Is waxing really safe?
I am a huge proponent of waxing, and I have never had a problem with it BUT that is not to say that there isn't a risk going to get waxed, whether it is a quick eyebrow wax or a brazilian bikini wax. You are at risk for skin infections from the wax or from the person doing the waxing, and from the bacteria that live on your own skin! Fear not, there are ways to decrease the risk of infection, so that you can be safe and hair free!
What are the risks?
Skin burns- from using wax that is too hot, it can rip off a couple layers of skin and be super painful and cause some scabbing and possible scaring.
Skin Irritation- some peoples skin is very sensitive and can become bruised or have some small skin tears and bleeding from waxing. The irritation shouldn't last more than a day, and use of aloe cream or antibacterial cream can help
In-grown hairs- since every time you wax, the hair grows back thinner and thinner, it gets to the point that sometimes the hair cannot break through the skin. Products like Tend Skin can help to prevent them when used daily after waxing and prior to waxing .
Pain- taking 200mg of Ibuprofen before waxing can decrease inflammation and prevent some of the pain. There are also products with lidocaine to numb the skin, that I don't think work, but men think that it decreases pain with waxing chests like GiGi Pre-wax anesthetic cream and Satin Smooth Res Q Analgesic Spray.
Infections/abcess - Sometimes after waxing because of the sensitivity of your skin you can get infections from from Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes from your own skin, from the skin of the person waxing you, OR (which is the creepiest) from the skin of the person before you! If the waxer double dips the applicators in a multi use pot of wax, you are at risk from a skin infection from their bacteria that are hosted in the wax. The wax is NOT hot enough to kill off bacteria, contrary to what many salons will tell you. These infections can usually be treated with oral antibiotics but sometimes can lead to the need for IV antibiotics and hospitalization.
Contraindications to waxing:
Contagious skin conditions, thin or fragile skin, the use of steroid creams, Accutane use, and allergies to the products used. Also, make sure that you tell you waxer if you are using any skin products or antibiotics, they can make the skin more sensitive an easy to tear.
How can I reduce the risk of infection?
Only go to professional salons that look clean (if they appear clean, then most likely it is really clean)
Make sure that the linens are clean in the treatment room- no stains or wax from a prior client
Request that your waxer wears gloves (especially for bikini or brazilian bikini waxes)
Ensure that your waxer has washed his/her hands
Watch to make sure that they do not "double dip" in the wax pot- a new applicator should be used for each dip of wax (you don't want to get something from the person before you and you don't want to spread your bacteria to others)
Don't allow them to go over broken skin more than once
If you feel uncomfortable at any time, just leave- it's your body and your health!
Rest assured that the risks are low, but they do happen, and if you are at an increased risk of infection due to uncontrolled diabetes or other conditions that would lower your immune system, just be very careful and ensure that the people who are waxing you are professionals and trained to perform your waxing services. Also, ensure that they are taking all measures to prevent infection for you. You can also be like me, and just wax yourself...just as easy and I know its only me using my wax (but not for the faint of heart!!) Be careful, and realize that even a "quick" eyebrow wax at a place that isn't so clean can cause you an infection that can last months to clear! Be safe and there is no shame in walking out of a situation that you think is unclean!!
Yours in Good Health