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Depilation IS Skin Care

By: Lynn Maestro
Posted: November 24, 2009, from the December 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 4 of 5

State board regulations regarding protection from bloodborne pathogens states the ideal temperature for pathogens or bacterial growth is between 40–140°F. However, to ensure you are killing any potential viruses or bacterias, your products should be sterilized at a temperature exceeding 212°F. Obviously, 212°F is quite hot, and if your wax pot is set at that ideal sterilization temperature, you may very well be compromising the integrity of your clients’ skin.

So what’s the best way to ensure sterilization without burning clients? Testing the wax on your wrist before you apply it to the client’s skin helps ensure it’s at a comfortable temperature, as well as engaging the client by testing it on her wrist so she will be aware of the temperature. However, using multiple spatulas is really the only way to ensure a truly sanitary hair removal experience.

Double-dipping, or using the same spatula to dip wax from pot more than once, continues to be an area of concern in depilation. Unless you test your wax each and every time you use it, there is no way to be certain your product hasn’t been contaminated with infected bloodborne pathogens. And if your wax had been contaminated, it significantly increases the risk of cross-contamination if you double-dip. Typically, switching to a new spatula each time you dip into the wax eliminates this risk, so why not do it? Though its true supply costs can add up, many vendors and suppliers are willing to work with spas to provide such supplies at minimal—and sometimes even no—cost. So when supplies are available at such a reduced cost, why take the risk?

It may also be a good idea to conduct a sterilization experiment on your own: Submit a tin of your wax, some tools or other hair removal implements for bacteria and infectious matter testing. This is a service available through the CDC, and it gives you a good idea of how effective you are being with your sanitation, disinfection and sterilization efforts.

However, to really create the best environment for hair removal services, spa professionals need to work together. If everyone in the industry bans together in requesting sterilization standardizations from their state boards, OSHA and the CDC, it’s possible the still-unanswered questions of sterilization temperatures and other techniques will finally be settled.

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