Going in for a bikini wax with a new technician is a lot like a first sexual encounter with someone new: heart rates are high, stress levels can sky rocket, it can be uncomfortable, a bit messy, you’re excited (for different reasons, in this case to get rid of unwanted hair) and you just hope the other person knows what they’re doing.
I have no idea why I left my wax pots back in Washington. Did I think that the standards of cleanliness or Western taught know-how would be easily found in Phnom Penh? That the estheticians (I use that term lightly) would know correct technique and that proper waxing materials would be readily available? And where now do I go to get a solid, safe wax?
It seems a lot of women are asking the same questions as I’ve received several emails, messages, and texts about where I recommend to go for waxing, if it’s safe, and if proper technique and sanitary measures are used. Whether you’re ridding yourself of underarm hair, lifting off a little ‘stache, or getting things down south groomed and pruned I cannot express how important it is to go somewhere that practices proper hygiene. I remember almost running out of the the first place I went to for a bikini/Brazilian. It looked lovely on the façade, the products they carried were professional and authentic, and their wide range of services put me at ease. But once I was sprawled out on the waxing table there were things that jumped out at me as huge NOs.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a licensed esthetician in the US- meaning I am certified to conduct chemical peels, waxing of all kinds, facials, body treatments, and in the good old US of A- touch your face when applying makeup. Yes, it’s technically illegal for a makeup artist without an esthetics license to touch your face when applying cosmetics at a makeup counter or anywhere else if they’re in the trade. But during my training, I learned some things that are major don’ts when waxing. I felt more comfortable doing my own waxing at home than going anywhere else- and it was a money saver too. I wouldn’t recommend it though to anyone who hasn’t been properly trained, has enough discipline to tear hair from root from skin on yourself, or gets drunk and thinks its a great time to tidy up the brows.
If you come across any of these things when you’re plopped down, spread eagle with your bits out- maybe think about throwing your clothes back on and heading out the door.
1. Never reuse an application stick once it has touched someone’s skin- and never let one that’s touched yours touch it again. Once the wax has been slathered on, wait to hear that used and abused thing hit the garbage bin. Waxing is a lot like eating chips at a party, don’t double dip- it’s gross and germs (and other worse things) can be shared.
2. Soft wax (opposed to hard wax) should not be applied on the same area of skin more than once during a wax. Since it adheres to the skin, it can easily rip off the top layer of the epidermis- OUCH. Some women prefer to just go with hard wax since it only adheres to the hair and sometimes be less painful…but it can take a bit more time than using soft wax. It’s best to find a waxer you can trust rather than wonder if you’ll leave the spa with your skin in tact. Side note: if your waxer isn’t holding your skin taut, do so yourself. It lessens the pain and allows the hair to be removed more quickly.
3. Don’t let a powder puff (or anything like it) near your junk! At one spa at the end of the “treatment”, the technician came towards my stuff with a powder puff from a talcum box that I am 100% sure had not been sanitized…because how can you sanitize a powder puff that’s been sitting in talcum powder? If that little fluffy thing has been anywhere near other pies I do not want it to be involved in my waxing procedure. Just politely ask your waxer not to use it and instead baby powder or a bit of essential oil to soothe the skin, remove excess wax, or prevent chafing.
4. Gloves. Gloves. Gloves. They’re one of those things that you think would be worn where they actually should, since everyone else in Cambodia wears them. Motodops. Girls not wanting the light of the sun to touch their skin. But in a spa during a procedure, I have not yet once had my technician wearing protective gloves. It’s a bit gross (more for her than for me I would think)- but definitely dangerous. If a spa wants to say they offer sanitary treatments, protective disposable gloves should be worn at all times when blood may be involved. Side note: sometimes your follicles will bleed after a wax. Don’t take this as a bad thing. What you’ve done by waxing that specific area is damaged the follicle and it’s less likely for that one little hair to grow back as thick or sometimes even at all.
5. Hand. Washing. You’ve got to be a bit forward when it comes to telling whoever is going to wax you, and it can feel a bit bossy especially when they’re going to be wielding hot wax and coming at some of the most tender parts of your body…but if you see them prepping to wax you (without latex gloves, I assume) without washing their hands- just politely ask if they can wash their hands because your skin is sensitive and you are worried about outside dust, germs, whatever. Better safe than sorry.
If you do have a bad waxing experience (some skin gets lifted off…you poor thing! Seriously.) make sure you keep the area dry and clean and disinfected. Tea tree oil is a great natural anti fungal and helps soothe the area that’s been affected.
I’ve finally found a treatment specialist that I trust and does a wonderful job- and not to mention professional and cheerful. While the gloves are still missing, Kimleang at Tips & Toes and Cha’Nails has waxing down pat. She’s quick, professional, and puts you at ease and I won’t go to anyone but her. So ladies (and gents, if that’s your bag), when you’re wanting to rid yourself of some unwanted hair here or there- call up Kimleang. She’s worth every penny and you’ll be smooth as a seal when you step out of her treatment room.
Update!: Tips & Toes and Cha’Nails both have gloves available for use…just ask! What a novel idea :)
Tips & Toes
#17 Beo, Street 278, Phnom Penh
(located above Deco restaurant) Phnom Penh