10-11 Waxing

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and cross-contamination
        The recent marketing campaign of a large beauty
     supplier has left many therapists doubting the health
       and safety of a number of tried and tested waxing
     methods. The FHT looks at why GOOD PRACTICE is
         the key to preventing cross-contamination when
                waxing, and not the type of applicator …

       ast year, a leading beauty supplier        • washes his/her hands or wears new

L      introduced ‘Captain Contamination’
       to the industry - an ugly little cartoon
character who can be seen on the
                                                    gloves before applying after-wax lotion
                                                  • ensures that other items used (such as
                                                    tweezers) have been properly sterilised.
company’s website, swimming around in
wax pots and being squashed onto a hairy          If the therapist fails to carry out the precau-
limb by a roll-on applicator. The Captain’s       tions listed above, then the client may be
role is to apparently highlight the potential     at an increased risk of cross-contamination,
dangers of cross-contamination when               regardless of how ‘foolproof’ the waxing
waxing. Other beauty suppliers, however,          system is claimed to be.
argue that the Captain is simply a marketing
tool, designed to promote (and potentially        Different waxing systems
scare therapists into buying) a new product       Today, there is a wide and almost bewil-
which is claimed to be: “the ONLY waxing          dering range of waxing systems available to
system in the world to eliminate the chance       the professional beauty therapist, all
of cross-contamination”. But to what extent       offering a unique attribute that apparently
can any waxing system truly “eliminate” the       sets them apart from the rest. However,
chance of cross-contamination?                    pretty packaging and ‘its-the-only-one-of-
                                                  its-kind’ aside, the majority of these waxing
The importance of good practice                   systems fall into two basic categories: the
When considering the issue of cross-              ‘wax pot’ or the ‘wax cartridge’.
contamination, it is important to remember
that the therapist’s attitude towards hygiene     The wax pot and spatula method
plays a very important role - perhaps one         When using a standard wax pot system, the
more important than that of the applicator        wax is taken from a pot and applied to the
or product itself. A waxing system only has       client with the use of disposable spatulas. In
the potential to ‘eliminate’ the risk of cross-   many respects, this is one of the most tradi-
contamination if the therapist also:              tional and widely tried and tested waxing
                                                  methods known to the beauty industry.
• wears protective gloves throughout the          However, in recent years, the ‘trusty’ wax
  treatment                                       pot has received some bad publicity in
• washes his/her hands with an anti-              terms of cross-contamination, as Ian Watson
  bacterial wash before and after touching        from Environmental Health (City of
  the client’s skin                               Westminster) explained to the FHT:

“A survey within the London Borough of          Please note: the wax pot/ spatula method         Providing good aftercare advice
Tower Hamlets found that a quarter of the       remains a safe and very effective means of       FHT’s Insurance underwriters have yet to
wax samples taken from 16 salons                removing unwanted hair, providing that           settle a claim - in or outside of court -
contained hair, blood, raised colony counts     the therapist is particular about hygienic       arising from an incident of cross-contami-
(bacteria) as well as pseudomonas species -     practice.                                        nation through waxing. When a claim
all of which could potentially lead to cross-                                                    involving a waxing treatment does arise, it
contamination.”                                 The wax cartridge                                is usually because claimants have not
                                                Most wax cartridge systems comprise of           followed the aftercare advice given by the
It didn’t take Environmental Health Officers    hand-held units that have one of two types       therapist. This is why it is extremely
long to determine the root of the               of applicator heads:                             important to provide your client with
problem: poor practice. The beauty                                                               written aftercare advice. To help our
therapists working at the 4 salons in           • a roller head (which is replaceable or         Members in this matter, we have
question had been re-dipping used                 disposable), or                                published an Aftercare Instructions for
(contaminated) spatulas back into the wax       • a wide, flat nozzle or similar (which is       Waxing leaflet that can be downloaded
pot - an un-hygienic practise at the best of      usually disposable).                           from the FHT Website
times, but especially so when treating                                                           (www.fht.org.uk*) FREE OF CHARGE.
underarm or bikini areas that are prone to      Whether or not contamination can pass            Clients should be asked to sign a section of
bleeding and rife with bacteria.                from the client’s skin back into the wax         their consultation form to acknowledge
                                                cartridge during the course of a treatment       they have received an aftercare leaflet, and
Environmental Health therefore underlines       remains a hot topic of debate. Some beauty       that they have read and understood the
that therapists using the wax pot/ spatula      suppliers claim that their product’s appli-      content. Therapists should stress to their
method:                                         cator heads have a built-in mechanism that       clients that if they do not carry through the
                                                prevents any ‘flow-back’ (e.g. wax cannot        aftercare advice given, they may develop a
“can minimise the risk of cross-contamina-      re-enter the cartridge once it has been          skin infection/ reaction.
tion by ensuring that:                          expelled). If this is the case, then any part-
                                                used wax cartridges should remain contami-       Some final pointers …
• spatulas are never re-dipped into             nation-free for the next client, provided that   Some therapists believe that the odd
  the wax pot after use [e.g. after the         the applicator head is removed and a new         oversight will not matter, because
  spatula has come into contact with            and/or clean and sterile one is attached         microorganisms are unlikely to survive in
  the client’s or therapist’s skin. A new       immediately after treatment.                     the wax environment. This is not neces-
  spatula should be used every time more                                                         sarily the case. According to Ian Watson,
  wax is required]                              However, if therapists are in any doubt,         “the working temperature of wax is normally
• splashes or spillages of wax are cleaned      they should use a new wax cartridge and          in the range of 20-50˚C, which is the ideal
  up immediately after treatment and the        a new applicator head for each client.           range for bacterial growth.”
  wax heater is disinfected                     Whilst this approach might seem a little
• hot wax is not sieved and re-heated           uneconomical, therapists should bear in          NO waxing system can ‘eliminate’ the risk
• wax strips are treated as clinical waste      mind that the cost of wax cartridges and         of cross-infection. Any product or
• personal hygiene is maintained                applicator heads is minimal, and that their      technique is only as good as the therapist
  throughout the treatment [which               client’s health is priceless.                    carrying out the treatment.
  includes wearing disposable gloves].”
                                                To the best of FHT’s knowledge, no               *Select ‘Why become an FHT Member?’
This is the method taught for all VTCT          independent studies have been conducted          and choose ‘Treatment Liability Insurance’
waxing qualifications and agrees with the       into, or raised concerns about, cross-           option. Scroll to the bottom of this page
Industry Code of Practice for Hygiene in        contamination and the wax cartridge              and select the relevant PDF.
Salons and Clinics, which all FHT               systems outlined above (e.g. those wax
Members receive when joining the                cartridges that have replaceable/ dispos-
Federation.                                     able applicator heads). Concerns have                 As always, the FHT welcomes
                                                been raised, however, about the multiple           comments from Members about this
If preferred, therapists may wish to            use of wax cartridges that have fixed appli-       article, or any other article featured
transfer wax from a larger pot into smaller,    cator heads which cannot be replaced               in International Therapist. Send your
sterile pots. This allows the therapist to      after treatment (e.g. single-unit applicators      letters to: Dept IT, FHT, 3rd Floor,
use a spatula more than once on an              similar to roll-on deodorants). For this           Eastleigh House, Upper Market
individual client, providing that any wax       reason, cartridges with fixed applicator           Street, Eastleigh, Hants, SO50 9FD.
remaining in the smaller pot is disposed of     heads should ideally only be used to treat          Email: kyoung@fht.org.uk
after treatment.                                one client.


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