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Dip it, dip it good!

Lilliane Caron discusses the controversial topic of double dipping.

To dip or not to dip, that is the question. When the average person thinks of double dipping they picture someone dipping their carrot stick back into the hummus after they have already taken a bite. Now amongst friends and family this may seem like no big deal right, but how would you feel about sharing that one bowl of hummus with countless strangers you have never met? You may be a bit more hesitant to eat the hummus, which is completely understandable!

Double dipping in the waxing industry is much the same; a therapist uses a spatula to apply wax to a client's skin and then reuses that same spatula after dipping it in the wax pot multiple times. To some this seems perfectly fine; it is thought that the wax is kept at a high enough temperature which kills the bacteria and germs making the process hygienic. However, many therapists believe this is a myth and that double dipping is one of the biggest health risks associated with waxing. Personally I can see where both sides are coming from. I know this article is going to be very controversial but I'm going to play devil's advocate.

While everyone seems to have their own twist on what is okay and what's not, one side of the double dipping debate is that it's fine; "as long as there is no blood drawn" or "on the legs is ok, but not on intimate areas such as Brazilian." The 'dip and dispose' method is shunned by many also because a treatment uses significantly more wooden spatulas, which increases treatment costs, and also results in increased wastage and landfill. Many therapists also prefer to use a metal spatula with strip wax in particular, as they retain heat and reduce pulling on the skin.

With guidelines and regulations differing from council to council and so many personal opinions being spruiked, it's understandable that there is such confusion about what is right and wrong. I have no doubt that many therapists are completely baffled over this dispute. I have been in the industry for over 35 years (for many of those, I did double dip) and even my opinion has changed a few times on the matter over my waxing career.

Yes it is concerning to think that double dipping could possibly cause the transition of any diseases or bacteria between clients and of course no one agrees with putting the safety of their clients in jeopardy. But let's back in the old days, wax was recycled which meant melting down your wax (that contains hair, skin particles, sweat and who knows what else) every night, sifting out the hairs and then reusing it the next day. Some therapists to this day still sift their wax. So why the uproar now?

These days consumers in general are much more 'educated' and aware of what can harm or affect us. We hear things on the news, we find things on the internet and we actively hunt for information regarding products and procedures. With double dipping being the talk of the town at the moment, let me tell you, many clients are looking out for it! I've noticed that some salons are even using the fact that they don't double dip as a selling point.

Clients judge us from the minute they walk in; our customer service, our personal hygiene, appearance, presentation of the salon and our work station. Of course our technique is just another part of the experience that our clients choose to return for (or not!) With all the negative connotations associated with double dipping these days is it really worth the risk of losing multiple clients based on your hygiene practices alone?

It's clear that the hygiene standards throughout the world are vast and what some people deem as acceptable is totally unacceptable to others. For example, my local area guidelines state that double dipping is not encouraged (but is not illegal) and if you are to do it "all waxes should be kept undisturbed at a minimum temperature level of 70–80ºC for a minimum of 15 minutes between clients." I know many people will be mortified at the thought of this.

When you think about it, using cartridges on more than one client is essentially the same as double dipping. Some people believe that when the roller head is applied to the skin and then rolls back through the wax, bacteria and skin particles are being rolled back into the wax cartridge. Refillable cartridges are an extremely economical choice for therapists and are very common. I recommend that the refillable roller head be removed, disinfected after each client, refilled and returned to the warmer for 15 minutes to eliminate any bacteria.

Another controversial subject is gloves. When I first started I never used gloves; I would always disinfect my hands and the only time I would wear gloves, was if I had a cut. I have come across many therapists who still chose not to wear gloves. The one-glove technique is extremely popular in some areas of the world. Many find gloves restricting, especially when they don't fit properly. They can cause sweating, can rip, get sticky and slow down your treatment, as well as increase your supply costs.

Again, the thought of any therapist not using gloves may seem unacceptable to many but if they are following good hygiene, using hospital grade disinfectant on both them and the client, scrubbing under their nails and doing everything else right, is there really an issue? What concerns me more than anything I've mentioned above is that people are so worked up about double dipping but not that there are unlicensed, incompetent therapists out there bruising, drawing blood, damaging skin and traumatizing clients with bad waxes which are turning people away from waxing forever. I've been in salons that have wax all over the floor, pot and trolley; trimmed pubic hairs left on the bed and used strips hanging out of the bin! Just because they don't double dip does not mean they're even close to maintaining a sanitary salon

In relation to wax becoming contaminated with skin or blood borne viruses from one client to the next, the Health Guidelines for Victoria (Australia) state "There is insufficient evidence to clearly demonstrate the extent of this risk, but it would appear that the risk is low." Low is good, but low is not 100%, so why would you risk it? Double dipping is against the law in a number of places around the world and completely acceptable in others. Become familiar with your local guidelines. Your personal opinion on the matter and what you do in your salon don't have to be one and the same. Whether or not you agree that double dipping is unsafe, if it is against your local health regulations it is not worth receiving a hefty fine or losing your cliental over! We should always assume the worst and perform our services responsibly to minimise the risk to our clients and to ourselves.

 

Lilliane Caron is Owner & Director of Caronlab Australia. If you'd like to ask Lilliane Caron for some advice on your own salon, email info@caronlab.com.au

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