The Wax Cycle Helping Clients Achieve a Winning Hair Removal Routine
How to get your client wax-adapted
Going to Beauty School is like studying for your driver’s license – you get taught the basics; what applies most of the time – and then they give you your license. However, you’ll need to be in the driver’s seat frequently to become a great driver. Working in the beauty industry works mostly the same: when you get your license you know the basics, but school doesn’t prepare you for all the shades of grey you encounter when you’re working. I’ve worked in this industry for over 40 years and I’ve become very passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience to help younger generations of beauticians. In this article, I’d like to help give you the confidence to recognize the exceptions to the rule and act accordingly, so you can become the best you can be. I will be using the example of helping your client get wax-adapted.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes
You must remember the first time you got a brazilian wax. You were probably nervous, didn’t know what to expect and maybe you were even a bit fearful of the pain. You probably Googled “How to prepare for a brazilian wax” to make sure you did everything right – and then got more nervous because of the sheer volume of tips (that often contradict each other). I read a lot of beauty blogs where people with titles like “Waxing Queen” are given a platform to talk about their clients – the people that keep them in business – and they talk about them like they are ignorant children that aren’t capable of following simple instructions. Their biggest sin? Shaving in between waxes. Of course we all want our clients to have the best results, but what we seem to forget is that life happens. Feeling sexy for a hot date or confident for a fun beach trip is more important to clients than sticking to a rigid beauty regime.
Reaping the benefits
We can’t force a client to stop shaving between waxes, but we can show them the benefits of regular waxing. Regular waxing weakens the follicle and therefore slows down hair growth, making the hair thinner and more sparse. Regular waxing also ensures all hairs are in the Anagen phase when they get removed, leaving your client with a smoother result that lasts longer. Regular waxing even makes the whole process less uncomfortable over time. But for some people those benefits just don’t weigh up against having a flexible beauty routine. I think we’re waxing so much day in day out, that sometimes we forget that waxing might not be on our client’s minds as much as it is on ours.
If you look at your own clientele, how many people are actually on a perfect waxing routine? Chances are that over 80% of your waxing clients are seasonal or occasional waxers; they get waxed in summer, or when they go on holiday and can’t be bothered shaving every day, or when they have a special anniversary coming up and want to surprise their spouse. Not many people are so wax-adapted that they reap all the benefits. If we take into account that it takes up to 4 months for a client to get all those benefits – we might even come to the conclusion that for most clients, it doesn’t matter if they shave or not. Summer will end without them ever reaching that perfect stage and they’ll go back to shaving.
A quick refresher
The hair growth cycle is made up of four phases:
- The Anagen phase, in which hair is connected to the hair papilla and is actively growing. This phase can last up to 7 years and 80-90% of all body hair is in this stage at any time.
- The Cathagen phase, or the transition phase, is when the hair stops growing and detaches from the papilla. This phase only lasts two to three weeks.
- The next phase is the Telogen phase, or resting phase, in which the hair sits still in the follicle. This phase lasts about 3 months and 10-15% of all body hair is in this stage at any time. During the Telogen phase, a new hair begins to grow from the underlying hair papilla.
- The final, and lesser known, stage of hair growth is the Exogen phase, when the hair detaches from the follicle and sheds.
For the smoothest and longest lasting result, it is important that your client has as many hairs as possible in the Anagen phase. The effect on hair growth that shaving has vs. waxing is best illustrated in an analogy. I am a big car enthusiast, so I will go with a car analogy:
The hair growth highway
The different hair growth stages are all driving their cars on the highway. Anagen is in the fast lane, cruising along, Cathagen and Telogen are stuck in traffic in the middle lanes and Exogen is slowly but steadily taking the exit. If you put up red traffic lights (meaning: if you shave) all cars get cut off at the same point and traffic builds up behind the lights. Once it goes green again, Cathagen and Telogen are basically parked while traffic builds up behind them, Anagen keeps driving at the previous pace and Exogen takes the exit, giving room to the driver behind them. There are always cars in every lane in front of the traffic lights – so if we step away from the car analogy for a sec; when you shave, every follicle has a hair in it at all times, meaning it never takes long for prickly hair and stubble to show up.
Waxing vs. shaving
Now with waxing, instead of putting a red light in front of all the cars, you basically get them airlifted out of their lanes. The ones that were sitting still in traffic are gone, leaving the road clear for new cars driving at a steady pace. With Anagen out of the way, that lane is completely clear. The only car in sight is the driver that was sitting behind Exogen. Meaning that when hair grows back after waxing, only a few hairs will be visible.
Making the switch
When switching from shaving to waxing, it takes at least 3 waxing treatments before all the old hair is removed and all new hair is in the Anagen phase. Some hairs will be too short to be picked up by the wax and other hairs might still be in the resting phase. As I said before, the resting phases (Cathagen and Telogen) last about 3 weeks and 3 months respectively. After shaving, these hairs will gradually move to the Exogen phase until they’re long enough to be waxed. This process takes about 3-4 months. That is why it is totally fine if a client wants to shave in the first weeks after their first couple of waxes – they’re only shaving hairs that are in the Exogen phase. They have to stop shaving 3-4 weeks before their next wax, otherwise the hair will not be long enough.
What can YOU do?
Sticking to a waxing routine is not just your client’s responsibility. It is just as much yours. If you want waxing to be the go-to method of hair removal for your client, you need to make sure that they love everything about it. From your technique to using the right wax, to minimizing the awkward positions you put your client in and proper aftercare – it all adds up to a positive experience that your client will want to repeat.
Using the right tools and technique
First time wax clients are often worried about the pain that’s associated with waxing and about the embarrassing positions they might be put in. Using the right technique will minimize any discomfort they might experience. My technique doesn’t require the client to hold their legs in the air – or worse, be on all fours! They can even keep their legs closed for more than 80% of the treatment. Combine that with using the right wax for the job and your client will be able to relax and enjoy their treatment. I use a combination of strip wax and hard wax when waxing a brazilian: strip wax for waxing the outer areas like the bikini line and the pubic bone and hard wax on the inner areas like the labia and anus. A synthetic wax with Titanium Dioxide is the most gentle option as it doesn’t stick to the skin and will not cause a histamine reaction like its natural counterparts. If applied correctly, a creamy hard wax will warm the follicles, making it easier and less painful to remove hair completely, without breaking. Most importantly: using the right wax and the right technique will give you confidence when you’re waxing a brazilian and that’s something that your clients will notice from the minute they walk into the room.
Pre and post – spa like treatment
A client that is happy with the results, but also with the whole experience, is a client that will return. Waxing may be the house-keeping side of the beauty business, but it’s still a spa treatment and clients will appreciate it if you add a little bit of TLC. There are great products to use during a brazilian that offer relief to the client and make your job easier at the same time. Like pre and post wax products and wax setting sprays. And don’t forget to give your client a good run-down of proper aftercare! A good result doesn’t stop at the spa, there is some maintenance involved in keeping smooth, hairless skin for longer.
Make sure they come back
Another technique to ensure your client sticks to their waxing routine is to book their next appointment right there and then. This gives a feeling of commitment, which helps to ensure they come in for their second wax. At my salon, we find that a good loyalty program is very effective too; like getting the 6th wax for free, offering an ingrown hair serum for cost price with every brazilian wax, or receiving discounts on products and treatments when rebooking. The most important thing is to be available when your client needs you, so they don’t have to resort to shaving.
If all else fails, and your client expresses to you that they simply can’t make it until the next wax without shaving, you can give your client advice on what the least detrimental options are for their routine:
- Shaving only exposed areas
Being hairless – especially as a woman – is still the social norm. We have to understand that a lot of people already feel quite uncomfortable when they’re in a bikini and they don’t need unwanted hair sticking out the sides on top of their worries. They just want to enjoy the beach. If your client can stick to shaving only the areas where hair sticks out from under their bikini, and let the rest of the hair grow out until their next wax, there is hardly any damage done to the cycle. Your client will have to make sure to exfoliate before shaving and to use a sharp razor. This helps prevent ingrown hairs from forming.
- Bleaching hair
For clients with light skin and very dark, coarse hair, bleaching might be a solution to extend the time between waxing. Light hair is less noticeable against fair skin, so especially when it comes to enjoying a day at the beach, bleaching might be a quick and easy solution.
- Use products that slow down hair growth
Partially shaving and bleaching both don’t cut it when it’s your anniversary or Valentine’s Day. For occasions like these it’s important to plan ahead and book in your client’s next waxing appointment as close to that date as possible. There are great products on the market that slow down hair growth just enough to tie them over to their next wax.
Being flexible is more important than being right
What I’m expressing in this article is that we have to be flexible and work with our clients, not against them. Yes, we might be right and yes, we know what’s best for our clients, but in the end it’s their body and their choice. As long as we give them a great waxing experience and explain to them the benefits of being wax-adapted, we’ve done our part. It’s not about being right, it’s about doing the right thing and clients will make the right decision.
Lilliane Caron is the founder and director of Caronlab Australia. Known worldwide for her waxing techniques, she has dedicated herself to her motto: ‘for a better salon’, by delivering superior products, exceptional service, and industry-leading education. But she’s about more than just wax: in her untiring quest to make beauty therapists’ jobs easier, Caron continues to devote herself to salon innovation. Her success is attributed to a high standard of customer service, training and customer support. Therapists can deliver every treatment in confidence knowing that Caronlab Australia’s products care for the health, comfort and well-being of their clients as they indulge in their salon treatment.