How to Make Your Salon More Inclusive
With LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer)+ Pride Month in full swing, it’s time to celebrate and spotlight the community for not only what they have done for the world at large, but also for the profound impact that they’ve had on the beauty and esthetics industry.
Over the past several decades, self-expression and self-acceptance has rightly become more and more celebrated and this marginalized community has been able to make their voices heard. In response, the beauty industry has worked to become more gender-neutral and more inclusive to serve as a safe space for those seeking gender-affirming waxing services or just to relax and make themselves feel their best.
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Having an inclusive salon environment is important for making clients of all genders feel welcome and comfortable in their skin and your space. It’s also important from an educational standpoint to offer services to all genders, and have experience in how to approach waxing of all types. Learn more about the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusivity in your waxing salon, and how to make your services and business welcoming for all.
READ: Best Esthetician Services to Offer Clients
The Importance of LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in Salons
When we look at the history of waxing and the marketing surrounding the hair removal industry, companies have used a very gendered strategy to promote their products and services to predominantly cisgender women.
Recently, companies have started marketing toward cisgender men, as the popularity of waxing services for those outside of their core target market has grown.
However, many wax companies and salons alike have seen the need for less gendered services and marketing, and to do better for the gender nonconforming and transgender communities in particular.
As we'll detail later in this blog, waxing or hair removal services are frequently sought out by transgender or nonbinary individuals for gender-affirming reasons, or to lessen their gender dysphoria.
Because of how gendered many services and salons can be, the process of actually receiving these services can be invalidating, uncomfortable, and even traumatizing.
Creating a salon environment that is inclusive of all genders and all-gender presentations is incredibly important, and having the education to make all clients feel safe and accepted in your space is part of our responsibility as professional estheticians.
Remember, if you don’t feel trained or prepared yet to perform waxing services to clients of all genders, always have resources available for them to safely access the services they need without causing them more discomfort than they already might feel.
READ: Working with Different Skin Types
Salons as an LGBTQ+ Safe Space
Providing safe, gender-affirming waxing services makes all of the difference for your gender nonconforming or transgender clients, and providing them with a space where they feel safe and accepted is invaluable to their everyday lives.
As a licensed esthetician, client safety and comfort should always be your first priority. Because waxing is such an intimate experience, you not only have to provide clients with the best hair removal services but also need to make sure they feel safe in the environment you provide for them. This goes not only for transgender or nonbinary clients but also in creating a salon that celebrates and supports all individuals of all genders and sexualities.
As the industry becomes less cisgender-focused and works to become more than just a resource for those using hair removal in their gender-affirming journeys, you might consider how to be more inclusive in your every day - and not just through the hair removal process itself.
READ: The Complete Bikini/Brazilian Waxing Guide
As we’ve emphasized in this article, hair removal can be a huge source of comfort and affirmation for those experiencing gender dysphoria. It can also just be a regular gender-affirming process for those regardless of gender identity who might experience and seek to correct hair growth not in line with traditional gender binaries or gender norms.
Remember, cisgender individuals can seek out gender-affirming hair removal just as trans people do to correct hair growth or appearances they’re not comfortable with.
What is Gender-Affirming Care?
So what does the term ‘gender-affirming care’ mean, and what waxing services are most commonly used as part of this process?
According to the World Health Organization, The term ‘gender-affirming care’ refers to an array of social, psychological, and medical interventions geared toward aligning a person’s physical traits with their gender identity.
Gender affirming care holds immense mental health benefits for those who receive it, and aids in reducing gender dysphoria, or the psychological distress felt by those whose gender identity does not align with their sex assigned at birth. This sort of care can include anything from hair removal, to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or gender-related counseling services.
What are Gender-Affirming Waxing Services?
Those affirming their gender expression might often seek out hair removal or waxing services to address hair growth patterns that do not align with their identity. This can include waxing services for the face, neck, forearms, legs, and genitalia.
Knowing how to create an informed, comfortable environment and how to train to provide such important services for your trans clients will not only make them more happy and confident in themselves but will allow you to service a wider variety of clientele.
READ: How to Get Smooth Skin: Top Dermatologist Recommendations
How to Make Your Salon More LGBTQ+ Inclusive
It can be really hard and uncomfortable for people to even inquire as to whether a salon offers Brazilians or full-body waxing for all genders. Even the smallest detail changes in your service offerings or menu can make all the difference in letting all clients know that you are committed to providing a safe space for all clients.
Providing Less Gendered Waxing Services
There are a couple of easy things you can do to signal to all clients that you’re able to provide them with the services they need without concern about being rejected or traumatized. One of these is by making the wording on menu or service listings less gendered.
This can be something as little as changing “Male Brazilian Waxing” and “Female Brazilian Waxing” on your menu to just “Brazilian Waxing (All Genders)”.
You could also include a “T*” next to services, especially intimate services, that might be more typically gendered to signal that you are a trans-educated esthetician and an inclusive business. You can also include this detail on your ‘about us’ page on your website or social media to let people know that you can provide them with safe, inclusive services. These small details can make a huge difference for your clients!
Tackling intimate waxing services for transgender clients has been a widely discussed topic in the past in the industry. As estheticians work to make clients feel comfortable while also gathering information regarding what body parts or genitalia they might be waxing, many have wondered how best to prepare for waxing all genders while prioritizing patient comfort.
To avoid making your clients uncomfortable and to make providing intimate waxes to all clients a straightforward process, include trans-inclusive instructions on your salon menu or your intake form. This will let trans clients know that you’re trained to service them and allow them a safe space to specify which areas you’ll need to prepare to wax.
The Importance of Making LGBTQ+ Clients Feel Safe
When it comes to addressing clientele, you should also include an area on your salon intake form for their pronouns. This makes it easier for you to address your clients as you should, and will make your clients feel included, respected, and will let all of your clients know that you make inclusivity a priority.
Another great way to make clients, especially trans/nonbinary ones, more comfortable in your salon is to go the extra mile to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable when approaching the actual hair removal process itself. Do this with clients of all genders as well, and make it a standard for you and your employees.
Especially with intimate waxing services, always check in with clients if they’re nervous or uncomfortable to see what accommodations you can make to allow them to be comfortable and safe.
Try to understand your clients as much as possible, and consider that though some might be very confident and open about their journeys or comfortable with the hair removal process, not everybody is as comfortable coming to a person they don’t know well to have these gender-affirming services done.
Remember, some trans clients also may not publicly be out, and could be intimidated by being in a salon environment for the waxing services they need. Offer them additional discretion if they request it or if they express that they’re a little uncomfortable or especially nervous.
Esthie Inclusivity: Professionals Weigh In
Starpil’s own Brand Educator Taylor Wilson weighs in on prioritizing inclusivity and making sure all clients feel comfortable and cared for throughout their service at her salon:
“When I had my studio, it was imperative to me that I create a safe, comfortable, and educational space for my clients. Waxing is a very intimate service, and it’s the highest honor, for my clients, new and current, for them to trust me with this.
I walk everybody through every step so they know what’s going on and can ask any questions they may have. And when I say any questions, I really mean any! It’s part of my job to be an open book and to create an environment of safety, professionalism, and security.”
Taylor stresses the importance of building trust and mutual respect between estheticians and clients, emphasizing that:
“Part of this industry is relationship building. People trust us, and nurturing that trust is the key to providing great experiences. If my client doesn’t necessarily feel safe in certain spaces, it’s my duty to make sure they never have that feeling with me. I love meeting clients from different walks of life because it just makes me a better person and allows me to be a better esthetician.”
On inclusivity and servicing clients of all genders, Taylor states:
“I don’t treat any of my clients differently from the other - I want people to know that when they’re in my treatment room, they’re going to leave feeling better than they did coming in. Anyone who can stand in their truth and lead their life with integrity, honesty, and love, will always be welcome in my space.”
Chrissy (@immutable_skin_care1 on Instagram), also weighs in about how she makes her salon a more inclusive environment for clients of all genders.
When asked what she does to be as inclusive as possible as an esthetician, Chrissy states,
“As an inclusive esthetician, I provide a safe space where all people can feel comfortable [getting] waxed. They can be comfortable getting undressed, and talking about any issues in their private areas that are a concern. I learned how to properly wax all people…[and] also have extra training in certain conditions [like] waxing people who take hormonal medication. I also post all clients and let it be known that I am LGBTQ+ friendly!”.
Chrissy also weighs in on what you can do to ensure that both you and your client are always comfortable in your salon:
“...My first goal is to always make sure my client is comfortable…I usually talk to my clients throughout the waxing process! I’m getting to know them and vice versa on their appointment.”.
In discussing how she provides the best services to her trans or gender-nonconforming clients, Chrissy notes:
“Providing the best service to transgender clients [means] treating them how I would any client! I always make sure my client is comfortable from our starting interaction. I use proper pronouns when speaking to them and always [ask clients] how they’d [like] to be referred to. I always let my clients know to ask me anything - nothing is off-limits.
My salon suite gives privacy, [and] I make sure they know I have experience waxing all body parts. I also make sure I further my education by learning things that might specifically affect transgender people, [including] how certain hormonal medications can affect your waxes. Also, if I’m ever unsure about something…I ask! I make sure I create a relationship with my clients where we are both comfortable asking questions and being open with one another.”
READ: How to Start a Waxing Business in 2023
When celebrating Pride Month, it’s important to recognize the huge contributions and leadership the trans community has provided over many decades to the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
Though it’s Pride Month, making your salon an inclusive environment should be a year-round priority! Creating a safe space for all of your clients regardless of gender identity or sexuality will allow you to be known as an ally and as a professional committed to making all clients feel the comfort and security in the services that your cis clients do.
Being inclusive in your salon can mean using non-gendered language in your menus and salon intake forms, or providing extra accommodations for your clients if needed.
Make sure your clients know that you’re trained to provide all the types of waxes or hair removal they need. If you don’t feel fully trained to do so, do your part by having prepared resources or recommendations that will point them toward other inclusive and trained waxers who will give them what they need.
Providing clients with a comfortable and safe experience will not only make them more comfortable with you, and will enhance your experience as an esthetician as well.
During Pride Month and year-round, we remain committed as waxing professionals to providing hair removal services that make people feel comfortable and confident in their own skin, regardless of gender.