Cynthia Chua, the founder of Strip: Ministry of Waxing (and a long-time beauty entrepreneur and owner of a chain of spas), studied the art of the Brazilian bikini wax in New York and almost single handedly introduced its, uh, pleasures to Asia. Cynthia’s native Singapore was the first eastern spot to embrace the ritual of hot wax on one’s most sensitive regions, and the trend quickly spread. There are now almost 30 Strip locations throughout Asia and London.
Executing a complete 360 degree journey, the student has now become the master. In a (hairless) ballsy move, Strip recently opened an outpost in New York, with eyes on the West Coast soon. It’s challenging the waxing establishment by offering less painful, cleaner, and quicker waxing services.
So how do they compare? I went in to find out.
Having a sense of humor about waxing is an absolute necessity, and Strip handles this well. You’re immediately disarmed by the bright, modern industrial space painted with phrases such as, “Two million bushes pruned and counting!” There’s even a “Virgin Forest Guidebook” for those entering the temple of depilation for the first time. The best name for a service by far (and apparently a great favorite of downtown fellas) is the “BSC,” or “back, sac, and crack.” No explanation necessary.
Unsurprisingly–given its roots in Singapore, where chewing gum was illegal up until a few years ago–the chain prides itself on its hygiene practices. Every client receives his own wax pack so there’s no double dipping and the therapist wears gloves throughout. The treatment rooms were spotless.
All the waxers have to go to Singapore for extensive training, even those who have waxing experience. The manager told me, “We’re like the Starbucks of waxing.” There’s a uniform level of service in all their branches and you always know what to expect.
They also add little touches. You’re offered a squeezy toy if you’re feeling particularly anxious, which I declined. You’re also offered a shot of Bach flower essence. This is a folksy remedy made of flowers, water, and sometimes brandy. It’s supposed to decrease anxiety. (A quick review revealed that its effects are mostly placebo but hey, if you think it’s working then it actually is working.) I declined this, too. I wanted the full-on experience.
I’ll spare you the gory details and before and after pics, but I went for the modified Brazilian and learned a few things along the way. Hard wax is the only type that should be used for the bikini area, not soft wax and linen strips. This was a revelation to me. My last wax, at a higher-end beauty emporium that offers spa services and shall remain unnamed, was with soft wax and it hurt like a mother. But this one was over pretty quickly and the results were fantastic.
To finish the whole thing off, there are a range of in-house products offered. The Ice Cream is applied post-procedure to soothe and moisturize. I was sent home with a tiny tub of X’ed Out, which was to be used to decrease inflammation and prevent ingrown hairs. I don’t know if it was the gentleness of the wax or the cream, but things were pretty normal by the second day.
Strip also offers Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy, and I got to try that, too. They zap a light source on the area for a few minutes and that’s it. The light is delivered to the hair follicle directly without causing skin damage. In six sessions, you will have semi-permanent hair removal. It didn’t hurt at all, and after one session, I’m pretty hairless right now in the underarm area. I mean, I wasn’t a gorilla or anything, but it’s noticeably lighter.
Prices skew high, but the service level is worth it. A Brazilian wax is $55. To compare, Bliss charges $70 and J.Sisters $75, so they’re definitely competitive.
If someone goes for the BSC, kindly report back here.