Hot stuff: non-strip waxing hints and tips
By Wax Daddy, Oct 17 2012 10:31AM
The advanced formulations and unique ‘shrink wrapping’ abilities of modern non-strip waxes are a world away from the traditional hot waxes of yesteryear, but their use is still a little known art within the UK. In an article I first published online way back in 2007, here are some hints and tips for getting the best from this new generation of products.
Non-strip wax has come a long way since the stuff many of us initially learnt with at college. Bad memories of scalding hot wax, fiddly figure-of-eight patterns and brittle toffee-like slabs that snapped upon removal have left many therapists reluctant to stray from the easier soft waxes that are removed with paper or cloth strips.
With increasing demand for intimate hair removal services and clients expecting the very best from therapists, there’s never been a better time to revisit this much maligned cousin of the waxing family and discover just how much he’s grown up in recent years.
What is non-strip wax?
You may have heard it referred to as hard wax, peelable wax, film wax or hot wax. Traditional hot wax is applied in a thick layer or built up over several layers, usually in a figure-of-eight pattern to ensure a thorough coating of all the hairs. It is left to cool and harden on the skin, firmly encapsulating each hair as it dries, and the cooled wax is then whipped off by hand, taking the hair with it.
New generation peelable waxes share these unique ‘shrink wrapping’ abilities of older hot waxes but are lower in temperature, easier to apply and stay flexible as they cool. This makes them much more comfortable for the client and an ideal choice for removing short, coarse and stubborn tufts anywhere on the body.
Application and removal
The following hints and techniques refer specifically to new generation non-strip waxes. Techniques should be fairly universal but each brand will have it’s own unique quirks and application methods, so don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what works best with your particular product.
:: First, clean the area to be waxed with an antiseptic pre-wax cleanser.
:: Apply a light sheen of oil to create a lipid barrier between the wax and skin. This makes the waxing procedure more comfortable for your client. Remove any excess by blotting with a tissue.
:: Modern non-strip waxes are applied warm, never hot. Check with your supplier for the exact temperature, but as a general guideline they should have the consistency of golden syrup or thick pouring cream when at the correct temperature, with the wax in the centre of the pot still slightly solid (take your wax from the melted section around the edge). Any runnier than this and it’s probably too hot - it should feel like warm bathwater on the skin, not napalm.
:: Scoop a ball of wax onto the end of your spatula. You want the wax to cover just the tip of the stick, so don’t dip it all the way in and coat half the spatula like you would do with strip wax. Easiest way to imagine it: imagine you are scooping yoghurt out of a pot with a spoon.
:: Stretch the skin taut and apply a single layer of wax in the direction of hair growth.
:: For large areas (such as the legs) or areas with sparse hair growth: imagine you are using a knife to butter bread. Wipe the wax off onto the skin first, then use your spatula at 90° to spread the wax. Strips should be long and wide, and the wax is applied relatively thinly. The dried wax is removed gently and in several stages to avoid breakage.
:: For sensitive areas, loose skin or when working with short, coarse or dense hair growth: use the tip of your spatula, like a paintbrush rather than a knife edge. Strips need to be narrower and wax is applied thicker than the previous method. Apply in smaller sections, and remove wax quickly in one or two pulls.
:: In all cases, use firm pressure with your spatula to ensure wax is pressed all the way down to the skin. The edges of your strip need an even thickness to prevent breakage during removal.
:: Where possible, the end of your strip should finish in a hair-free patch of skin. This makes it easier for you and more comfortable for the client when it comes to removal.
:: At the right temperature and correct thickness, most modern non-strip waxes take around 20-30 seconds to set. The surface of the hardened wax will go slightly opaque and lose its stickiness when it is ready to come off.
:: Stretch the skin taut and lift a corner of dried wax to start your pull. Remove wax in the opposite direction to application.
:: At the end of the waxing service, apply a generous amount of oil to remove any wax residue and finish with your usual post-wax cleanser and soothing lotion.
Peelable waxes are perfect for: sensitive areas such as the bikini line and underarms; tough, stubborn hair; loose or fragile skin; brittle hair (remove the dried wax gently); all facial waxing; short or recently shaved hair that strip wax cannot grip.
If you are unable to get an edge to start your pull, use a clean spatula to help with the initial ‘flick’.
You can also press the shiny hair-free side of a recently removed piece of wax into a corner of wax still on the body, and use it as a ‘handle’ to start your pull. This is a great technique to use when hair grows in multiple directions and you are unable to overlap the lifting edge onto a patch of bare skin.
If the wax is gummy or stretches when you try to remove it, it needs longer to set. Press the strip back down and wait another few seconds before trying again. Non-strip wax will take longer to set in warm and humid conditions, and when applied to warmer parts of the body (such as the groin, buttocks, underarms, nostrils and inner thighs). If you find your peelable wax is taking too long to set, simply dampen a cotton pad with cold water and wipe over any stubborn gooey patches to speed things up.
If working with a long strip, don’t yank it all off in one go as this makes it difficult to keep the skin taut along the entire length of the pull. Instead, remove in several sections, an inch or two at a time, and be sure to re-brace the skin at every step of the way.
If the wax starts to split during removal, don’t keep pulling as it will just keep on tearing. Turn the lifted wax over onto the section still on the skin (press shiny side to shiny side) and this will allow you to pick the rest of the wax up and continue as normal.
If your strip snaps completely, simply add more wax to thicken up any areas that need it, wait for it to set and then start again as if nothing has happened.
Never hang around waiting for wax to set. Good quality peelable waxes remain supple even when fully cooled, allowing multiple strips to be laid without fear of them sticking to the skin or becomng brittle.
Don’t pick! To remove any residual wax crumbs on the skin, either use the shiny side of a recently removed strip to lift the remaining bits from the body, or massage an oil-based product into the skin to dissolve any leftover wax at the end of your service.
Above all: have fun! Play with your wax, get to know its quirks and qualities, and don’t be afraid to experiment. New generation stripless waxes are a pleasure to use and, with a little time invested in learning the correct techniques, can positively transform your hair removal services.