The Best Hair Removal Method: Sugar Wax Recipe Tips and Tricks
Shaving sucks. Yes, I said it. It really does. Having to take extra time in the shower to shave your legs, risk cutting your knees and ankles, and then have to do it all over again the next day sucks. In a previous Openletr post, we have discussed multiple ways to extend the time between shaving. That is all fine and well, but nothing will give you more than an extra day or two of smoothness. And that is not even the worst part. Razors are unbelievably expensive, and with the pink tax, women tend to have to pay even more. With that being said, not everyone chooses to remove their body hair. If that is you, I applaud you. I just cannot deal with the prickly feeling. It drives me bonkers.
So, if you are in the #Ihateshaving club, stick with me. Due to this daily chore, I have researched numerous alternatives for hair removal such as hair inhibitors. Of course, waxing is an option, but another expensive one. I have tried wax strips at home, but they just do not pull out my deep-rooted dark hair. And going to a salon once a month seems like another big expense, not to mention the painful horror stories I’ve heard.
So after entertaining a handful of failed hair removal methods like epilating (which was a nightmare) I came across sugaring. This is a method of hair removal that has been used for centuries, yet it does not get all that much attention from what I have seen. I came across it years ago and thought it seemed like too much of a process, as you have to mix ingredients, use the stove, and let things cool. Due to my lazy nature, I passed on sugaring.
But as my frustration with shaving resurfaced this summer, I decided to give it a go. I watched more than 10 videos on YouTube for more background information. I also read probably 20+ blog posts with tips and tricks to make the whole process less painful and daunting. And all that led me here, guiding you through your first sugaring hair removal experience. I do want to shout out the Live About blog that offered the most in-depth information, and made this process a breeze.
Essentially, sugaring is a natural form of hair removal similarly to traditional waxing, as it removes the hair from the root, but is a lot less painful. Just from that description, it sounds divine. So what makes sugaring so much better than waxing? Well, being that you use all natural ingredients, and the wax itself clings to the hair and not to your skin. So all you feel is your hair being pulled rather than your skin being pinched. It is much better for those with sensitive skin as well. Whether you are prone to razor bumps, razor burn, or allergic to the ingredients in most waxes, this is a great alternative. Oh and even better, your hair only has to be around ⅛ of an inch long to sugar wax, it has to be double that for a traditional wax.
Before you ask, yes, there are sugaring salons, but they are few and far between. Los Angeles and New York are the home to quite a few, but being on a budget plus living far away led me to make my own sugar wax at home. And spoiler alert: it was A LOT easier than I expected.
You only need 3 simples ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen. 2 cups of white cane sugar, ¼ cup lemon juice, and ¼ cup of water (which you definitely have in your kitchen). This method can be used on your legs, arms, underarms, and even your bikini area. It is also completely water soluble, so you don’t need a special remover for rogue wax bits. It is easily removed with water from both your skin and fabric.
The first thing you want to do is mix together the previously mentioned ingredients in a heavy saucepan, and heat it over medium-high heat. Stir often so the mixture does not overheat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 25 minutes. This is important, because you can easily over or undercook it, and then it will be too sticky to work with. You want your mixture to be a dark amber or maroon color. You have to be patient with this, and make sure it is actually that dark before removing it from the heat.
Photo via Live About
Once the color is perfect as seen above, let it cool for about 10 minutes then pour it into an airtight container. If you choose to use a glass jar remember to warm it up with hot water so it doesn’t shatter once the hot mixture is poured in. Once in the container, the mixture should be dark brown and opaque. The mixture will have to cool for a while. You can use it when it is still warm or at room temperature, but I let it cool overnight and then pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds before using it.
Onto the application and removal… You want to make sure your skin is dry. You may be sweating or have lotion on, so use baby powder all over lightly to absorb any excess moisture. You may have to repeat this process throughout. If your skin is wet the wax will not stick.
You can use this wax on its own, which is how it was originally done and is done at salons, or you can use cotton wax strips, which wastes more product, but I find that to be a lot easier.
Photo via Amazon
Now, this is important. You do not want to apply the wax onto your skin how you would with traditional waxing. You want to do the exact opposite. I use a rubber spatula for the application, but you can use your hands too. It is messy, so I sit on an old towel. You want to scoop out the wax, work it into a ball, and then apply the wax in the opposite direction of your hair growth. This will lift the hairs, and make sure they are all in the same direction. And then when you rip it off with a flicking motion, you go in the direction of the hair growth. This makes the process so much less painful, and greatly reduces the change of ingrown hairs.
Photo via Pinky Cloud
Now if you choose to use your hands, you have to work the wax over the area you are waxing multiple times. Keep rubbing opposite of the hair growth, so the wax can really cling onto the hairs. Then grab onto the end of the wax with one hand, pull the skin taut with the other, and rip with a flicking motion. You do not rip it all off in one go like normal waxing. It will be an inch by inch process. And seeing the hairs being pulled out by the root is so satisfying. Be sure to apply pressure to the area after you wax it.
Photo via Sugar Factory
But you can also apply the wax with a spatula as I choose to, apply cotton strips over it, and remove it that way. This will come off in one go, and is a bit less painful. I also noticed it removes a lot more hairs at once. But you cannot reuse the wax in this case. When you use the wax without cotton strips, you can reuse the same ball of wax repeatedly until it turns white from dead skin cells and hair (yes, it is also exfoliating), and is no longer sticky. But when using a wax strip, once you use it, it goes off to be washed.
Washing your cotton strips is so easy. You can fill up your sink with warm water, simply rub the strips, and the wax easily comes off, so you can reuse the strips over and over.
*Things to be aware of*
Your first time waxing will not get all of the hairs, especially if you were shaving before. All your hair is growing back at a different rate. I actually went in with tweezers, and plucked out the hairs the wax didn’t get. But that is totally optional.
It will take 2 or 3 goes until you are entirely smooth, but it will last 4-6 weeks, and can eventually damage the hair follicle enough to stop the hair from growing.
I let my hair grow for a week before doing this, and that is the worst part, but the longer the hair the better it works.
It is minimally painful on the legs, but worse on the underarms, and very painful on bikini area. I recommend asking a close friend or partner to help you there, because it really works. I would do it halfway then stop myself due to the pain. If someone else does it, they will just rip it all in one go, and you won’t really have a choice to stop it.
Do NOT shave if you get rogue hairs here and there. This makes them grow back at a different rate. Be patient with this method. Pluck the hairs out from the root if you can’t take it.
This method works best with thick dark hair. I have dark leg hair only from my knees down, and it has remained smooth and hairless for 4+ weeks. But my thighs have very thin fine blonde hairs and I have to shave those, because this does not rip them out.
This is a messy process. I keep a glass of water nearby for any wax bits that drop where they shouldn’t.
It takes a while to make the mixture, which is good for about two waxing sessions on your legs, so you can double the recipe if you’d like.
The mixture can be stored in a tightly sealed container for future uses. I would recommend heating it in the microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to use.
If you are still hesitant about the sugaring hair removal method, I totally understand. It took me about two years to work up the nerve, but it was so entirely worth it. To not have to worry about the dark leg hairs around my ankles for a month was a Godsend. Yes, it was slightly painful, but not bad at all on my legs. Proceed with caution on more sensitive areas. I will continue this method, and am so impressed by the results.
If you have any questions, I didn’t touch on, please leave a comment here, or reach out on our social channels and I’ll respond ASAP to help however I can. I would also recommend doing your research. As I said, I watched a lot of videos on YouTube to learn the technique, and see how it was done, and what methods worked for different people. It really calmed my nerves, and made me feel more comfortable with the entire process.
Cover via Amara Body Sugaring