Spring is finally here, and beach season is only a few weeks away, so spas around Chicago are prepping for a rush of customers looking for all types of waxing services. For the uninitiated, waxing can seem like a daunting and embarrassing task—what do you ask for, how painful is it, etc. Never fear. We asked six estheticians from Chicago’s most popular spas what customers can expect, the hot grooming trends now, and their best stories as the people behind the chair.
Everyone’s terrified of the pain
Without exception, all six estheticians said that their clients’ biggest worry is the pain, and they’re well-versed in talking scared clients down from the ledge. “I can always tell who my first timers are the moment they walk through the door,” says Becky Campos from Trim Lincoln Park. “Their nervous demeanor gives them away. My signature line that seemed to calm people down is, ‘No need to worry, the good news is no one has ever died from getting a Brazilian wax.’” But even the most hardened clients get nervous. Campos says she had a regular client who finally confessed that every time she had an appointment, she would hope and pray that the salon would call to say, "Sorry, we're going to have to cancel your appointment today. Becky is sick and won't be able to take you.”
Brazilians weren’t always so mainstream
Today, Brazilian waxes are the most-requested service by far, but they didn’t always reign supreme. “Years ago, Brazilian waxing was requested primarily by a high-end clientele,” says Daina Karklins from Trim’s Bucktown location. “Nowadays it’s something the average girl does on a regular basis.” Francesca Sanchez of Bare Glow Spa agrees, noting that regular bikini waxing used to be a far more popular service, but it’s now been replaced by the thorough Brazilian.
Manscaping is on the rise
Men’s waxing services—chest, back eyebrows, nose, ear, and male Brazilians—are all becoming increasingly popular. “A consistently greater number of men are willing to overlook the pain aspect [of waxing] and go for the long-lasting results,” says Marta Wozniak of Painless Waxing Boutique.
Dudes might think they’re the first to ever request a little touch-up, but these ladies have seen it all. “When I first started waxing, I had a rugged looking gentleman come in for a full leg wax,” says Karklins. “Early into the service I noticed that he had on a pair of lacy pink women's panties. I almost thought someone was pulling a prank on me! But actually, I've seen this a handful of times since then.”
Painless Waxing Boutique is located at 3146 N. Lincoln Ave. Services include $18 for eyebrows, $50 for full Brazilian bikini, and $105 for full leg and Brazilian. Current specials include a free service after five equal-value services.
Pregame your appointment—or ask for the sock monkey
Every esthetician has different tips and tricks for minimalizing pain. They’ll chat with you to keep your mind occupied, they’ll coat your skin with a thin layer of oil before waxing, they’ll hold the skin taut, they’ll pull quickly, and they’ll apply ice packs to the area afterward. But you can take charge of your own pain threshold, too. Cheryl Ann Gutierrez, owner of The Waxing Room, urges her clients to take deep breaths throughout the service. Taylor Ochoa, an esthetician at the same location, says that some of her clients pop an over-the-counter pain killer or “down a couple of shots or a glass or two of wine prior.” And Trim’s Lincoln Park location keeps sock monkeys in every room so that clients can squeeze them during the service.
The Waxing Room is located at 3115 N. Halsted St. Services include $20 for eyebrows, $55 for full Brazilian bikini, and $120 for full leg and Brazilian. Current specials include three underarm waxes for $45 and three full leg waxes for $160.
They may turn down your request for a monogram
“I used to get requests for specific shapes in the pubic area, like initials, hearts, and the like,” says Francesca Sanchez. “I typically turn those down.” It’s not always an aesthetic judgment call, either. Sometimes they just can’t make it work for you. “Sometimes there just isn't enough hair there due to waxing for many years, and the artistic letter ‘A’ they may have requested can turn out looking like a blob. We're trying to avoid that,” says Taylor Ochoa.
The requests don’t stop with monograms. Marta Wozniak says a colleague told her about a particularly ambitious client who “wanted her hair waxed into the shape of a mustache for her annual visit to the gynecologist.” Her reasoning? “I guess she wanted to give her male doctor a good laugh.”
No matter how embarrassed you are, somebody else has been more embarrassed
Cheryl Ann Gutierrez once had a client who requested an eyebrow wax and took her prepping a little too seriously. “When I came into the room, to my surprise, she was completely naked except for one item she left on: a large pair of sunglasses, which I had to remove in order to wax her brows!”
Taylor Ochoa has also had run-ins with clients in the nude. “I do a walk through with clients on how to prep before I come back in the room,” she says, “and while it always seems to be pretty clear to most people, there was one instance where the client was completely ‘in the buff’ underneath the sheets and the table paper, which were completely unwrinkled and barely disturbed, pulled all the way up to their neck. First, I had to not laugh, and then I kindly explained that if they were hiding under all the sheets it'd be pretty hard to get the job done!”
Everyone regrets over-plucking their brows in the ‘90s
“A lot of clients that used to over-pluck their brows are struggling trying to grow them back now and would kill for the natural brows they used to have,” says Marta Wozniak. “Growing brows back takes a lot of patience, and sometimes a little boost from brow serums.” Taylor Ochoa agrees: “Bad eyebrow memes and trending internet postings are definitely having an effect on how people are looking at their eyebrows.”
Over-plucked and paranoid? Have some patience. Ochoa says her clients start to see a “new, thicker brow take shape” by their third session of cleaning up the brows and letting them fill in. And if you can’t wait to let nature take its course, Cheryl Ann Gutierrez has noticed an upswing in services like eyebrow tinting and brow growth enhancers. Point is: whatever your waxing situation, know that you’re not alone.