Are There Any Risks To A Paraffin Wax Bath At The Nail Salon?

If you're a nail or salon spa regular, you're probably no stranger to paraffin wax baths. Generally speaking, a paraffin wax bath is a manicure that includes paraffin wax, a colorless, odorless wax obtained from petroleum. The wax is frequently combined with essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, and aloe vera to increase the benefits and give it a calming aroma. The nail technician covers your hands or feet with heated wax during the treatment, and they are then encased in a plastic glove and wrapped in a heated towel. Once the wax cools and solidifies, the technician peels the wax away and proceeds to clean, shape, buff, and apply the nail polish as usual. Paraffin wax therapy sessions typically run for approximately 30 minutes and cost $15 or higher.

A natural emollient, paraffin wax is often used before a standard manicure to soften the skin and eliminate dead skin cells. Paraffin wax baths are also recommended for people with arthritis to help reduce swelling and improve blood circulation. Although paraffin wax baths are an excellent technique to increase skin moisture levels and decrease joint stiffness, they are not without drawbacks and are not suitable for everyone. Here are some possible side effects of a paraffin wax bath that you should be aware of.

Side effects of paraffin wax

If you have sensitive skin, a paraffin wax might cause your skin to develop itchy red bumps. In some cases, you might experience poor blood circulation, numb hands or feet due to diabetic neuropathy, or open sores on your skin. When exposed to melting paraffin, people with chemical sensitivity might also display symptoms like sweating or dizzy spells. 

Paraffin wax is mostly non-toxic, although some additives, synthetic chemicals, and colors in its products can be hazardous. Additionally, the substance may have negative side effects if it interacts with other prescription or over-the-counter drugs in the body. Therefore, if you have a chronic skin condition and are on medication, consult your physician before trying out a paraffin wax bath at a nail salon or at home. 

Also, keep in mind that paraffin wax is highly combustible and can cause severe irritation when inhaled. When you do a paraffin wax treatment at home, avoid heating wax over an open flame to minimize fire risks and the release of poisonous gas. Instead, put the wax in a basin over a saucepan of boiling water to slowly melt it. Paraffin can catch fire if it's overheated, so follow the instructions on the label to a tee when melting it. The wax shouldn't be hotter than 125 degrees Fahrenheit when you start putting your hands and feet into it.

How to have a paraffin wax at home

To give yourself a paraffin wax bath at home, you'll need a bath equipped with a thermostat, a pair of mittens, and about 2lb of paraffin wax. While waiting for the wax to cool down slightly, wash your hands or feet thoroughly and pat them dry. Before fully immersing your hands or feet, test a small area on the inside of your wrist with the wax to see how your skin reacts to it. 

Then, submerge your hands or feet into the wax for a few seconds, allowing the wax to come to just above the wrist or ankle and form a film on your skin. After removing them, allow the wax to solidify before putting them back in the waxy bath. Repeat this process 10 to 12 times to build layers, and for each dip, stop below the latest line to avoid heated wax from seeping under the layers you have already applied to your skin. 

Then, wrap your hand or foot in plastic wrap or mittens, followed by another wrap in a towel. After leaving the wax on for 20 minutes, peel it off and apply moisturizer over the treated hand or foot. When you've finished your treatment, cover the paraffin and store it in a cool and dry place for future use.