Waxes ain't Waxes
Ever wondered what the difference is between all those waxes? The answers are within, writes Lilliane Caron.
Waxing is a salon's bread and butter. As a highly conducted treatment, perhaps we need to consider what makes each wax different when selecting what we put in our wax pot.
As beauty students we move into the salon environment continuing to use the wax we were taught with, like some sort of heirloom. This is partly due to our experience when we first go into a beauty wholesale store. We are given a huge variety of options but little opportunity to try or learn about the products so we just go with what is familiar.
We put a massive amount of research into the skincare brands we use and sell but give far less attention to the product that makes our salons able to run day to day.
At school we are taught how to apply wax but not the difference between them in order to make an informed choice. With such a broad range of clients these days, there has never been a higher need to be proficient with a spatula using both strip and hard waxes. Fears associated with the use of hard wax still exist today. However, technology teaches us that with a little product research, there's no need to fear.
To make a truly informed choice, we need to look at the core ingredient in wax — resin. This ingredient is the base of all strip and hard waxes and generally the first ingredient you will see on a label. Over the years, the resins used in professional waxes and the processes to manufacture them have become more refined. To make it easy, there are two real categories we can put resins into, those derived from the sap of trees (generally pine or fir trees) and those that are synthetic (man-made).
Usually we are told "natural" is better but when it comes to pine (tree) resin in waxes, unrefined resins can cause allergic reactions and product instability. Tree resins are generally referred to as Colophonium, or Rosin, on the ingredient listing, but unfortunately you are not going to know if it is good quality until you open the jar. Resins are cheaper to buy if they have strong smells or dark colours and the parts of the resin that cause this also generally cause a negative reaction in the client. If the wax has a strong acid/chemical smell or a very dark brown, dirty colour then it will also probably be very cheap to buy and be more likely to cause a negative reaction. If you are trying a new wax, alarm bells should ring if clients are breaking out with itchy, red skin after or during a treatment. Hard waxes will become brittle and snap off which can lead to hair breakage and bruising of the skin if they are made from inferior grade resins.
In saying this, there are pine resin waxes that have been somewhat refined to help avoid causing the contraindications listed above. These waxes are generally mid-price range and, although not the pinnacle, will do the job well enough without causing harm to the client.
Top of the range synthetic resins are much safer, more consistent in production batch to batch and easier for the therapist to work with. Synthetic resins are usually declared as hydrocarbon resin or polycyclopentadiene. As with tree resins, synthetic resins can be purchased in lower grades with similar issues. High quality synthetic resins are easy to colour and fragrance and often appear fresh and clean. Pure white waxes can only be made from the best synthetic resins available. They provide the manufacturer with better quality control over the product and in turn give the therapist confidence in the treatment being performed.
Secondly, we need to look at the pricing and market place. Do your research; look for trusted brands and names. Get samples where you can and ask fellow therapists, speak to manufacturers and suppliers for advice. If you're a salon owner and your staff complains about the wax, perhaps listen to their concerns. If they aren't happy with the wax, no doubt the client feels the same way. Don't assume there's not something better or different out there in the market place.
A good-quality hard wax can be as much as $35.00 per kilogram, which sounds expensive. But remember that to wax a client's eyebrows (pair) you use about 15 grams of wax which equates to 52 cents for the treatment. It really can be worth the extra to have a happy, satisfied client who keeps coming back.
The reputation of your business can be on the line if you're using inferior waxes. Client loyalty and trust are paramount to your business surviving. Using high quality, innovative products along with exceptional service will ensure repeat business. We are creatures of habit; clients will expect the same treatment and the same result every time. If your wax is pliable, consistent, nourishing on the skin, has a subtle aroma and, of course, is removing hair properly, there's no need to change! If not, it's time to look for one that does.
It's fair to say the evolution of hard waxes particularly, has come a very long way in recent years. The rise in Brazilian waxing has certainly driven manufactures to keep pushing the envelope, developing formulas to provide superior results for both client and therapist. Technology has meant that hard waxes are rarely seen in foil trays anymore removing the need for the hammer. We can now even microwave hard and strip waxes or scoop hard wax in a powdered form straight into the wax pot to watch it melt in seconds!
If you think you would benefit from a different wax, talk to the manufacturers. They provide the best source of information, are aware of the latest technology and will be happy to help you find a stockist nearby. They can provide product samples and offer training and education to aid in furthering your knowledge about not only wax but also waxing techniques.
Australia produces extremely high quality and revolutionary waxes which are in high demand the world over. Buying Australian-made is certainly a step in the right direction for you, your business and most importantly, your clients.
Lilliane Caron is Owner & Director of Caronlab Australia. If you'd like to ask Lilliane Caron for some advice on your own salon, email firstname.lastname@example.org