How To Make Sugar Wax
Getting waxed at a salon can be expensive! You can make sugar wax with 3 simple ingredients and do your own waxing at home. All you need is granulated white sugar, lemon juice, and water. Sugar wax is also less painful than traditional hot wax because it doesn’t remove the hair follicle, making it a great option for those with sensitive skin.
When it comes to DIY projects, ripping one’s body hair out at the roots is usually something I’d leave to professionals, but the ancient technique of sugaring is just so darn accessible.* Luckily for you, I already combed through and tried all the bad advice on the Internet (only a modest exaggeration) to save you the literal pains associated with less-than-stellar methods. Yes, I have the bruising to prove it. No, I’m not proud of that part.
The result, however, I am proud of: A recipe that actually works ! I exclaimed aloud (all by myself), “I did it!” when I finally got it right. The stakes were that high.
So what’s the big deal with sugaring? There are so many ways to remove body hair, why get pumped about just one?
1. The Ancients Loved It
Sugaring has been user tested for a casual few millennia. Purportedly dating to the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt around 1900 BC, sugaring went on to conquer Ancient Greece, Ancient Persia, and has been a popular method in the Middle East for centuries.1,2
2. It’s super simple, cheap, and easy
Essentially, sugaring “wax” is just caramel, and is made of only sugar, water, and lemon juice (you’ll see recipes for salt or other extras – you don’t need those) – affordable pantry staples that often don’t require an extra trip to the store. Plus, sugar is a natural preservative, making this last a long time so you don’t have to make a new batch every time. As someone who works with oil-based products all the time, I have to add that this stuff cleans up like a dream. Hot water dissolves it. Done. It couldn’t be easier!
3. It works – plus, it hurts less
This sticky paste pulls hair out at the roots without ripping off the top layer of skin. Yeah, it still hurts a little, but way less (personal opinion) than waxing. I’m hooked.
4. It’s zero-waste, non-toxic, and eco-friendly
Razors create needless trash, and waxing wax has the double whammy against it of being made with questionable ingredients, and needing to be thrown away. Don’t even get me started on Nair.
Sugaring, on the other hand, is pretty much a no-waste operation, and dissolves in hot water to literal sugar water. It’s probably not good for fish diabetes, but other than that, seems ok. You can eat this, but I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s way too sticky to be comfortable on teeth. Consider yourself warned.
Proper sugaring is done with a pliable mass of sugaring paste that is applied and removed with fingers, and can be reused for multiple sections before losing its stickiness. It reminds me of non-toxic, for-adult-purposes Silly Putty.
Too many recipes for sugaring “wax” have the dry-to-wet ratio of the ingredients all wrong so that the sugar is always too sticky and won’t hold into a ball. The authors of these recipes will tell you to use cloth strips to remove it like traditional wax, which works, but isn’t sugaring in its best form. It’s also wildly frustrating and rather messy to work with. I tried one of these ill-fated recipes in my experiments and used old muslin from a sewing project in lieu of waxing strips. However, it’s super easy to wash and reuse the strips if you go this route.
- 1 cup sugar (I used organic, fair trade cane sugar)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (I used bottled organic – yeah, yeah, fresh is better, but I have a lemon juice problem and they’re a dollar a piece here)
- 1/4 cup water
- a bowl with water of any temperature you like
- a candy thermometer if you have one
- a glass jar for storing (a short mason jar works brilliantly – you need to be able to reach the bottom)
Place a medium-sized pot on the stove. Even though this recipe makes a fairly small batch of sugar wax (approximately enough for 2 legs), use a medium or large pot to make it. The mixture starts to bubble when you heat it, and it can overflow if you use a small pot.
Add the white sugar, lemon juice, and warm water to the pot. Measure out the granulated white sugar and dump it into the pot. Then add the lemon juice and warm water. Stir to combine them.
- Use white or brown granulated sugar. Powdered sugar won’t work at all.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Turn your burner on high and let the mixture heat up until it starts to boil. Stir frequently. Keep an eye on the mixture, since it will start to bubble as it heats up.
- Take care not to burn the mixture. If you do, it will completely solidify once it cools down, making it unusable.
Reduce the heat to medium. Once the mixture starts bubbling and boiling, turn the heat down to medium. Continue to stir frequently. The sugar should be completely dissolved in the liquid at this point.
- If the mixture continues to bubble rapidly at medium heat, turn it down to low.
Remove the pot from heat when the mixture turns golden brown. Keep stirring the mixture as it simmers. Once it reaches a smooth consistency and becomes a deep golden color, turn off the heat and move the pot to another burner.
- The consistency should be similar to hot syrup. If it’s thick like honey, heat it a little longer.
Pour the mixture into a bowl or jar and let it cool for 30 minutes. Unlike traditional hot wax, sugar wax should not be used hot. Pour it in a bowl or jar and give it about 30 minutes to cool down. If it still feels hot or warm enough to be uncomfortable, let it cool for several more minutes before proceeding.
Part2: Applying Sugar Wax
Scoop up a small amount of wax with your fingers. The wax should still be warm but cool enough to touch, so you can use your fingers for the entire process. Scoop up a small amount and roll the wax into a ball with your hands.
- You can use a butter knife or a wooden popsicle stick instead of your hands, if you prefer.
Apply the wax to a small strip of skin. You can apply it with your fingers or a popsicle stick. Be sure to apply the wax in the opposite direction of hair growth. Spread it evenly until it’s about 1/4 in (0.6 cm) thick. Work in small sections that are only a few inches in length and width.
Yields enough wax for both legs (approximately)
Take a deep breath and pull! Get a firm grip on the wax with your fingers and pull it off in the opposite direction of your hair growth. Make it quick, just like you are pulling off a bandage. It may hurt a little bit!
- You can also use your fingers to roll or pull it off, but this prolongs the pain. It’s better to make it quick.
- If desired, apply paper strips on top of the wax, smooth them out, and pull those off instead of the mixture itself.
Continue to apply the wax in small sections until you’re done. You can reuse the same piece of wax 3 to 4 times, if you like. Or you can use a fresh amount of wax for each section of skin.
Pour any leftover wax in an airtight container and refrigerate it. If you have leftover wax, pour it into an airtight container, like a sturdy plastic Tupperware container. Pop it in the fridge and use it within 4 to 5 weeks. Reheat it before you use it.