Beauty waxing is normally performed on sensitive and fragile areas of skin on the body that are vulnerable to damage, and all waxing treatments, particularly intimate bikini waxes, have inherent dangers that can cause injuries including burns, blistering, torn skin, infections and allergic reactions. For this reason, waxing procedures must be carried out by properly trained, skilled and experienced practitioners. However, lack of regulation of the beauty treatment industry in the UK means that too often this is not the case.
Errors and omissions by beauty salons and technicians include failing to conduct skin patch tests on new clients 48 hours before an appointment is scheduled to check for possible allergies to wax ingredients or a different skin sensitivity issue. Where such mistakes cause an injury, the practitioner and salon may be found to have acted negligently, and compensation may subsequently be claimed from the beauty salon’s insurance company.
Bikini waxing involves the application of wax, and hair removal at the root, in and around the pubic region. Its popularity as a beauty treatment is based on three factors. Firstly, it is a relatively quick and simple procedure (roughly half an hour) when carried out by a competent, trained beautician. Secondly, unlike shaving and other removal methods, hairs will not begin to regrow after a waxing treatment for up to eight weeks. Thirdly, the treatment can help achieve permanent hair reduction as again, unlike shaving, hairs will grow back softer, finer and more sparsely following bikini wax treatments.
The least extreme form of bikini waxing is the basic bikini line (or American) wax, aimed at removing pubic hair that would otherwise be visible while wearing a bikini. Many women of all ages will have this regular form of bikini wax carried out in advance of beach holidays. Therefore, our lawyers do not see many women claiming compensation for American waxing injuries.
Probably the most popular form of waxing all year round is the Brazilian (also known as the French) wax, which involves the removal of all hair in the pubic area, as well as in between the legs and buttocks, leaving a triangular patch or thin strip of hair above the vulva, which is often referred to as a landing strip. This intimate form of bikini waxing is performed on skin around the vagina that is especially fragile and prone to damage. The skill and experience of the beauty therapist are therefore critical considerations for women intending to have a Brazilian waxing treatment carried out.
Whichever type of bikini wax a customer chooses, the procedure will inevitably be delicate due the sensitivity of skin in the pubic region. Burns may be caused by a beautician applying wax that has been heated to too high a temperature, otherwise hot wax may be spilled onto the skin. The result in both cases can be damaged skin, pain, irritation, blistering, temporary scarring and the possibility of ongoing problems including ingrown pubic hair and infections of varying severity. A person may also suffer an allergic reaction to wax ingredients, and for this reason, salons must always carry out skin patch tests on new clients.
The other main injury type caused by bikini waxing is tearing and cuts to the skin. This is most often due to a beautician removing waxing strips without supporting and pulling tight the surrounding loose skin properly, or else removing strips at the wrong angle (i.e. not parallel to the body). Tears can cause profuse bleeding, potentially requiring stitches, and damage to hair follicles. An injured person will be likely to feel embarrassed and humiliated in these circumstances, and may also have a forthcoming holiday effectively ruined. These factors will be taken into consideration when calculating the size of a compensation award.
With increasing numbers of women electing to remove their pubic hair completely, the danger of infection from intimate waxing treatments continues to be an issue of concern for beauty salons and their clients. During hair removal treatments individual hairs are torn from the follicles, leaving tiny open wounds through which bacteria (as well as venereal diseases) can pass. Hollywood waxing procedures, during which the pubic hair is fully removed, pose a particular risk of an individual contracting a bacterial infection, since there is no hair left down below to offer any natural protection against bacteria, viruses and other foreign particles entering the body.
Cellulitis is probably the most common bacterial infection that individuals can contract from intimate waxing treatments. While cellulitis can be treated effectively with antibiotics, it is also a potentially life-threatening condition, as the infection has the capacity to spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream if left untreated. Cellulitis normally involves pain, discomfort, redness and inflammation in the genital region, as well as flu-type symptoms, including a temperature, dizziness, chills and pain in one or both thighs. It is essential for an individual to seek urgent medical attention if they develop symptoms of this kind following any type of waxing treatment.
The principal cause of bacterial infections such as cellulitis from bikini, Brazilian and (especially) Hollywood waxing is when a beautician ‘double dips’ the waxing spatulas, or in other words uses them on multiple customers, resulting in bacteria entering the wax pot from the skin of one customer and subsequently being transmitted to another. It is therefore essential that new spatulas are used at beauty salons to minimise the risk of cross infections. Burns from overheated wax can also cause skin damage that may result in an infection, emphasising the need for beauticians to monitor and control the temperature of the wax at all times. Finally, maintaining a high standard of general hygiene at a salon is critical to both preventing infections and ensuring customers return for repeat treatments.
Errors During Treatment
While both hot and cold wax may be used for nipple waxing treatments, most salons prefer hot. Waxing strips are applied to the areola, and when pulled off they remove hairs by the root. Waxing is less painful than other nipple hair removal methods, such as plucking, and is easier to perform. Despite this, small errors on the part of the beauty technician may have severe consequences. Excessive use of force when removing the waxing strips may tear the skin, causing bleeding and potential scarring. Removing waxing strips too early, leaving them on the skin for too long, applying them in the wrong position, or failing to remove hair in the direction of its growth may cause similar injuries. In some cases, scarring around the nipple may require invasive cosmetic surgery to correct, and even this may be impossible.
In these circumstances, an injured person is likely to suffer deep emotional distress, apart from physical pain and suffering. Relationships may be affected by this type of sensitive injury, and loss of sexual desire is a common side effect. Feelings of deformity may also cause extreme stress and depression.
Burns & Allergic Reactions
Burn injuries to the areola and nipple caused by spilled or overheated wax may result in rashes and blistering. The skin may be severely damaged and require costly corrective surgery with uncertain results. Burns are particularly sensitive to infections, which if left untreated can cause a host of further problems. Ingrowing hairs are another common issue following burn injuries from hot wax.
There is also the possibility that a client will experience an allergic reaction to ingredients contained in nipple waxing products. This can be extremely serious in terms of the potential consequences, and may require emergency hospital treatment. For this reason, beauty salons must conduct skin patch tests on new clients to identify any potential sensitivities and the possibility of an adverse reaction occurring.
Waxing treatment clients have a legal right to expect that the procedure will be carried out in a reasonably competent manner by an experienced and fully trained beauty technician. Errors and omissions during waxing treatments that cause an injury may be legally classified as negligence on the part of the beauty salon and its staff, and an injured client will subsequently be entitled to claim compensation.
Compensation awards for waxing injuries will reflect pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, which may be ongoing. The cost of corrective surgery, and any other financial outlay caused by an injury will also be awarded as 'special' damages. Injured persons may sustain financial losses through having to take a period of time off work, and this will also be taken into account when calculating compensation. Successful compensation claims have the additional benefit of driving up standards across the beauty treatment industry.
Beauty salons are expected to perform waxing treatments in a reasonably competent manner, and if a client is injured due to a beautician’s error there will be strong grounds for making a compensation claim against them. Contact our specialist team of female solicitors today for free, confidential and sympathetic legal advice on waxing injuries.
Case Study 1
Ms W was having a Hollywood waxing treatment (also known as a full bikini wax) carried out at her local beauty salon, in advance of a summer holiday with her family. A trainee beautician had started work at the salon the previous week, and was detailed to perform Ms W’s waxing treatment. When the time came to remove the waxing strips, the beautician failed to make sure that the delicate skin around the labia was stretched tight enough, and used too much force in the removal process. As one strip was pulled off, Ms W’s skin was torn halfway down the length of her vagina, and began to bleed. Ms W was later forced to go to hospital, where doctors applied stitches to the laceration. Ms W was in pain for weeks following the accident, ruining her holiday and causing considerable emotional distress for a period.
Ms W was deeply upset by the whole incident and got in touch with Bartletts Solicitors on her return from holiday. On our advice, she decided to proceed with a compensation claim against the beauty salon that carried out her treatment. We wrote to them, pointing out that Ms W had had Hollywood waxes performed before without any problems. In this instance, poor technique on the part of the trainee beautician had caused the tear to Ms W’s vagina. The procedure had not been carried out in a reasonably competent manner, and this made the salon’s owners negligent and in breach of the duty of care they owed Ms W. The beauty salon’s insurers admitted liability relatively swiftly in this case, and Ms W received £3,250 in compensation.
Case Study 2
Ms H visited a beauty salon for a Brazilian bikini waxing treatment in advance of a summer holiday with her family. As she was getting dressed after the procedure, she noticed that the waxed area of skin was quite painful, and later the same day she saw that red burn marks had appeared on her outer vaginal lips (labia). Ms H’s burn injuries began to blister in the days afterwards, and she also developed a rash on her skin. She saw her doctor, who told her that her skin damage was similar to friction burns, and prescribed flucloxacillin to prevent a bacterial infection, as well as E45 cream to soothe the affected area. Ms H was in constant pain and discomfort while on holiday, which was ruined as a result, and could not walk properly or wear underwear for days after the treatment. Having received no response to her written complaint, she decided to seek legal advice, and contacted the beauty treatment solicitors team here at Bartletts.
We subsequently agreed to represent Ms H in a no win no fee claim against the beauty salon, and wrote to the salon’s owners and insurers outlining the facts of our client’s case. We stated that the burns and blisters on Ms H’s labia were caused by the negligence of the beauty therapist, as they had failed to apply protective oil before waxing, causing the wax to stick to the delicate skin around the vagina and resulting in friction-type burn injuries when it was removed. The treatment had been poorly executed, and Ms H had suffered painful and humiliating injuries as a direct result. A reasonable standard of competence is expected of beauty therapists by law, and in this instance, the standard of care received by Ms E had fallen below this level. The salon eventually acknowledged liability for Ms E’s burn injuries, and she received £2,750 in compensation for the pain and suffering she had endured, as well as loss of enjoyment of her family holiday.
Lip Waxing Injury Claim
Ms S was having a waxing treatment performed on her upper lip at a beauty salon when an accident occurred. While leaning over Ms S, the beauty therapist spilled hot wax onto Ms S’s forehead, causing a burn. Ms S was in considerable pain, despite the soothing gel provided by the salon. She later saw her GP, who provided her with antihistamine cream, but her skin was still inflamed, blistered, and causing her irritation and distress days later. The burn injury on her forehead was so prominent that it made Ms S extremely self conscious, and she was unwilling to return to work until the wound had healed. She was also upset and angry at failing to receive more than a brief apology from the beauty salon.
Ms S decided to sue the beauty salon in question, and engaged Bartletts Solicitors to represent her. We wrote to the salon’s owners stating that the negligent actions of one of their staff had caused Ms S’s burn injury. The therapist had been chatting to a colleague at the time of the accident, and had not been paying sufficient attention to the waxing procedure. This had caused her to spill the wax on Ms S’s forehead. The salon had therefore failed to carry out Ms S’s waxing procedure in a reasonably competent manner, and was consequently guilty of negligence. The salon and their insurers accepted liability, and Ms S won £2,700 in damages.
Lower Leg Waxing Injury Claim
Ms A was having a routine lower half leg waxing treatment at a health and beauty spa when she was burned by hot wax that was spilled onto her skin by the beautician carrying out the procedure. She was in a lot of pain and saw her GP later that day, where her wound was dressed and she was prescribed painkillers. Ms A has dark skin pigmentation, and as the burn healed the skin around it became pink and discoloured. Many months later, Ms A was considering complicated skin graft surgery as the only option to make her lower leg appear normal again. Ms A complained to the beauty spa directly, but did not receive a satisfactory response. She was angry and upset that she had been injured through no fault of her own, and subsequently decided to seek legal advice.
Ms A contacted Bartletts Solicitors, and subsequently engaged us on a no win no fee basis to represent her in a compensation claim against the health and beauty spa. We got in touch with the parent company, stating that Ms A’s procedure had not been performed with reasonable care and skill, as the beautician would otherwise not have spilled burning wax onto our client’s skin. They had failed to meet the standard of care one would expect from a fellow professional in similar circumstances, and this constituted negligence. Ms A had been significantly and possibly permanently scarred by the accident, and this was ultimately the fault of the spa’s owners. After liability was established, Ms A received £4,500 in compensation from the spa’s insurers.
Upper Leg Waxing Injury Claim
Mrs J was having a full leg and bikini wax at her local beautician in Sussex. During the treatment, she felt that the wax was being applied at too hot a temperature and complained to the therapist. The wax was reapplied a few times after the therapist informed our client that the wax needed to be at that temperature for the treatment to be effective. Following the leg wax, Mrs J was in considerable pain, and the treated area appeared red and tender. She decided against the bikini wax and went home. Later the same day, her skin began to blister and swell up. The following day, her skin began to peel and she went to see her GP who prescribed painkillers, soothing burn cream and antibiotics to prevent infection. She returned to the beautician in question with her husband to complain, but was only offered an apology and discount vouchers for future treatments.
Mrs J contacted Bartletts Solicitors having read on our website that we specialised in cases such as hers. She decided to proceed with a compensation claim against the beautician, and we agreed to represent her on a no win no fee basis. We wrote to the beautician, arguing that the wax had been overheated by the therapist and that this had caused Mrs J's burn injury. We obtained the medical report from her GP, which stated that the burns had been caused by the hot wax. A full admission of liability was obtained from the beautician's insurers and we recovered £3,500 in compensation for Mrs J's injury, pain and suffering. A further amount was paid out for her travel and medical expenses.
Underarm Waxing Injury Claim
Ms B was burnt by hot wax that was left on her skin for roughly double the normal amount of time by an inattentive beautician. She had applied the wax strips under Ms B’s arms and had then left her to speak to a colleague. By the time the beautician returned, Ms B was experiencing a burning sensation under her arms, and was in pain after the strips were removed. The salon’s manager was called to assist in bathing the affected area, and provided Ms B with some soothing aloe vera gel. Ms B had difficulty sleeping that night, and sought medical attention the following day. She was forced to take a week off work while she recovered, and was in constant pain and discomfort during that time. Having made a complaint, Ms B was offered a free voucher for a further treatment, but was dissatisfied with this response.
Ms B decided to seek legal advice. We went on to represent Ms B in her claim for compensation against the beauty salon’s owners, and wrote to them pointing out that the waxing strips should have been removed far earlier during the treatment, and that the failure to do so had caused the hot wax to burn the sensitive skin under Ms B’s arms. This was unreasonable behaviour on the part of the individual beautician, and the salon as a whole had negligently failed to protect Ms B from the risk of injury on its premises. After further correspondence, the salon’s insurers accepted liability for the accident, with Ms B later receiving £2,300 in compensation for her injury.