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News, views and product reviews from the spatula of 'Wax Daddy' Andy Rouillard. Welcome to the wonderful world of male waxing!

Don't fear the wax pot: response to bikini waxing 'STI scare'

By Wax Daddy, Mar 20 2013 05:45PM



Bikini waxing is under attack. Again.


This week the British media ran a story that could put a serious dent in our wax pot, claiming a recent study has indicated an increased risk of sexually transmitted infection in men and women who shave, wax or trim their pubic hair.


The French study - which appeared in the British Medical Journal and was subsequently picked up by the national media, including the BBC and Daily Mail - suggested that ‘micro trauma’ caused by waxing and shaving could leave the skin more vulnerable to infection. Although the research focused on only 30 patients with the poxvirus Molluscum contagium, the researchers warned that pubic hair removal could also increase the risk of other STIs such as genital warts.


Once more the beauty industry faces an uphill battle to counteract the potential damage caused to our profession. Dismissing the reports as ‘sensationalist’ or ‘scaremongering’ isn’t enough. Nor is it helpful to assume that we have nothing to worry about because it happened in France, and ‘they do things differently over there’. With stories like this attracting the attention of consumers, we can’t blame people for getting nervous and we will need to have answers for any concerns expressed by clients.


So let’s take a quick look at what the stories are actually saying: the main thrust of the study seems to be that skin which has been compromised (whether from waxing or shaving) is more susceptible to infection…


Am I the only one with a sense of déjà vu here? Haven’t we already been telling our clients this for years?


It’s a hazard of the job that pulling hair out by the root leaves the pores exposed and the skin vulnerable to all manner of unwanted side effects, but when the right measures are followed, the potential for ANY post-wax infection (sexually transmitted or otherwise) is effectively reduced. Every therapist who trains with Axiom Wax Academy (and in fact any waxer worth their salt) knows the importance of using the correct products and procedures to avoid skin damage, and the role of aftercare advice in minimising any ongoing irritation or risk of infection; this includes the avoidance of sexual activity for 24-48 hours after an intimate wax.


Fortunately, industry voiceboxes such as Professional Beauty and BABTAC were quick to respond to this particular tale of woe, and this will go some way towards putting the minds of the public at rest. But now that the story is out there, what can we do as therapists and salon owners to reassure our customers?


Even if the story blows over by this time tomorrow, it certainly acts as a wake-up call and highlights the importance of industry standards and regulation.


Training in the correct procedures, proper client consultation, appropriate hygiene precautions and the provision of aftercare advice to every client, each and every time they get waxed… these should be standard practice at all salons, not an ‘optional extra’.


Happily, here in the UK we are already ahead of the game in many respects. Alongside the accreditation requirements and good practice guidelines of professional bodies such as The Guild Of Beauty Therapists and BABTAC, we are lucky enough to have HABIA, the government-approved standards-setting body for the hair and beauty industries.


As far back as 2007, HABIA established National Occupational Standards for both male and female intimate waxing. These standards represent the benchmark that UK salons and therapists offering this specialist service should be attaining. In addition, they provide customers with the assurance that therapists qualified to this level have undertaken training that emphasises the importance of safe waxing procedures and client care.


Ultimately, the criteria are there to protect not only the well-being of our customers but also the reputation of our businesses when faced with situations like this. Axiom graduates should be able to tick each of the following boxes with pride, as should anyone with Brazilian waxing on their price list:


· Full, accredited training in the latest products and techniques, for all therapists undertaking intimate waxing procedures.

· Membership of a recognised industry body such as BABTAC or The Guild Of Beauty Therapists, who provide both insurance services and a code of practice for all members.

· Proper client consultation prior to any waxing taking place, which includes checking for potential contra-indications, discussing the treatment plan, explaining the expected results, outlining possible side-effects and reiterating the client’s own homecare responsibilities.

· Universal hygiene procedures, including fresh towels for all clients, the wearing of gloves, no double-dipping, correct disposal of waste, and disinfection/sterilisation of equipment and tools as appropriate.

· The use of waxes and skin care products designed to soothe, repair and protect the skin from irritation and infection.

· Giving both verbal and written homecare advice to every client after each appointment, emphasising the importance of avoiding heat and friction (including sexual activity following intimate hair removal) and the use of appropriate soothing/antibacterial products for 24-48 hours after waxing.


So don’t take Brazilian waxing off your menu and go into hiding just because the Daily Mail got its knickers in a twist. Flip the coin and use this story to your advantage: educate your clients and proclaim the standards that you, as a qualified professional, already adhere to.


Be proud of the way you do things… and don’t have nightmares!


Image © Blueee, licensed from istock.com



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