Long before disposable razors, waxing kits, and laser treatments, men and women removed unwanted body hair using a simple process known as sugaring.
The ancient art of body sugaring is a method that was widely practiced in the Middle East and North Africa as far back as 1900 BC. It is said that Cleopatra and friends employed body sugaring to keep skin smooth and hairless.
Although there’s no shortage of hair removal options in modern times, body sugaring is making a bit of a comeback. And it’s not hard to see why: body sugaring is safe, all-natural, effective, inexpensive, and less wasteful than other treatments in today’s age.
What is Body Sugaring?
Body sugar is a mixture of three super simple ingredients: white sugar, lemon juice, and water. When heated up together, they create a thick, malleable paste with a honey-like consistency that can be spread on the skin and “flicked” to remove hair.
To apply, spread body sugar in the opposite direction of hair growth. The paste is very pliable and can be thinned and smoothed along the skin surface. Keep the paste in one piece and let it sit on the skin for a few seconds. To remove hair, pull the sugar paste off in the same direction of hair growth by quickly tearing it off the skin in one smooth movement. It takes a little practice to get the proper flick, but it’s easy to do once you get the hang of it.
Here’s a good video demonstration of how body sugaring is accomplished.
7 Benefits of Body Sugaring
Body sugaring has plenty of advantages over contemporary hair removal treatments:
1. No Harsh Chemicals
Safe enough to eat, body sugar paste is free of chemical agents and is made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.
Waxing products, on the other hand, contain resins, chemicals, preservatives, and dyes that are irritating to the skin. Some ingredients to look out for in waxing kits are petroleum-based mineral oils, synthetic resins like glyceryl hydrogenated rosinate, and preservatives like propylparaben.
Likewise, depilation agents, such as hair removal creams, are made with inorganic chemicals like calcium hydroxide, barium sulfide, and calcium thioglycolate that break down proteins in the hair follicle to dissolve them.
2. Won’t Irritate Your Skin
Repetitive shaving can leave nicks and cuts in its wake, and extra sensitive areas may be prone to red spots and bumps. Waxing, too, can make the skin red, sore, and inflamed since it can pull live skin cells off along with the hair.
Body sugaring is incredibly gentle and is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin. The paste is hypoallergenic and adheres only to hair and dead skin cells – and never live skin. When it is flicked away, it won’t leave behind red patches or painful bumps. And because it takes dead skin away too, it has the added benefit of mild exfoliation.
3. Less Painful
Any time hair is plucked from the flesh, you will feel something. But because body sugaring doesn’t tear at living skin cells, it is far less painful than waxing treatments.
4. Long Lasting
The results of body sugaring are long lasting, with the time frame between treatments being about six weeks. This is because the sugar paste permeates deeply into the hair follicle, all the way down to the roots. When flicked away, it takes the entire hair strand from bulb to shaft.
Hair only needs to be ? of an inch long for it to work. When the hair regrows, it will come back finer, lighter, and sparser. And if you do body sugaring regularly, it can lead to permanently hair-free legs, lips, armpits, and bikini lines.
5. Zero Waste
When it comes to hair removal, disposable razors generate a staggering amount of waste: these small plastic gadgets are too small and too difficult to disassemble for recycling and so they are heaped at the garbage dump at a rate of 2 billion per year in the US alone.
Not requiring any special tools or equipment, body sugaring is a true zero waste operation. It doesn’t need strips or popsicle sticks or any other parts to do its job, and when you are finished using your sugar ball, it can be tossed in the compost heap.
6. Reduced Risk of Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs occur when the hair follicle breaks beneath the skin surface, curling back or growing sideways into the skin. More prevalent in people with curly or coarse hair, ingrown hairs result in painful, inflamed red bumps that are typically caused by shaving or waxing too frequently.
Body sugaring reduces the risk of ingrown hairs because hair is removed in the direction of hair growth, which helps keep the hair follicle intact to minimize breakage.
For added protection against ingrown hairs, it’s important to exfoliate the skin before applying the sugar paste. Try one of these homemade scrubs to remove dead skin. After you’ve performed the body sugaring treatment, apply moisturizer liberally to all your freshly hairless spots.
7. Easy Clean Up
After receiving a waxing treatment, oil-based substances – like petroleum jelly – are used to break down the leftover resins to be wiped away.
Body sugaring paste, however, is water soluble and requires only a simple rinse with plain water.
How to Make Body Sugar
The popularity of body sugaring is growing – more and more salons and spas are adding professional body sugaring treatments to their repertoire. You can also find pre-made body sugaring paste for sale, like this jar by Moom.
But if you’re more of the DIY type, sugaring paste is really easy to make:
- 2 cups of white cane sugar
- ¼ cup of lemon juice
- cup of water
- 1 teaspoon of guar gum (optional thickening agent)
With a medium sauce pan on the stove top, add sugar, lemon juice, water, and optional guar gum. Mix together until well blended. To prevent the paste from burning, set heat on low to slowly bring up the temperature. Stir the paste continuously, increasing heat to medium in stages. Once the paste reaches a boil (about 250°F), it should be a golden yellow color. Remove pot from heat and allow the mixture to cool completely before transferring to a glass jar.
To use, simply pop the container into the microwave for a few moments to warm it up for easier spreading. If you have leftovers, sugar paste will last indefinitely if you store it in the refrigerator.