Wax at the Alycer Waxing on February 8, 2022. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
Ajar of honey-like wax. A bed. Two-crisp white chairs by a wall painted in pastel colours. A hint of lemon scent in the air. Two pinkish bowls and an esthetician.
At this cozy room in Nairobi’s Kilimani, the minimalist items tell little of what goes on here. I am at Alycer Waxing, a saloon that focuses exclusively on the beauty of private parts.
Their business is not only the removal of body hair, a grooming practice that has become a common practice among Kenyan men and women, but they also do facials on the private parts.
This is a beauty skin treatment where a therapist cleanses a client’s nether region, using special herbs and ointments that moisturise the area, leaving it smoother, they say, and less itchy.
Alice Ngugi is the founder of Alycer Waxing. She started the business by doing house calls, then as demand grew, she opened two saloons.
Her experiments with different techniques of body hair removal which go back to when she was a teenager, she says, is what drove her into the business. At 18, she had started paying attention to her hair, that she was comfortable enough to wax herself.
“Women have been very self-conscious about the way they look. That’s how I thought of helping them feel happier. I have a Bachelor’s degree in banking and finance but I quit formal employment. Waxing is my job now,” she says.
Her passion has turned into a source of income and over the years she has expanded to doing waxing after-care, body scrubs, non-surgical procedures marketed to remove fat deposits making a person look trimmer, and yoni steaming.
In yoni steaming, a client pays about Sh3,000 to Sh4,000, to squat over steaming water containing a mixture of herbs such as mugwort, rosemary, wormwood, and basil.
The goal?
“The steaming helps to relieve stress, encourage lubrication, help with hormonal imbalance, reduce cramping, and many other benefits. People were initially sceptical about it,” she says.
“Now Kenyans have started to embrace it. For the longest time, women have been hiding their irritated, weird-looking skin caused by shaving, with no solution. Because even gynaecologists don’t know what to do because beauty isn’t their job,” Alice adds.
Amaryllis Muthoni is another beauty-preneur who has found success in women seeking a youthful look.
“I always wanted to be a nurse, but I never got the chance. In 2017, when the vajafacial {a spa treatment performed on private parts} culture started picking up, a business opportunity presented itself,” she says.
Previously, the only time a woman’s reproductive organ was under treatment was when one had urine leakage caused by childbirth or had a malformation or injury, Amaryllis says.
The two entrepreneurs credit social media for their success, as they mainly market their services on Instagram and Facebook. Referrals have also grown their clientele base, with 99 percent being women and the rest, men.
Has the investment paid off?
“I started with few clients, one shop, and a few workers. Then the number of customers grew that I opened another shop, hired more people to work in the two shops. When I started in CBD {Central Business District} I put in about Sh400,000 but for Kilimani I had to invest more because the saloon is bigger and the rent is higher,” Alice says.
“When you wax, it’s really hard to go back to shaving because waxing is like an addiction, and vajafacials is the new thing,” she adds.
Amaryllis says, in a day, she gets about four customers paying about Sh10,000. But on some weekends she makes about Sh20,000 because there are more bookings.
Valentine’s period has given the industry a boost, the beauty-preneurs say.
However, the business is not void of challenges. There are tens of saloons in the city that offer the same services, some at a cheaper rate, some run by quacks.
Getting the best products too is challenging. Alice ships her products from the US whereas Amaryllis gets from South Africa.
“It’s taxing, but dealing with people’s sensitive parts requires one to use quality products. I have never had a client come back claiming to have gotten an infection,” Amaryllis says of her yoni treatments.
Doctors have warned that yoni steaming, which acts to “detox” of the private parts is dangerous and has no proven medical evidence for the health claims that beauticians make.
As the practise picked up in the West, doctors said that the heating of the organs above natural temperature really quick helps bacteria like candida to thrive.
As the culture of grooming the intimate parts grows, estheticians are looking to woo newbies.
“For first-timers, we advise them to do normal Brazilian waxing and a mini vajafacial to prevent skin irritation. When you yank the hair from the root, you are slowly killing the follicle, so the hair grows back slowly. Some people come here after two months. The hair is less course unlike when one shaves and after a few days the hairs start to poke,” Alice says.
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