Nowadays, society's image of beauty seems to be making a collective leap. Waxing, removal of hair body has become part of the beauty regime of most Kenyan women and some men. Some remove the hair using sugar and citric acid paste while others use laser technology.
However, there is a dark side to body waxing with some people getting infections or rashes especially after using non-disposable fabric strips.
Some salons reuse the fabrics. They maybe sterilised but the process may not remove all the germs, which are then transferred from one client to another.
Anne Kariuki, who has been in the hair removal business for 11 years says the red flags to look out for include seeing a waxologist who uses a non-disposable spatula and waxing cloth.
The 42-year-old says, ensure a new spatula and cloth is used every time you wax.
Even as men opt for waxing, Anne says most of her customers are female who request for Brazilian or Hollywood waxing styles, which are now trendy.
“I also do the strip or desert landing to those who prefer it. The strip landing is where a little visible hair is left on the client,” she says.
When waxing for the first time, she recommends a one-month hair growth for the wax to stick properly. “For regular waxers, avoid waxing when the skin is sensitive due to excess hormone production. To avoid itchy skin, do not use perfumes around the waxed area after a session. One can use aloe vera gel to soothe the skin,” she says, adding that one should avoid wax that contains harsh chemicals.
Besides making a living from waxing, Anne also makes her own natural wax at home, which she sells to various salons in Nairobi.
Body waxing ranges from Sh500 which is for the underarms up to Sh2,000 for full legs.
Another waxologist Amaryllis Muthoni is known in town for her work. She sees between 115 to 120 clients every month. The 30-year-old studied to be a waxologist. “I have a diploma which gives me expertise to serve women,” she says.
When she started practicing in 2010, she says, body waxing was for a select few, but Kenyans started fully embracing it two years. She also uses her homemade natural wax which she makes using sugar, citric acid and water, and most of her clients come through referrals.
To avoid itchiness, she says, rubbing the waxed area immediately after pulling the strip makes the pain bearable. To Amaryllis, waxing as a profession is almost like nursing. “It’s a calling, you have to love the process and do it wholeheartedly,” she says, adding that she mostly does the Hollywood/Brazilian style on her clients, though some prefer shapes or strips.
For a first-time client, make sure the hair is about five millimetres long, she advises. “A waxologist will mostly strip off the wax instead of the hair when they apply the wax on short hair. Longer hair makes the surface area for coverage bigger, making the waxing process faster,” she adds.
For after-care, exfoliate the waxed area with cold water. It helps the skin pores to shrink, hence avoiding infections. It also helps remove the residue that may have remained after a waxing session.
Avoid hot water or high intensity exercises that make you sweat.
“I would also recommend applying rose water, because it acts as a toner by balancing the skin’s pH levels. It soothes the skin. Moisturisers like coconut oil also help,” she says.
To avoid getting infections, she says, check if the bedding at the salon is impeccably clean.
“In all honesty, none of my clients has come back complaining of an infection. I take hygiene very seriously. I also do not repeat the same area severally when waxing because it may damage the skin. My wax is also fresh because due to the large number of clients I have, my wax does not stay past a week,” she adds.