"HELP! My skin ripped off during a wax!": What to do and how to prevent scarring
So you've popped into your local salon (or, more accurately, a friend's bedroom) for a cheeky eyebrow wax. At this point, the extent of your concern stops at whether you should get your upper lip waxed too. You ponder on the idea for a moment and ultimately decide to go for it. After all, you've already made the trip!
Then comes the trouble. As the muslin sheet leaves your skin, you find yourself in more pain than you had initially anticipated. Assuming the pain has more to do with the fact that it has been a while since your last wax, you let it slide. The sheet leaves your other eye, and it's more of the same. How strange!
It's only when you're holding the mirror up close to your face to check the shape of your brows that you realise what has happened—your skin has been waxed clean off.
Um. Your skin has been waxed clean off.
It definitely looks worse than it really is, but regardless of severity, you're in a full-blown panic. You have half a mind to put your beautician out of business—after all, it's her fault, right? Well, not necessarily.
Simmer down, cowgirl. We know this is a stressful situation, but you might want to hold off on pointing fingers for the time being. Now, your skin probably looks something like this at the moment:
Yeah, we know—ouch. Pictured above is this writer's eye post-wax. The brow game is strong, but at what cost?
Ahead, let's delve into how we rectified the situation, taking it from the wound you see above to the fully healed canvas below in just two days (the faint scar visible below has now disappeared completely).
Disclaimer: Depending on the size and severity of your wound, the healing time may vary.
How did this happen?
There are a few factors that could have led to your skin ripping off. The first is poor technique by the technician—that is why it is imperative to go to a licensed professional for these services. Further, the risks associated with hair removal are often overlooked, but they are plentiful. Aside from the risk of terrible brow shaping, poor technique in hair removal can lead to wax burns and even infections in the case of poor hygiene!
Another factor that may have contributed to your unfortunate wax is your skincare routine. Fun fact: Using retinols, exfoliants, and chemical peels are generally a bad idea when it comes to waxing. These products exfoliate the skin, leaving the outermost layer of dead skin cells much thinner. While this is great for encouraging skin turnover and improving the overall complexion of the skin, it's terrible in the context of waxing.
When you get a wax, the hairs are removed along with a few layers of your stratum corneum—also known as the outermost layer of dead skin cells. When you use retinols or exfoliants, this layer thins significantly. So, when the wax adheres to the skin and the stratum corneum is absent or thinned, some part of the living layer of cells that lies underneath may bind to the wax in its place. Then, when the wax comes off, so does your live tissue, leaving your skin looking raw and red.
I don't want to scar! What do I do now?
Okay, so you now know why half of your face is missing, but you're still at a loss for what to do. The answer is simple—you have a wound, now baby it.
Firstly, clean the area using a gentle, antibacterial cleanser to remove the excess wax and to wash any dirt away. Then go in with some antibacterial ointment. Finally, the most crucial step is to keep the area hydrated and to keep it protected from the sun. Here, the easiest solution is to employ the use of an SPF moisturiser with plenty of facial mists. Just make sure to avoid using fragranced products as these may irritate the wound further.
PS: Please, please avoid using makeup around the area until it fully heals. You do not want to risk contracting an infection for the sake of vanity.
What can I do to prevent it from happening again?
The good news is that the solution is simple. If your woes stem from your choice of beautician, just find someone new. Do your research and check that your prospective beautician is qualified with a proper license.
If your waxing mishap was the result of incompatible skincare, all you have to do is make a very small change. Avoid retinol (and exfoliant) use for at least a few days before your waxing appointment, but preferably a full week prior. Further, Keep your skin well moisturised prior to your appointment.
Alternatively, instead of waxing, try threading instead!
Find more skincare stories like this here.