What Is Paraffin Wax Treatment and What Is It Used for?
August 10, 2018Have you ever wanted to get a salon/spa treatment that combines skin moisturization with deep muscle relaxation? Then a paraffin wax treatment might be what you're looking for.
A paraffin wax treatment is a therapeutic and cosmetic procedure that produced and transports moist heat to produce benefits on a deep muscular level as well as on the outer layer of skin. Paraffin has been used for decades, and it was first used for therapeutic purposes in the 1930s to treat orthopedic injuries.
Paraffin wax, the star of these treatments, is a natural wax derived from petroleum. Paraffin wax is one of the dermatologically safest substances in the cosmetics industry: it is hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic (won't clog pores), and non-drying. For therapeutic and cosmetic uses, this wax has to be extra filtered and food-grade (approved by the FDA as high-quality enough to be used in food processing). Therapeutic paraffin wax has a low melting point —125-135 °F, around the temperature of a latte— which is bearable on the skin and helps to get maximum therapeutic and cosmetic benefits. People with heat sensitivity, however, might get heat rash from a paraffin wax bath, whereas people with chemical oversensitivity might get a mild allergic reaction due to the fact that this product is derived from petroleum.
Chemically speaking, paraffin has large molecules that stay on the skin surface and form a barrier that traps moisture, increases blood circulation, and infuses the skin with its own oils, which is why it is so effective at moisturization.
You may be wondering whether paraffin wax is like depilatory wax to any extent, but the answer is no, paraffin wax is nothing like depilatory wax. Paraffin wax does not stick to hair and it can't be used in the same way you would use any hair removal products.
Therapeutic Uses of Paraffin WaxParaffin wax treatments were primarily used as thermotherapy methods that take advantage of the high heat retention capability of hot paraffin wax to conduct heat into the deeper layers of skin and the muscle in order to soothe pain, sprains, muscle stiffness, and arthritic pain. At the same time, this treatment can increase the range of motion and prepare muscles for exercise, as well as condition them as a part of progressive physiotherapy.
This is what happens when hot paraffin wax is applied for therapeutic purposes:
- Blood vessels expand and circulation increases.
- Circulation brings oxygen to the cells in the affected area and helps remove waste products that may be causing pain in the muscles.
- The pain threshold expands, and the muscles relax and become more flexible, which helps achieve a wider range of motion with appropriate physiotherapy.
- Note that the application of paraffin wax for therapeutic purposes needs several layers. The more layers, the deeper the reach of heat into muscles, joints, and tendons. Eight or more layers of wax are recommended.
Cosmetic Uses of Paraffin WaxAn extra benefit of paraffin wax treatment is moisturization and repair of cracked, thirsty skin. This service is very sought after in spas and salons, and it is most usually applied on hands, feet, elbows, and face. This is how paraffin wax smooths skin:
- The heat in the wax expands the blood vessels and circulation increases, activating the eccrine glands —which produce sweat— and the sebaceous glands —which produce sebum— and flush out toxins and dirt from the skin pores in the process. The result is glowing skin. A good moisturizer is usually applied before the paraffin wax treatment so that the heat will trap the hydration into the deeper layers of skin. Areas which have been treated with paraffin become more hydrated, pliable, and soft.
- Cosmetic application of paraffin needs fewer layers: anywhere between three to ten depending on the extent of the dryness.
Application Techniques of Paraffin WaxParaffin wax can be applied on practically every body part. The most usual body parts to receive paraffin wax treatments are the hands, ankles, and feet, back, and shoulders for therapeutic purposes, and the hands, elbows, feet, and face for cosmetic reasons.
To apply paraffin wax, a beautician or therapist can follow overall the same steps.
- Prepare the paraffin wax in a special warming unit. These devices melt paraffin wax at a medicated temperature and keep it at a steady temperature throughout the whole therapy and beyond. Paraffin warmers usually don't have an on-off switch, so they don't need to be turned off once the paraffin is melted, or even during the therapy. It is not advisable to move the temperature dial on the device since this will not make paraffin melt faster, and even if it did, it would then get a higher temperature than it should. If you don't happen to have a paraffin wax melter in your salon, you can use your regular wax pot, just make sure you are melting the paraffin at the recommended temperature (125-130 °F) and try not to make this the norm. A specially designed paraffin warmer is always the best choice if you plan to apply these treatments in your salon or spa.
- If you are offering the paraffin wax treatment in your salon as a complement to manicures or pedicures, trim, clean, and shape nails/toenails (and apply acrylic nails if necessary) before starting with the procedure. You can also exfoliate the skin at this stage to maximize the benefits of the procedure.
- Remove jewelry and clothing from the area to be treated.
- Line the rest of the areas with a towel or protective liners as needed.
- Cleanse the area that will be treated with a special sanitizing spray. Make sure the area is dry.
- Apply non-oily hydrating cream according to the needs of the client, emphasizing on the driest areas. This step is very important for cosmetic skin-hydrating procedures.
- Now everything is ready for the dipping. Test the paraffin's temperature to be completely sure that it is appropriate. Dip the area into the paraffin bath, keeping it in for a few seconds. Remove it and let the paraffin dry for a few more seconds (until the paraffin becomes matte). Repeat the dipping process several times to create the custom-fit "paraffin glove". With every dip, remind your client not to flex fingers or toes, so that the paraffin "glove" will keep its shape. The more layers, the more heat will penetrate the deeper layers of skin. Five dips are recommended for a dry-skin treatment. In case the treated area is very hairy, two to three additional layers are recommended.
- When doing a paraffin wax facial, you should, cleanse the client's skin and cover their eyes with cotton pads. Have a pre-cut gauze mask ready and brush a thin layer of paraffin on forehead and neck, then dip the mask into the paraffin bath and place it on the face. Brush on three or four more layers of wax on the gauze already placed on face and leave for fifteen minutes before peeling it from the neck up.
- If you are dealing with an area that cannot be dipped such as the back, use a special heated brush to apply a thin layer of paraffin evenly, then dipping paraffin strips into melted paraffin and placing them on the area to be treated and layering them.
- Some beauticians and therapists choose to cover the treated areas with plastic liners or terry mitts to boost the properties of moist heat.
- Once the paraffin is cool (ten to fifteen minutes), remove the paraffin layers by peeling from an edge of the "glove". Do not reuse or re-melt paraffin. The thicker the paraffin "glove", the easier it will be to peel off.
- If the treatment is for hands/feet, now they are ready for mani/pedi.
- Finish off all paraffin wax treatments with a coat of hydrating cream.
- It is important to note that it is best to treat one body area at a time.
Paraffin Wax ContraindicationsAlthough paraffin wax is safe to use in most cases, there are some people who should avoid having a treatment done or at least consult a physician before attempting to.
Paraffin wax is contraindicated for:
- Inflammatory skin conditions.
- Open wounds, cuts, nicks, and rashes.
- Skin growths.
- Vascular disease (especially peripheral vascular disease since circulation is probably compromised at a general scale).
- Diabetic patients.
- Abnormal sensitivity to heat.
- Severe hypertension.
Caring for Your Paraffin Wax Heater DevicesIf you are an esthetician planning to start providing paraffin wax services, you should know that your paraffin wax heater device needs proper care. Here are some tips you can follow to keep them in great shape for years and years:
- Do not reuse paraffin since used paraffin may contain substances that can form sediments at the bottom of your paraffin device.
- Clean the device after 20-25 services or when you notice that sediment is accumulating at the bottom.
- Keep different devices for hand treatments and feet treatments.
- Keep the cover on the device whenever it's not in use
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