Consumers shouldn't fear bikini waxing

Consumers could be put off bikini waxing, after recent research has indicated an increased risk of skin infection as a result. A recent study found that subjects undergoing bikini line hair removal, including waxing and shaving, were at greater risk of skin infections. The study, originally published in BMJ, has been picked up by the national media, including the BBC and the Daily Mail.

The study examined 30 patients with molluscum contagiosum, a contagious viral skin condition that leaves sufferers with raised red spots. In all 30 cases the symptoms appeared in the bikini line area that had been either waxed or shaved, indicating a link between bikini line hair removal and the infection.

Ellen Kavanagh, owner and founder of Waxperts, said: "This report is unfortunate, and not surprising as we all know bad results are always talked about more than good results."

However while this report may be a cause for concern for consumers, many industry figures believe it indicates a need for waxing treatments to be properly regualted.

Andy Rouillard, MD of Axiom Body Works says: “What this highlights to me is that the need for regulated industry training, proper client consultation, universal hygiene procedures and proper aftercare advice each and every time a client comes for waxing has never been more important.”

France Baudet, MD of Cannelle beauty salons agrees. She says, "I have been calling for strict regulations to manage standards in waxing for years because I have been shocked by the number of new cleints coming to us because their skin type hasn't been taken into account, or the wrong sort of wax has been used on a specific area. I have to question whether some therapists are getting enough training at ground roots level."

The study was carried out at a private clinic in Nice, France. Rouillard pointed out that in Britain, Habia has set national occupational standards for both male and female intimate waxing, in place since 2007, that provide a benchmark for training providers and salons alike. “Clients are assured that if they go to somebody whose training meets those standards that they will be providing the best possible service,” Rouillard said.

“[Customers] should always look for a salon that’s had the proper training, and that can be done through Babtac and the Guild and the FHT so they search members who’ve had the proper training.” he added.  

Baudet agrees, saying that she's never known any of her clients to contract a skin infection from a bikini wax carried out in Cannelle salons. "Waxing done by the wrong pair of hands could be a disaster [but] I can't see why there is any risk of infection if the waxing is done correctly," she said.

Hair removal treatments account for around 50% of Cannelle's overall business, and the brand recently unveiled that 61% of its clients were choosing to have the majority of their bikini hair removed, up from 42% last year. Though these figures are specific to Cannelle salons, they do indicated an increasing popularity in bikini waxing treatments among consumers.   

Kavanagh and Rouillard both reiterate that correct aftercare is vital to protecting the skin after waxing. Rouillard said: "We always stress as part of our training that therapists should be saying to clients to avoid sexual activity for 24 to 48 hours after waxing." 

"We have to bear in mind that the clients are also responsible for the aftercare of his or her own skin," said Kavanagh. "It is common knowledge that after hair removal pores stay open, therefore there is always the possibilty of infection and the skin is vulnerable after any kind of hair removal treatment. In order to keep the side effects of hair removal at bay, salon professionals should always advice their clients on the aftercare of their skin."