Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow Part 5: Health, hygiene and double dipping – where do you stand?

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Wrap up debate from the UK Hair Removal Expo Q & A

The wrap up debate was a lively affair! Some of the issues created a hot debate.

First up: Double dipping

This is the practice of dipping the spatula back into the strip wax pot after it has laid down each wax strip. Common practice seems to be it’s ok for non intimate areas, where there is no blood, but a definite no no for intimate areas. Some people are dead against it at all.

Here’s some of the points raises, I’d love to know your opinion.

Is this an unHygienic and outmoded practice?
Is it wise spread?
Why do therapists do it! Lack of time? Insufficent slot time? Cost of spatulas?
Does it matter?
Wouldn’t it be technicians getting sick if it was a widespread problem?

imageIs your wax pot as sweet as a rose?Is your wax pot as sweet as a rose or like a pair of muddy boots?


It’s not so long ago that hotwax was filtered and reused. It still is in some countries.
I had my first hotwax in Paris over 20 years ago, I remember it clearly. It was a thick dark pink and much more effective than strip wax. It was definitely filtered, I had a long conversation with the therapist about it. So a layer of my skin and my hair was going back into the wax pot and passed through a filter? Along with whoever else had been in that day? That week? A Gallic shrug dismissed my fears and I felt very gauche and unsophisticated, (which I probably was to be fair!)

But as another member of the panel pointed out, if someone is spreading a warm soup of hot wax on your upper lip, would you really be happy if that same wax had been spread across someone’s bum a few hours earlier? Erm….no not really!

It’s always been thought that the wax pot was hot enough to kill bacteria but only limited research has been done in this area.


Is your wax pot full of nasty microbes?

A few years ago Habia commissioned health and safety into double dipping and growth of cultures in wax pots. It was a small sample of 14 and the results were inconclusive. Contamination could come from the lid of the wax pot and may not be from double dipping at all.

It was concluded that it would be useful if more scientific research could be done on a wider scale. Due to the lack of concrete evidence, a wide range of diverse opinions are being passed off as fact. Many of the tabloids and magazines are very happy to hype some of these factoids with no regard for their veracity. Which leads to much confusion to the consumer an harder to set standards.

But that lead to more questions:

  • Who should pay for it?
  • Brands? Insurers? A tax on salons?
  • Habia? BABTEC?
  • Who should do it?
  • Private laboratory?
  • Public Health laboratory?
  • How big should the sample size be?
  • How would logistics of collecting wax pots for the test work?
  • If people know they are going to be tested then would that affect the result?
  • What’s the ethics of walking into a salon and grabbing the wax pot?
  • Could normal salon conditions be created in a laboratory?
  • If you wax volunteers for the sample would you need to inform them that their wax was coming from a double dipped pot?

The consensus was that it pays to keep wax pots clean, not just for reasons of hygiene, but also to maintain a high standard of presentation for the client. No one wants to see wax coming from a dirty, bespattered wax pot anyway.

Consumers also have a part to play, the drive towards daily deals and heavy discounting is affecting the overall quality of service in the industry. A salon continually doing deals may have to cut corners to survive. Clients need to realise they need to pay premuim for a safe and hygienic service.

What are your thoughts and experiences of good or bad practice?

We then moved onto the confusing issue of waste disposal.

It was agreed that there are inconsistent waste disposal guidelines not only across the country, but even in different counties.

Some councils say wax waste should be Simply double wrapped and put in black bags. One had heard that the small amount of blood on wax strips was no different to the disposal of sanitary products.

Westminster, hammersmith and Fulham have very stringent rules . They insist that all waste containing skin and blood go in in yellow contaminatued waste bin bags and are incinerated.

Environment health inspections are totally subjective. The industry bodies are trying  to work with them to help put in place a more consistent and realistic check list.

Over regulation restricts business but under regulation leads to substandard and dangerous practices. It’s important to find a balance.

Thanks for sticking… with me on my marathon, Hair Removal blog a day, week. I’ve learnt loads and your feedback and support have been fantastic.

Wishing you all a great weekend!

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