Kristie Hoffman remembers the first time she went in for a Brazilian wax. She was living in Muncie, Indiana, at the time and only one salon in the entire tiny college-town provided the service. It took place in an unwelcoming closet-sized room in the back of an all-purpose salon. It was painful, and it was expensive. Not surprisingly, she did not become a repeat customer.
â€œSo many women are afraid of waxing,â€ says Hoffman, recalling her own awkward introduction to the beauty treatment. â€œTheyâ€™ve had a harrowing experience with it themselves, or in their mind they are picturing a scene from a movie like â€œThe 40-Year-Old Virginâ€ where itâ€™s painful and done in a comical way.â€
When done right, however, waxing isnâ€™t painful. The beauty treatment isnâ€™t supposed to leave you howling like Steve Carell did on the big screen. Hoffman knows that better than anybody now. Sheâ€™s the designated manager at European Wax Center on Rudy Lane in Middletown.
â€œWaxing is all we do,â€ she explains.
Thatâ€™s a big deal. While any licensed cosmetologist has learned and been tested in waxing facial hair, many havenâ€™t received extensive training in other parts of the body. The staff at European Wax Center does. Before any of them are allowed to work with customers, they receive weeks of full-time training and conduct practice runs on fellow staff and volunteers until they are 100 percent comfortable with the science behind waxing and the specialized method the center uses.
European Wax Center uses a four-step process. It begins with a pre-wax cleanse that removes makeup, oil or lotion from the skin and continues with a pre-wax oil that ensures the wax adheres only to the hair and not the skin. Only then does the actual hair-removal happen using a hard, strip-less wax called Comfort Wax, which is trademarked and exclusive to European Wax Centers. Afterward, the skin is pampered with an ingrown hair serum or calming cream.
â€œI wonâ€™t lie to anybody and say it feels like nothing. There is a little bit of discomfort, but itâ€™s virtually painless,â€ says Hoffman, who was a customer of a different European Wax Center franchisee here in Louisville before becoming the manager at the Rudy Lane location. â€œThe products we use make a big difference.â€
People are catching on, too. Word-of-mouth has been a huge boon to the new business, which opened in August. Hoffman continues, â€œWe are getting a lot of people in who say, â€˜Oh, my friend told me I have to give waxing another shot. They said itâ€™s not really that bad.â€™â€
To further entice the hesitant, European Wax Center offers a complimentary wax to every new customer. Itâ€™s a promotion that goes back to the company founders, siblings David Coba, Joshua Coba and Jessica Coba, who opened their first salon a decade ago in southern Florida. The Cobas stressed offering a pain-free and stress-free experience.
â€œWe want to give our customers a posh, beautiful, spa-like experience,â€ says Hoffman.
From the lobby to the seven private waxing rooms, much attention has been put into putting together a relaxing atmosphere for clients. The dÃ©cor is stylish and minimal, keeping the spaces feeling sterile and safe, but also airy and welcoming. All the while, soothing music filters through the in-ceiling speakers.
According to Hoffman, the most popular treatments conducted at the center are for eyebrows and Brazilians, though the center will wax any and all body parts on womenâ€”underarms, back, lips, stomach, etc. When it comes to male clients, the salon does not offer the so-called â€œbro-zilianâ€â€”the male version of the popular Brazilian wax embraced by many womenâ€”but it will wax any other part of the body, including toes, nose, back or chest. Not surprisingly, women make up the vast majority of business.
Repeat customers can take advantage of one of the many bundled wax packages offered at the salon. Buying in bulk can save hundreds of dollars a year for regular waxers, and they can visit any European Wax Center location in the country for services. Hoffman says that becomes a big draw for customers who travel extensively or spend long stretches of time at a second home or on vacation. The packages do not include an expiration date either, which means if somebody falls off the waxing wagon they can jump back on whenever they like without having wasted money.
â€œWe want to make things as convenient as possible,â€ Hoffman added.