NJ considers ban on Brazilian wax

March 20, 2009 1:53:13 PM PDT
New Jersey is drawing the line when it comes to bikini waxing. The state Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling is moving toward a ban on genital waxing altogether after two women reported being injured in their quest for a smooth bikini line. Both women were hospitalized for infections following so-called "Brazilian" bikini waxes; one of the women has filed a lawsuit, according to Jeff Lamm, a spokesman for New Jersey's Division of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the cosmetology board.

Technically, genital waxing has never been allowed - only the face, neck, abdomen, legs and arms are permitted - but because bare-it-all "Brazilians" weren't specifically banned, state regulators haven't enforced the law.

"The genital area is not part of the abdomen or legs as some might assume," Lamm said.

Officials with the National Cosmetology Association and National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology said they were unaware of another state that has banned genital waxing. Regular bikini waxes would still be allowed.

Genital waxing can be dangerous in that the hot wax can irritate or tear delicate skin in the bikini area, resulting in infections, ingrown hairs and rashes, according to skin care experts.

Despite such risks, millions of American women - and some men - choose to have the hair down there ripped away, and a majority of salons in New Jersey offer the procedure for between $50 to $60.

The state Board of Cosmetology meets next on April 14 and will decide whether to move forward with banning the procedure, made popular in Brazil to accommodate skimpy thong bikinis.

The earliest the ban could take effect would be sometime in May, Lamm said, and salons that continue to perform it could be fined.

For salon owners, discontinuing the popular service could mean a substantial drop in business, especially as summer swimsuit season nears.

Spa owner Linda Orsuto, who owns 800 West Salon & Spa in Cherry Hill, estimates that most of 1,800 bikini waxes performed at her business last year were Brazilian-style.

"It's huge," she said, adding that her customers don't think their bikini lines are anyone's business but their own. "It's just not right."

She said many customers would likely travel across state lines to get it and some might even try to wax themselves.

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UPDATE:

New Jersey is smoothing out differences over a plan to ban bare-it-all bikini waxing.

The state on Friday decided to reverse course on the proposal after angry salon owners complained about losing business ahead of swimsuit season.

The state Cosmetology and Hairstyling Board proposed banning so-called "Brazilian" bikini waxing after two women were hospitalized for infections following the procedure.

On Friday, Consumer Affairs Director David Szuchman effectively killed the plan. In a letter to the board, Szuchman says he won't support the ban, and since his office oversees the board, the ban would never be approved.


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