TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey is smoothing out differences over a plan to ban bare-it-all bikini waxing.
The state on Friday decided to reverse course on the proposal after angry salon owners complained about losing business ahead of swimsuit season.
"It was an unnecessary issue," said spa owner Linda Orsuto. "In New Jersey especially, where the government has been picking our pockets for so long, it was like, 'Just stay out of our pants, will you?"'
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The state Cosmetology and Hairstyling Board proposed banning so-called "Brazilian" bikini waxing after two women were hospitalized for infections following the procedure.
On Friday, Consumer Affairs Director David Szuchman effectively killed the plan. In a letter to the board, Szuchman says he won't support the ban, and since his office oversees the board, the ban would never be approved.
"Many commenters have noted that the procedure can be safely performed. I, therefore, believe that there are alternate means to address any public health issues identified by the board," Szuchman wrote the board. He encouraged the board to "to begin an immediate review of the training necessary to safely provide this service, and to establish appropriate protocols and safeguards."
The ban was considered after the women complained to the board about their injuries; one woman filed a lawsuit.
Technically, genital waxing has never been allowed in New Jersey — only the face, neck, abdomen, legs and arms are permitted. But because bare-it-all "Brazilians" weren't specifically banned, state regulators didn't enforce the law.
No other state is known to explicitly ban the procedure, according to cosmetology experts.
Genital waxing can be dangerous because the hot wax can irritate or tear delicate skin in the bikini area, resulting in infections, ingrown hairs and rashes, according to skin care experts.
Despite such risks, millions of American women — and some men — choose to have the hair down there ripped away, and a majority of salons in New Jersey offer the procedure for $50 to $60.
Salon owners worried that customers would travel across state lines to get the popular — and painful — procedure, or try to wax themselves.
Orsuto, who owns 800 West Salon & Spa in Cherry Hill, a Philadelphia suburb, said was relieved.
Orsuto estimated that bikini waxing brought in about $90,000 last year. That's a substantial amount of business for her salon, which performed about 1,800 treatments — most of which were Brazilian-style.
"We were panicking," she said.