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Sugaring hair removal treatment- not as sweet as it sounds

sugaring hair removal treatment
June 14, 2013 Reviewed by admin 38 Comments

My most recent bikini waxing appointment was both painfully long and exceedingly painful. The particular salon that I picked specializes in an all-natural, low-temperature wax that is supposedly favored in Europe. I was intrigued by the benefits of this particular wax for sensitive skin (no burning or irritation) but was unaware of the hour-plus procedure that would be involved (with the esthetician going over each section of skin repeatedly). Maybe that’s acceptable in countries where life moves at a leisurely pace and women are more comfortable with public nudity. But I prefer my waxing appointments short and sweet. And dragging out the excruciating process even a minute longer than absolutely necessary is a deal-breaker in my book.

While on the lookout for a new method of hair removal, I came across sugaring. Unlike waxing, which sticks to any surface where it is applied, sugaring does not adhere to living skin cells and rip them off the body. The sugaring technique minimizes pain by pulling hair in the natural direction of growth, whereas waxing has a high ouch factor in going against the grain. Since wax hardens on the hair, it has the tendency to break it off at the surface, leaving 15-30% breakage behind. Also at odds with wax, sugaring paste is water-soluble and can be easily rinsed off skin or clothes. Though the wax treatment that I most recently tried was composed of all-natural ingredients, most products used for body waxing are made from petroleum-based resins, artificial fragrances, dyes, preservatives, and other potentially allergenic chemicals.

So, what exactly is sugaring? A technique that was established many centuries ago in Egypt, sugaring is quite possibly the oldest and most natural form of hair removal. Today, there are two basic types of sugaring: a paste and a gel. In true sugaring, the paste or gel is made up of only three ingredients: sugar, water, and lemon. I use the term “true” because some salons fool customers with a cheap imitation of the organic sugaring mixture. The service will often be marketed as “sugar waxing” and will incorporate a wax resin product mixed with sugar. A counterfeit can be identified by its reaction to water. Any wax-containing product that is applied to the skin will remain sticky when rinsed with water alone, whereas a true sugaring product will wash right off.

Besides being prepared with ingredients that could produce a delicious dessert, the benefits of sugaring extend beyond its pure formula. During application, the sugar paste or gel seeps into the hair follicle, lubricating the hair root for easier removal. Pulling hair out in the same direction of growth lessens strain on the skin and prevents breakage of the hair follicle above or below the skin’s surface. As a result, ingrown hairs don’t form and the surface stays hairless for as long as possible. Over time, when the hairs grow back, they become finer and softer. The skin also gets a bonus smoothing treatment.

Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Why would anyone ever bother with the short-lived effects of shaving, labor-intensive tweezing, tear-inducing waxing, or high-priced lasers? I thought I had stumbled upon the holy grail of hair removal. As a first-timer, I figured my legs were the safest and least sensitive area to test out a foreign method. So - to the dismay of my fiance - I went without shaving for two full weeks to grow out my leg hair to the requisite length (1/16” for sugaring paste and ¼” for sugaring gel). With my cactus-like skin ready, all I needed to do was decide whether to book an appointment for a sugaring procedure at a salon, buy an at-home sugaring kit, or concoct my own mixture and take care of business myself.

I quickly learned that it isn’t easy to locate a salon offering sugaring services, which require trained practitioners and more time than the average waxing job. Depending on the body part, in-salon sugaring services run from $25 to $95. A full leg treatment typically falls in the range of $50 to $95, which is $50 to $95 more than I spend when I shave. Considering that hair-free results only last roughly two weeks, my cost-benefit analysis did not work out in the salon option’s favor.

At-home hair removal systems are decidedly more economical. The most popular sets, such as Shobha Sugaring Kit for Body and Bikini ($30) and Parissa Chamomile Body Sugar ($12), come with talcum powder, a microwaveable jar of sugaring solution, and reusable fabric strips. But when I read up on the ingredients in the solution and the equipment needed to perform the sugaring treatment, I realized that I had everything I needed already. Recipes and instructions for DIY sugaring are all over the internet. I figured that even I - with my limited supply of kitchen tools and limited patience for DIY projects - could handle it.

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To whip up a homemade sugaring solution, all you really need is sugar and a lemon (or lemon concentrate). Combine 2 cups white sugar, ¼ cup lemon juice, and ¼ cup water in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and stir while the mixture comes to a boil. Then, turn the heat down to low-medium and allow the solution to simmer for about 25 minutes until it turns a dark shade of amber. It is critical to allow the solution to reach this dark color because if it doesn’t cook long enough, the consistency won’t be pliable enough for sugaring to work. After the sugaring solution has cooled off, pour it into an airtight container to prevent contamination.

I decided to first try the sugaring paste method, which doesn’t require any additional equipment beyond baby powder to prep the skin. I allowed the solution to sit for a few hours until it cooled to room temperature and hardened to a thick, moldable paste. Tipping the container to the side should make the mixture flow very slowly like molasses. If the consistency is more honey-like, then it didn’t cook long enough. Before putting the sugaring paste anywhere near my skin, I scrubbed and exfoliated my legs in the shower and then applied a layer of baby powder to my first test subject: my shin.

Now, for the moment of truth. I stuck my fingers into the mixture and scooped out a sticky blob. Unfortunately I didn’t have latex gloves, which are recommended to cut down on mess. The next step was to roll the syrupy blob into a ball between my palms. I then pressed the ball of sugaring paste onto my shin and spread it in the opposite direction of hair growth. After being warmed by the spreading motion, a good amount of the solution clung to my fingers so I rinsed it off in the sink. Then, I pressed down on one end of the sugaring smear with one hand, held my skin taut with the other hand, and quickly pulled upward in the same direction of hair growth.

Instead of pulling out the hairs in one clean flick of the paste, the skin lifted a little and the sugaring solution did not budge. After being warmed by my hand, the sticky paste clung to my palm. I tried the flicking motion at least ten more times before giving up on the paste method. My entire shin was coated in a layer of syrup and my hands were glistening with a gooey mess. Yet, I rinsed off and soldiered on with the sugaring gel technique, which is said to be easier for amateurs.

Performing the sugaring process with the gel method starts by warming the mixture in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds to liquefy it. I don’t own those wooden applicators that the professionals use, so I stirred the mixture with a butter knife and tested the temperature with my finger. This time I prepped my calf skin with baby powder. Using the butter knife, I then smeared a healthy dose of the syrup on my leg. I laid a thin rag (shredded cotton shirt) over the gel, patted it a few times, and yanked the cloth upward in the opposite direction of hair growth. What happened next can be described in a nutshell as all pain, no gain.

Unlike my results with the sugaring paste, the gel method actually removed some of the sugaring solution from my leg,
along with a few hairs. But in the meantime, it stung the surface of my skin and left the bulk of my leg hair behind. I have a fairly high threshold for pain, so I repeated the process with five more rags until my entire calf had been coated with the syrup and irritated beyond belief. In spite of the throbbing pain, I might have been satisfied with my experiment if my calf emerged smooth and hairless. Rather, it was left with awkward patches of hair and covered in red bumps. The rash did not subside until 24 hours later.

What I learned from this trial and error is that sugaring is best left to the pros, whether in the form of an at-home kit or a salon visit. Many sugaring solutions marketed for home use contain ingredients such as citric acid and Arabic gum, which tighten the skin and improve the consistency of the paste. Some are even enhanced with vitamins and essential oils to nourish the skin post-treatment. In my humble opinion, the basic recipe for DIY sugaring is flawed. After following the instructions to a T, I accomplished no more than a few bare patches of leg hair and tender, raw skin. Clearly, the sugaring technique is not as simple or effective as it sounds.

Have you ever tried a professional sugaring treatment or packaged kit?

See also:

Persian Cold Wax - too cold to wax


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  • April 16, 2018

    by April@Wax for Hair Removal at Home

    Part of the reason why waxing is so painful, apparently, is because the wax sticks to the skin and the hair it's removing. Sugaring, on the other hand, only sticks and binds to the hair, and pulls it out from the root when removed, supposedly causing less irritation as a result.

  • December 5, 2015

    by Stephanie

    I agree with the first comment. It takes practice and watching demos to do this. Also, immediately afterwards, I splash on a water-aspirin solution (DIY Tendskin) if I'm doing a sensitive area such as the bikini line. Would not attempt it without the wooden sticks, which are readily available at beauty supply stores and online. That's where I buy the paper strips, too.

  • September 21, 2015

    by Mika

    "In my humble opinion, the basic recipe for DIY sugaring is flawed."

    DIY sugaring is not flawed. Your method is, which is understandable because this is not something you made multiple attempts to at. Women in Turkey, Greece, Egypt, etc., have been making their own wax for centuries and they accomplish what 'professionals' do in less time and with less effort, so there is no flaw. What you need is a good recipe and to develop your skill over a period of time.

    If you go to any waxing professional in Turkey, you don't overpay and they get everything done in 10 minutes.

    You don't need a professional. You just need more practice and a better recipe.

  • October 31, 2014

    by aguy

    Hi, i'm a guy.

    I have thick dark hair. I was able to play around with sugaring over the last few months with great results. I tried the sugaring paste, and it seemed to work ok, but what really worked was when i used it as a gel

    Before i get to that, i should tell you that through all my months of testing, i found out that the best way for me was to mix the ingredients in a saucepan on high, and keep churning it until it started the rolling boil. Then i put the tempature on 1/4 and keep churning it till the bubbles die down to a controllable level, and it's a clear golden color. Then i stop churning it and let it sit on the stove at 1/4 temp. The trick at this point, is to get it to an amber color, but to catch it just as it's about to burn. As soon as i smell the solution gives off a slight burnt sugar smell, i remove it from the heat and pour it into a clean bowl.

    After a few hours that solution is cooled, and it's like rock candy. Basically what i mean by that is that i could take that bowl, turn it upside down and the block of dark amber sugaring will hit the floor and shatter into millions of pieces. when i tap it, it doesn't move at all. When i store the bowl on the side, that sugar doesn't budge at all.

    Now you might not need to make the sugaring like rock candy, and i'm realizing that i don't need to make it that extreme, but am trying to find the right spot just below the approaching burning stage (so i don't have to heat it so much when i want to use it), but one thing for sure if its too runny it won't work at all.

    Ok, so that is how i make the stuff. Now, this is how i apply it.

    So, this is rock candy, and there's no way it's going to go on my skin in it's current form. What i need to do is put it in the microwave for 30s at a time, then take it out and chrun it up to get it moving again. I keep microwaving for 30s at a time until it's easy to move. Ok, one thing i should warn you about this is that if you have it in there for 2+ minutes, that paste is going to be hot. So you need to make sure that you give it some time to cool. There is a small window to apply the sugaring to your hair: after it's cooled down to be safely applied to the skin, but before the sugaring paste gets to thick to work with. I can't stress this part enough, i got burnt (not badly) by some pretty hot sugaring before. So be sure to test it on your skin while standing next to running cold water, so you can put your finger, or whatever, under it ASAP! Also when it gets too thick to work with it hurts applying it (pulled hair feeling), so i have to heat it up for 30s every 10-15m.

    Ok, after it's moving, i apply the paste with a butter knife: AGAINST THE DIRECTION MY HAIR IS GROWING. Then i lay a strip of a cotton work shirt i don't wear any more, which was upgraded to strips for this procedure. I rub the strip into the sugar on my skin real good. This helps to take away some of the heat too, making the gel become stronger. Then i prepare for the rip. Basically i need to make sure that my hand doesn't bash anything on the rip, so like a pro golfer taking a few practice strokes before the swing. I line my practice stroke up so that i'm pulling the cotton off IN THE DIRECTION MY HAIR IS GROWING, all the while trying to build up the courage (it's kind of scary). When i'm ready, i pull it off in one quick motion. This is often hard, because sometimes i might not be lined up properly and the quick swift motion might get messed up, or i'm just fearing it will hurt. Normally i rip it off within 1m of applying the cotton.

    So the results are fantastic. There is hardly any pain. The closest i can explain the pain is that it feels like i'm ripping a piece of tape off my bare skin. I've done my arms and legs and chest this way. I'm about to try it on my beard. Normally after i do my legs and arms i don't do it again for about 6-12 months. During that time, the first 2 weeks is completely hair-free, and then it slowly grows back in. After about 2 months it's starting to look normal again. After 6-8 months it's fully grown back.

  • October 7, 2014

    by rosarosa

    Like blow drying, braiding hair or applying makeup, sugaring is something that you are not going to get perfect the first or maybe even the second or third time around. Skill at it simply gets better at it over a period of time. The good thing is that hair will continue to grow. A lot has to do with how motivated you are, your own genetic makeup and also your cash flow. I have had tremendous success at sugaring, which I started when I was a college girl in the '70's. For the past 20 years, I rarely had to remove the hair on my legs (as it became extremely sparse) and I do my underarms maybe once a month. Many women should learn that we are not going to get that "Total" effect immediately, that beauty (whatever we consider it to be) is not going to happen overnight or often be "easy". It does not have to be painful.

  • September 5, 2014

    by Jenn

    Hi I'm looking for a salon that does sugaring, I live in south west sydney.

  • August 3, 2014

    by Tash

    Where can I buy the product?

  • July 5, 2014

    by Emily

    Finally,an article that reflects the more truthful results of hair removal! You describe what almost every client of mine has gone through. With so many body types and depending on their location (dry, humid, damp, cold) of course someone at home could practice and get "ok" results. But trust the professionals to get the best overall outcome. For sugaring, finding a good technician should save you the hell of bruising yourself and a longer time in between treatments. True sugaring really will remove more hair than wax, should only remove dead skin cells (wax will remove both live and dead cells resulting in possible hyperpigmented areas) and decrease broken hairs immensely. Nice article:)

  • May 20, 2014

    by jila

    you obviously performed this procedure incorrectly. Your Sugaring experience was a less than pleasant one due to your inexperience w/ the procedure.
    Sugaring is a wonderful and effective form of hair removal when done correctly.
    please give sugaring a try again but let a professional salon do this for you. Just try a small area. When you have it done professionally, you will be able to feel better about it. I make my own sugar paste, I use it on my clients and I have absolutely 0 complaints.

  • April 4, 2014

    by Tiffany

    I just took a sugaring course last month because I like it better then wax. I am an esthetician also.
    The sugaring product is natural and great for those who are sensitive. It takes a certain technique to do it right. If you are leaving any type of bruising then you are doing it wrong. One "glob" should last to do your whole body with. You shouldn't even have to use strips to take off the sugar. That's the beauty of sugaring, not a lot of products to use like waxing and not everyone can use wax. Cleanse skin, apply powder, apply sugar in opposite way that hair grows and lift and flick off the way the hairs grows and no lifting up that is why you get bruising or the sugar won't come off. You can sugar every part of your body.

  • March 23, 2014

    by Mary

    I just tried sugaring, using the gel method, for the first time and actually it worked amazingly well, with hardly any pain and almost 100 percent hair removal- and my body hair is quite coarse. There are several things I did differently from your description. First I only cooked the home made sugar mix to the light gold stage, so it was thinner. I applied it thinly, and I used paper instead of cloth strips. With paper it is almost painless because it does not stretch and cling to skin the way cloth does.

  • March 22, 2014

    by Sophie

    I had sugaring done by a professional (on the legs) and although it was less painful during, I now have many painful ingrown hairs two weeks later (which never happened with waxing). Don't know if it's just a weird reaction of mine or if this method just doesn't suit some people...

  • January 18, 2014

    by Karina

    As a certified sugaring professional, a lot of what you wrote in this article is true.
    The most important thing to know is that yes, working the sugar paste is not as easy as it seems in the videos you find on the internet. You'd need professional training unless you're patient enough to keep trying until you get the right technique. Those videos would much rather serve as a "refresher" than "instructive" tools.
    For the person that stated that she gets pimples where the ingrown hair is starting, my suggestion is to make sure you cleanse the area properly prior to starting the hair extraction process and to care for the area after the procedure has been done. For instance applying a mud mask to alleviate the area and start an exfoliation routine to minimize the issue of inflammation and ingrown hairs.
    Yes, the sugaring service is costly, but the benefits you get from it makes it all worth it. If you start a sugaring treatment and are consistent with it, it will lead to permanency. In other words your follicles will stop producing hair in the area!

  • September 2, 2013

    by Steve

    I tried sugaring and failed. The first batch I made was apparently overcooked, which I didn't think could happen. For starters, it was entirely too hard and not pliable at all. OK fine - scrapped it. The second batch I made was probably closest as possible to being correct, but what I noticed was that the stuff didn't stay pliable and it didn't really adhere to the skin I was sugaring. If I *did* get it to stick, it didn't stay pliable and I was then left with patches of hair. There are SOME areas that are nice and smooth, but for the most part, my experience was NOT like the videos I've seen. And because this is so time consuming, I won't be asking my wife to assist since she already hates using Nair or regular wax on me as it is.

  • August 20, 2013

    by saiqa

    can i use vinegar instead of lemon juice for sugaring

  • August 2, 2013

    by Anon

    You're suppose to strip it off in the direction of grown hair (since its your shin the hair probably grew downwards, which means you should of taken it off downwards).

  • July 21, 2013

    by maddy

    what else can you use besides lemon juice

  • May 14, 2013

    by Yasmin

    personally, i love sugaring! I'm not very good at it but i get my mum to do it for me since she's very good at it. I did not know this method was Egyptian! I am from Egypt and this totally explains why everyone i know uses this method instead of shaving. Instead of going to salons (because like you mentioned its expensive) my mum makes it at home and moulds its using her hands. The only problem that i have with it however is that I get small pimples of ingrown hair a week or two after sugaring which are very painful!

  • April 20, 2013

    by Charity

    Hey everyone! I just wanted to give some encouragement and say ANYONE CAN DO THIS!! I am a teenage girl who just trying making her own sugar paste for the first time, and suceeded! (Well..... After one very sticky sugar mess!!!) I followed this video exactly, and it worked!!! Just make sure u use a nice big pot so u don't have to worry about boiling over and making a mess! Thanks everyone for all the great tips on this site!! Here is the link to the video I followed.

  • April 10, 2013

    by Lauren

    You were SO close to success when you gave up! What a shame. I hope you'll decide to give it another go sometime, bearing in mind the pointers from myself and other comments above.

    I learned to sugar last year, and while I do still bruise myself from time to time if I'm not being careful, I've gotten pretty good at it and it's my favorite method of hair removal.

    I agree with Nagira-- I have to laugh when someone warns us "amateurs" against at-home sugaring, like we're performing our own lasik eye surgery or something. This is not rocket science and getting certification in it is for the legal benefit of the salon they're working for, not because it's "so dangerous" for us DIY-ers to figure out on our own. I learned by talking to friends who knew how, watching videos and reading up on it online. And then I practiced (and asked questions) until I got it right.

    Yes, it involves a learning curve. It can be tricky to get the paste to just the right temperature, and then actually using it is another learning process.

    But once you conquer those two obstacles sugaring becomes a lot less intimidating. I use it all over, and I've even given myself a brazillian a few times with it (though if you are going to attempt this method of hair removal in that region, I implore you to make sure your bathroom is NOT humid at the time! Ensure that your skin is completely dry, and work in very small patches).

    Moving on...

    1. NEVER leave it on your skin for more than a few seconds. The reason you were unable to get the paste off is likely because you stopped to go wash your hands and the paste warmed and changed consistency. It'll get all over your hands by the time you're done anyway, so just keep moving and worry about clean-up when you're finished. Another possible reason for it not lifting off is that you didn't cook it long enough and it may need to be reheated.

    2. ALWAYS flick horizontally to the skin, and in the direction of hair growth. I'm not sure whether you did this or not, because you mention going against the growth, and you say you "flicked up," which is a surefire way to yank and bruise the crap out of your skin, leaving yourself with a gooey, sugary mess all over both your hand and leg. I've been there. It's no fun!

    If you find yourself in that sticky situation again (couldn't resist), you have two options:
    1- get more sugaring paste and apply it over top of the stuck-on mess, and then flick off as usual.
    2- wash it off with water and start over.

    I hope you'll give it another try. The smoothness is incomparable!

  • March 15, 2013

    by Tracy

    Are you using a bare hand and applying against the hair and then flicking off with the hair?

  • March 14, 2013

    by Cate

    Tracy- It's like many people have already said, this technique is used all over the world by people who were not educated in "mastering" this technique but they learned on their own or thru generations. I personally started this, here in the US, when I was only twelve and I was taught by someone who didn't know what she was doing and I've been doing it ever since. If people feel like trying, they're going to do it. Also, I've checked out the prices for this treatment, not everyone has $100 just lying around to get their legs done. Or $60 to get their face done. If there's a solution where you can get it done for next to nothing, no matter how little experience you have, people will do it. It's not worth it otherwise.

  • March 13, 2013

    by Tracy Babini

    I can't keep my comments to myself any longer. I am a veteran 10-year sugarer, with body sugaring comprising a large part of my clientele, a seasoned esthetician and very familiar with the personality of sugar and its counterfeits. I perform only true hand-molded sugaring. Body sugaring, as the author describes, is a very advanced process that requires special certification above and beyond traditional esthetics or cosmetology training. The reason for this is that although sugar can be less painful, less irritating, more natural and keep hair away for a longer period of time, it will only hold up these promises if used properly and with expertise. Sugar should not be done at home or on yourself. There are times to use gloves and times to use bare hands. It's easy to get anxious and angry when sugar doesn't respond the way you want it to. Panic sets in. Hands sweat. Sugar falls apart. Who pays for all of this? The person who is getting sugared. Or should I say "The person who is getting bruised." The sugar can and will injure the ignorant and the decidedly uneducated. Most veteran waxers won't touch sugar because it's not as easy to use as they thought it would be. It is actually a total reversal in method and in psychology. If a veteran waxer won't touch sugar because of the threat of injury and poor results, what makes laypeople think they will be more successful? It takes years of practice to become truly proficient at this method. While totally amazing when done well, it can be a disaster in an instant. Do not be fooled. Sugar should be administered by a professional with impeccable credentials. All other options are going to be lose-lose.

  • February 3, 2013

    by Stephanie

    I didn't read all of these comments but you said so yourself in the beginning of the article to pull sugar with the direction of hair growth, yet both times you tried it at home you pulled opposite direction...?

  • December 29, 2012

    by Maine-ah

    Hi Canadian! Thanks for all the info you've added. I've been trying to get that perfect sugar paste too. I've flopped on 3 batches so far. The first batch was my mistake, the recipe was for a sugar wax meant to use with strips so it turned out the consistency of honey!

    The next time, I followed this video:
    what she has at the end is exactly what I want, and of course she makes it look so easy but I had to piece together from other recipes I had read when to take it off the heat. Of course, I was worried about overcooking but the first batch was much too runny. Probably only soft ball stage, absolutely fell apart in my hands when I got to kneading.

    And the last batch came close, but something went terribly wrong in the kneading stage. I figure it was too much water on my hands because after a few minutes of kneading, I didn't get a nice opaque putty. It started to dissolve and just absolutely covered my hands. Another thing that I goofed up on during that try was that I kept it on low heat for the whole time, it never boiled (but it did change to a gorgeous buttery amber shade.

    Good thing this stuff is water soluble because if it took more than a long blast of hot water, I'd give up.

    I think I'll give it one more go tonight using your methods, Canadian, and if that doesn't work I'll buy some in hopes that it'll give me a better idea of the consistency.

    The thing is, I'm so so so sick of shaving. In the winter I usually end up with really disturbingly hairy legs because it's too cold to show my legs. But I really long to have silky smooth legs for weeks at a time...... Back to the kitchen I go!!!

  • September 21, 2012

    by canadian

    Okay, I've made the recipe a few more times now and find even using the 266F measurement is not reliable. If you want to make a good batch of sugar wax then throw the thermometer away and use the method to CHECK THE CONSISTENCY.

    The good batches of sugar wax are very hard at room temperature, too hard to scoop any out of the jar. You'll need to put it in the microwave for 10 second intervals until you can work it. If your wax is runny at room or body temperature then it is not cooked enough.

    The ideal is the sugar wax is like a silly putty consistency at BODY TEMPERATURE. These batches for me come out a dark reddish amber colour and is so dark in the jar you cannot see through. Now if your sugar wax is runny at body temperature you only have a short working time, but it does still work. If your batch on the other hand is like silly putty at body temperature then you can work with the sugar wax as long as you want.

    How I've been doing the recipe now is to boil the mixture until it gets to a golden honey colour and starts to darken from there. You can usually see the froth/bubbles at the top of the pot start to turn a caramel colour rather than white.

    Take the mixture off the heat every 1 minute (or if it is very close to done 30-45 seconds)
    Have a cold (fridge or iced) metal butter knife.
    Spoon some of the molten sugar over part of the butter knife.
    Let the knife cool the sugar over a minute.
    Carefully test the temperature on the under-side of the knife (without sugar) to see if it is cool enough to touch.
    When cool enough, scoop all the sugar you can off the top of the knife and attempt to form a pea-sized ball of sugar wax.
    You want to "cool" this to your body temperature and see what consistency it is, because this is going to be the working consistency of your sugar wax.
    If it is too runny to form into a ball, back on the burner goes the pot.
    If the ball of wax is like a soft silly putty and still feels slightly warm to the touch (meaning a bit more than body temp) you probably have a great batch of sugar wax. Judging when it is done will take some practice.

    When you use this wax you heat slightly in the microwave to bring it from room temp up to body temp (or slightly warmer) and you scoop out a golf ball sized amount.
    Now you roll this into a ball in your palms and start stretching and pulling the sugar. It will turn from the dark amber colour to a golden as you stretch, pull, and fold the sugar. After 2 or 3 minutes you have your sugar ready to work with.

    If it is a bit too sticky on the stretching and pulling, take your finger and dip into a cup of water to get 1 or 2 drops of water and wipe on the sugar as you stretch and pull it. This will soften it up a bit more and reduce the stickiness. Careful not too much water. Repeat as required.

  • September 11, 2012

    by canadian

    I've tried the same recipe but heated to 266 F. When cooled it flows extremely slowly when tipped. Using the paste the trick is to zip the sugar off with an extremely quick motion. Anything slower than lightning fast and it will make a gooey mess! Even though the sugar is a gooey mess on your hand and goes on gooey, the zip motion is too fast for the sugar to stretch so feels like it hardens up for a split second as you zip it.

    After about 3-5 minutes of use it gets too gooey to work with and you need to get a fresh amount from the jar. I've cooled the jar of sugar slightly (from room temperature then 15 minutes in the fridge prior to using), and using ice pack on my hands and area to be sugared that seemed to help the working time but was harder to apply initially. Good luck!

    A few recipes online call for adding 1/2 tsp gum arabic to maintain a better consistency but have not tried this yet.

  • September 10, 2012

    by anonymous

    After bringing the mixture to a boil being it down to a low medium and allow it to boil until a dark amber color. Then allow it to cool and you will have the sugaring paste ready.

  • August 4, 2012

    by Shelli

    Sugaring paste/gel is like making candy. Sugar is extremely versatile and forgiving to the temperature beating you give it when making sugar paste but that doesn't mean that you should disrespect the process. I have recently started making my own sugaring paste. I have had results comparable to waxing without the cost and without as much pain. Don't get me wrong--it hurts but mostly because you are pulling your hair out and not your hair as well as the first few layers of skin like when waxing.

    Here are a few lessons I learned when making my sugar paste.
    Like in candy making there is a magic temperature range that sugar turns thick, golden brown and clear. This starts at a scorching 235 degrees F/ 113 degrees C (hotter than boiling water) and ends at around 265 degrees F/130 degrees C.
    If you go beyond the upper level of the temperature scale, I am sorry but you just made lemon flavored brittle and it will be useless for hair removal (I speak from experience).
    The goal temperature for sugaring gel that can be used with strips is around 250 degrees F/121 degrees C. This temperature is not really good for the paste technique because it is just too sticky at room temperature. You can't get it to pull away from your skin. For the paste, I would cook the sugar to about 260 degrees F/ 125 degrees C. Of course, your locale will play a part, things like elevation and humidity--things I don't really have time to calculate for everyone but in general these temperatures will work. **Safety note--260 degrees F is really really hot and they don't call this stuff culinary napalm for nothing. If you want to use your sugar paste faster you can place it in a water tight container in a warm water bath in a sink. This will bring the temperature down after cooking. Add ice to the water bath occasionally to continue cooling. This will cool much faster than leaving the sugar to cool on the counter.

    Temperature is the most important thing when cooking sugar, not time. So the most important tool you could possibly have is a candy thermometer. You can pick on up at your local kitchen store like Bed Bath and Beyond. I like the dial face thermometer, it is easier for me to read. And since temperature is the most important thing, how you cook the sugar is important too. Dumping the the ingredients in a pan, putting on the stove top on High and letting it sit until it "looks" right--which on High will take about 5 minutes--you will end up with burnt sugar on the bottom of the pan and probably over cook the rest of it. I would not recommend cooking in a microwave. Yes it will melt the sugar but the temperature is so hard to control in this environment it is likely to be overcooked.

    A small sauce pan and stove top is the my method of choice but on a medium to medium high heat. I simply watch my thermometer and stir the mixture occasionally.

    Last time I made sugar paste, I made a large batch to fit in my storage jar.
    4 cups sugar
    1/2 cup Lemon juice (bottled)
    1/2 cup water
    But the mixture can be adjusted to what ever size you need in these units
    1 part sugar--1/8 part lemon juice--1/8 part water.
    After the mixture is cooled to room temperature , it is really for use depending on which method you cooked the sugar for (gel or paste).
    For the gel method you can pop in the microwave for 30 seconds just to warm it to body temperature. Using a wooden spatula or tool of your choice, smooth a medium thin layer of gel in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION of hair growth. You can make several passes to get the right amount. Then take an epilation cloth, muslin or not stretchy material--denim strips work well and can be wash for reuse. Don't' use old tshirts--the material stretches too much and you will not get a good zip from the sugar--smooth over gel in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION of hair growth. Pull your skin taught and zip the strip quickly IN THE DIRECTION of hair growth.
    For the paste method, put on gloves (trust me it is easier) and grab a wad of paste. Start gently with fingers or palm rolling the paste into a loose ball. Place the ball at the end of your fingers and smooth on paste in a thick layer in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION of hair growth. Make several passes to grab all the hair and to create a small tab to flick the edge of the paste. Remove the paste IN THE DIRECTION of hair growth. If sugaring a large portion of hair all at once, work in small zips as you work your way down the paste. The great thing about paste is you can use the same ball over again until it loses it's stickiness (and at that point it has probably turned grey from the amount of hair and exfoliated dead skin removed).
    After the hair is removed, wash with luke warm water a mild soap and apply an aloe lotion. If you are really sensitive, apply a cortisone cream.
    Personally, I prefer the gel method. It is easier for me to manipulate. The paste method takes a little practice and is a technique I have not quite mastered.

    Experimentation is key to finding the right consistency for your taste. Sugar is cheap if it doesn't work out the first time--try again. My first attempt was a disaster--brittle instead of paste. My mistake was my thermometer didn't have enough contact with the hot sugar to get an accurate reading.

    The main keys are taking it slow to achieve the right temperature and to avoid overcooking. Using the right tools and technique go along way to achieving your goals. After that you can enjoy hairless skin.

    A word to the wise--if this is your first time removing hair in the epilation method (waxing, sugaring, what have you) you will not remove all of your hair even if you have grown out to the proper length for removal. Hair grows in cycles, 3 distinct, so not all hair on your body to be removed is the same length. You have some hairs that are long enough to remove with sugar paste then some that are just started emerge from skin. Your first sugaring may be disappointing because you don't have perfect smooth skin. How do you deal with this fact of nature? My suggestion is to sugar and remove the long hairs. Grow out the hair that was missed Then, sugar again. You will fall into a pattern that works for you and your hair--typically about every 30 days. Alternatively, you can shave the missed hairs for two weeks, then let your hair grow out to be sugared after four weeks of the initial sugar. You will enjoy a close smooth shave that lasts longer with less irritation. Just know there will be the appearance of more hair because it is starting to grow out at the same time instead of in cycles and sugaring more hair at one time is more painful but the results will be longer lasting.

  • July 11, 2012

    by Alana

    I agree with Jan, I highly recommend MOOM. I love that it's organic and easy to use. Here's the website

  • July 6, 2012

    by Anonymous

    Yes Nagira,

    Would love to hear a the proper method for preparing a sugaring paste/gel (whatever it is) from someone who has grown up preparing it.

    Also the technique for applying it effectively. Do you apply it against the grain and then pull with the grain? Do you have to let it set/cool. I'm considering 'sugaring' my groin area as my girlfriend likes the smooth look and I'm sick of shaving. Hesitant to go to a pro as it's quite a private thing plus it costs about $90-100 (way too expensive), would love some pointers.

    Or would you recommend just buying a pre-made sugaring solution? I would love to try actually making it, but obviously I would have to test it elsewhere to see if it was right.

  • March 21, 2012

    by Brittany

    Nagira, what is the correct temperature to cook it at and for how long? Do you use the same recipe?

  • March 14, 2012

    by Nagira

    All I use is sugar paste made at home to remove body hair. Since I was about 10 (I'm 22), this is what my whole family does. We just make the paste to remove EVERYTHING. Did you use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature while cooking? The temperature is really the most important part, especially if you are not experienced. Are you American? I'm sorry but I have to laugh at this though I do wish you had no long term harm done. This is pretty much THE WAY we remove excess body hair in many other parts of the world. It's suddenly ''popular'' in American when its been around since the ancient times and I see american people saying to leave it to ''professionals'' and hear people say they are ''experts'' and ''trained'' for many months or years like a surgeon. I laugh. To me it is like saying your trained in boiling water, a simple chore most all of us do. The hardest part is cooking it right, when i was younger my mom taught me. It was just a fact of life. Practice makes perfect, but it's like riding a bike, when you fall off you don't give up on it or decide to wait till you can go to school and be expertly trained to ride your bike as a kid you just get back on. By all means if your not comfortable than seek out your professionals because I don't want to see anyone hurt but also I don't think some woman or men should be scared off from it because it really is the best hair removal technique out there. So many people try something once, make a mistake and give up. If you don't think you can handle it than don't but also to those who think they can, when done -correctly- it really is as sweet as it sounds., you just have to cook it right. It took me about 2 tries to master it as a 10 year old girl with less than wonderful cooking equipment.

  • February 29, 2012

    by Latifa

    Sugaring is the best..i'm still learning to do it myself, but i have known about it for years as being half Arab my female cousins taught me how to make it..which i have tried and failed twice lol, but having bought the pastes etc they worked well. I recently went to a salon for sugaring and it was so painless, now this summer when i get married i have to have my whole body sugared..except head and eyebrow that is going to hurt! But i will never wax again after it damaged my skin :(

  • September 28, 2011

    by Jan

    I use 'Moom' at home - I am able to keep my underarms and upper lip in good shape without spending salon prices. I do leave the bikini area to the pro's and still prefer regular wax. I recently visiting a new waxing salon that uses the hard wax and just hate life after that experience. I'll stick to 'Moom' in the comfort of my own bathroom. Thanks for the review Copely!

  • September 28, 2011

    by Sofie

    Hola - Sugaring is soooo much better than waxing. I highly recommend scheduling a service from a certified provider. They have access to professionally-formulated sugar, as well as specific training in application and removal.

    Due to its lack of additives, homemade sugar (and even the pro sugar) is susceptible to fluctuations in humidity and temperature. The pros are used to such challenges, and will make any adjustments necessary to ensure a fast, effective hair removal session.

    Don't give up just yet...I promise it's worth it. :)

  • September 28, 2011

    by Jennifer

    Copley, you stuck it out far longer than I would have! Thanks for sharing your experience with us, so that none of us try to duplicate it!

  • September 27, 2011

    by Chris

    I haven't tried sugaring. I've a friend who can't seem to get the consistency right (homemade types she's seen on Youtube). It was tricky to spread it. She ends up making an appointment for a sugaring session in our nearby salon. It's best for underarm hairs.
    I just use masking tape to remove leg hairs, hehe. That trick worked in my college days, now my hair seem to fight back.

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