Journey to Waxing – Katelyn Herenda

Let me address the white elephant in the room. Becoming a professional Hard Wax Specialist was not the plan. I did not wake up one day as a kid and say, “When I grow up, I want to wax vaginas for a living.” I did not choose the wax life; the wax life chose me!

I went to Beauty School in 2010 for Skincare Esthetics in hopes of beginning a career as a Professional Makeup Artist.

What I didn’t know when I enrolled in Beauty School was that waxing was a requirement. Whether you’re studying Cosmetology or Skincare, everyone must learn the basics of waxing and sanitation. You must complete a designated number of hours to graduate and demonstrate proper techniques at the State Board Exam in order to receive your license.

So, I signed the dotted line and decided to roll with the punches!

We learned the fundamentals of waxing including the different techniques and treatments available. I specifically remember the day my instructor did a quick 10-minute demonstration of hard wax application on her arm. I was completely amazed that that type of wax even existed! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try it on ourselves that day, so my curiosity was left hanging.

When it came time for the class to practice on each other, we used soft wax; the cheap, conventional, sticky kind that require paper strips. Soft wax is cheap, and when you have a classroom of students learning how to wax, there’s a ton of waste involved.

I hated getting waxed by my classmates. The wax was sticky, hot and uncomfortable on my skin. It would leave my skin red and irritated for days, and to top it all off, hair would always be left behind. The whole class had scabby upper lips, uneven eyebrows, and hairy patches left behind everywhere which drove me insane. Being a perfectionist, even while learning, I wanted to make sure everything I did was flawless. As you immerse yourself in the industry, you will learn that you must be a perfectionist and give exceptional attention to detail to please your clients.

To avoid being the test dummy, I took it upon myself to volunteer to be the waxer every single time. The calculated move to dodge getting my skin completely ripped apart for the sake of my classmate’s education became a blessing in disguise. I discovered that I was pretty good at waxing. It came to me naturally. I developed a rhythm, and with practice became pretty amazing for a rookie student, eventually the best in my class. When it came time to wax each other, everyone wanted to be my partner because I was the only one who was getting the hair and not beating people up with in the process.

Before I knew it, I was completely hooked. After graduation, I landed a job as a Wax Specialist with a well-known com

pany in the industry, and received extensive formal training and alas, the birth of a Hard Wax Specialist.

I quickly learned that the hard wax technique takes a considerable amount of practice. There is way more to it than just slapping the wax on and yanking it off while hoping you get all the hairs off in one go. It really challenged me in the best ways possible. It was new and fun for me, and I wanted to become great. To become the best, I was going to need a lot of patience, tons of practice and plenty of clients.

I was extremely nervous about waxing a bikini for the first time. It was the fear of hurting my client more than I already knew I was going to that had me all anxious. Anyone that tells you that getting a bikini wax done is pain free is lying. I knew that if I wanted to become a successful waxer, I would have to get over my fears since bikini waxing is one of the most popular services sought out by clients and I didn’t want to sell myself short. I soon realized that it really wasn’t that bad. Obviously, it’s not the most glamorous part of my career, but it’s just a vagina. I have one too. That mindset and attitude towards the whole “awkward” situation has taken me very far in my career.

Of course, being a Professional Waxer is not for everyone! If you’re uncomfortable performing the service, you have zero business being there. Think about it for a second, if the professional feels uncomfortable and uneasy, imagine how much worse the client must feel?

As I gained experience, clients felt comfortable having me as their waxer and I grew a clientele. I figured out a way to read my clients and tailor each service to their individual needs in order to make the experience more enjoyable. Even as I’m ripping strips off their bikini, they would say, “that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be”, when I thought they were about to tap out. I’d also received a lot of, “thank you so much for making this a better experience than I imagined”, when I thought they hated me for inflicting pain on them. It really boosted my confidence and I wanted to become even better. The most rewarding part was teaching my clients how to properly care for their skin. There’s nothing better than watching the lightbulb go off during that “ah-ha” moment when they realize how good your pro-tip was or when the client tells you that they loved the product you recommended. It is such an unexplainable experience being able to educate and guide another person in the direction of better health and self-love.

In case you are curious, I didn’t quite give up on my dream of becoming a Makeup Artist. In fact, I did some pretty cool things with it. I juggled being a full-time Waxer as well as a part-time Makeup Artist. I worked for two prestigious makeup companies, Benefit Cosmetics Brow Bar and the mecca for all aspiring Makeup Artists, MAC Cosmetics. I had the opportunity to create zombies for The Walking Dead at a Comic-Con event and also worked on movie sets, music videos and television show pilots. Everything was such a surreal experience, and I found myself very grateful and appreciative of all the opportunities that I was given.

However, something was missing. I was getting every opportunity to begin living my dream as a successful Makeup Artist, but it always felt like it came second in my line of work. To put it simply, I just wasn’t feeling it. Of course, I loved wearing makeup, the art of the craft and respected the profession but what was missing was that spark. I just wasn’t connecting to it like I was connected to skincare and waxing. I found myself talking more about skincare and advising a healthy lifestyle regimen to my clients rather than about makeup application tricks and recommended cosmetic brands.

The part I truly enjoyed the most about being a Makeup Artist, was grooming the brows. Brushing through a gorgeous set of full brows, delicately trimming them into shape, tweezing all the little baby hairs to get the brow perfectly in place gives me satisfaction unlike anything in this world. My admiration and obsession for Brow Artistry and what it can do, not just to a person’s face, but to a person’s confidence, fills my soul with purpose. Basically, if a love for hair removal and a love for face framing had a baby, it would be me.

When some professionals would be understandably intimidated, I dove right in. I wanted every eyebrow that walked through the door, each of them unique in their own way.  I would get amazing feedback about how delicate my hand was. I had a very gentle touch, and clients appreciated me being so thorough, taking my time to make sure everything was perfect. I became obsessed with seeing the reactions my clients would give when they would see themselves in the mirror. I did all my coworkers’ brows, they referred their Brazilian clients to me, then they referred their friends and family and so the referral chain went on. Before I knew it, I became everyone’s brow lady. A brow queen was born.

Today, I’m nine years into my career and just celebrated my one-year anniversary of owning my own salon in Fullerton, CA. I have created an amazing menu of services for my client including Hydro Jelly Facials, and my signature Brow WOW! The industry has taught me a lot about being a business owner, and myself as an esthetician. It takes plenty of discipline, hard work, responsibility, and sleepless nights. I’ve poured my heart and soul into my “baby” and it’s been worth all the blood, tears and sweat. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The connection I have with my clients, the comfort and trust they have in me are all very important because its more than just getting a facial or a brow wax, it’s an experience.

3 thoughts on “Journey to Waxing – Katelyn Herenda

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