While it is legal for California salons and spas to use paraffin machines, there has been controversy over whether the melted wax in the units becomes contaminated after dipping the first pair of hands or feet. “Bacteria exists on every person’s hands,” says Susan Harrigan, assistant program administrator of the Barbering and Cosmetology Program within California’s Dept. of Consumer Affairs. “California law states that anything that can’t be sanitized must be disposed of in between clients.”

“I question which California regulation covers this,” says Sunny Stinch-combe, VP of sales & marketing for Gena Laboratories. “I have looked through the rule book and nothing specifically mentions paraffin.” Gena has challenged the idea that hands or feet can’t be redipped and has submitted its own in-house tests for the Barbering and Cosmetology Program’s consideration. The company has also tried to alert the legislators about instances of “double dipping” going on in California doctors’ offices that use paraffin for therapeutic purposes.

The Barbering and Cosmetology Program has consulted a third party. “We have sought a medical opinion to evaluate whether the bacteria actually contaminates the wax and are now awaiting the outcome,” says Harrigan.

For now, salons and spas in the Golden State must continue melting fresh wax for each client. Stinchcombe offers paraffin users this pointer: “My recommendation would be to dip gauze strips into the wax and then wrap the hand, foot, or other body part. To reheat new wax each time is a huge expense. This technique would allow the technician to keep her paraffin unit on at all times and would prevent cross contamination.”

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