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  • Updated:2 May 2007

07.Safety and ethics

Case study: Flammable wax

In December 2004, Jacqueline from Sydney was heating some wax in a saucepan when she received a phone call from her boss. She momentarily left the wax to heat up. “When I came back into the kitchen I found the wax had caught fire”, she says.

She tried to get the hot saucepan outside, but in doing so, the boiling hot wax splashed onto her hand. She immediately rushed to hospital. “I had pretty bad burns to my right hand and was in bandages for about a month,” she says.

While many people would heat up the wax in a microwave, there are still real risks associated with using hot wax, particularly if you don’t read the safety precautions on the instruction leaflet. The NSW Severe Burn Injury Service told CHOICE that in 2006, 24 people were treated for burns caused by hot wax in three major NSW hospitals. Three of these patients needed skin grafts. These burns most commonly occurred when removing a scalding-hot tub from the microwave.

The service’s Burn Injury Prevention and First Aid brochure advises you to read the instructions carefully before use, heat the wax for short periods to avoid overheating and leave it to stand for three to five minutes before removing it from the microwave. If burning occurs, apply cold running water for at least 20 minutes, and seek medical attention if the burn is bigger than a 20 cent piece, if it blisters, or if you have any concerns.

Animal testing

If you’d prefer that no animals were harmed in order to bring you hair-free legs, it gets a little complicated. On inspecting the products’ packaging, we found three made the ‘Not tested on animals’ claim: Sally Hansen, Julienne and Hot Legs.

However, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) lists Sally Hansen as a company that does test on animals. We contacted Sally Hansen which told us that despite PETA's claims, they do not test any cosmetics on animals, but in vitro laboratories or testing on humans.

Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) told us labelling on product packaging can’t always be trusted. Even though the finished product may not be tested on animals, some ingredients may have been. CCF offers accreditation to companies to join its Preferred Product List. To become accredited, companies must fill in a legally binding questionnaire assuring that no animal testing has been conducted during the formulation, manufacture or packaging of its products or product ingredients. This questionnaire must be signed by the company director.

Only two hair removal brands are listed on the CCF Preferred Product List. These are the professional hair removal and beauty brand Caron Laboratories (www.caronlab.com.au) and Waxaway (www.waxaway.com.au), which is manufactured by the same company. Neither brand was included in our user trial.

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