Monday, 26 November 2012

Beauty Mishaps: The secret world of waxing

It’s one of those things that many women do as part of our grooming routine and we don’t really talk about it but I am all for talking a bit more after more than a mishap or two. It’s only when you talk to others you realise that shockingly, you’re not alone when it comes to waxing horror stories. I have several of my own and friends have shared theirs with me too. I recently tweeted asking if others had experienced waxing woes and there were plenty to choose from. Although at the time they can be excruciatingly embarrassing and painful, they are also pretty funny tales to share with the girls. It was while sitting around the dinner table a couple of Sundays ago with four of my best friends that we stumbled across bikini waxes as a topic of dinner party conversation.  Tasteful no but useful yes!
My friend has just moved to a new area, meaning she has had to leave her trusted local beauty therapist. Much like when you have to find a new hairdresser, it can be a daunting prospect. It’s not about letting any old person loose on your lady garden! Whilst enjoying our Sunday roast my friend raised the topic of waxing etiquette.  She has only ever been to one therapist and her way of working when perfecting her Brazilian is to get her up on the couch, pants off and up on all fours. She asked whether she should assume that the new beauty therapist would work in the same way. Should she rock up, knickers off, in position ready for her to do her work? It was a unanimous verdict around the dinner table that she should most definitely wait to be told what to do. Every one of us around has had a Brazilian wax and the conclusion was that all therapists work in different ways. Some get you up on all fours, some leave pants on and whip them to the side, others demand you’re  pants off, on your back or side, legs and bum in the air, all obviously very undignified but whatever it takes to get the job done! There was a potentially awkward moment heading her way if the new therapist was more of a pants to the side, on the back kind of lady and she waltzed in up on all fours naked from the waist down.

How do you know where to go when you decide you want some grooming? I’m a qualified beauty therapist but I almost butchered myself when I opted for some DIY bikini waxing at home. I am a very competent waxer but it’s all about the angles, and as far as I am concerned, it’s well worth the money to pay somebody else to do it to make sure you get the best job done.  However, I’m not going to lie, the whole experience can be pretty excruciating. You’re hardly feeling at your most confident laying on a couch, pants off with ungroomed nether regions and if the therapist isn’t up to scratch, it can be a whole lot more painful. You assume the therapist is the expert so you let them get on with it. I say it can be excruciating because like most things in life, it depends who is providing the service.

 In my experience, it’s not always about paying more to get a good result. I’ve had some bad experiences in more expensive establishments. Despite some less than pleasurable waxing sessions, the pain and a short moment of feeling undignified is always worth it if it’s neat and tidy when it’s finished.  I hate being ungroomed. I don’t wax for anybody else, I do it for me.  I’ve read Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to Be a Woman’ with the chapter about waxing (or the avoidance of hair removal) and while I get it and it made me laugh out loud reading it on the train, feminist protesting in this manner is just not for me.  It’s all about the Brazilian!

Some of the tales I have heard include burns, blowing on the client after each strip has been whipped off (yes, there!), super slow therapists using strips more suitable for eyebrows so that the eye watering job has taken nearly an hour and pushy sales girls peddling vajazzles to surprise my boyfriend (you’ll be relieved that the sales girl didn’t get her way). It was only when chatting with friends that I have been give recommendations of places to go but I know some groups of friends may not be as open. I have a few horror tales of my own to share along with some I’ve pinched off friends who will remain anonymous and hopefully I can help you to avoid some waxing woes in the future with a few of the lessons I have learnt along the way.
The barber style; short back and sides
One of the most disappointing things in life is going to be waxed and going home to inspect the job, only to still be greeted by a growler. Ok, it may be a slightly tamed one but a growler nonetheless. Some beauty salons don’t offer Brazilians and you need to know what to ask for otherwise you may end up being disappointed.
Experience has encouraged me to be more forthright in my dealings with the therapist and I nowadays, I am always very clear about what I want.  You’re paying for a service after all, just because you’ve got no pants on you still need to make sure you get what you are paying for. I understand that you can feel pretty vulnerable laying there with your bits out and you trust the therapist to get on with it but if you aren’t clear about what you want you may be disappointed. It’s always a bit uncomfortable when they finish and ask you what you think. A bit like when a waiter gives you the wine to taste in a restaurant and then watches as you taste it waiting for your verdict.
The lesson: A temporary moment of cringe is definitely better than an under groomed lady garden and always do your research before you take your knickers off.

The nervous therapist
This is never going to end well but in all honesty it can be a little tricky to wriggle out of because by the time you realise she’s nervous, you’ve probably already got your pants off and she’s started ripping your hair out. I’ve experienced this several times and I get the impression that it’s down to experience or lack of it. I totally get that practice makes perfect but I’m not about letting my beaver be a guinea pig! If the therapist is not confident when she’s whipping the wax off, it can be way more painful, take far longer and the results don’t last as the hair tends to break rather than being removed from the root.
The lesson: Try and always go to therapists based on recommendations so you know what to expect and quit whilst you are ahead. If you are feeling really uncomfortable then ask the therapist to stop and discreetly talk to the manager after the treatment.

The slowcoach
Personally, I prefer to be in and out within 20 minutes and this isn’t a problem when I’ve visited experienced therapists. On several occasions though, I’ve had ones that like to wax a centimetre at a time. This is absolutely excruciating for both client and therapist! One time the therapist was using a weird kind of disposable roll-on type of waxing device which was narrow and meant it took absolutely ages.  To add to the uncomfort factor, it turns out she was best friends with an old uni friend of mine. I established this as I developed verbal diarrhoea triggered by the waxing fear. There was a lot of time to talk in the hour it took her to wax me. Just brilliant! I came across a slowcoach very recently too. I have been going to the same place for about 2 or 3 years now but it’s in central London. I flew to Thailand on Friday and had a busy week before I left so thought I’d try a local salon rather than make time to head in to town. It was cheaper than my regular place and meant I could pop round one evening. I know, I know, I should have known better. It ended up taking ages, the room was hot and the whole thing was just embarrassing. She was nervous, I was nervous and I ended up having to help her out because she was sticking wax all over the show. It all turned out in the end but it wasn’t pretty!   
The lesson: Don’t go to a new salon before checking out reviews beforehand.

The hand
When I’m getting my legs waxed I’m not offended by the hand. When training as a therapist we were taught that it helped to reduce the pain if you compress the area that has just been waxed with your hand. This all starts to feel wrong when it’s down there though. It’s probably less than a second or two that therapist places her hand on the freshly waxed area but it feels like forever and I don’t like it. It’s not something that every therapist does but when they do I still haven’t plucked up the courage to voice how I feel so I lay back and cringe until it’s done.
The lesson: Don't be a coward like me and if something makes you feel uncomfortable, tell the therapist.
The fire starter

I have been burnt on several occasions and I’ve heard several horror stories from friends too. I knew that the wax felt quite hot but I didn’t say anything as I trusted the therapist’s expertise. It’s not normally until the next day that you often realise the damage that has been caused. It’s pretty normal to feel sore after but your skin should not be bright red and peeling the following day.  

The lesson: Again it comes down to communication with the therapist and therapist recommendations. Of course waxing is not pain free but trust your instinct. If it feels too hot then it probably is!  

The blower
I have never had this happen to me and if I had I think I would have run a mile and then showered for a very long time. Upon sharing this with others, it seems my friend is not alone though which is worrying. After every strip of wax was ripped off the therapist lowered her head and blew on her bits. I’m not quite sure what she was trying to achieve and it totally freaks me out. I expect the therapist was trying to be helpful but breathing all over you is not professional, it is just plain weird!  
The lesson: If you hear of this happening to any of your friends, take down the name of the salon and make a note to never go there!

I thought it may also be quite useful to write my own little guide to demystify the waxing menu. There are so many things that you can ask for now. What is the difference between a bikini wax, a Brazilian and a Hollywood!? I am working on this now and hope to have it up within a week.

Disclaimer: Sorry to all the males who may ready this or the waxing guide who were unaware of the lengths we go to in order to look like we do.   



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