Skin So Smooth
With the arrival of summer, spas and salons are gearing up for the waxing season. “Waxing is one of the easiest, fastest, and most economical choices clients have when it comes to hair removal methods,” says Regina Rodriguez, brand manager of Gigi. Indeed, this method of epilation requires less upkeep and causes fewer ingrown hairs than shaving and costs less than laser treatments or electrolysis. As clients increasingly turn to waxing, spas, salons, and product companies have worked to make the experience more comfortable. New multipurpose waxing products, including pre- and post-waxing formulas, not only remove hair but also act as numbing agents, antiseptics, exfoliants, and moisturizers. “Beauty doesn’t have to equal pain,” says Rodriguez whose company has developed the No Sting Wax, which contains a natural, built-in anesthetic called Kava Kava. Another company, Satiness, uses lidocaine and clove extract in its Comfort Mist pre-waxing spray to soothe areas to be treated.
Clients are also looking for results that last longer. “There are products out there that can accomplish this,” says Deborah Merhar, founder of Relax & Wax. “Clients line up to try our new Hair Did It Go? freeze-dried enzyme,” which is a post-waxing serum that retards regrowth by cutting off the root’s oxygen supply. Meanwhile, Guinot’s Epil Confort Corps after-waxing gel, with the active ingredient bulbaine, slows hair growth, lengthening the time between spa visits.
The spa industry’s focus on natural ingredients extends to waxing. Laboratoires Reynard uses essential oils (argan, sweet almond) and butters (mango, shea) in its waxes for their antiseptic and soothing properties and plant extracts, such as capislow, for hair growth retardants and ingrown hair prevention. Additionally, sugaring, originally developed in the ancient Middle East, has become an increasingly popular alternative. Dermatologist Marina Peredo., M.D., and founder of Spatique Medical Spa (Smithtown, NY) describes the process as involving a thick, natural paste made of sugar, water, and lemon juice that’s applied to the skin then flicked or peeled off in a double layer, once against the direction of hair growth then over again in the opposite direction.
Waxing isn’t just an aesthetic choice. Carrying out the service safely and effectively can make a world of difference—both for the client and the therapist. These days, customers are even more informed about safety and sanitation than ever before. Besides avoiding the contamination-spreading practice of reusing spatulas, other recommended cleanliness measures include disinfecting surfaces and equipment between each client, using an antibacterial product on the treated area, and wearing gloves during the service (as bleeding may incur in certain zones), according to France Dubreuil, development advisor of Laboratoires Reynard.
Other pre-care steps? Malynda “Boom Boom” Vigliotti, owner of the Boom Boom Brow Bar (New York City), suggests that estheticians ask clients about the use of retinol, Accutane, and antibiotics, as they can all render the skin susceptible to peeling, scarring, and burning, particularly during eyebrow, lip, and chin waxing. Clients should also refrain from using moisturizers or body oils on the day of a waxing. “The wax will simply roll off,” says Merhar. Noemi Grupenmager, CEO and founder of Uni K Wax Centers (multiple locations) adds that hair should be an eighth or quarter of an inch, which allows the wax to get a better grip on it. “And alcohol tightens pores, so it is not a good idea to consume it before getting waxed,” she says.
But safety and care don’t stop at the end of a waxing session. Post-treatment measures are just as important as the service itself. Vigliotti emphasizes the role of products with antiseptic and healing properties. As hair follicles are ripped out from the root, the pore is left open, exposed, and vulnerable to infection (she prefers using her own line of products developed with Bacitracin zinc and grapeseed oil.) Another post-waxing culprit? Ingrown hairs, which may cause painful bumps (exfoliation helps). “Using sun protection is especially important during the first twenty-four hours after waxing in order to avoid redness,” recommends Grupenmager.
Because waxing requires regular visits, loyalty programs play a big part in promotions. The European Wax Center (multiple locations) has a pre-paid wax package that allows guests to buy multiple services for up to a third off the à la carte price. It also has an Unlimited Waxing Pass that saves clients hundreds of dollars and keeps them coming back for a year. Meanwhile, Boom Boom Brow Bar takes the value-added approach. It hosts a brow-lip combo “Happy Hour” to increase traffic during a slow time. Whatever the promotion, one trend is for sure: as Mehrar notes, many spa services have suffered in what is still considered a down economy, though waxing, at a lower price point, continues to grow.