I am a certified esthetician who only occasionally works. The risks associated with waxing include infection, excoriation (torn skin), burns, scarring, and hypo- and hyperpigmentation (light or dark spots). Many practitioners don’t adhere to or are unaware of many safety rules. You must check that your practitioner is keeping you safe as a patient. Consequently, the following recommendations will help keep you safe when getting waxed at your neighborhood 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)

If you’re taking them, get a patch test done because people react differently to these. If you take these medications, get a patch test done before every waxing procedure.

The following are medications for application to the skin. Inform your esthetician if you plan to get waxed in the area where you use these topical medications. These cause skin to become thinner and frequently cause problems with waxing. Examine your products; frequently, you don’t even realize you’re using them.

* 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:

For delicate areas, such as the face, underarms, bikini, or stomach, use hard wax (stripless wax). Arms and legs go with soft wax (strip wax). Even if you have been fine after having something delicate done with soft wax, this is still extremely important. A layer of your skin is removed with soft wax. It can only be applied to a location once for that reason. It sticks to the skin and tugs at it using the hair. Hard wax doesn’t do this, allowing for repeated application to the same area. You run the risk of excoriation and bruising if you use strip wax on a delicate area (where the skin is thinner). Infection is more likely to spread to these areas because, like the underarms and bikini, they are typically covered by skin and have a moister environment. As a result, when the protective layer of skin is removed and the open wounds from hair removal are combined, these areas are particularly vulnerable. If your esthetician is not using the proper wax, look for another one or insist on using hard wax. Excoriation hurts and can cause infection, scarring, and hypo- or hyperpigmentation. This is crucial in the facial area because, depending on your skin tone, you might end up with a dark mark if you’re light or a light mark if you’re dark.

Without a glove, there is no love!

This one is so crucial that I would make it shout and jump around on your screen if I could!

Your skin develops tiny wounds from waxing. The follicles are left open and susceptible to bleeding. You have already pierced the skin’s blood barrier, even if they don’t. Every single time, during every procedure, your esthetician must wear gloves. This safeguards not only you but also her. You are susceptible to conditions like a staph infection, MSRA, and even hepatitis if your skin is exposed. This has created quite a stir in the spa industry these days, and those in positions of power and OSHA themselves advise glove-wearing at all times during treatments. Please insist on this each time you see your esthetician. She may wash her hands in front of you, but there are still places where bacteria can live, like under her fingernails. You can’t tell if she has something harmless like a paper cut that you can’t see that could expose you to something fatal. As a side note, always demand fresh sheets for the bed. The linens in many places aren’t changed every day. If you have any concerns about the linens, request that a fresh towel be placed beneath you.

Leave if you see them double-dipping. Don’t look back.

An ideal temperature for wax pots is one that is close to or slightly above body temperature. This fosters a bacterially conducive environment. Leave if your esthetician applies the wax with the stick, then dips it back into the pot. This is known as double dipping. You are letting the blood of countless strangers touch your skin while also exposing yourself to it. Worse still, there’s a chance that the applications will just barely cross paths, spreading wax onto tiny open wounds. There is NO wax that won’t support bacteria. This is one of the most hazardous practices there is, and it does not exist. Imagine that the wax being applied to your lips was previously used to perform a Brazilian. Do not tolerate double dipping, which is an extremely common and risky practice.

You should have a safe and enjoyable waxing session if you insist that your practitioner follow these procedures. Being a knowledgeable customer will ensure that you have a safe wax every time, even though you should expect your esthetician to follow these, as not all in the industry have embraced these standards.

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