HOT STUFF

What is non-strip wax?

You may have heard it referred to as hard wax, peelable wax, film wax or hot wax. Traditional hot wax is applied in a thick layer or built up over several layers, usually in a figure-of-eight pattern to ensure a thorough coating of all hairs. It is left to cool and harden on the skin, firmly encapsulating each hair as it dries; the cooled wax is then removed by hand, taking the hair with it.

New generation non-strip waxes share these unique ‘shrink wrapping’ abilities of older hot waxes but are lower in temperature, easier to apply and stay flexible as they cool. This makes them much more comfortable for the client and an ideal choice for removing short, coarse and stubborn hairs anywhere on the body.

Ingredients

The base ingredients of non-strip wax include beeswax, rosin (treated pine resin) and microcrystalline waxes (derived from petroleum), to which various other ingredients are added to alter the consistency, flexibility and melting point of the final product.

Typical additions include emollients (such as lanolin and vegetable or mineral oils), thickeners (e.g. paraffin), plant extracts with various soothing and antimicrobial properties (e.g. tea tree, lavender, rose and chamomile), fragrance and colouring agents. New generation non-strip waxes may also contain synthetic rosins and elastomers, for increased pliability of the cooled wax.

Hard wax is available in pellets, bricks and diskettes for ease of melting, allowing the pot to be topped up as needed throughout the day.

The golden rules

  • Modern non-strip waxes are applied warm, not hot, and should have the consistency of golden syrup or thick cream when at the correct temperature.
  • Apply a light sheen of oil under your wax rather than powder – this creates a lipid barrier that prevents wax from adhering to the skin.
  • Use a medium-firm pressure with your spatula to ensure the wax gets a good grip on every hair.
  • The edges of your strip need to be slightly thicker to prevent it from breaking during removal.
  • The stronger and denser the hair, the thicker your layer of wax needs to be.
  • Use smaller, narrow strips (no wider than an inch) when working over sensitive areas, dense hair growth or loose skin.
  • Apply wax with the direction of hair growth and remove against.
  • Stretch the skin at every stage of application and removal.

Wax application and removal

The following hints and techniques refer specifically to new generation non-strip waxes. Techniques should be fairly universal but each brand will have it’s own unique quirks and application methods; don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what works best with your particular product.

After cleansing and lightly oiling the skin, get a ball of wax on the end of your spatula and apply to the skin in the direction of hair growth. At the end of your strip, swirl back slightly in the opposite direction to create a ‘lip’ that you can then grasp for removal.

For large areas or areas with sparse hair growth: strips are long and wide, and the wax is applied relatively thinly. The dried wax can be removed gently.

For sensitive areas, loose skin or when working over short, coarse or dense hair growth: strips are narrower and wax is applied thicker. Apply in smaller sections, and remove wax quickly and firmly.

In all cases, the edges of your wax need to be slightly thicker so that it doesn’t break when you come to remove it.

Use a medium-firm pressure with your spatula to ensure wax is pressed all the way down to the skin and coats every hair thoroughly. You need only apply one layer of wax.

At the right temperature, most modern non-strip waxes take less than a minute to set. The surface of the hardened wax will go slightly dull and lose its stickiness, yet still remain pliable when it is ready to come off. If the wax is gummy or stretches when you try to remove it, it needs longer to set. Press the strip back down and wait another few seconds before trying again.

Be firm and fast when flicking up a corner to start your pull. Wherever possible, the edge where you start your lift should overlap onto a hair-free area of skin. This makes it easier for you and more comfortable for your client when it comes to flicking up that first corner.

If working with a long strip, don’t pull it all off at once; this makes it difficult to keep the skin taut along the entire length of the pull. Instead, remove in several sections and re-brace the skin at every step of the way.

Top tips

If you are unable to get an edge to start your pull, use a clean spatula to help with the initial ‘flick’.

You can also press the shiny, hair-free side of a recently removed piece of wax into a corner of wax still on the body to give yourself a ‘handle’ to pull from. This is a great technique when hair grows in multiple directions and you are unable to overlap the lifting edge onto a patch of bare skin (e.g. the Speedo line, underarms, nape of the neck, chest, etc).

If the wax breaks or tears when you try to remove it, simply press the remainder back onto the skin and add more wax to thicken up any areas that need it.

To make for more efficient waxing, a second strip can be placed while the first is still setting. Good quality peelable waxes will stay flexible as they cool, allowing multiple strips to be laid without fear of them sticking to the skin or becoming too cold or brittle.

Don’t pick! To remove any residual wax 'crumbs' on the skin, either use the shiny side of a recently removed strip to lift the remaining bits from the body, or massage an oil-based product into the skin to dissolve any leftover wax at the end of your service.

To get those last few short, stubborn hairs, use the following ‘stepping’ technique:
 

  • Apply your wax against the direction of hair growth and allow to dry.
  • Stretch the skin taut, as close to the lifting edge of the wax as possible.
  • Grip your wax firmly and remove with the direction of growth.
  • Instead of removing the wax in one swift motion, remove slowly in several tiny steps, re-bracing the skin at every step of the way.
    • Above all: have fun! Play with your wax, get to know its quirks and qualities, and don’t be afraid to experiment. New generation non-strip waxes are a pleasure to use and, with a little time invested in learning the correct techniques, can positively transform your hair removal services.

      © Andy Rouillard, 2008. All rights reserved.

      To learn more about non-strip waxing and the benefits it can bring to your business, check out our Hot Wax Masterclass and Outback Organics Play Days.