Pretty in the City - Waxing and Weeping

“Oh, I stopped going there a while ago. I wasn’t impressed with the results,” said my college friend. “I just don’t like their method,” said my co-worker, wrinkling her nose in disdain. “I went once and never went back.” They were both warning me about their experiences at popular local chain Uni K. Wax, which has a branch in seemingly every corner of the city. The ubiquitous emporium is quickly becoming like the Starbucks of hair removal. As the self-appointed beauty blogger/guinea pig around these parts, I felt compelled to give Uni K. a shot, despite the dire statements of two ladies whose opinion I held in high esteem. Besides, I was right down the street from the South Miami branch, I really needed an appointment, and it was a Sunday afternoon – very few other salons are open at that time. I called up my nearest branch and booked myself in.

The lobby was quite nice – clean, spare, bedecked in the bright green and soft brown shades that are Uni K’s trademark. Late Sunday afternoon was quiet around those parts, nobody else seemed to be waiting, or even being treated in the labyrinthine maze back behind the main door. After filling out the prerequisite forms, I was let to a standard back room, comfortably outfitted with a spa bed covered in clean white paper. I was nervous, and I will gladly admit, I was be a total wuss when it comes to waxing. I tried to make conversation with my attending waxer, but she demurred. “No English,” she explained apologetically. “Cuanto… anos…,” I tried to ask her in my bad, broken high school Spanish while pantomiming waxing. “One year,” she responded, holding up a solitary finger. So she’d be only working there for a year? Or waxing customers for a year? The attempt at conversation left me feeling rattled and regretting my lack of foreign language skills. “Relax,” she said. I tried my best.

I don’t want to get into graphic details, so I’ll be mercifully brief. My experience was not a good one. Uni K. relies on that thick, green European-style wax, with baby powder applied afterwards to soothe the painful parts. Let’s just say that even the biggest clouds of baby powder couldn’t cease my hurting. I have a tendency to silently cry during waxing – it’s completely involuntary and comes mainly from the shock of having hair yanked out by the root. Nothing personal to the waxer. This time, I just really cried. Not silently, but sometimes out loud, in little sobbing gasps of pain. “Relax, relax,” she kept insisting. But I knew that this wasn’t going right, so I couldn’t. I couldn’t even tell her whoa, can you be more careful there? I felt trapped. The application of the wax felt dangerous and sloppy, in wide swathes that didn’t take into account my most delicate parts. The removal was too tentative, which I think she did because she didn’t want to make me cry more… but the tentative ripping made the process more, not less painful. When she finally said she was finished, I knew that the job wasn’t technically complete, but I was too traumatized to argue. And my lower half was a mess, streaks of leftover wax and baby powder. I didn’t care. I got dressed (carefully), paid my $22 and got the hell outta there. Later on, I realized that the job was about only 80% done. Great.

I realize Uni K. Wax is a rapidly growing chain, and they’re growing for a reason. I also know that they inspire intense loyalty -- reviews reveal a legion of women who love going there, who have a favorite lady they return to time and time again. Myself, I felt like a tortured guinea pig, and the experience didn’t inspire me to return. The process itself is so intimate. It’s scary to make yourself that vulnerable to a complete stranger armed with a pot of bubbling wax. Maybe waxing is the kind of thing where you find someone good and stick with them. I’m still looking for the best wax experience in Miami. If any of you have a particular recommendation, please let me know.

-- Patrice Yursik

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