Sugaring is a centuries-old hair removal technique that uses a biodegradable paste of sugar, lemon and water applied against hair growth and removed with the direction of growth by a flick of the wrist. By working with the natural direction of hair growth, one can achieve optimal results with silky smooth skin, significant hair reduction and far less discomfort, irritation, breakage and fewer ingrown hairs than one would experience with other methods.
Sugar paste is natural, gentle, is not tested on animals and never has to be heated to more than slightly above room temperature. And it has other key advantages over waxing, for example, it sticks only to the hair, not the skin, making it safe for use on people with diabetes, varicose veins, psoriasis, eczema, moles and other delicate conditions/areas that are unsafe to wax. Sugar is also antimicrobial and therefore neither harbours bacteria nor encourages its growth, so it has a long shelf life. But perhaps the most important benefit of sugaring is that you can remove hair in the anagen stage of growth (less than 1/4″ in length) and this provides longer lasting results, because you are removing the hair at a stage when the follicle is connected to the dermal papilla and this slows regrowth. In my opinion, this is the most profound advantage that sugaring has over waxing. Depending on what part of the body has been sugared and on your personal rate of regrowth, results can last up to or even over 2 weeks. And last but not least, sugaring also exfoliates your skin, leaving it not only hairless but also in better condition than when you started.
Clearly sugaring has some important advantages over waxing, and it also has advantages over shaving. Obviously, sugaring lasts a lot longer and leads to long term hair reduction, which shaving does not. But there is another, more subtle advantage that sugaring has over shaving: the hair that grows back is finer, softer and far less coarse than shaven regrowth. This is because when you shave, the razor cuts off the hair at skin level, blunting the edge of the hair and creating a rough, coarse feel. With sugaring, the tip of the hair is fine and tapered, which creates a much softer sensation.
Now that you are aware of the most important benefits of sugaring, let’s get into how it actually works. The sugar paste is formed into a ball, the size of which corresponds to the size of the body part to which it is being applied. The paste is then applied to the skin against hair growth forming a mold, and after 3 or more passes against growth, the practitioner lowers her wrist and quickly flicks the sugar off in the direction of growth in a motion parallel to the body. It can take 2 or 3 flicks to get all the sugar off of the skin, but for experienced sugarists, it usually only takes one. This hand technique is challenging and often takes training and considerable practice to master, and this is why so many DIY beauty bloggers give up. It is easy to get stuck and you can end up a hot mess! If I had not taken a course run by a professional sugarist with her own chain of successful salons, I would not have been able to do it properly. But the beauty of sugaring is that once you master it, it is truly a superior method of hair removal and it’s also a lot of fun. And if you don’t have the time/inclination to learn how to DIY, try an experienced sugarist, chances are you’ll be glad you did.
If you are interested in DIY sugaring, there are commercial sugar paste products available at the retail level, and I’ve seen several in the Toronto area. Two of the most common are Persian Cold Wax and Wax a Way, and I found both at my local grocery store, and I’ve also seen them at Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart. Please do not be mislead by the word ‘wax’ in the name of these products, I’ve tried both and they are definitely sugar paste. A 400 gram jar will cost you approximately $15.00. You can also make your own sugar paste at home using sugar, water and lemon. Just be aware that like the technique, making your own sugar paste can be very challenging, it is not easy for most people. If you insist on DIY, I suggest buying ready made paste first until you get the technique down and then learning to make your own paste, that way it won’t be so overwhelming and you’re less likely to get discouraged. To learn sugaring techniques, I recommend checking out YouTube for instructional videos, and as a well known and respected name in the business, Alexandria is a great place to start for tips and techniques.
As amazing as it is, there are some downsides when it comes to sugaring. Accessibility can be an issue as it can be a challenge to find sugarists as there are fewer of them than waxers as sugaring is much more difficult. Keep in mind also that sugaring sessions take longer than waxing, so always factor that in when making your appointments. Sugar paste is also sensitive to temperature and humidity, and becomes softer and harder to manage in the heat. However, this can be addressed by using a firmer paste in hot, humid weather/climates. Sugaring can also be more expensive than waxing up front, but many devotees find that the higher initial cost is offset by the longer-lasting, superior results. In the end, most people who try sugaring find that the benefits make the cost more than worth it.
So if your goal is to achieve hairless, silky smooth skin, and significant long-term hair reduction in a healthy, natural way that doesn’t hurt you or the environment, then sugaring is definitely for you.