Sugaring Hair Removal 101

Updated 05/08/19
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Sugaring hair removal is an ancient Middle Eastern practice that uses an all-natural paste or gel made from sugar, water, and lemon juice, and sometimes honey, salt, and essentials oils. It removes the hair follicle from the root with results that can last up to six weeks.

While there are many recipes, only natural ingredients are used in real formulations. It's also been called sugar waxing because the gel is similar to waxing, although it's not a correct term because wax contains resins.

Paste vs. Gel

The two types of sugaring, using paste or gel, are performed differently. The paste is considered the traditional technique. A warmed, thick mixture is applied first in the opposite direction of hair growth using the hands. It's then removed in the direction of hair growth. Using the gel is similar to waxing. The gel is applied in the direction of hair growth and removed in the opposite direction with a cloth or muslin strip

The Pros and Cons of Sugaring

You can sugar right in your own home, and the cleanup is easy. But if you do sugaring a lot, it can result in permanent removal. Here are more plusses and minuses to sugaring:

  • Someone experienced can do sugaring quickly with the paste. Large amounts of hair can be taken out at once and finished faster than waxing. With most waxes, you have to apply them to a limited area, remove, go to your next area, remove, and so forth. With sugaring, you can speed things up by applying the paste to a very large area, and it won't dry out, even if you take it off in smaller sections.
  • Both the paste and gel are water soluble, meaning you can clean off any residue left on the skin with plain water. Wax is not water soluble, meaning it needs an oil-based remover to get rid of all traces.
  • Sugaring hair removal kits and supplies can be bought online, or you can whip up your paste at home.
  • Sugar paste can be applied to missed hairs. The paste is very gentle and can be put right over an area that was just sugared but missed some hairs without fear of much irritation.
  • Over time, frequent sugaring can cause the hair follicle to become damaged and stop growing hair.
  • It's hard to find a pro that does the technique using the paste. Most salons and spas have waxing on their menu. Depending on where you live, it can be more difficult to find a place that uses sugaring paste, but it has become much easier to locate with sugaring's increased popularity recently.
  • Getting just the right consistency can be tricky. If you make your own paste at home, you'll have it get it just right for the paste to hold onto the hair.
  • Some hair growth is needed. About 1/16 of an inch of hair is needed when using the traditional technique with the paste, which is about two to five days of hair growth after shaving. Using the gel requires 1/4 inch of hair growth.
  • Lack of knowledge or cleanliness can lead to disaster. If contraindications are unknown or ignored, your skin could end up extremely red and even become scabby. If you're using retinol or vitamin C on your skin or if you]'re taking steroids or using Accutane you should not have sugaring done. You should also avoid this procedure if you have bruising, swelling, rashes, open sores, a sunburn, a beard, or cold sores. Salons or spas not adhering to safe and sanitary procedures could give a client a skin infection or even a disease.

    Ouch Factor

    Most people find sugaring less painful than waxing. Sugaring doesn't stick to the skin as much as waxing, which means less irritation. Pain is greatest with hair removal from the upper lip, chest, bikini, and genital areas. If you find someone experienced that uses the traditional technique with the paste, the discomfort is usually less because hair is removed in the natural direction of its growth, as opposed to waxing, which removes hair against hair growth.

    Sugaring Hair Removal Costs

    At-home sugaring kits can approach $50. But you can make your own sugar paste for a couple of dollars with all natural ingredients. If you go to a professional, sugaring hair removal is generally more expensive than waxing because it's not as commonly practiced. 

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