Skin Lifting from Waxing | The Complete Guide
There's nothing worse than skin lifting from waxing, or a client getting a wax burn on the face or body during their service with you or your staff. You might not even notice it at first - but then the surrounding skin starts to normalize, and there it is: a steaming, red-hot spot that chills you to your core.
It can be especially intense to see as an esthetician, because on top of the existing burn, you have no way of knowing if your client will get a scar, is prone to pigmentation, or if they’ll ever book with you again.
Whether it’s a wax burn on a face, eyebrow wax burn, or Brazilian wax burn, you never want to see your clients hurt or burned in any way. In this article, we'll talk about how to prevent skin lifting when waxing, how to heal a wax burn fast, as well as the possible causes for skin lifting after waxing in the first place. On top of that, we’ve also got some treatment tips as well as ways to keep yourself covered with salon and insurance policies in the event of wax burn or skin lifting.
Table of Contents:
- What is Skin Lifting from Waxing?
- What Causes Skin Lifting from Waxing?
- Retinol and Waxing
- What to do if Your Client Gets a Wax Burn
- How to Treat a Wax Burn
- How to Heal Ripped Skin from Waxing
- What to Do if You Caused a Wax Burn
- Wax Salon Insurance Policies
- Final Thoughts
What is Skin Lifting from Waxing?
Skin lifting from waxing, also known as a wax burn, is a wound caused by wax grabbing more than you bargained for—the client’s skin. Usually, a wax burn only goes as deep as the top layer of the skin but can leave a client open to bacteria, scarring, and pigmentation.
Wax burns are less common to experience on the legs or back but are more commonly seen as an eyebrow wax burn or Brazilian wax burn symptoms. A wax burn on the skin, skin ripped off from eyebrow waxing, or a Brazilian wax burn can all resemble anywhere from a seriously skinned knee wound to a small abrasion. Sometimes, you and the client won’t even notice that it’s there until it starts to scab over within a day or two.
Depending on the client and the size of the burn, a little abrasion won’t bother them, but if they’ve gotten some serious road rash, saving face (literally and figuratively) will be ever-so-important.
READ: How to Wax Eyebrows: The Step by Step Guide
What Causes Skin Lifting from Waxing?Below are some factors that can cause wax burns on the face or body:
- Using low-quality wax
- Using the wrong wax for your client's skin type
- Waxing when you shouldn’t be
- Applying wax that is too hot onto the skin
- Waxing over the same area more than once
- Retinol and waxing
READ: Complete Brazilian Waxing Guide
Can Waxing Rip Your Skin?
As we just mentioned, skin lifting from waxing, also known as a wax burn, occurs when wax grips both your hairs and your skin upon application, and lifts/burns it as a result.
This can be considered a form of ‘ripping’ or ‘tearing’, but is usually referred to as just lifting, since the skin is only burned and not actually ripped off. Don’t worry - even if it looks like your eyebrow wax skin is ripped off, it’s not! It’s just burned, and can be soothed and healed quickly. So can waxing rip your skin? In a way, yes, but that’s not usually the term used.
Wax Burns from Low Quality Wax
When you use low-quality wax, you increase the likelihood of damage to the skin because of questionable melting points, uneven warming, breakage, or the need to go over an area more than once because the wax is ineffective.
Your first line of defense against skin ripped off from waxing or causing Brazilian wax burn symptoms is to only use high-quality wax (like Starpil Wax of course)!
Using the Wrong Wax for Your Client’s Skin Type
Using the right wax type for your client's skin is something to keep in mind regarding skin lifting from waxing. It's essential to know the skin, and it's various needs to have a safe and successful wax.If you're working on someone who has sensitive, mature or dry skin and you're waxing their brows or lip, which wax type would you use and how to prevent ripping skin while waxing?
Best Waxes for Sensitive Skin
To prevent skin ripping from waxing, it’s important to use only the most high quality waxes. For sensitive skin in particular, use only waxes specially formulated for these uses.
Starsoft Wax: This wax is specially made for those with hypersensitive or aged skin, and is ideal for soothing inflammation, irritation, and redness while providing clients with smooth and long lasting results.
Coral Hard Wax Beads: Another powerhouse on hypersensitive skin, our Coral Film Hard Wax detoxifies skin and speed skin recovery while leaving skin hairless and sparkling.
Creamy Pink Soft Wax: This wax is ideal for use in delicate, hard to reach areas, and remains gentle on skin while gripping even the finest hairs.
Non-Woven Soft Wax Strips: Pair these durable strips with your soft wax for amazing and effective results every time.
Waxing Unsafe Areas
Waxing is generally safe for most skin types but not recommended for those with diabetes, varicose veins, rosacea, phlebitis, circulation issues, or skin conditions that cause skin thinning or sensitivity, thereby increasing the risk of infection. Waxing is definitely unwise for people suffering from diseases like lupus, AIDS, or those receiving treatments for cancer.
Use extreme caution when waxing pregnant people, and those on birth control, blood thinners, or hormone replacement pills. DO NOT wax people using Accutane, or other prescription or powerful acne treatments like Differin. If you see inflamed, irritated, or sunburned skin, steer clear.
Don’t wax over body piercings, rashes, moles, or warts. Other NO-NOs for waxing include Botox, Retinols (see below), sunburns, or freshly waxed areas.
Make sure that your clients have all of this info before getting onto your spa bed by putting it all on your website and have them sign a waiver saying that they understand these terms before they book. (More on waivers below.)
READ: 5 Tips for How to Wax Sensitive Skin
Applying Wax That is too Hot on the Skin
Whether you're using hard wax vs. soft wax, if the wax is too hot, it can fuse with the top layers of the skin and take those layers with them along with the hairs.
To get to the correct temperature, follow your professional wax warmer instructions to the "T" and keep wax to a thick, honey-like consistency. Always, always test your wax before applying it to take hot wax out of the skin-lifting equation.
READ: How to Use Hard Wax Like a Pro
Waxing Over the Same Area More than Once
Generally, if the right wax is used properly, and at the correct temperature, you can apply it over the same area more than once on thicker-skinned regions like the legs or back. The trick is to pay attention to what the skin is doing. If the redness is subsiding quickly, and you feel it's chill to come through with another pass, then, use your judgment.
Best practices are to not double-pass on sensitive skin, especially on the facial areas to avoid an eyebrow wax burn or a wax burn on the face. It’s also wise not to go over intimate areas more than once either to avoid a Brazilian wax burn.
Definitely do not go over the skin a second time with soft wax, especially on the facial areas. You can use the same non-woven wax strip with removed wax on it to go over the skin multiple times if you feel like the skin is doing alright, but, as always, use your best judgment.
If you see missed hairs, go in with tweezers or use smaller waxing spatulas to avoid overlapping onto previously waxed skin if it's sensitive.
Retinol and Waxing
"Retinol" is anything containing a vitamin A derivative (a type of retinoid). These products, though used as an ingredient in a lot of skincare items, can make your skin extremely sensitive and very susceptible to damage from outside sources like waxing.
The worst part is, some clients might not realize that they're using a potent derivative of vitamin A. They can unknowingly answer "no" on their intake form when asked if they're using a Retinol product, thereby increasing their risk of damages from using retinol and waxing.
Here is a list of retinoids that might cause wax burning if used within a week or so of a waxing service.
- Retin-A micro
- retinol, retinyl palmitate
- Tretinoin (Renova)
Instruct your clients to avoid using retinoids about five to seven days before their appointment, or have them reschedule. ALWAYS ask your clients if they're using retinoids before a service unless you know for a fact that they aren't and then ask anyway to avoid mixing retinol and waxing.
READ: The Complete Guide to Waxing Facial Hair
What to do if Your Client Gets a Wax Burn
When you first see the damage, no matter how it happened, it needs immediate treatment. Give your client a heads-up by using "we" terms until the cause of the burn is fully determined.
"CLIENT NAME, it seems that we've gotten a wax burn. Let's take care of this right now so that it will subside as soon as possible."
If the client doesn't know what a wax burn is, give them the education to answer questions like, how long do wax burns last and how to get rid of wax burns. The answers? Typically an open wound like a wax burn will heal-over within four or five days but could take about a week or two to fully disappear. This doesn’t include potential scarring or pigmentation.
Getting rid of a wax burn takes time. It's okay to downplay it when you’re in the moment to limit panic, but it’s important to stress home care education on how to heal ripped skin from waxing.
READ: How to Deal with Challenging Clients
How to Treat a Wax Burn
Wondering how to treat skin lifting from waxing? To treat a wax burn, run the afflicted area under cold water for 20 minutes, and then apply pressure to it with a cold compress to soothe any pain or inflammation. Don’t put ice or an ice pack on the area. Follow up with an antibacterial soothing ointment like Neoporin or Bacitracin, and continue to treat the area as needed.
How to Heal Ripped Skin from Waxing
Follow these tips ASAP and have the client continue with these steps for on-going wax burn treatment.
- Cool the skin with water (submerge the area or pour over for five to twenty minutes)
- Cleanse with a gentle cream cleanser free from toxic ingredients or alcohol
- Apply ice or an ice pack covered in a flannel cloth or paper towel to reduce swelling and soothe the pain.
- Apply 100% pure aloe vera gel by dabbing at the area several times a day.
- Apply Neosporin or an antibiotic ointment.
- To avoid infection, bandage the area before the client leaves. If they feel it necessary, at home, they can change the bandage every day.
- Use over-the-counter ibuprofen to ease pain and reduce swelling.
- Avoid wearing makeup over the area.
- Wear sun protection to reduce pigmentation.
If you’re wondering how long it takes skin ripped from waxing to heal, generally speaking the timeline will be around 1-2 weeks. That being said, everyone’s skin is different, and some people’s skin can heal faster or slower than others.
Determining the Cause of a Wax Burn
While you're doing damage control on the skin, you can be navigating damage control with your client. Do the following:
- Take a quick look at your professional wax warmer and note the temperature it's at. Is it at a safe temperature?
- What about the wax itself? Is it best for the client's skin type?
- Did you go over the area one too many times?
- Confirm with the client that they haven't used any retinoids from the list in the last week.
"I know that we already went over this, but there are many different types of retinoids, let's just double-double confirm that you're not using anything that's on this list as they can be in a lot of your everyday products."
What to Do if You Caused a Wax Burn?
In some cases, a client might be too embarrassed to admit that they caused the burn themselves, in others, it was you who caused the burn. With waxing, there are no guarantees that clients won't experience a wax burn or a botched eyebrow at some point in their hair removal life.
Yes, they come to you because they trust you, but there is always that one-in-a-million chance that something might not go as planned. This is where your wax salon policy needs to come into play.
If an esthie doesn’t follow any of the above advice (or even if they did), or they allowed an inexperienced assistant to take a client unsupervised, a client can file a claim for negligence. They could also forget the whole thing and consider it no big deal. To avoid the former, it’s best to have protection.
w/ code SAFE-WAX
Wax Salon Insurance Policies
Since you never know what can happen, make sure that you have an excellent salon policy that includes a client waiver. First, check the laws in your state to determine what kind of client waivers you can present to your clients upon booking.
Work with your representation to come up with a salon waiver form that best represents your business. A client waiver is a form that doesn't hold you liable for certain damages that may occur while visiting your salon.
A good beauty business insurance plan should protect you against negligence claims, emotional trauma, lost wages, or the leaking of sensitive client data. General liability coverage should protect you from property damage claims, bodily injury and associated medical expenses, and slander.
Along with keeping your clients safe and protected with preventative measures and treatment in the case of a wax burn, take any steps necessary to ease any ill will in a way that you feel comfortable.
This could include not charging for the appointment or sending a follow-up card, for example. No matter what you think that the skin lifting was a result of, use your best judgment in how you'd like to proceed in a way that aligns with your salon policy and client waiver.
Here is an example of a client waiver form that could be located on your website and required to be signed in order to book. Feel free to use this as a template to create your own.
READ: Update Your Salon Intake Forms
You are a total pro. Your goals are to offer exemplary services at all times. You are on the ball and want to go above and beyond for your clients; that's why skin lifting from waxing may never be an issue for you, especially if you're using Starpil Wax according to best practices.
Since you always want your clients, yourself, and your businesses to be safe, keep your bases covered, with training for yourself and your staff on what to do for a wax burn, and see about having a salon policy and client waiver in place in the event of skin lifting from waxing.