FAQ: what causes skin to lift?
By Wax Daddy, May 15 2017 07:05PM
Skin lifting is usually pretty easy to spot in the treatment room: a red mark or shiny pink patch of tender skin is a sign that the uppermost layers of the epidermis have been removed by the wax, resulting in a superficial graze. Sometimes, however, lifting only becomes apparent once the client has left our care and we get a panicked phone call or email the next day.
Minor grazes of this nature will generally heal very quickly – they’ll stay pink for a day or two and then either ‘dry peel’ (like sunburn) or form a scab, with no lasting signs of injury. The process can be helped along by applying an antiseptic cream at home and avoiding UV exposure of the affected area until healed.
Lifting is more common in sensitive areas of the body or on patches of thin or loose skin, for example under the eyebrows, the upper lip, underarms, scrotum and labia. But the truth is it can happen anywhere, at any time, with both strip and peelable wax.
Let’s take a look at some contributing factors:
(1) Dry skin – can be due to over-exfoliation (physical or chemical, so be aware that if a client is using an ingrown hair product between treatments, this can make the skin drier and therefore more likely to lift), harsh skin cleansers, frequent hot baths or showers (overly hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils), not moisturising enough between appointments, insufficient pre-wax oil, tanned or sunburnt skin, etc.
(2) Hot/clammy skin – interferes with wax application and adhesion, making it trickier to achieve a thin, even layer of product and a clean release. Be especially aware of this as summer approaches, if a customer has been basking in the sun (or using sunbeds), had a hot bath or shower before coming to see you, or is perspiring heavily due to nervousness or discomfort.
(3) Thin/fragile skin – caused by certain medication (such as corticosteroids, acne medication, etc.), some skincare products and treatments (prime culprits are anti-ageing/corrective treatments and ingredients like retinoids, peels and exfoliants), poor health, age, repeatedly waxing over the same area during a treatment, use of chemical depilatories at home (I’ve found this to be especially true for intimate waxing), etc.
(4) Product/technique – skin not prepped correctly, wax is too hot or too cold (both can cause wax to ‘stick’ more and not release as easily from the skin), strip pulled up into the air instead of parallel to the body, skin itself not stretched tightly enough, or simply an unfamiliar product that performs differently to what we are used to.
(5) Client not following homecare properly.
(6) It just happens – seriously, sometimes we overanalyse things. We can do everything right and occasionally: BOOM, hello graze. There's no obvious reason for it happening, it’s just another quirk of this fun-filled world of waxing.
Avoiding skin lifting
In my personal experience, clients who experience skin lifting are then more prone to it happening in the same area next time. Fear not! There are a few simple steps that can help prevent it occurring again:
(1) Always check for any changes to skincare, medication and general health, each and every time a client comes in for their appointment.
(2) If the skin is overly dry, use extra oil under your wax and reapply a couple of drops if you need to go back over an area to get any stray hairs.
(3) Ensure the skin is supported fully during both wax application and removal. Don’t be afraid to ask the client for assistance with stretching if it makes your job easier.
(4) If you haven’t already, swap your strip wax for hot wax if certain areas are repeatedly causing problems.
(5) Stick to shorter, narrower strips. Removing hot wax in lots of little steps instead of one or two fell swoops can also help.
(6) Successful waxing is a team effort between you and the client. Reiterate the importance of proper aftercare and ensure customers know how to look after their skin between treatments.
Most importantly: don’t let it throw you. These things happen to ALL of us but rarely cause lasting problems and can usually be addressed with a minor tweak to procedure or homecare.
Wax on, chums!
© Andy Rouillard 2017