I’m a licensed and semi-practicing esthetician. Waxing can be dangerous, there’s risk of infection, excoriation (torn skin), burns, scarring, hypo and hyper pigmentation (light or dark spots). Many practitioners don’t follow or don’t know many of the safety guidelines. As a client, you need to make sure your practitioner is keeping you safe. So…here are some guidelines to keep you safe when you get waxed at your local spa!

First, the list of medications that you should not be on at all and preferably be clear of at least three months (one year for Accutane):

* Accutane (Acne medication)
* Adapalene (Acne medication)
* Alustra (Retin A)
* Avage (See Tazorac – Acne medication)
* Avita (See Retin A)
* Differin (Acne medication)
* Isotretinoin (See Accutane)
* Renova (See Retin A)
* Retin A (Acne and Anti-aging medication)
* Tazarac (Acne medication)
* Tazarotene (See Tazorac)
* Tretinoin (See Retin A)

Have a patch test done if you are on these, people do react differently. Have a patch test done each and every time you are waxed if you are on these medications.

The following are topical medications. If you are to be waxed in the area in which you use these topical medications, inform your esthetician. These thin the skin and can often lead to waxing complications. Check your products, quite often you don’t even know you’re using these.

* Other Acne medications not listed above
* Bleaching agents for hair (used mostly for upper lip)
* Bleaching agents for pigmentation of skin (Hydraquinone, Trilumena)
* Previous chemical depilatories such as Nair
* Benzoyl Peroxide (ProActive)
* Alpha Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic, Lactic)
* Oral Antibiotics
* Topical Antibiotics
* Retinol
* Salicylic Acid
* Other exfoliants

General precautions:

* Do not wax sunburned or irritated skin
* Do not wax the same day you have been in a tanning booth
* Do not tan at least 2 days after being waxed
* Do not wax at least 2 days before you are to have a chemical peel or 7 days afterward
* Try to make appointments either at least a week before or after your period, you are often more sensitive around this time
* Do not exfoliate the day before your treatment
* Do not use deodorant at least 24 hours after an underarm waxing
* Do not take a hot bath or swim in the ocean for 24 hours after a treatment

When to use hard wax vs soft wax:

Hard wax (stripless wax) is for delicate regions, face, underarms, bikini or stomach. Soft wax (strip wax) is for arms and legs. This is so very important, even if you have been fine after having something delicate done with soft wax. Soft wax removes a layer of your skin. That’s why it can only be used in an area once. It adheres to the skin and pulls it with the hair. Hard wax does not do this and therefore can be used on an area more than once. If you use strip wax on an area that is delicate (with thinner skin) you run the risk of excoriation and bruising. These areas, like the underarms and bikini, are generally skin that stays covered and is a moister environment, so when the protective layer of skin is removed combined with the open wounds left from hair removal, it makes these places ripe for infection. If your esthetician does not use the right wax, find another one or request the use of hard wax. Excoriation is painful and can lead to infection, scarring and hypo or hyperpigmentation. This is very important in the facial region as you could be left with a dark mark on your skin if you are light, or a light mark on your skin if you are dark.

No love without the glove!

This one is so important that I if I could make it scream and jump up and down on your screen, I would!

Waxing leaves small wounds on your skin. The follicles are left open and can bleed. Even if they don’t, you have crossed the blood barrier of the skin. Your esthetician should wear gloves every time, every treatment, without fail. This protects her but also protects you. With your skin open, you are vulnerable to such things as a staph infection, MSRA, even Hepatitis. This has caused quite a stir these days in the spa world and the recommendation from those high in the spa world and OSHA themselves is to glove every time for every treatment. Please demand this from your esthetician every time. Even if you watch her wash her hands, there is still places for bacteria to remain, such as her fingernails. You don’t know if she has something as innocuous as a paper cut you can’t see that could potentially expose you to something deadly. As a side note, demand clean sheets on the bed every time. Many places don’t change their linens. Ask for a clean towel to be put under you if you question the linens.

If you see them double dip, leave. Don’t look back.

Wax pots are kept at a nice temperature, somewhere around or just above body temperature. This creates an environment that’s ripe for bacteria. If your esthetician double dips, meaning she uses the stick to apply the wax then dips it back into the pot again, leave. You are exposing yourself to the blood of countless strangers and then that is being spread onto your skin. Even worse, there is the likely hood that the applications will slightly overlap so that wax is being spread onto tiny open wounds. There is NO such thing as a wax that will not harbor bacteria. It does not exist. This is one of the single most dangerous practices. Imagine that the wax being used on your lip was used to do someones Brazilian. Double dipping is all too common and very dangerous practice, don’t stand for it.

If you demand your practitioner to adhere to these practices, you should have a safe, enjoyable waxing session. While you should expect your esthetician to adhere to these, being an informed consumer will ensure that you have a safe wax, every wax as not everyone in the industry has adopted these guidelines.