but clinical. When performing a bikini or Brazilian on thick girls I may have them scoot to the side of the table and hang their leg over while still lying down. This method stretches the thigh, opens up the area tremendously and provides the additional tension needed. Have them hold any excess flesh out of the way of the area to be waxed.
If you are performing a Brazilian you can have them hold their knee up and raise their foot from this position for greater access to the nether regions. You can also roll your client on her side and have her bring the outside knee to her chest. Do not be afraid to have her lift her butt cheek for better access. I am not a big fan of placing the client on all fours but the waxers at the famous J Sisters in New York City do it so it must be efficient as they have no time to waste.
The same goes for waxing a fleshy underarm except a towel isn’t necessary. Simply have your client hold their flesh out of the way. It creates tension and allows you to do your job quickly and effectively.
Waxing is an intimate but social event and not one to be performed in silence as your client is probably a bundle of nerves. Have a little conversation ready. Ask them if they are going on vacation, talk about the Kardashian sisters or Michele Obama’s clothing purchase from H & M (it needn’t be deep) to get your client talking. Help them to relax by reminding them to breathe. Explain the different waxes to them, anything to avoid a dead silence in the room. They will appreciate the distraction and probably book with you again before leaving.
Do not leave gobs of wax on your client. Clean up is an essential part of the waxing process. Who wants to walk around with stickiness in their bikini area? Apply oil or wax remover liberally and using a soft fiber free cloth or facial pad gently wipe the area clean. If you have to tug at the skin, the remover has not dissolved the wax properly. Hold the flesh when removing the wax as well. Follow up by wiping with a commercial antiseptic, high frequency or warm towel.
Ethnic women in particular need to use a product to help reduce inflammation which will in turn reduce hyperpigmentation. There are many products out there but products designed specifically for ethnic skin are the best. The brilliant Dr. Aloysius Anaebonam has devoted over 20 years of study to ingrown hair issues for Black men and his Breej Shaving Bumps System products are also effective for a women’s bikini area.
Help your client to stay on schedule by letting them know when to return. When they can grab their hairs with the tips of their fingers and wiggle their skin it is time to come back for their next waxing.
I hope I’ve answered some of your questions. Want more info or hands on training? Groups of five or more can be scheduled for trainings by contacting me at Linda@lindatheskindiva.com.
Linda Harding-Bond is an international spa consultant and author of The New Esthy Handbook; An Essential Guide for Novice or Nervous Estheticians. www.Lindatheskindiva.com or connect with Linda on Twitter @Lindaskindiva