6 Hair Removal Red Flags To Look Out For

Getting your armpit hair waxed or your eyebrows shaped can be relieving (be gone, you pesky hairs!), but when one of those services causes irritation or an infection? Not so much. According to pros, if a salon isn’t following proper health and safety protocols, you run the risk of leaving your next appointment with one of these less-than-ideal side effects.

“Infection control keeps both the client and professional safe from spreading infections that can have some serious complications like rashes, respiratory issues, and scarring,” says Ashley White, a licensed esthetician based in Atlanta, Georgia. To keep yourself protected, she wants you to know about these hair removal “red flags” ahead of your next appointment.

5 hair removal red flags to be on the lookout for

1.  Double dipping into wax

When it comes to offenders, double dipping is probably the worst one, says White. “There’s absolutely no way to prevent cross-contamination when you make contact with one person’s hair or skin and use that same instrument to dip inside wax that other people will be exposed to as well,” she says. This can lead to bacterial growth and an increased risk for infection, so you’ll want to be sure that your practitioner is using a fresh tool (be that a wooden stick or otherwise) every time they dip for more wax.

2. Reusing single-use items

Another big no-no when it comes to waxing is when the esthetician reuses single-use items—think: waxing strips or application sticks. Since these tools can’t be disinfected or sanitized once they’re used, they should be thrown away to prevent bacterial spread, explains White.

3. Dirty, unprotected hands

According to White, hand washing prevents any potential contamination between surfaces and clients, so keep an eye out to ensure your waxer is doing exactly that before they go in for the treatment. Any time they’re touching their tools, products, or PPE, they should be doing so with clean hands.

For an added layer of necessary protection, you also want to be sure your practitioner is wearing gloves. Because there’s always the possibility of mild-to-moderate bleeding during a wax, this helps to further prevent the spread of viruses and diseases.

4. A lack of intake forms

“I noticed a lot of hair removal specialists can be pretty relaxed when it comes to intake forms,” says White. “Even though the sessions are relatively brief, it’s important to always ask every client every single time about any medications or exfoliants they may be using.”

The reason these pre-session forms are so important? Certain medications (like Tretinoin) and exfoliating skin-care products (like retinoids and acids) can predispose people to skin sensitivities that make skin lift during the hair removal process. “This can result in scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says White. Intake forms help to clue your waxer into any risk factors, and can help you avoid stepping and irritation.

6. Unlicensed practitioners

People who conduct beauty treatments, including hair removal services, need a license to operate their business. Depending on the state, estheticians are required to complete hours of training and pass an exam. This ensures that they’ve received the proper training on disinfecting and sterilization protocols. Look out for a license on the wall of your salon—if you don’t immediately see one, ask for more information before allowing anyone to touch your skin.

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