When it comes to face and body hair, less is definitely more for many people. Experts estimate that women shave approximately three times per week, and spend about 11 minutes each time. This equates to 58.4 full days spent removing hair from one’s body during a lifetime. While at-home tweezing and shaving may work for some people, more and more are turning to spas and salons for a professional and easier way to get rid of unwanted hair. In fact, according to American Spa’s Industry Insider research, waxing ranks sixth among top-grossing spa services, and the professional hair-removal category continues to grow as more options become readily available for spa-goers, and hair-removal technology and formulas continue to improve to attract an even wider range of clients, including men and teens.
There are various types of hair-removal methods available. Some are simple and require minimal equipment, while others are more extensive. No matter the method, it is imperative that clients fill out an intake form prior to receiving any hair-removal treatment, according to Lynn Maestro, national sales and communications director at Perron Rigot for Cirépil by Perron Rigot Paris. “It is vital to educate yourself on your clients’ skin activities each time they come in, knowing when or where you can or cannot wax,” she says. Here are the most common professional hair-removal services available today.
Waxing, which involves applying heated wax to the skin at the site of unwanted hair, is the most popular hair-removal method. It removes the encased hair at its root. There are two types of wax: Soft (or strip) wax requires that a strip of paper or muslin is applied on top in order to remove it from the skin; and hard wax, which doesn’t require a cloth, is removed by lifting one end and pulling the hardened wax against the hair growth.
Pros and Cons: Waxing is a win-win service for both the client and the professional, because it has a high return on investment. While waxing is safe for most clients, those using any strong exfoliants such as Renova, Retin-A, or any cosmeceutical containing retinols should avoid face waxing, as the skin is more vulnerable to sensitivity. Also, according to Normajean Fusco, owner and president of Nufree Finipil, waxing can sometimes break the hair off, which prevents it from being completely removed, and wax can stick to the skin, which can cause stinging. However, waxing remains a popular option because it is affordable, easy to maintain, and effective. “Once hair is removed correctly with the right wax for any area and the right aftercare products are recommended, waxing lasts longer and ingrown hairs can be a thing of the past,” says Lydia Jordane, founder of Lycon. The result is happy clients who are likely to spread the word about your spa’s waxing services.
Recommendations and Results: Waxing can be done on all hair types, and it is safe for most areas of the body, large or small. On the face, common waxing areas include eyebrows, the upper lip, the chin, and sideburns, while common body waxing areas include the underarms, legs, bikini area, and lower back. The result is a smooth, hair-free appearance that lasts four to six weeks. “Waxing is particularly ideal for large areas of the body, because it requires minimal product and is done quickly and efficiently,” says Lilliane Caron, owner and director of Waxxxpress. “Today, we have new-and-improved formulas that reduce irritation and allergies; are designed for strong, stubborn hairs; and formulated to be gentle on your client’s skin. Because of this, there really is a wax that is perfect for every area.”
Threading, an ancient method of hair removal originating in Central Asia and India, uses twisted cotton thread to pull several hairs out at a time. The thread is doubled, twisted, and then rolled over areas of unwanted hair. “The threads are used to help create the shape of the brow, with one thread defining the shape while the second thread is manipulated to remove unwanted hairs,” says Barry Eichner, social media consultant for PFB Vanish.
Pros and Cons: Threading is an all-natural way of removing fine hair without leaving a line of demarcation. However, it can be painful and tedious, and broken hairs may cause ingrown hair and irritation. “The skin may become irritated from the friction of the thread combined with the swelling of the follicle as the hair is removed,” says Susanna DiSotto, director of marketing at Satin Smooth.
Recommendations and Results: Threading is a good hair-removal option for clients with fast-growing or a substantial amount of fine facial hair. It is ideal for creating perfectly shaped brows, but it can also be used to eliminate most facial hair, including hair located on the sides of the face and upper lip, although those areas are more prone to irritation, swelling, and breakouts post-service. It’s recommended that clients return every two to six weeks to maintain a smooth, hair-free appearance.
Tweezing involves plucking each individual unwanted hair from the face or body using tweezers. From point tip and slant tip to rounded tip and straight tip, there are a variety of tweezers available today to efficiently remove hair from just about any place on the face or body.
Pros and Cons: Tweezing can often be painful and extremely time consuming. According to Caron, it can also result in missed or snapped hairs if the tweezers aren’t of good quality. Therefore, Fusco recommends tweezing strictly as a way to remove stray hairs or to touch up newly shaped brows. Because tweezing has a high chance of breakage, it can cause thicker regrowth and irritation. In addition, bruising from improper technique and scarring and hyperpigmentation can occur around areas where hairs are repeatedly tweezed when they are too short, or are broken during removal, according to DiSotto.
Recommendations and Results: Because tweezing is time-consuming and requires maintenance every one to five days, it is usually recommended for removing very small areas of unwanted hair, such as the eyebrows. It can also be used during a brow wax to fine tune the shape or eliminate stray hairs.
Sugaring, another ancient form of hair removal, is traditionally performed with a paste made from lemon, sugar, and water. This paste is applied and removed quickly with a strip of cloth or paper, resulting in a fast service, especially for large areas. It pulls the hair from its root.
Pros and Cons: Even though sugaring is all-natural and easy to clean, according to Caron, it’s often harsh and strenuous on the therapists’ wrists, back, and body. DiSotto adds that because it is a less common form of hair removal, it may be hard to find a qualified professional. Of course, this can have the added advantage of your spa being one of the few to offer it. Because the sugaring paste sticks to the hair, and not the skin like wax does, it tends to hurt less and cause less irritation on clients with sensitive skin. “More natural methods of hair removal such as sugaring are gaining popularity again,” says Regina Rodriguez, senior brand manager at GiGi. “They are gentler on the skin, and people are also gravitating toward natural ingredients. They are not heated to a high temperature to melt, so there is less potential for burns and less redness after services.” However, when not done properly, sugaring can sometimes be painful, cause bruising, and result in broken and ingrown hairs. Also, improper techniques may cause skin irritation, burns, and hyperpigmentation.
Recommendations and Results: The sugaring method can be used to remove hair on all parts of the body, but because of the pressure used to apply the paste, it is not recommended for use around the eyes, and extra caution must be used on areas such as the groin and ankles. When maintained every two to six weeks, the method is effective in removing hair and eventually causes hair to grow back slower and finer.
Laser Hair Removal
Considered semi-permanent, laser hair removal relies on the intense heat of a laser beam or a light pulse to destroy a hair follicle and inhibit future hair growth.
Pros and Cons: Laser hair removal can be done quickly to remove hair in large or small areas of the face and body. Although new technology is emerging, mainstream lasers work on dark hair only, and if performed incorrectly or using a malfunctioning machine, skin can be left swollen, burned, or permanently scared. The treatment can be expensive and painful, and may not work on all hair, even after recommended treatments are completed. “Darker skintones need to avoid most laser hair removal, because the laser seeks out the pigmentation, and in darker skintones, it can burn the skin not just the hair,” says Eichner. Also, clients may shave or use depilatories between appointments, but waxing, threading, sugaring, even tweezing cannot be done while undergoing a series of laser or electrolysis treatments, because both methods rely on targeting the hair bulb.
Recommendations and Results: Laser hair removal can be done on the entire body and on most skin types, including sensitive skin, but it is ideal for use on the legs, bikini area, underarms, and arms. And as noted, it is most effective on dark hair. “A fair skintone with darker hair is the ideal candidate, as the laser will hit the darker tone of the hair and not impact the skin,” says Eichner. “Many darker skintones and those who are tan are not able to receive laser treatments, as the laser will impact the pigmentation in their skin in addition to the hair.” A client is expected to return every four to six weeks for up to 10 treatments. During the series, clients will notice that most hair begins to grow back softer and sparser, and then eventually stops growing completely.
Electrolysis is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved method of permanent hair removal. According to DiSotto, a trained professional inserts a tiny sterile needle with an electric current (galvanic or thermolytic) into the hair follicle to destroy the papilla, which supplies nourishment to the hair. “Today’s medical electrolysis devices destroy the growth center of the hair with heat energy,” says Fusco. “It uses a needle to get down to the follicle root and cauterizes it.”
Pros and Cons: Electrolysis can be used to remove 100 percent of the hair from any area of the body and is effective on hair of all types and colors, making it a great alternative for fair-haired people where a laser may not be as effective, according to Caron. However, electrolysis can be time-consuming and very expensive (between $1 to $2 per hair), and the treatment must be done every one to three weeks for up to three years (or even longer, depending on the area) to permanently destroy each unwanted hair. Also, an electrologist may refuse to treat those with any previous damage to the follicle from waxing or other methods of hair removal. “The obvious benefits for electrolysis is the permanent removal of hair, but it is a long process, as each hair is targeted one at a time,” says Caron. “It requires multiple sessions and can be very expensive for the client. The equipment to perform these treatments is also very costly, meaning it is a huge outlay for therapists to purchase the equipment and maintain insurance.”
Recommendations and Results: Even though electrolysis can be performed on all areas of the body, including the upper lip, chin, neck, cheeks, and eyebrows, as well as body parts like the breasts, abdomen, underarms, bikini line, legs, fingers, and toes, it is best suited for small areas, because of the extensive time and high cost. However, when performed properly and when the client is diligent in returning for follow-up treatments, electrolysis can permanently destroy the hair follicle, leaving the area smooth and hair-free. Because it is permanent, clients must thoroughly consider the option before receiving electrolysis. “Just like fashion, hair-removal trends come and go,” says Rodriguez. “A full Brazilian bikini wax may be desired when you are in your 20s and 30s, but perhaps when you are in your 50s, it might not be as appealing, so a permanent hair-removal method such as electrolysis might not be the best choice.”
Rapid (Hair Removal) Growth
From traditional waxing to more invasive treatments like electrolysis and laser hair removal, there is a professional hair- removal option suitable for just about anyone with the desire to get rid of unwanted hair. But it’s important for you to thoroughly educate and train your employees in performing each hair-removal method to ensure the highest level of safety and to produce the best results. Prior to all services, clients should be informed of the possible side effects that can occur from the treatment and any post-treatment products and steps to take to enhance and maintain the results. And all hair-removal services should be performed in a clean, sterile, and private area to make each client feel comfortable. “Waxing is a very intimate service, not only Brazilian but facial and men’s grooming treatments, as well,” says Maestro. “Therefore they should be conducted in the most professional ‘intimate’ manner. Professionals need to remember they are providing this treatment, because clients don’t want to see their hair or let anyone else see it for that matter.”
With advances in laser technology, new-and-improved hair-removal formulas, and high-quality pre- and post-treatment products, the popularity of hair-removal services continue to grow and become a more mainstream spa service for spa-goers of all ages and skin and hair types. “I feel more people are visiting spas and salons for all kinds of professional hair removal,” says Fusco. “Once customers feel how smooth their skin is and how long it lasts, they usually don’t go back to shaving. Many people just need to try it once or twice to become hooked.”
Check out these hair-removal products that treat every skin type and hair condition, without the redness or irritation.
1. Amber Products Amber MD Professional Waxing System: Minimize the risk of transferring bacteria with this complete kit, which improves hygiene, speed, and effectiveness. store.amberproducts.com
2. Cirépil by Perron Rigot Paris Cristalline: Formulated without beeswax, this hypo-allergenic wax is the perfect choice for fine hair and sensitive skin. www.cirepil.com
3. Clean + Easy Neroli Oil Roll-On Wax: Infused with Indian neroli oil, this wax glides on smoothly while moisturizing the skin. www.cleanandeasyspa.com
4. Hard Wax Tabs: Created to help remove hard wax quicker and easier, these plastic tabs offer clients a less painful waxing experience. www.hardwaxtabs.com
5. Laboratoires Reynard Soft Sugar Wax: Comprised of lemon, honey, sugar, and water, this sugar paste features a natural honey fragrance and is perfect for thick, normal, and fine hair. www.labreynard.com
6. Lycon Precision Waxing Lycojet Lavender Hot Wax: Made with a blend of chamomile and lavender, this low-temperature wax soothes and conditions the skin. www.lyconusa.com
7. GiGi No Bump Body Scrub: Eliminate bumps and ingrown hairs with this post-hair removal skin polisher made with honey and mango extracts. www.gigispa.com
8. Nufree Nudesse: Remove hair from any part of the body with this soy-based antibacterial and antimicrobial liquid hair-removal system. www.nufree.com
9. PFB Vanish + Chromabright: This post-waxing roll-on gel contains exfoliating and moisturizing ingredients to lift and remove existing ingrown hair and reduce dark spots. www.pfbvanish.com
10. Phytocéane Océpil Regrowth Inhibitor Gel: Ultra-hydrating marine ingredients and sage help slow down unwanted hair growth and soothe the skin. www.phytoceane.com
11. Satin Smooth Ultra Sensitive Zinc Oxide Wax: Specially formulated for acne- or blemish-prone skin, this wax is made with titanium oxide and propolis, a natural botanical substance that is perfect for facial and brow waxing. www.satinsmooth.com
12. Waxxxpress Coco Nuts: The flexible formula contains creamy coconut and titanium oxide to deliver smooth, silky results without the usual post-wax redness and irritation. www.waxxxpress.com/usa