Sugaring is a type of epilation, or a method of hair removal that pulls hair out from the root.
While it’s been around for centuries, the process has seen a revival of sorts, thanks to TikTok and the ever-popular allure of DIY everything.
Sugaring may be particularly tempting because the ingredients are things that most people have on hand at any given time — sugar, lemon juice, and water. Throw these ingredients on a little heat, and voilà, you have a hair removal process that’s all the rage. If you’re ready to give sugaring a go and need just a few more details, the following guide can help.
Sugaring vs. waxing
Sugaring and waxing are both a type of epilation, but their primary differences lie in the ingredients and technique. First, as we mentioned earlier, sugar wax is typically made with pantry staples like sugar, lemon, and water, whereas cosmetic wax often uses chemical-based resins.
Second, the process of pulling out the hair is different for each technique. Sugar waxes adhere to the hair follicles themselves and are pulled off in the same direction of hair growth. Cosmetic wax, on the other hand, adheres to the skin and is pulled off in the opposite direction of hair growth.
Sugar wax recipe and supplies
One of the best things about sugar wax is that you can make it at home with some inexpensive pantry items. It’s easy to make and easy to try. And, if you’re not smitten with the process (or the pain), it’s not a huge blow to your budget.
- 1 cup white sugar
- ⅛ cup lemon juice
- ⅛ cup warm water
- Medium-sized pot
- Cloth strips (optional)
Mixing the sugar wax
1. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and water to a medium-sized pot over high heat.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil while frequently stirring to avoid burning.
3. Once the sugar wax mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir frequently.
4. When the mixture turns golden brown and reaches the consistency of syrup, remove the pot from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl.
5. Let the paste cool for 30 minutes.
Prepping your skin
While your sugar wax is cooling, you may want to take the opportunity to prep your skin for the process. And there’s nothing earth-shattering here. Prepping the skin for sugaring is basically washing the area, exfoliating if you choose, and drying it well. One caveat is that wax won’t adhere well to hair with lotions or creams on them, so skip the moisturizers during this step.
How to sugar wax your skin
1. Once the sugar wax has cooled to lukewarm, scoop up a small amount, and roll the wax into a ball with your hands. (You don’t want any sugary strings to stretch all over the place, making the process messier.)
2. Apply the wax to a small patch of skin in the opposite direction of hair growth. If you prefer, cover the wax with a cloth strip to provide a little more leverage for the next step.
3. With a firm grip, pull it off in the same direction as your hair growth. For this step, timing is everything. Ideally, you want to pull firm and fast, like a Band-Aid. Any slower, and it may feel like you’re pulling your hairs out one at a time.
4. Repeat the process across small patches of skin as needed until you’re satisfied.
Tips and best practices for using homemade sugar wax
The following tips can give you the best results.
- Allow the sugar wax to cool properly. You want lukewarm wax here, not hot wax.
- Always pull the sugar wax off in the same direction as your hair growth.
- When pulling off the wax, be sure you’re pulling parallel to the skin. Never pull in an upward motion.
- Work in small sections.
- Use a fresh piece of wax for each new section of skin or reuse the same ball of wax up to four times.
- Discard any leftover wax or store it in the refrigerator for up to five weeks (just be sure to use an airtight container).
Once you’re done, rinse any areas you’ve epilated with warm water. You can also use a washcloth to remove any residual sugar wax from your skin. Follow up with a good moisturizer, and steer clear of exfoliating for at least 48 hours.
By using ingredients that you already have on hand, sugaring is a cost-efficient DIY method for hair removal. Just remember to cool the mixture before you use it. Apply the sugar wax in the opposite direction of your hair growth, and pull it off in the same direction of your hair growth. And when you’re done, cleanup is as easy as wiping with warm water.