Sugaring is a method of hair removal that is similar to waxing in many ways, applying a sticky paste of sugar, starch, or similar substances to the body and then pulling it off, taking the hair with it, but sugaring has several features which sets it apart from waxing as well, making it a gentler alternative for those with sensitive skin.
Sugaring can be handled in one of two ways, both of which use a mixture of sugar, lemon juice, and water. The sugaring solution can be prepared at home from simple ingredients, or it can be bought in pre-mixed containers (with the pre-mixed solution usually containing guar gum as well). Either composition is effective, although the commercial variety with guar gum probably has slightly improved stickiness and ‘grip’ on the hairs.
The sugaring may be applied in a thick layer over the hairs to be removed, and a strip of cloth or heavy paper set into the top of it. This is then ripped off, pulling the sugaring and the hairs which are caught in it away from the body in one quick movement. This is somewhat painful, but less so than waxing, since the sugaring will adhere to the hairs but not to the skin, whereas wax adheres to both. Since the paste is made of all water-soluble ingredients, cleanup of extra paste is easier than that for extra wax, and any residue can be quickly rinsed off with warm water and a spot of soap.
The other sugaring method is to roll a ball of the sugaring paste, which is thick and holds its shape if properly mixed, and then roll it onto the body over a small area. It is then pulled off quickly – preferably with a flick – in the direction of hair growth, rather than against the ‘grain’ of the hair as is usual with waxing and the sugaring technique described above. The ball is then rolled onto the next section of skin, flicked off, and so on, being reused repeatedly.
Sugaring has several advantages over waxing, although its cost is basically the same, whether it is applied privately or by a professional esthetician. It does not cling to the skin like wax does, so the irritation associated with sugaring is much less. Less people are allergic to sugar and lemon juice than to the paraffin in most waxes, so allergic reactions are also less likely. The pain is less because it does not pull on the skin, and it is easier to clean up after use. It is somewhat less effective than waxing with a single application on some people whose hair is toughly rooted, but sugaring is a more comfortable and safer alternative to waxing that those with sensitive skin may find especially appealing.