Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sugaring, the Best way to Remove Unwanted Body Hair

It's summer time and let's face it, shaving sucks. Waxing is expensive, even if you know how to do it yourself. The products go into landfills and typically have weird ingredients that you can't pronounce. I shudder to think of where all my old razor heads are now. I learned how to sugar a few months ago via Google, YouTube, and experimentation and thought to myself, "Sugar paste, where have you been all my life?!"

So, what is this "sugaring"? Sugaring is similar to waxing, only it is a thick, sticky paste that does not require cloth strips for removal. It is also less painful because you pull out the hair in the same direction as hair growth. If you know anything about waxing, you pull against it. That not only hurts more, but is more likely to break the hair instead of pulling it out by the roots. Sugar paste is made by cooking the right proportions of water, sugar, and lemon juice together for what comes out be be less than $2. So why do people pay upwards of $70 to be waxed? Why indeed. Enough said, here is the recipe.

2 cups of the granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice (no pulp)
1/4 cup water

I suggest a metal saucepan. You will boil it over a medium heat until it is a dark honey color. If you live in a particularly cold climate, you will want to cook it just a minute less.  Overcook it by a couple of minutes if your waxing room is warm.  Hot weather revision (about 75 degrees and up), click here.

What you get is an interesting substance that is malleable with light pressure and hard with firm pressure. If left to sit, it will slowly melt, which helps you because this melting in grabs the hair better. Start with clean, dry skin. You just grab a handful, make it into a ball, apply it slowly and firmly to your skin in the opposite direction as hair growth, pet it a couple of times or let it sit for a few seconds, and pull it off (parallel to your skin) in the same direction as hair growth. (See quick demo video.)  What you are left with is smooth skin. Fold up the paste and use the same ball to do your whole leg, chest, armpit, whatever or until the paste becomes too hairy or too gummy. Throw it in the trash outside in case the ants like it.

If you are working in a sensitive area, dust your skin with corn starch or talc lightly before sugaring. This makes a huge difference in areas like the bikini or armpits. Sugar paste rinses off with just water. Avoid getting the area dirty after waxing for 24 hours. No deodorant if you wax or sugar your armpits either. (Awesome tip of the day, your armpits don't stink when you sugar. You don't have to use deodorant until it starts to grow back, even if you work out!)

This recipe is enough paste for at least two full sugarings. Store the rest in the fridge in a microwave safe, glass container and stick it the microwave for no more than 20-30 seconds when you want to use it again.

Some people wax/sugar every four to eight weeks, depending on their individual regrowth cycle. I like to touch up every week or two. I don't mind this because it's really fast once you get the hang of it. Also, you can shave until a week before you plan to sugar again so you can save up more hair to remove at one time. Yes, you can use it on eyebrows, too. Please don't wax them too thin, it looks creepy.

I have made a separate post on specifically sugaring your own bikini area. It's a bit tiring and you need a mirror and moderate flexibility but it's totally doable. I sugar *everything* myself. You can too.

I have also made a separate post on sugaring your own armpits.  You will need moderate shoulder flexibility.
I will also make a video on how to make the sugar paste. For the time being, just YouTube it.

*If this is your first time waxing or sugaring, scroll to the bottom of the post.


1. The paste is too hard.

Unless you completely burnt it, you just need to work it in your hands for a minute or less. As you use it, it will become softer, stickier, and gummier.

2. The paste is too soft.

Okay, if you've already let it cool completely and it's too soft/gummy and it stretches when you pull it instead of coming off clean, you can either put it back on the fire for a few minutes or you can stick it in the microwave for a few minutes so it finishes cooking.

3. It's not coming off my skin.

Don't panic. Your paste is too soft. This could be because you didn't cook it long enough, you've used it too long, it's too hot out, or you're sweating. You can try to cool it off by stepping into a cool room and fanning it, then it should pull off. Throw it away and get more. If you're working in a sensitive area, you may be better off just rinsing it off with warm water, drying the area, and starting again with fresh stuff. If you are sweating a lot, you need to do this in a cold room. If you're using really bright lights, they may be causing the room to heat up too much. Some people have had success with using a cold, metal butter knife to pull off paste that has become too sticky. It will stick to the butter knife and should then come off your skin. I've never tried it. What I did try was spreading it and applying piece of an old T-shirt or other sturdy cloth, rubbing it in, and removing as usual.  This gets the paste off your sking and takes the hair with it.  If it doesn't work, stick to warm water removal.

4. I bruised.

This happens if you pull straight up instead of parallel to the skin in a sensitive area. It also happens if it's stuck to your skin and you keep trying to pull it off anyway. See above. The bruising will go away in about a week. I know, it looks incriminating on your bikini line (ask me how I know...).

5. The hair isn't coming out.

Make sure your hair is at least 1/8 - 1/4 inch long before you try to sugar. If it is, you may not be rubbing it in or letting it sit long enough before you pull. Sometimes you will get some stubborn hairs that don't come out on the first try. That's okay. A second pull is fine and it's perfectly safe.

*So, this is your first time sugaring/waxing. There are some things you should know. Does it hurt? Yes, but really only the first time you do it. Start with an area that is less sensitive/less hairy like your lower legs or knuckles. You will see that the next time you sugar there will be a lot less hair and it won't hurt nearly as much. If you are interested in doing your bikini, just do the very edge today. You can do more tomorrow if you want. DO NOT work in large sections. If you are trying to get through your bikini line, chest, or any area with thick hair and/or thin skin, get a smaller ball of paste and work on sections half of a finger width at a time. It's worth the extra time it takes. Next time you will be able to work in larger sections and it won't really hurt. Use the cornstarch/talc dusting before you start.

Set aside twice as much time as you think you will need. You will want to take your time and you probably won't be very good at getting all the hair in one shot. Also, sugar paste can be tricky to use when you first start. However, after a few months you will be an expert. Good luck on your quest for awesomeness and feel free to comment if you have any questions.


  1. Hi, I found this page by accident when I was looking for something else. I realised that the home-made wax recipe I found on the internet (and have been using for two years) is actually intended for sugaring. I just tried using it the way you recommend, and it works much better than messing around with cotton strips - I feel a bit foolish for having done the wrong thing for so long. Thanks for the advice!

  2. Just started looking into hair removal options besides shaving, this post is great. Detailed, clear, and very helpful. Thanks so much for posting!

  3. I think my sugar wax is too runny, I might not have cooked it long enough. I've tried using strips instead (although I'd prefer to use a ball) but even then the hair isn't coming up... it's patchy. Should I recook it in the microwave or the pot? For how long? It's already a dark amber color, and I've had it sitting in the fridge.. reheated it to try and warm it up. But I'm guessing I should have just tried scooping some out? So confused, but desperately want this to work, I've watched so many videos and read so many blogs, please help :)

  4. I made mine, I have a question and a tip. First the tip... the boiling sugar seems to bubble up when you stir or move it in anyway, so when you decide its cooked enough let it sit and cool a while before trying to pour it into a container, I didn't wait and it bubbled up like a hot coke that's been shaken and man it was hard to clean that up!
    Now the question, I thought i cooked it long enough, its a nice dark color, but using it as a paste without strips is so crazy messy. Somewhere I read that you should roll a piece into a ball and then spread it, and I don't see how you can roll it into anything, its just a sticky mess. It took an hour just to do the backs of my hands, won't do the courser hairs on my chin AT ALL. It seems like it might work better if I used some cloth strips with it, but I was hoping not to, that will get expensive. Any tips?

    1. Sounds like you either did not cook it long enough or get it to the right temperature. Basically, we are making candy here---and taking it to the firm-ball stage. It sounds like maybe you only hit hard ball stage when you cooked yours.

      My stuff is rock-hard in the fridge, barely pliable after microwaving 30 seconds, and after working it in my hands, soft enough to sort of spread across my skin and conform to my body, but it holds its shape pretty firmly, so it's easy to rip off. She also posted a video one one of the other sugaring pages.

  5. My younger sister use this method to remove unwanted hair, i gifted her a device to do that but don't know why she relies on such kind of natural remedies.

    1. Well if the devide you gave her cuts or burns the hairs, it's bad because it will grow bad thicker and quicker. That's probably why she likes this natural hair removal method that plucks the hairs which damages the folicules

  6. So I finally got around to trying sugaring and I really wish I had done it before! I've waxed my bikini area a few times before and it's the worst thing ever. Sugaring was so much easier. Painful sure, but not as bad as waxing. I think my sugar was a bit too hard, but it worked fine as far as I can tell. The main advantage to sugaring is that it's easier to control, so you can take off smaller sections of hair. It's also not as messy as waxing, you don't have to keep heating it up, and sugar is a lot easier to wash off than wax. And as an added bonus, it's cheap!

  7. All of this has been so helpful. I had problems with my paste becoming gummy after a little while of use; now i realize this is due to how hot my room is. I'm so happy I found all of this information. This is stuff you don't see in the videos, how you can mess up and what not. Thanks! :)

  8. The Dos and Don'ts of At-Home Waxing

    You must read this hair removal guide before attempting to wax yourself

    • DO: Prevent ingrown hair by exfoliating and moisturizing
    • DON'T: Try to wax hair that's too short or too long
    • DO: Use baby powder pre-wax
    • DO: Test the temperature of your wax
    • DO: Apply and pull in the right direction
    • DO: Apply pressure post wax
    • DON'T: Wax the same area more than twice
    • DO: Use baby oil post-wax
    • DON'T: Pick at ingrown hairs
    • DON'T: Try a Brazilian wax at home
    • DO: Use a hair growth inhibitor
    • DON'T: Try waxing under these conditions

    Read More With Details About Waxing Tips

  9. mine seems to hard after kneading?

    1. You may have used too much sugar for your climate. If not, then you may have overcooked it.

    2. can I fix it

    3. Nope. Just toss it out if you can't get it to work and try again. No big deal.

  10. Great post! I love this idea! I just made my first paste and I havnet tried it yet. Making the paste was the hard bit! Everything I read says bring to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes. I did this with my fisrt attempt and it was barely amber colored.So then I decided to do my second batch using your warm weather recipe as it is very hot here right now, and based on your "it's too hard" advice- Unless you completely burnt it, you just need to work it in your hands for a minute or less." I figure I couldn't over cook it. But it took about 2 hours of boiling the stuff to get it to thicken enough. And I had to hover over it to keep it from boiling over. Is this just because my stove is crap? or am I doing something wrong? Thanks!

    1. This should not take nearly as long as it's taking you. Not even 25 minutes. Try cooking it a little bit hotter as a simmer is probably more suitable for making candy. Stirring it makes it bubble up so give it a break when you want to see the color. I know this is counterintuitive. Also, use a bigger pot if you're worried about that.

  11. Im trying to become zero waste. Any ideas on how to dispose of this?

    1. Really, all of it is biodegradable including the hair. So I wouldn't worry too much about creating waste.

  12. Your article convinced me to actually try sugaring out for myself after three years of faithfully waxing. Your recipe is perfect!! If you'd like to check my post on the actual experience (both traumatizing and rewarding) I'd love to get your feedback! (

    Happy sugaring ladies!

  13. Hi I am a first timer at this . I used to use cream before but it darkened my skin and didn't remove the hair pemanently .
    So any tips for me that will be helpful while I try this.
    I live in va very hit climate by the way, daily almost to 37 C

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  16. I tried it but after playing with the wax before applying it, it just hardens to much to use. mine also isn't dark it's a nice gold color

  17. This is my first time waxing. I only have concentrated lemon juice extract, can I use that or is there a substitute for this? Thanks

  18. This is one of the best informative posts on sugaring. It is the only one so far that I have found that has trouble shooting information which is a great deal of help for first timers and those who have not yet been successful with making paste. The first few attempts I had at making sugar paste (different recipe) I thought I was not very successful, but I found that it worked perfect as a strip wax. This post also helped me to realise that my paste (from my first few attempts) was actually perfect, the heat and humidity where I live was causing it to not work well. Tried using my first batches (of what I had decided was going to be strip wax) with the air conditioning on and the paste worked perfectly. I now have three batches of either sugar paste or strip wax depending on the weather and my efforts to control the temperature in my house at the time of hair removal. I love how cheap, fast and easy this is to make and how simple it is to use, I will never go back to having a salon do my hair removal. So much better doing it at home where I know there is no cross contamination and it is more than affordable.

    Thank you so much for this post. :)

    1. You're welcome. Thank you for having a thoughtful, relevant comment. It's really refreshing after all the ads and spam and generally misspelled, unintelligible posts I have to sort through and periodically delete. I hope it all goes well for you and you're happy with your results.

  19. Hi...
    I use sugaring for removing my hairs and it's perfect..but still I want to make my sugaring paste a light coloured and soft sugaring paste like the one which is available by companies titled soft sugaring paste. .Please teach me how can I get that??regards

  20. After four failed attempts (using other sites as reference) I finally found your incredibly informative and helpful post. My fifth batch came out perfectly after I realized all the other times I had simply overcooked the recipe. Having the references and the cooking time displayed in a clear manner helped so much. It was a beautiful amber color, perfectly maleable after a few seconds of kneading, and didn't stick to my skin at all. I'm definitely not a pro yet, as I did find it difficult to get all the hair without going back over a couple of places and did have very minimal bruises. But your troubleshoot section helped me to quickly realize where I was going wrong (trying to remove it after it got stuck). Thanks to you I feel like I have a chance to master this method and will absolutely be using it from now on.