What is sugaring hair removal? [Sugaring vs. Wax]

Want to learn more about sugar hair removal? This article will walk you through a natural waxing alternative called “sugaring” that uses sugar paste to remove unwanted hair growth. With less irritation and swelling, sugaring may be the reason you stop shaving.

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This post has been writing for at least 8 years. As a die-hard sugaring addict (or as far as one can be “addicted” to hair removal), I’ve praised sugaring since my first experience of this natural hair removal technique in NYC in 2011. I stumbled upon it by accident. The studio where I usually get waxed had a sugaring themed special and since I’m never one to shy away from a deal, I went for it. Since then I’ve never looked back.

So what is sugar hair removal? Why sugaring instead of waxing? Does it hurt less? Is it more sustainable? It’s time to talk about sugaring and dispel the myths of the truth.

Quick note: hair removal is very much a personal preference. Not everyone removes their body hair, and shouldn’t have to. If you prefer hairless skin, go for it! If you like hair, that’s cool too.

What is sugaring hair removal?

Sugaring is like waxing a non-permanent form of hair removal for body hair. It’s actually an ancient technique that’s been used much longer than waxing.

Unlike wax, which generally consists of a synthetic formula applied either hot or cold with sticks and strips, sugaring uses a sugar paste substance made entirely of natural ingredients like sugar, water, and lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar). It is essentially like caramel spread on clean skin in the opposite direction of hair and then pulled in the same direction of hair growth, ie the ideal way to remove hair. This differs from wax, which is pulled in the opposite direction of hair growth.

Unlike wax, which often requires strips and sticks, sugaring can be applied directly to the skin by hand. This makes it much less wasteful than traditional wax. Like wax, sugaring is typically done every 4-6 weeks depending on your hair growth cycle. It can also be performed on all areas of the body, including the legs, armpits, and bikini line.

Why sugaring instead of waxing?

There are two main reasons why you should choose sugar hair removal over wax:

1) It’s better for your body

Because sugaring formulas are made from natural, plant-based ingredients, the substance itself is much better for the body than the synthetic waxes. It is also water soluble so any residue can be easily removed with water. Sugaring results also tend to be better, since pulling the hair toward the hair shaft helps prevent bumps, ingrown hairs, and hair regrowth.

2) It’s better for the planet

Because sugaring formulas are applied directly to the skin and don’t require strips or dipping spatulas, the process is much less wasteful than other forms of hair removal.

The pros and cons of sugaring hair removal

The advantages of sugaring:

1) Like waxing, sugaring is safe all over the body (bikini, armpits, full legs, upper lips, etc.)

2) It’s less painful than waxing… sort of. Let me be clear: it’s not painful. Any method of pulling your body hair will hurt, but as long as your doctor is competent, it’s generally less painful and causes less discomfort than other forms of body hair.

3) It tends to be faster than waxing. Because sugar can be applied to a larger area and no streaks are required, the process is generally quicker.

4) It can reduce hair growth over time. Because the hair is pulled in the same direction of growth, sugaring can completely remove the hair follicles from the root, resulting in less hair growth. I’ve definitely noticed my own hair growth becoming slower and softer.

5) There is less hair breakage during the removal process, so you are less likely to develop ingrown hairs or folliculitis.

6) Hair only needs to be 1/8 inch to do the sugaring, unlike wax which requires hair to be at least 1/4 inch to get the smoothest results.

The disadvantages of sugaring:

The caveat with sugaring is that it can be slightly more expensive than waxing and not widely available. Otherwise, it tends to be quicker, less painful, and far more lasting than waxing.

Sugaring hair removal

Post Sugaring Care

As with waxing, sugaring requires some aftercare to maintain skin health and prevent ingrown hairs (although this is less likely than waxing!).

In general, you should avoid touching, scrubbing, or applying any type of friction to the sugared area immediately after sugaring and for the next 48 hours. After 48 hours, you should exfoliate with a physical scrub or natural loofa every few days to remove dead skin cells. Be sure to use moisturizer after exfoliating and make sure to apply body oil or lotions after bathing.

DO NOT shave between sessions. Not only does this lead to ingrown hairs, but it also defeats the purpose of sugaring’s long-term benefits, which include reduced hair growth. Before moving on to your next sugaring session, let the hair grow out to at least 1/8 inch.

Can you sugar yourself at home?

Yes, you can remove your body hair with sugar at home. You can buy pre-made sugar or even make your own. However, I would like to warn you that it can be very painful. Some people have a high pain tolerance and others (like me) not so much. I’ve tried sugaring at home, and while you can certainly save some money, pulling out my own body hair isn’t my thing. I prefer to pay the professionals…

Sugaring near me + what to look out for

Speaking of professionals, let’s talk about how to find a sugaring studio near you. I can only speak to the places I’ve been, but I’ll offer a few suggestions if you’re looking:

  • Make sure the site looks clean and staff can answer any hygiene questions
  • Ask about technique, training, and what sugar blend they use
  • The practitioner uses gloves when removing hair
  • Double-dipping is unlikely with sugaring, but if using a strip to remove, make sure spatulas are only used to dip the pod once, or use a separate container per customer.

Now for some Sugaring Studio suggestions:

*Unfortunately the studio I went to in NYC is closed!

Any questions? Let me know your thoughts or questions about sugaring and if you’ve tried it yourself.

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