How to Spot an Unsafe Waxing Salon

Updated 05/13/19
Image Source / Digital Vision / Getty Images

It's sad, but true. Some places care more about money than they do providing a quality service. And if the salon or spa that you go to isn't practicing safe waxing, you could walk away with something much more serious than misshapen brows or an uneven bikini line. You could get an infection, or even a disease. It's your health, and you need to protect yourself.

While not everything can be measured in just what you see, here are some general things to look for when choosing a salon or spa:

Good Signs

  • You fill out a client questionnaire. This helps them find out if you have any allergies, health conditions, or are taking any medicine which would make you a bad candidate to receive the hair removal procedure. If they're taking your health into account with a questionnaire, they're more likely to be following sanitary measures too.
  • Paper is placed down for body hair removal. Paper (like the kind you find at the doctor's office) is most often used for waxing, because any drips can just be thrown away. It also shows the client that where they're laying is clean. If they have sheets down instead, look for any signs of hair or leftover product—it might indicate the sheets were not changed after the previous client. Yikes.
  • The technician wears gloves. Any type of hair removal could potentially draw some spotting of blood, even if it's a tiny amount. And your skin is significantly more vulnerable to infection right after waxing or sugaring. Gloves help protect both the client and the technician, so it's best all around that your technician be wearing them. If you're getting a Brazilian wax and they ask for help in holding your skin, they should give you gloves too.
  • They don't double-dip. Once a stick (applicator) has been placed into a product and touched your skin, it should be thrown away. The stick should never put back into a pot of wax or sugaring paste, because it could contaminate the product, and then infect the clients. Don't  let them tell you the wax is hot enough to kill any bacteria; we're here to tell you it isn't. The only time double-dipping is not a safety issue is when they put wax in a pot that will only be used on you, and will toss it out when your service is finished.
  • Wax rollers are clean. For speed, some techs use a roller to apply the wax instead of a wooden stick. Either the roller head needs to be replaced with a fresh and disposable one, or the head needs to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between clients. It can be hard to tell for sure if they've done either one, so you should ask. Still, if there are any obvious signs like hair stuck in the head before they start on you, then you can guarantee that it's not sanitary.
  • Panties are given to you for a regular bikini wax. They're disposable, and much more hygienic than wearing your regular cotton or silk panties—yes, that is because of some bacteria that may be on them. But out of all of these, the panty thing isn't a deal breaker. If the salon doesn't offer these, then you can always bring your own, or change into fresh panties right before your service.

Bad Signs

  • Things are a mess when touring the facility. Need I say more?
  • Shelves and containers are dusty. If they aren't doing the basic cleaning, are they really going to be thoroughly following sanitation measures?
  • Implements are put back into a drawer or cabinet after use. There are items that don't have to be thrown away but need to be sanitized after use, like metal tweezers, that are washed and soaked in a strong solution. Alternatively, they could be using a sanitizing cabinet—but you should know what one looks like. If they use a tweezer and put it away where they got it, then they aren't sanitizing it between clients.
  • Wax pots (heating units) have wax all over them. Waxing can be messy, but there's a special product to clean wax off pots, so there is absolutely no excuse. 
  • They have a hard time explaining their sanitation measures when asked. If they can't describe it, get nervous, or stumble over their words, then they probably aren't doing what they know they should be doing in regards to sanitary procedures.

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