More Culture:

November 13, 2017

Waxing 'down there': the questions you're afraid to ask, answered

Secrets revealed from a Rittenhouse waxer

Body Women's Health
Carroll - Waxing Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Honey wax drips from an applicator at the Triple S Hair Lounge in West Philadelphia.

Maybe you, dear reader, are among the more than half the population that is female. In that case, odds are good the hair-raising subject of waxing is no stranger to you.

However you may deal with hair removal from your private parts, be it shaving, laser, electrolysis, depilatory creams or good, old-fashioned hot wax, there’s little question the last method downright hurts. Many women have avoided waxing altogether for this very reason. That’s why we interviewed a veteran esthetician working right in Center City to get the dos, don’ts and inside information on what waxing is all about, and why women routinely put themselves through pain for the sake of looking and feeling beautiful.

RELATED READS: Pole dancing could one day be an Olympic sport | For Delco nurse and pageant competitor, beauty is more than just skin deep | Work out like '80s exercise queen Jane Fonda at local studio

Celeste Kenton is a freelance make-up artist and full-time esthetician at European Wax Center on Rittenhouse Square.

Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Licensed esthetician Celeste Kenton.

A graduate of Clark Atlanta University, she got into make-up artistry working at Nordstrom in her 20s and wanted to expand her knowledge base by learning how to become an esthetician. That's when Kenton enrolled at Philadelphia’s Jean Madeline Aveda Institute, where she studied various areas of beauty, skin care and hair removal, which is how she got into waxing.

We interviewed Kenton, 40, at Triple S Hair Lounge in West Philly, where she sometimes freelances, and asked her a series of questions that both first-timers and salon regulars maybe don’t have the curiosity – or the guts – to ask. Here's what she had to say. 

Q. What are the benefits of seeing a professional as opposed to doing at-home wax treatments?

A. You should definitely see a professional because they know the steps in which to get it done. They also know the precautions [involved]…People try and do at-home waxing kits and the famous horror story is they pull that strip and only come in with half of it done because they tried to do it themselves and they realized how painful it is. We have a technique where we can remove it quickly so you don’t endure that pain for a longer period of time.

Q. What are some tips to pain-proof your wax?

A. There’s no way to pain-proof anything. The only thing I can say is take Advil before. Please refrain from drinking beforehand. Just like tattoos, when your follicles rupture, there might be some spotting, but it’s not that your skin is being torn, it’s just rupturing, and if you have had alcohol, sometimes that blood flow can increase because it thins your blood. You’ll get used to it. The first time is always going to be the roughest, but as I say, work with me, I’ll get you through it.

Q. What are some ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of getting a Brazilian wax while on your period?

A. You need to wear a tampon. You must. It doesn’t matter if you’re spotting or not. If you can avoid the week before your period getting a Brazilian, please do so, because your sensitivity levels are higher. So, it hurts more, even if you have been waxing for a while, you still will feel an increased sense of discomfort...And if you can, cut [the string]. If you’re a professional like me, we can work around it, but horror stories have happened before…We want to make sure we avoid that as much as possible. 

Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The basic wax setup at the Triple S Hair Lounge in West Philadelphia includes two types of wax, wax applicators, cotton, waxing strips, and various skin cleansers and lotions.

Q. What are some things you wish clients would stop doing before their appointments?

A. Stop looking at fake blogs. Stop believing false experts. When you come to me thinking you know everything, why are you coming to me? I’m there to service and help you, but if you’re coming as if you already know everything…[shakes head and laughs].

If you think you might flinch, grab the table. Don’t grab me.

Stop asking if it grosses us out. Prime example – a guest asks, ‘Do you like doing these all day?’ I’m going to need to you to find another way to have a conversation with me. It came to the point where I said to a guest in a very personable tone, ‘I understand we do this every day. Our goal is to help you achieve your results. I’m not looking at you. I’m looking at getting all the hair off of you – whatever you desire. By the time you leave, I will not remember what it looks like tomorrow.’ So, please do not think you’re grossing me out. By the time it’s over, I’m onto the next person.

Please use the butt wipes provided. Don’t be scared to use the restroom before waxing.

Q. OK. Any additional advice?

A. Make sure you know your medical history. The last thing we want to deal with is having a person not be honest with us because that can be a liability.

As for overall life goals, Kenton had some wise words to offer on that subject, too.

“There are plenty of people making tons of money in the fields of esthetics, make-up artistry and cosmetology,” she said.

“There are many things you could do that are boundless. I had the pleasure of working fashion week, of doing performances, theater and film. I know, personally, people making over six figures in this field. The money will always come, but you have to be about wanting it, because if you are miserable, it’s going to show.”

Check out Kenton's work on her blog, A Different Kind of Beauty