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To Wax or To Laser?

To Wax or To Laser?

Skin Inc. Magazine, July 2017: By Maxie Frericks –  a licensed esthetician specializing in medical esthetics and waxing who currently operates at Velvet Day Spa in Greenwood Village, CO. She is a national esthetics educator, having taught for Heritage College and the European Wax Center.

Hair removal dates all the way back to the Egyptians when they would use things like pumice stones, seashell tweezers, sugar, and beeswax for hair removal. You could really say that the art of waxing was indeed invented by the Egyptians because beeswax is one of the main ingredients used in body and facial waxes. Hair removal has come a long way since the Egyptians, and clients now have a number of hair removal options including waxing, sugaring, laser hair removal, electrolysis, and threading. This article will compare and contrast two popular forms of hair removal in the spa: waxing and laser hair removal.


Two types of wax exist, soft and hard. Soft wax is heated at a higher temperature, has a thinner consistency, and is removed with a pellon or muslin strip. Hard wax is heated at a lower temperature, has a much thicker consistency, and does not need a strip to be removed. With both soft and hard wax, they are applied to the skin in the direction of the hair growth and removed in the opposite direction. It is very important that the wax is applied to cleansed skin preferably with a bit of oil to create a barrier between the skin and the product.

Preparation. The length of hair should be approximately 1/4 inch or the length of a grain of rice. The skin should be cleansed before getting waxed, and a good exfoliation a few days before is recommended. Waxing is also a form of exfoliation, so only exfoliate the waxed areas twice a week at most, and also make sure to moisturize well.

Regrowth. It usually takes approximately four to six weeks for the hair to grow back after a client waxes, depending on the stage of hair growth. There are three stages of hair growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen. Anagen is when the hair is growing. At any given time during the anagen phase, 85% of the body’s hair can be in growth, making it the most ideal time to get waxed. The catagen stage is known as the “transitional phase.” This is where the hair grows upward and detaches from the bulb. It is essential for hair to stay attached to the bulb, which provides it with a blood supply and contains nutrients for it to grow. Catagen is a good time for rest and renewal of the papilla and hair follicle. Under 5% of hair will be in this stage or phase at any given time. Telogen is the last stage of hair growth or the “resting phase.” During this time, the hair remains dormant for one to four months. Also, this is a time when a client will notice shedding because the hair is ready to fall out at this point so that the anagen cycle can begin all over again. About 10%–12% of hair growth is at this stage.

Clients may even get frustrated after a wax when they still see or feel a few hairs that were too short to get. This is because the hair is still at different growth cycles. Once clients get waxed regularly, their hair will get on the same growth cycle, guaranteeing soft and smooth skin for longer.

Permanency. Hair will start to diminish or disappear altogether over time with waxing because waxing weakens the hair follicle as the hair is being pulled from the root. Weakened hair follicles produce ner, thinner hair. It may take a while, but waxing can kill the follicle as electrolysis does to make it a permanent form of hair removal. For hair to not come back it all depends on the person and their hair. I’ve seen people wax for years and it still comes back and I’ve seen people wax for months and it doesn’t. Unfortunately, there is no good way to tell. Finer, thinner hair will go quicker than people with coarser hair.


A laser or an intense or highly concentrated, pulsating light is beamed into the hair follicle to damage it and inhibit hair growth. The pigment in the follicle absorbs the light to destroy the hair. Laser is best used on people that have light skin with medium to darker hair so that the laser can easily detect each hair. Lasers are precise and on average send a pulse that takes a fraction of a second to deliver to the hair follicle. Treatments usually take about 15 minutes for smaller areas and up to an hour for larger areas. Lasers can treat an area about the size of a quarter, so the treatments are relatively fast.

Preparation. To prepare for a laser treatment, clients will often want to shave a day or two before the appointment so that the hair is there but not grown out. If not, the technician often will want to trim the hair down so that the treatment can be more effective. Before you get started you will get an area of your skin tested so you can see how you will react and if any adjustments will be made. The technician will then start and move along the area quickly.

Permanency. As time goes on, the client will notice that their hair is falling out. After about three treatments, they will notice a huge reduction in the hair, with some having no hair come back at all. People who get laser usually prefer it to wax because it does last longer. Not everyone likes to shave, wax, or tweeze.

New Technology. Neo, by Aerolase,  offers high-powered 4 J/cm2 to 255 J/cm2 permanent hair reduction within short, 650-microsecond pulse durations and requires no per-treatment consumables. The Neo has won the Dermascope Aesthetician’s Choice Award for Best Laser for Hair Removal 3 years in a row.

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Photo Courtesy of Ashlee Bunkelman, LE
Owner of Skin Boss Med Spa