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“While You’re Down There”: The Unexplored Role of Estheticians in the Health of Their Clients

21 December 2020

Publication Date
21 November 2020

Original Abstract

Young women (18–25 years) are more likely to engage in pubic hair removal and experience higher rates of negative sexual health outcomes (e.g., sexually transmitted infections [STIs]). Hair removal salons may serve as novel environments for health interventions. The Sexual Health and Esthetician (SHE) Study aimed to better understand the pubic hair removal profession, explore the esthetician–client relationship, and assess potential for esthetician offices/salons serving as health promotion/sexual health promotion intervention settings. Using an exploratory qualitative design, in-depth interviews (N = 28) were conducted with licensed estheticians who provided pubic waxing services. In a large urban area in Southern California, the catchment area of salons included five unique neighborhoods, each with high reported STI rates. Data were analyzed using a social constructivist perspective and emergent themes from interviews. Synthesis of data showed estheticians provide a variety of waxing services for young women; during appointments, sex-related discussions occur, creating “sexy spaces” where otherwise taboo conversations happen with ease; they notice clients’ possible health concerns, including STIs, but have no protocols/procedures for handling these occurrences; and interactions with clients often result in the development of an intimate bond. Results indicate estheticians may be effective conveyors of sexual health promotion and risk reduction interventions.

Greenstadt, E., Walsh-Buhi, M. L., Robertson, M., Dao, B. & Walsh-Buhi, E. R. (2020). “While You’re Down There”: The Unexplored Role of Estheticians in the Health of Their Clients. The Journal of Sex Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2020.1840498

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sexually transmitted infections, esthetician, sexual health, pubic hair removal, qualitative study


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