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Men's Waxing is Big Business

Andy Rouillard September 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

Author Andy Rouillard performs an eyebrow wax on a male client.

Editor’s note: As always, it is imperative for skin care professionals to receive the proper training before adding any new services to their spa menu. This article is based on Rouillard’s upcoming class, “Men’s Intimate Body Waxing,” taking place during the Advanced Education Conference Program at Face & Body Northern California, at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, on October 6. To register, log on to www.FaceandBody.com/california/register. Also, check out the companion video from the author demonstrating a male nostril wax!

Throughout the globe, male waxing is increasing in popularity as men turn to skin care professionals in the fight against unwanted body hair. From wayward brows to hobbit toes and everything in between, guys have been shaving, creaming, plucking and trimming unruly hair in the privacy of their own homes for years.

The fact remains, however, that all of these methods can be time-consuming and only provide smoothness for a few days before the dreaded itch of regrowth sets in.

Fortunately, male waxing is a quick and easy way of temporarily removing unwanted body hair without the mess and fuss of creams or razors. The results not only last longer, but also provide a built-in bonus for technicians since hair has a habit of growing back.

The demographic

Although waxing has always been prevalent within various sectors of the sporting community, the past few years have seen its popularity rocket outside of this arena among guys of all ages and backgrounds. Spurred on by media interest in fuzz-free celebrities—from film stars to sports personalities—chaps throughout the Western world are increasingly taking the plunge and booking themselves in for a spot of hair removal. The trend appears set to continue as more and more men realize that good grooming extends beyond the hair on their head, with waxing becoming one of the most sought-after spa services by male clients.

From builders to bankers, the personal reasons for waxing are as many and diverse as the guys who get it done.

  • Many guys find that being hair-free feels cleaner, cooler and more comfortable, especially during the summer months.
  • Other clients are embarrassed about their body hair, or they or their partners may simply prefer the smooth look.
  • On a practical level, a hairless body often has sports-related benefits for swimmers, athletes and cyclists, making waxing a great add-on service for personal trainers, massage therapists and sports therapists. Make connections with these professionals to provide male waxing services for their existing clients.
  • Guys with piercings and tattoos are also a captive audience, because waxing allows them to show off their artwork to its full potential, rather than hiding it under a bushel of hair.
  • Waxing of intimate areas heightens sensitivity … say no more.

Although hairy backs and furry shoulders are still the most popular areas chosen for deforestation (See How-to: Male Back Waxing), an increasing number of men are opting for more extreme hair removal in the form of Brazilian waxing. This eyebrow-raising treatment has never been more popular ... but one step at a time. If you rarely work with male clients, the thought of slathering hot wax over a hairy back might fill you with trepidation; however, a little insider knowledge goes a long way in making the whole experience less painful for both you and your clients.

Whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting out and don’t know your strip from your spatula, hands-on training in male-specific techniques is available from several providers. Always look for trainers with commercial experience in providing hair removal services for men, because they will be able to give advice not just on technique, but also on pricing, marketing and retailing. In the meantime, here are a few tips to get you started.

The essentials

Your basic waxing technique will stay the same, regardless of the client’s gender or body part, but some extra considerations should be kept in mind for male clients.

Most areas of the male body can be waxed safely, with the exception of the scalp and the beard. Although it is okay to remove the odd stray hair on the throat and upper cheeks to create a tidy beard line, men’s facial hair is particularly coarse and strong. In addition to the process being extremely painful, there is a real risk of infection and scarring if you try to wax the beard area. For these reasons, it is not recommended.

If this is your client’s first wax, take time to explain the procedure and answer any questions he may have before slapping on the goo. Remember that most new male clients are likely to feel nervous—especially if their only point of reference is the film The 40-Year-Old Virgin—so those few extra minutes can really make a difference to the client’s comfort, confidence and expectations.

  • Trim long hair with electric clippers or scissors before you start. You’ll be able to see the direction of growth much easier, and this will also prevent the hair from becoming matted in the wax. Approximately 1 cm long is ideal.
  • Tell the client what you’re doing every step of the way. You know when and why you need to cleanse the skin, how hot the wax feels, and why oil and after-wax lotion is applied, but most first-time waxees won’t know any of this, so don’t leave him guessing.
  • When it comes to hair, all men are not created equal. Consider having a flexible price that allows you to adapt it according to how hairy the client is and how long the treatment takes.
  • Finally, a plea on behalf of the brotherhood: Please be nice. Yes, we know that womankind have been waxing their legs without complaint for years, but girls get colds and boys get man flu. Men’s hair is generally denser and coarser than female counterparts and, whichever way you cut it, waxing hurts. A little “tea and sympathy” goes a long way toward making men feel at ease and persuading them to come back for more.

Marketing

Whether women or men are your target demographic, marketing is a must. Following are some marketing must-haves to appeal to male waxing clients.

  • Think about your male market in the widest possible terms: Ask yourself who might prefer to be hair-free for comfort, confidence, improved aesthetics or sports-related reasons, and then, go where the men are.
  • Advertise with and offer client incentives to local gyms and sports clubs, swimming pools, piercing and tattoo studios, wedding outfitters, barbers and hairdressers, sports retail outlets, health centers and dance studios.
  • A website is a must. Men will often perform a web search for services before making an initial inquiry. In this day and age, any skin care facility or professional that isn’t on the Web is pretty much invisible to the majority of potential male clients.
  • List your male grooming services separately from your female treatments. This simple distinction will make male clients feel more catered to and more welcome, as a result.
  • Consider adding treatment codes to your price list, like a carry-out menu. This allows male clients to book an appointment without the embarrassment of others overhearing what they are having done.
  • Don’t forget to advertise your men’s waxing services to female clients … the power of female persuasion is not to be underestimated.

After-care

Your usual home-care advice applies, and it is good practice to provide all clients with written instructions to take home and read. Following are some pointers to remember in regard to after-care for your male waxing clients.

  • The back and chest areas are particularly prone to infection and may experience acnelike breakouts in the days following treatment, especially with first-timers. Make your clients aware of this possibility, and retail an antibacterial cleanser or lotion to help prevent and treat any pimples.
  • Men generally perspire more than women. Freshly waxed follicles, sweat and friction from clothing are not a happy combination, so definitely recommend against gym, sport or other vigorous exercise for the 24 hours following the service.
  • A quick buff with an exfoliating mitt or body scrub twice a week will help prevent ingrown hair. For stubborn spots, a product containing salicylic acid is an excellent retail opportunity, and your clients can also use this to treat any razor bumps in the beard area.
  • Remember to book clients in advance for their next appointment in 4–6 weeks. Explain the importance of keeping to a regular schedule and, if you’ve done all you can to make this a first-class experience, he could become a waxing client for life.

The future of male waxing

With no sign of waxing waning in popularity, what does the future hold? One thing is certain: Male waxing is big business, and guys are currently traveling many miles to find a skin care professional who is willing and able to perform the service. Once they discover for themselves the benefits of having smooth, hair-free skin, men become very loyal clients and will return year-round for their monthly de-fuzzing.

For skin care professionals with an open mind, a steady hand and a healthy sense of humor, male waxing can be an extremely lucrative and rewarding profession, and is a valuable addition to many a treatment menu. Of course, you should never feel pressured into offering a particular service if you really don’t want to. However, it is worth asking: If your existing male clients, or the partners and friends of female clients, are currently going elsewhere to get their hair removal treatments—whether this be another spa or their own bathroom—are you missing a trick?

Andy Rouillard is an award-winning international educator, ambassador for Perron Rigot waxes and owner of Axiom Bodyworks in England. As one of the United Kingdom’s leading authorities on the art of male waxing, Rouillard is a regular contributor to the trade and consumer press, a beauty awards judge, an industry consultant, and the author of several published articles and textbook chapters about hair removal. Additional waxing tips and tricks from Rouillard are available on Twitter: @wax_daddy or www.facebook.com/learnmalewaxing.

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Back Waxing Map

How-to: Male Back Waxing

How-to: Male Back Waxing

Back and shoulder waxing remains one of the most popular hair removal services chosen by men. Unfortunately, backs are particularly prone to acnelike breakouts in the days following treatment, especially with first-time waxers. Ensure that your client is aware of his home-care responsibilities, and sell an antibacterial cleanser or lotion in your retail area to help prevent and treat any pimples. It is common for clients to request that their shoulders be included as part of a full back wax, so bear this in mind when structuring your price list and ensure that you allow enough time to get the job done.

Generally speaking, soft (strip) wax is great for fast and efficient removal of hair from larger surface areas, such as the legs, arms, chest and back. Hard (nonstrip) wax is ideal for short, shaved and stubborn hair, and when removing hair from sensitive parts of the body, such as the face, neck, underarms and groin area. Have a pot of both types of wax ready in your facility all day every day; using a combination of products allows you to wax anybody who walks through your door, regardless of what surprises lurk underneath their clothes.

When waxing back and shoulders, soft wax is used for the majority of the treatment. Hard wax is useful for removing stubborn stray hairs across the back of the shoulders or for creating a clean line at the nape of the neck, where the skin is more sensitive and the hair is often tougher.

Cost: $40–60

Duration: 15–20 minutes

Contraindications: There are many; for example, clients who are receiving this treatment should not have heart conditions, diabetes, recent scar tissue, or high or low blood pressure. (Editor’s note: For a complete list of contraindications, log on to www.SkinInc.com/current and download the Waxing Consultation form provided by author Andy Rouillard.)

Supplies and equipment needed: Treatment bed Wax trolley Paper couch roll Clean towels Trash can (lined) Disposable examination gloves Disinfected scissors or hair clippers Sterilized tweezers Jar containing disinfectant solution Wax heaters

Products needed: Soft (strip) wax and hard (nonstrip) wax Wooden spatulas Paper or cloth wax strips Tissues Cotton wool Antiseptic skin cleanser Pre-depilatory oil Post-wax soothing lotion

Step 1: Before starting, complete a health consultation to check for any contraindications and agree on a treatment plan with the client. (Editor’s note: This form, provided by author Andy Rouillard, can be downloaded from www.SkinInc.com/current.) Wash your hands and don disposable examination gloves.

Step 2: Ask your client to lie face down on the treatment table with his head resting on his arms, or with his arms hanging over the edge of the table. This gives you easier access to the sides of the body, but be careful that you don’t accidentally catch stray armpit hairs.

Step 3: Tuck a towel or paper tissue into your client’s underwear to avoid getting wax on his clothing.

Step 4: Clean the skin and follow with a light sheen of pre-depilatory oil, which creates a barrier between the wax and the skin that makes the entire process easier for you and more comfortable for your client.

Step 5: There tends to be a vertical line of hair down the middle of the back, with the rest of the hair growing in toward the spine from the sides of the body. Wax the central line first so that you have a clean edge to work from, then clear either side of the back. Using a soft wax, start at the neck and apply a thin layer of product down the spine to just above the waist—leave yourself some wax-free skin from which to stretch. Place a paper or cloth strip over the wax, rub firmly a couple of times, stretch the skin taut and pull the strip quickly and in one smooth motion against the direction of hair growth, keeping the strip parallel to the body during removal. Move up the spine until you have cleared all of the central line, then work either side of this: Apply your wax from the sides of the body in toward the center and remove in the opposite direction.

Step 6: A back wax doesn’t stop at the first sign of underwear. Ask your client to shuffle his trousers down slightly, enabling you to blend below the waistband for a more natural finish.

Step 7: For ease of access, ask your client to sit on the edge of the bed while you work from either side.

Step 8: Hair on the cap of the shoulders grows up toward the head, with the middle section of the upper arm tending to grow around the limb toward the chest. Starting a few inches above the elbow, the rest of the hair on the upper arm then grows down toward the hands. Remove all the hair from the cap of the shoulders (front and back), then blend to a couple of inches above the elbow where a t-shirt sleeve would sit.

Step 9: Feather the hair to create a natural-looking fade between hair and hairlessness. This is a useful technique for creating a transition between hair and hairlessness, particularly on the shoulders, lower torso and legs.

To do this, apply soft wax directly to a paper or cloth strip, then fold in half, and fold and press the strip together so that the wax becomes slightly less sticky. Unfold and press the strip gently into the area you want to blend. Then, remove the strip in the opposite direction to hair growth as normal. This will remove some but not all of the hair, resulting in a gradual thinning that looks more natural than a solid line. Repeat as necessary. You can also trim the remaining hair with electric clippers to fade between hair and skin. Start with a grade 3 ,and reduce the length as you get closer to the area you’ve just waxed.

Step 10: Massage a generous amount of oil into the skin to remove any sticky residue; you can use pre-depilatory oil or a specially blended vegetable base containing anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial essential oils. Don’t rush this step. This is your opportunity to discuss home-care, special offers and product sales, and to relax the client with a mini massage that will end the treatment on a high.

Step 11: Finish by wiping the entire area with an antiseptic cleanser and apply a soothing lotion to cool and calm the skin. Re-book the client for 4–6 weeks, and send him home with written after-care instructions and an antibacterial shower gel or lotion to help protect the freshly waxed skin during the following days.

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