Preparing for Waxing

Preparing for WaxingEarlier this year, I signed on as a European Wax Center customer (more on why in another post). And that’s the extent of our relationship, they know nothing about my blog – to them, I’m just a paying customer. Some would have you believe that waxing is totally painless…and I’d call that, “some,” a bunch of cruel liars. The first experience was brutal – which, from what I understand, is fairly common if you were previously a shaver. I had looked up advice on preparing for waxing, but nothing I read properly set my expectations: the first time sucked.

Hair grows in cycles, going in as a former-shaver probably means there’s a greater density of hairs – meaning more hairs closer together. That first experience can suck because SO much is being pulled out so close together. In some cases, the length required for waxing can cause the hairs to lay over top each other; so instead of coming out cleanly, they can tug on each other. Ow. Future visits are at least 80% better, if not more. Not only is the hair sparser because of how growth cycles work, but your skin grows accustomed to the process.

Here are some tips on preparing for waxing that makes the whole process suck less.

Exfoliate

This isn’t rocket science. Pretty much any form of hair removal benefits from exfoliation. This isn’t just for immediately prior-to-treatment, however. Getting the dead, upper-layers of skin out of the way reduces the barrier unwanted hair is coaxedripped out from. Ongoing exfoliation between appointments reduces the likelihood of uncomfortable, unsightly ingrown hairs.

You can pursue physical (scrubs), chemical (serums, wipes – so think AHAs and BHAs), or enzymatic (fruit peels) to help you along with this. Aim to exfoliate once every other day and work up from there if needed.

Note: If you go with a scrub or chemical exfoliation route, my esthetician suggests not using them within the 48 hour window before your appointment. She explained that scrubs, by their very nature, irritate the skin and chemical exfoliants can still be, “working,” for up to 48 hours. Enzyme-based ones, she says, are fine to use up until immediately before. Personally, I live on the edge a bit and will go up to 24 hours prior. It hasn’t been an issue, but it is crucial that you really know your skin. If you’re unsure, absolutely listen to your esthetician or doctor over me, some schmuck on the internet. If you choose not to follow their advice, you’re doing so at your own risk (I’m not a dermatologist or esthetician).

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TPDTY: On Upselling for Consumers and Salespeople

A month ago, I went for a wax at a popular waxing chain. The first-time service, albeit uncomfortable, went well! Part of how this chain makes money is through selling their in-house line of skincare products for use at home after the service. I generally eschew these things unless the person I’m working with can make an excellent case for them. Most do not.

Upselling

Afterwards, the esthetician who rendered my services tried (gently, unlike this hair stylist) upselling me on some of their retail line. According to my esthetician, the products contain growth inhibitors and exfoliants. Both are cool, but not enough to sell me on a $27 tub of 45 wipes. She gave me one of the wipes to demonstrate how saturated they were (unlike some wipes that are halfway dry); it was pretty solid. But then again, for $0.60 per wipe, they ought to be.

Know Your Products (or Services)

I asked what its active ingredients were to exfoliate – like an AHA or salicylic acid; she balked. She ultimately went on to tell me that it contained lavender and aloe vera for soothing purposes – great, but not what I asked. The packages did not list that information either which, as a consumer, I find disconcerting.

Needless to say, she didn’t make the sale. I later went to research the products and found that they do have both AHA and BHAs – but no information on what kind or on concentration. Ouch, not worth it to me when I can use any number of products I already own.

As a Consumer

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Worth it? Benefit Brow Bar

Benefit Brow BarBenefit Brow Bar

Last week, I visited a Benefit Brow Bar at my local Ulta to whip my eyebrows into shape. I have plucked for years (more on that in a minute) and was okay with that – but I’m getting married in about two weeks (from now, about three from then) and this was one ritual I was willing to splurge on and get a little professional help. Before I get into my experience at the Benefit Brow Bar, I’d like to share my single prior brow-wax experience (not at a Benefit Brow Bar).

Let’s rewind a handful-or-so of years. I was getting my nails done and my nail technician offered a brow wax. It occurred to me that I had no idea what the heck to do with my eyebrows, so I figured it was a good idea. Inexpensive, too, at only about $7. She whisked me to the rear of the salon and plopped me into a chair next to a few vats of warming wax. She grabbed a coworker and spoke to her, gestured to her own brows, and directed her back to me – evidently not everyone was qualified to perform waxing services, fair enough.

Wordlessly, this new employee tilted my head back in the chair and grabbed a popsicle stick. She didn’t speak to me, ask what I wanted, if I had done it before; immediately, she dipped the stick in the wax and spread it around my white brow, applied a cloth, and ripped with no warning. She did this several times, then moved to my left brow. She repeated the same process on the left. When she moved to the tail area of the brow, she pressed the cloth down and yanked again. It was far more painful than the other previous yanks of cloth-and-wax. I opened my eyes, wincing, and noticed her eyes were wide and concerned. “Oops…” she said.

So…that’s how you end up with half of an eyebrow. From the arch to the tail – gone. Thankfully, I wore side bangs at this time (because I had neither the product or the skill to fill in my now-misshapen brows). I eschewed waxing for years and plucked instead. Can you blame me?

Reputable area salons and spas in my area offered brow services along with everything else, but I couldn’t help but wonder – although someone knows how to effectively rip hair from your body with sticky goo, do they know shaping? Legs, underarms, and brazilian waxes don’t exactly require much shaping; many cases like a closeout sale everything must go. That isn’t the case with our eyebrows, though, as they serve to frame our eyes and face. I started looking a while back and discovered that Benefit offers select waxing services at their Brow Bars located in Ulta stores, Macy’s locations, and a half dozen other places. Members of /r/MakeupAddiction on Reddit passionately instructs newcomers with brows in need of help to take their their untouched brows to a Benefit Brow Bar to fix them up.

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