13 signs you're about to have a bad bikini wax

Hair-removal Wax
Insider asked a top LA esthetician to share the signs you're about to have a bad Brazilian or bikini wax.
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  • Jodi Shays has run a top LA spa for the last 15 years, and she's seen many waxes. 
  • So Insider asked Shays to give us the ultimate guide to spotting a bad bikini or Brazilian wax. 
  • Runny wax means it's too hot for the skin, and applying too much wax at once can lead to bruising.

Jodi Shays has run a top Los Angeles spa for the last 15 years.

Jodi Shays from Queen Bee Spa & Salon
Jodi Shays of Queen Bee Salon & Spa.
Jodi Shays

Shays, the owner and founder of Queen Bee Salon & Spa, got her start as a facialist in Beverly Hills more than two decades ago. 

After Shays was given the task of waxing her boss' friends, she realized there was a whole new world of beauty that she cared about. 

"To be honest, as a very OCD Virgo, I enjoyed the task of removing each and every hair," Shays told Insider. "It's very satisfying." 

Shays started her own business in her garage, where the demand for her waxing services grew and grew. She opened Queen Bee Salon & Spa's flagship location in 2007, and it's been thriving ever since. 

It's safe to say Shays has seen her fair share of waxes over the decades. Now she's ready to share her expertise so that you can spot the signs of a bad Brazilian or bikini wax before it's too late. 

When you walk into the spa, the first thing you should look out for is cleanliness. If there's hair on the floor, that's a big no-no.

Beauty Spa
Shays doesn't believe trimming pubic hair in the spa is sanitary.
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While many places will trim your pubic hair during a wax service, Shays doesn't believe it's sanitary. 

"If somebody trims your pubic hair, that hair will fall onto the bed, the floor, and possibly into the products," Shays told Insider. "With air conditioners and heat blowing from vents, I can promise you, if a waxer offers to trim your 'down there' hair, you will walk out with 10 varieties of pubic hair on your socks or shoes — perhaps even on your bare feet." 

You should leave any spa that has wooden sticks already in the wax pot before your service.

Waxing sticks
Sticks already in the wax pot is a big red flag.
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"This means your esthetician was using those sticks on guests before you," Shays said.

Roller waxes are impossible to keep clean.

Roll-on waxing
Shays said roller waxes aren't sanitary in a spa.
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"Many years ago, I went for a wax at a place that uses roller waxing," Shays said. "These devices sit in a warmer and the wax is rolled onto your skin. I saw so many hairs belonging to others that were stuck to the roller. I left the building quickly!"

Make sure your wax doesn't include essential oils, glitter, rainbow colors, or fruit.

Hair-removal Wax
A good wax doesn't have many added ingredients.
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"There are just too many allergens that can irritate the skin," Shays said. "A good depilatory wax shouldn't have so many ingredients as to spoil the soup. Basic, high-end ingredients are the way to go." 

Shays also isn't a fan of waxes that contain honey and resin.

Honey wax
Honey-based waxes are too hot and sticky for the skin.
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"It will be hot and sticky," she explained. "Never good for the skin, and best left back in the 1990s."

Your waxer should always go over their process if it's your first time at the spa, and ask if you're using any medications or creams that could affect the wax.

A great waxer should always talk to you before the service.
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A great waxer will talk to you from the moment you enter the room, and even teach you how to breathe during their service, according to Shays. 

"A great esthetician will also be able to tell a client when their wax could be more painful, such as on their period, breastfeeding, tired, hungover, or stressed," she added. 

If the wax has a runny consistency, it will likely be too hot for your skin.

You can tell how hot the wax is by its consistency.
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"If the wax is too hot, it means your waxer didn't check the heat consistency on the warmer," Shays said. 

And applying too much wax is a major red flag.

Bikini Wax
Applying too much wax at once can bruise your skin.
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"This can break the hair and bruise the skin," Shays explained. "I've seen a waxer apply wax over the whole top of the bikini line and then pull it off. I saw skin come off with it. Absolutely brutal and unnecessary. Smaller, more efficient application is better."

Wax should be pulled straight out instead of upwards, and every tug should be gentle.

Pulling wax off in the direction can cause bruising.
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Shays said that pulling wax off in the wrong direction can lead to bruising. 

"There should be no aggressive tugs to the wax to remove it," she added. "And skin must be held taut at all times."

Waxing over an area more than once is another dangerous technique.

Bikini Wax
Repeatedly waxing the same area can damage the skin and hair.
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"There are certain times when this is appropriate — some people have hair that can be stubborn, like shaved hair," Shays explained. "If their skin isn't very sensitive, you can go over it with a soft, cream-based wax." 

"But, in many cases, those waxers who use hard wax have to go over the area again," she added. "If your waxer keeps doing it, get up off the table. It can lead to damage of the skin and hair."

Rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and astringent should never be used on the skin after a wax.

Oils at Spa
Applying hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol after a wax is a no-no.
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"They will strip already stripped skin, and can cause what looks like a friction burn," Shays explained. "I often use a little cortisone mixed in with pure aloe vera and massage that into the skin with some pressure. It helps take down any redness." 

"I also love witch hazel, it's so soothing," she added.

Neither should essential oils.

Essential Oils
Essential oils also aren't good for the skin after a wax service.
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"An absolute no-no for me is the use of essential oils after a wax," Shays told Insider. "I have seen burns on the skin from tea tree oil used on skin after a wax."

And avoid waxing places that are more focused on getting you out the door in 10 minutes.

Shays recommends avoiding franchises that try to get your wax done in record time.
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"I call these places 'factory waxes,'" Shays said. "They're usually franchises and are more focused on their staff selling you a contract and product than they are about your body. Don't give them your hard-earned money, or risk losing skin." 

Got questions about other beauty services? Here are 8 signs you're about to get a bad manicure or pedicure, and how to tell if a hairstylist is right for you

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