16 things you need to know about intimate waxing
To help launch Professional Beauty's Waxing and Sugaring Week (May 18–24), we spoke with some of the industry's leading waxers about everything you need to know before offering intimate waxing in your salon.
1. Do your research
Andy Rouillard, owner and manager of male grooming salon Axiom Bodyworks in Basingstoke, says, “This is not a job for the fainthearted. You need good communication skills, an eye for detail and a certain amount of fearlessness to be a successful waxer. A healthy sense of humour also comes in handy.
"If you can’t imagine getting hands-on with a customer’s naked bits then this probably isn’t the treatment for you and that’s fine. Despite its popularity, no therapist should ever feel under pressure to offer intimate waxing if they’re anxious or feel uncomfortable about doing so.”
2. Have an open dialogue
Communication is key, as Fiona Bale, beauty therapist and area sales manager for wax brand Hive, explains: “Pay attention to your client’s body language. If you sense any tension, it could be caused by embarrassment about the position they’re in rather than the treatment itself. Continuously inform them of what stage you’re at and look to protect their modesty where possible.”
3. Educate your client
“It’s your responsibility to educate new clients in how to get the best from their waxing service,” says Julie Wilding, salon owner and UK distributor for Berodin Wax UK, which offers a range of professional waxing products. “If they know what’s to come, because you’ve explained it to them, then there’s no shock factor.
"Some clients come in and truly expect to be hair-free for three weeks and five days, and that they will only be hairy the last two days before their next wax. Give them honest and true information in an easy-to-understand format.”
4. Make the options clear
“Whether it's a basic bikini line or a full Brazilian wax, make sure your website lists all the options with a full description of what's included,” says Jack Dunn, The Wax Coach and co-founder of Hot Wax London.
“What's really good for male clients is to give your intimate waxing treatments their own unique code or name, then clients can easily call up to book in for the 'Essex Road' without the fear of their colleagues or friends overhearing the conversation.”
5. Cover the basics
“Always ask clients to fill out a thorough consultation form as this shows the intergrity and professionalism of your salon,” says Rosemarie Cecillia, chief executive of waxing brand WaxXXX.
“Issues can arise with waxing just as easily as with facials and IPL. Also, it’s worth providing disposable knickers for clients as not all, especially first-timers, feel comfortable exposing themselves to complete strangers. For the best results, ask clients to scrub eight hours before their wax treatment as this helps to release ingrown hairs and hydrate the skin.”
6. Be cautious with your booking times
“While you get quicker with experience, a good Brazilian wax with adequate hair generally takes on average 20 minutes to complete,” says Lilliane Caron, owner and director of CaronLab Australia and Waxxxpress, which has a range of hot wax, strip wax and pre- and post-waxing strips.
“However, it's not uncommon for it to take up to an hour if you’re a graduate who is just starting out, because you need guidance and can sometimes be a little timid. With a new client I always schedule a longer appointment – approximately 30 minutes – as you never know what you’re going to be dealing with. Techniques such as speed waxing may get people in and out of your door quicker but it is not the way to create ongoing, loyal customers.”
7. Invest in decent clippers
One of the golden rules is to make sure your client doesn’t trim their hair pre-appointment as you need at least three weeks’ growth to get a decent finish.
Caroline Mears, educator for Perron Rigot and freelance waxer, says this essential trimming should be done by the professional pre-treatment with a pair of clippers. “There’s nothing worse than trimmed pubic hair everywhere. On women, you generally only need to trim the hair on the central mons pubis and outer labia, and on men around the base of the penis.”
8. Control stress sweat
Embarrassment, discomfort, hormone issues, tight-fitting clothes and hot weather can all make clients sweat more than usual. “Any form of moisture acts as a barrier to wax and makes it trickier to remove every hair on that first pull of the strip,” says Lucy Jones, wax trainer for Sienna X.
Eliminating as much moisture as possible beforehand will give your client a more positive experience. “Talcum powder helps absorb sweat quickly, so keep a bottle by your station, and invest in a fan to keep the room cool,” she adds.
9. Try a specialist wax
You can use most hot waxes for intimate waxing but some specialist formulas are designed to give a better end result. “Most training schools only teach that you can use hot wax twice on an area before you start damaging the skin but if you use a gentle wax that can grab hairs as short as 1mm you should be able to use it up to five times,” says Lydia Jordane, founder of Lycon.
“You can put it on twice and may not be able to see any hair, but if you put it on again, hair that you couldn’t see will come out and be visible on the wax. I’m not happy until I see no more hair on the wax because that’s how it lasts longer for the client. If the therapist doesn’t remove those shortest hairs, the client often thinks they broke the hair off.”
10. Be clever with your technique
Be mindful about the way in which you remove the wax to make the process as comfortable as possible. “Don’t pick the end of your peelable wax off the skin. In many cases, the flicking of the end of the wax with your fingernails is more painful than the actual removal,” says Tracey Smith, director of wax brand Ashmira Botanica.
“Instead, daisy chain your wax using the previous strip or dip your spatula into the end of the wax using the waxy end as this lifts it painlessly. If you have a good, smooth end to your wax, it should roll away from the skin when you stretch it.”
11. Be aware of contraindications
“In addition to the standard waxing contraindications, Habia recommends that therapists should be checking for STIs and urinary tract infections,” adds Rouillard. “Debate continues within the industry as to the actual risk of cross-infection when waxing and it’s worth remembering that clients might not even be aware they have an infection because many STIs do not present with recognisable symptoms for several months after exposure.
"To protect ourselves and our clients, it’s vital therapists follow universal hygiene procedures for intimate waxing – wear gloves, don’t double dip, disinfect and sterilise tools and equipment as appropriate, use clean towels and dispose of salon waste in line with your local authority guidelines.”
12. Be confident in treatment
“When waxing hard-to-reach areas, the correct positioning and stretching of the client is imperative for a thorough wax. You can’t be embarrassed to ask a client to get into different positions to reach those hard to see areas,” says Lisa Stone, Salon System educator and wax specialist.
13. Keep ingrown hairs at bay
Ingrown hairs can happen for a variety of reasons, so it’s important to give proper aftercare advice. “Advise clients to exfoliate daily in between treatments and to use a product containing active ingredients salicylic acid and glycolic acid to allow the ingrown hairs to get out,” says Angela Sanderson, education ambassador for wax brand Wax:one.
14. Don’t assume male and female services are similar
“Just because you carry out female intimate waxing, don’t assume you can do the same on male clients. The male and female anatomy are very different and so are the requirements of the service. Different techniques are needed, so always invest in specific training to ensure you’re offering your clients the best service you can,” adds Stone.
15. Always consider ways to bring in new clients
Many people go to a lot of effort adoring their bodies with tattoos and piercings, so they probably don’t want hair growing over and covering them.
“Something that makes total sense to me is, if you know someone’s going to get a sleeve tattoo, then offer to wax them beforehand. This becomes a great opportunity to link up with the local tattoo parlor, who usually do body piercings too,” says Sam Marshall, the owner of The Beauty Guru in Manchester.
16. Make sure your team are comfortable
“You have to think about the happiness and willingness of your staff team when offering services,” says Rouillard. “Some won’t want to offer intimate waxing to men because of religious reasons, or maybe their partner isn’t comfortable with it, for example.”
“They have to want to do it. There’s nothing worse than trusting your bits and bobs in the hands of a nervous therapist, let’s be honest.”