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Thursday, May 19, 2011
Manicure 101 Extra Credit: At Home Paraffin Wax Treatments
I received my paraffin waxer as a holiday present about 9 or 10 years ago from my medical school roommate. It wasn't something I would have bought for myself at the time, but wow! I was in love with it from the first use. The waxer has moved across the country with me twice and been used a huge number of times, but it's still going strong. (Obviously they no longer sell my model, but I think it might be the great-great-great-great-great grandparent of this paraffin hand bath from Homedics.)
I don't break out the paraffin spa very often, but when I do it is definitely worth it! The wax is warm and soothing, and I swear it does amazing things to hands that are dried out. My favorite wax is Gena's Peach Paraffin wax, which contains Peach Oil and smells super yummy.
The wax is very easy to use. Simply turn on the machine to the "melt" temperature and wait until the wax is a liquid (this takes about 4 hours), and then you'll want to turn down the temp a little so it isn't super hot when you dip in your hands. When you're happy with the temperature you're ready to dip!
I like to apply either cuticle oil (like Solar Oil) or a hand lotion first to dry areas. Then dip your hands into the wax for a few seconds and lift out, allowing the wax to harden slightly. I usually do a few layers of wax. I wait about 4 or 5 minutes until the wax has cooled and then I can easily peel it off of my hands. To lengthen the time before the wax cools you can put a plastic treatment bag over your hands and then an insulating mitt. I find this difficult to do on my own so I skip this step.
Once the wax is removed your hands will feel oily, so a quick hand wash is necessary. This is why I typically do my wax treatments in the bathroom so clean up is easy. I follow it up with an application of a very occlusive cream to seal everything in, my favorite is Orly's cuticle cream.
If you want to go ahead with a manicure after the paraffin treatment, you'll need to clean the oils off of your nail before nail polish application, or everything will slide right off. Using a little rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover do the trick.
Make sure you throw away the wax you just took off! It is incredibly tempting to just throw the wax back into the machine, but you shouldn't do this. I fully admit I used to do this back in my cheap/broke student days. It's fine if you're the only one using the wax, but I warn you that little bits of dead skin will be floating in the wax. This is definitely not a pretty sight.
I typically use my paraffin wax when my hands are undergoing quite a bit of abuse. So, a lot of severe hospital soap hand washings at work... winter cold and arid conditions... You get the idea. A paraffin wax treatment can take my hands from dry, aching and looking 20 years older than I really am to hydrated and happy.