Insight

Wax On, Wax Off

An unfortunate episode with a rogue body waxer left me itching like mad, in pain and wondering what sort of recourse I might have. A journey through the hairy underbelly of a sometimes dicey industry.

Legal Action After Waxing Salon Burns
AG

Aria Gmitter

March 31, 2022 08:00 AM

A RECENT RELOCATION, a spirit of self-love and no social life had lulled me to a magical land called Comfort, where people’s every quirk is accepted, including body hair in public and private parts that the sunlight never sees. Therefore, like many women who humblebrag about their shave-free month during “Januhairy” or their winter fuzz that grows like moss down the legs and tucked into the dark pits of shapely arms, I didn’t think twice about the mess I wasn’t tending to.

Until one fine summer day, that is, when I realized I had a serious problem: I was wearing a sundress, hours away from a planned date, nowhere near the vicinity of my usual waxing studio and in possession of a dark mass everyone could see whenever I lifted my arms. I’m Latina and an animated speaker, so I was left with two choices: shave, or find someone nearby who could wax me. The cardinal rule for women who commit to waxing is never to shave again. Ever. It took more than 20 years for my body hair to become fine and soft, and a single desperate swoop of a razor could reverse all those gains, transforming my plush fur into the kind of Brillo pad that left my usual Miami waxer exhausted after our one-hour sessions and swearing she’d never take me again.

I had spent nearly $3,000 a year on waxing (not including tips) over the previous decade. No, I would not shave. I’d find someone who could take me within the hour. Like a modern warrior woman, arms tucked close to my sides, I posted my cry for depilatory freedom to a Facebook moms’ group, asking for referrals.

Within seconds a bevy of women replied, and one waxer’s name cropped up more than others. A quick Google search returned an average 3.2-star review. That’s low, I thought, but so what? One waxer is as good as any, right?

I called. A sweet, soft-spoken voice told me she could, indeed, see me within the hour. She texted me her address, just a few miles away. Everything was going according to plan. Soon I’d be Kojak-perfect from my pits to my bottom. My GPS guided me like a guardian angel to the waxy destination. My dreams would come true, one strip of muslin at a time.

Fifteen minutes later, I cascaded gleefully down a short hallway to a well-lit room cluttered with beauty products and scented mayhem. I was greeted by a waxing table with the customary white sheet of paper down the middle, from which I’d soon butterfly away from this prison of hair covering my dark skin.

I will say that 20/20 hindsight and humility remind me that I have only myself to blame. I quickly saw a warning sign but, in my desperation, chose to ignore the cool blobs of green wax on a dingy popsicle stick in a dusty wax heater. The crack in the center of the stick—evidence of potential unsanitary sloppiness—was a dead giveaway that something might not be right.

I began to second-guess myself. Surely she was a trusted professional given how many women had recommended her. So, when she left me with directions to undress, I complied. When she returned, asking me to spread and lift my arms, I did so. From the side of an eye, I watched her reach for the stick (with an ungloved hand) from the heated container, which she extracted and then lightly dipped in several more times. After a quick rip with underheated wax, I shyly asked her—trying not to sound insulting—if her tactics were industry best practices. All I knew was from prior experience with big salons and estheticians who always threw the stick away and got a new one between each application.

“All fine, dear,” she coyly replied. I tried to trust that others liked her for a reason. I wanted to make it to my final destination on time, and I was already on the table now. So, I closed my eyes and prayed throughout my session, the longest 20 minutes of my life, and headed out vowing henceforth to avenge my follicular genetics via permanent laser hair removal.

I was $100 poorer, but that night I was gleefully smooth again. I assumed the worst was over when the appointment ended, but within hours my groin and every other waxed spot blazed like the ring of fire around a solar eclipse. I leapt from bed the next morning feeling like a fool. One lift of my arm and I was hit with a rancid smell that seemed to mock me for having bought far more than I bargained for.

My war on hair became a battle of the fungal and bacterial kind that only a licensed dermatologist could win. I shared with my doctor the story of the moments before this terrible rash took hold; she in turn taught me how wax becomes contaminated when tools get reused, consoling me with two prescription creams and a follow-up appointment a month later.

For two fear-filled months I was sure I’d never not itch again. I was so embarrassed. I didn’t call the local health department because my regular waxer dissuaded me, which in turn made me rethink pushing my claim any further.

Lesson learned, and I laugh now, but it’s important to note that checking online reviews is not enough, and similar to the salon I’d visited, not all salons require a signed waiver prior to services. Complaints and lawsuits involving tears, infections and burns because of a wax are common. But Bridgette Elliott, a licensed esthetician and owner of the SO Skincare salon in Palm Beach, Florida, urges clients to pay attention to cleanliness. “Communicable diseases or infections can cross-contaminate from one person to another,” she says. “You also want to make sure nonreusable items are replaced, such as wax strips, cotton or gloves. In my opinion, unless the customer is permanently damaged, [she] may want to reconsider a lawsuit and file a claim with the salon’s liability insurance instead.”

It's important for clients who have been harmed during a procedure to understand their options; in these situations, sometimes not filing a lawsuit is ideal. The process of filing an insurance claim with the salon directly is often an easier alternative than taking legal recourse. The recompense for a client is typically the same, and the success rate may be higher. In fact, most estheticians carry Liability Insurance up to a million dollars per occurrence, and similar to an auto accident, stating that an incident occurred and who is at fault must be evaluated to begin the process. A lawsuit and proof of damage may take longer, and the client may not win his or her case (especially when waivers are involved). Even though a client does not have to have legal representation to file an insurance claim against a salon, it can be beneficial to talk with a knowledgeable lawyer who can help navigate the process. A licensed attorney will do the initial demand letter on behalf of the client, along with handling all matters that most clients are unfamiliar with, reducing stress and ensuring a final resolution is met.

Isiah Jorgenson, a Florida-licensed cosmetologist, says that “it’s in the best interest of a client to go to salons that require a waiver form, because it protects the client and the salon. Medications or health conditions can cause an adverse reaction during some services. So, it’s important for the client to inform the salon so the professional can safely perform the service—or decline if needed.”

In 2007, for example, a Brazilian wax treatment performed at Moriah Brandon’s in Altamonte Springs, Florida, left Jean Rochelle “Chelle” Simmons in need of medical treatment from her gynecologist. She had to undergo a surgical procedure to treat severe tears and lacerations caused by a waxing session. Simmons sued and was awarded $400,000, though the defense attorney argued that her injuries might not have been caused by the salon. Because of the severity of her situation, her attorney was able to help her with a favorable outcome. But injuries, no matter the severity, caused by improper training of staff and unsanitary equipment, are still painful and scary. Knowing the options, rather through legal recourse or filing a claim, can help victims move forward after a traumatizing experience.

The argued defense in Simmons’ case raises an important point: These types of injuries can be difficult to prove, so it’s crucial to find an attorney who specializes in personal injury and chemical burn cases in particular. The alternative is suffering in silence and enabling subpar providers of an extremely sensitive service to continue wreaking occasional havoc on innocent people. Even the smoothest skin on earth isn’t worth that.

Aria Gmitter is a writer, editor and literary agent with a focus on spirituality, health, love and relationships. She earned her Masters in Health Law from Nova Southeastern University, and an MFA in Creative Writing at Full Sail University. Her works have been published by Bethany House Publishers, MSN, Yahoo, Fox News, Cosmo, Prevention and Psych Central.

Related Articles

Crash Course


by Paige Cerulli

A bad car accident left me reeling, but my worst symptoms wouldn’t appear until two weeks after. If it weren’t for excellent legal representation, there’s no way I’d have made it through—or with anything close to the settlement I got.

Overlooked by EMTs After Car Crash

How Being a Client Almost Made Me Quit Law School


by Paula Birch Billingsley

Suddenly becoming a personal injury client gave one law school student a new appreciation for clients’ needs and concerns. Here are some considerations even experienced lawyers ought to keep in mind.

Personal Injury Client Almost Quit Law School

Head Games


by Paul D. Friedman

How the science of traumatic brain injuries has improved in recent decades—and what those advances might mean for victims of these horrific ailments in the courtroom.

Traumatic Brain Injury From Motorcycle Wreck

Think Inside the Box


by David M. Carter

Black box data retrieval after a serious accident—it’s not just for commercial airplanes anymore.

Car Black Box Data for Personal Injury

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers: The Injury & Malpractice Issue


by Best Lawyers

Featuring the top legal talent from The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America and “Lawyer of the Year” recipients for personal injury and medical malpractice as well as thought leadership from some of the nation’s top lawyers.

Best Lawyers Injury & Malpractice Publication

IN PARTNERSHIP

Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident in Brentwood, TN?


by Harlene Labrum

Learn whether you should hire a lawyer after a car accident lawyer in Brentwood, TN. Contact Labrum Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.

Road caution sign in front of two wrecked cars

IN PARTNERSHIP

What Will a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Actually Do for You?


by Adam Zayed

Personal injury lawyer Adam Zayed explains the important steps a Chicago car accident lawyer will take to ensure you receive the best legal representation.

Blurry image of fast moving traffic in big city

IN PARTNERSHIP

Precision in Practice


by John Fields

For four decades, the Perecman Firm's unwavering commitment to legal excellence has been crucial in securing victory for those facing life-altering injuries.

Three lawyers stand in NYC street posing for picture

IN PARTNERSHIP

A Winning Approach


by John Fields

Recognized New York-based lawyer and trial legend Benedict Morelli, with his firm sharing the keys to their courtroom success, has developed a winning approach.

Three lawyers wearing suits pose for a picture

IN PARTNERSHIP

Raising the Bar


by John Fields

New York City-based powerhouse Block O’Toole & Murphy continues to set new benchmarks for personal injury cases, with the firm achieving landmark victories.

Five lawyers sit and stand posing for a photo

IN PARTNERSHIP

Easton & Easton: Let Our Family Help Yours


by Justin Smulison

For more than 50 years, Easton & Easton have continued to be the go-to trial law firm for injury and wrongful death claims in Southern California in 2023.

Group of lawyers pose at table with globe in forefront

5 Things To Consider When Choosing a Car Accident Lawyer in Dallas, TX


by Jay Murray

Choosing the right car accident lawyer for your case in Dallas, Texas, is essential. Read this article to learn about 5 things to consider during the process.

Figure in suit checks off an animated list

IN PARTNERSHIP

Making A Meaningful Difference in Clients Lives


by Justin Smulison

Scarlett Law Group is hailed as one of California’s personal injury trailblazers, representing plaintiffs from all backgrounds. Here's the firm's recipe for success.

Three lawyers in suits pose in front of a bridge

Understanding Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases


by Best Lawyers

In personal injury cases, the statute of limitations can vary depending on several factors. To navigate the process, consider hiring a legal professional.

Animated woman holding a clock and coin while balancing on plank

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer When Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit


by Best Lawyers

When filing personal injury claims, which is typically a complex and distressing process, consider consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Unseen individual with hand brace points to a legal contract

IN PARTNERSHIP

What to Do if the Other Driver Doesn't Report the Accident


by Rick Lopez

Call 911 to report a car accident if the other driver refuses to report the car crash. Learn more about what to do after a car accident occurs in Texas here.

Unseen individual writing up report with cracked windshield in background

Trending Articles

How Palworld Is Testing the Limits of Nintendo’s Legal Power


by Gregory Sirico

Many are calling the new game Palworld “Pokémon GO with guns,” noting the games striking similarities. Experts speculate how Nintendo could take legal action.

Animated figures with guns stand on top of creatures

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees


by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

The U.S. Best Lawyers Voting Season Is Open


by Best Lawyers

The voting season for the 31st edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and the 5th edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America is officially underway, and we are offering some helpful advice to this year’s voters.

Golden figures of people standing on blue surface connected by white lines

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue


by Best Lawyers

The 2021 Global Issue features top legal talent from the most recent editions of Best Lawyers and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch worldwide.

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue

How To Find A Pro Bono Lawyer


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers dives into the vital role pro bono lawyers play in ensuring access to justice for all and the transformative impact they have on communities.

Hands joined around a table with phone, paper, pen and glasses

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023


by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2024 Launch


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce The Best Lawyers in Australia™ for 2023, including the top lawyers and law firms from Australia.

Australian Parliament beside water at sunset

The Upcycle Conundrum


by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

Inflation Escalation


by Ashley S. Wagner

Inflation and rising costs are at the forefront of everyone’s mind as we enter 2023. The current volatile market makes it more important than ever to understand the rent escalation clauses in current and future commercial lease agreements.

Suited figure in front of rising market and inflated balloon

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers


by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

A Celebration of Excellence: The Best Lawyers in Canada 2024 Awards


by Best Lawyers

As we embark on the 18th edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™, we are excited to highlight excellence and top legal talent across the country.

Abstract image of red and white Canada flag in triangles

Announcing The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2024


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce the landmark 15th edition of The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ for 2024, including the exclusive "Law Firm of the Year" awards.

Sky view of South Africa town and waterways

Best Lawyers Voting Is Now Open


by Best Lawyers

Voting has begun in several countries across the globe, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Below we offer dates, details and answers to voting-related questions to assist with the voting process.

Hands holding smartphone with five stars above phone

Unwrapping Shrinkflation


by Justin Smulison

Through the lens of the United States, we take a closer look at the global implication of companies downsizing products while maintaining and often raising prices.

Chocolate bar being unwrapped from foil