The UK’s largest online marketplace for booking hair and beauty treatments, Treatwell, has launched ‘Life Saving Wax’ in partnership with Public Health England’s (PHE) ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ campaign.
Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year and around 690 women die from the disease.[i] It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.[ii] However, attendance at screening is declining year on year; currently one in four (28.6%) women aren’t attending when invited.[iii] This is even higher in the 25 – 34 age group despite them having more abnormalities detected compared to others (38.9% for women aged 25 – 29 and 31.2% for women aged 30 – 34).[iv]
Research amongst younger women indicates there are a number of barriers to attending, including lack of knowledge about the purpose of the test, fear that it might be painful, feeling embarrassed and not being able to find the time.
While the number of women attending the potentially life-saving test year-on-year is decreasing, the number of women engaging in intimate waxing treatments is going up. New research released today from Treatwell has found that nine in 10 (90%)[v] women aged 25 – 34 maintain their pubic hair in some way and approximately 1.2 million women in this age group are heading to beauty salons to do so.
When looking at the relationship between women and beauty therapists, almost half (47%) of those surveyed said they would be comfortable talking about personal topics with them and six in 10 (59%) see beauty therapists as a trusted person to talk to. In addition, three quarters said that they listen to the advice given by beauty therapists (74%) and find they’re sensitive and understanding of their needs (75%).5
‘Life Saving Wax’ aims to leverage the unique dynamic between a beauty therapist and customers visiting salons for intimate waxing treatments by enabling beauty therapists to open up the conversations on the importance of cervical screening. By encouraging women to talk openly about cervical screening, it is hoped that women will feel confident to choose whether to accept their invitation to be screened when invited or, if they’ve missed previous invites, to book an appointment at their GP practice.
A number of Treatwell partner salons in the West Midlands are getting involved in the initiative, placing information throughout their salons and having conversations with their customers to highlight that cervical screening can stop cancer before it starts. Salons will be directing women to where they can find further information, support, tips and advice on how to make screening more comfortable as well as offering information to take away and share with friends and family.
Liz Hambleton, Beauty Director at Treatwell, commented: “We see thousands of women booking intimate waxes everyday through Treatwell, so when we heard that women aren’t attending a potentially life-saving test due to embarrassment, we wanted to see how we could change this. Just by talking about cervical screening with one person, it’s amazing the knock-on effect it can have. It can really change attitudes and behaviours. Our beauticians are not health experts, but they are human, and they speak to women all day everyday about many personal topics. Using this position of trust, they are uniquely placed to be able to empower women on the subject of cervical screening and provide them with the information needed to make an informed choice, in an environment where they are more likely to be engaged. Just one conversation is all it could take to remind or encourage someone to go for their screening when invited. That one conversation could help stop cancer before it starts – it could save a life.”
TV Doctor, Dr Zoe Williams is supporting the campaign and comments: “We know some women feel embarrassed or worried about their cervical screening, and that’s perfectly normal. However please remember, doctors and nurses are trained to be able to make the process as comfortable as it can be. Cervical screening only takes a few minutes, and provided your results are clear you will only have to go once every 3 or 5 years depending on your age. It’s a few minutes that could save your life. We need to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening, so women feel empowered to attend when invited.”
Life Saving Wax is part of Public Health England’s Cervical Screening Saves Lives Campaign which is supported by charities including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and The Eve Appeal.