Gimme Some Sugar
Shavers and waxers, there is a sweeter way to remove unwanted body hair – it's called sugaring. Check out our video and other Web extras.
If my calculations are correct, I spend roughly 35 minutes out of every week removing unwanted body hair. A lifelong shaver who can’t stand even a day’s growth, I shave day after day in the mythical pursuit of smooth, soft, hairless skin.
I’ve avoided waxing because it not only requires me to grow hair out, but just seems a bit too hard on the skin for my taste. So, when I recently heard about an alternative to both shaving and waxing, in the form of something as innocuous as sugar, I was more than intrigued.
"Sugaring techniques date back to Cleopatra’s day,” says Catherine Moalemzadeh, owner of Skin So Sweet. “It is an age-old tradition that dates back to centuries ago and is a popular technique in households in the Middle East, where they actually cook the paste in their own kitchens.”
Though sugaring products may vary, depending on manufacturer or recipe, the traditional sugaring paste includes water, lemon juice and sugar to create a gooey substance with honey-like consistency. Like waxing, sugaring results can last up to about a month and frequent treatments can lead to less hair growth over time. But sugaring proponents like Moalemzadeh – an esthetician for 12 years who started introducing sugaring to her waxing clients three years ago – say the traditional sugaring method of applying a malleable palm full of sugar paste onto the body or face has many benefits over waxing.
For one, it is easier for skin to burn from wax that has been overheated, according to Julia Davis, owner of The Sugar Shack in Tustin and an esthetician for six years. Sugar, on the other hand, must be applied at a lukewarm temperature or it doesn’t work effectively.
Esthetician Mary Clover, who recently opened Pure Clover Skin Spa in Dana Point and offers sugaring, says the sugar paste – which is applied against the direction of hair growth and flicked off in the direction of the natural growth pattern – attaches only to hair follicles and dead skin cells, and doesn’t remove deeper layers of skin like wax.
"So it can be reapplied to remove all the hair; while waxing is hot, attaches to the hair and live skin tissue – ouch – so it can only be applied once a session to the skin,” says Clover.
The potential benefits that caught my attention were that sugaring can hurt less than waxing and that you don’t have to wait until you look like Bigfoot to have hair removed. Davis says she tells shavers to let the hair grow out for eight to 10 days rather than the typical three to four weeks required for waxing. And she says that sugaring isn’t pain-free, but can be less painful. Factors like hair being too short and having coarser hair can increase pain.
After two sugar treatment adventures, I came to the conclusion that I would try it again. Having no real experience with waxing and falling into the “coarse hair” category, I felt more pain than anticipated. But I like the idea that something as simple as sugar can do the job. And it beats shaving every day.
But before you do, check out our sugaring vs. waxing video.
Pure Clover Skin Spa
24655 La Plaza Ste. B, Dana Point
Skin So Sweet
436 Heliotrope Ave. Ste. 1B, Corona del Mar
4911 Warner Ave. Ste. 103, Huntington Beach
The Sugar Shack
220 El Camino Real, Tustin
Orange County estheticians Mary Clover, Julia Davis and Catherine Moalemzadeh answer some of our sugaring questions:
How have your clients taken to sugaring?
Davis: Oh my gosh! I have two or three clients that come in for wax. The rest of my hair removal business is using sugar, and I have hundreds of clients. That's close to 99% preferring to be sugared over wax. Months will go by that I won't touch my wax.
Are there people you don't recommend sugaring for?
Clover: I can say sugaring is for almost everyone. If they get waxed, they can be sugared, but anyone who has a histamine reaction to waxing could have a similar reaction to sugaring. Also, the same precautions for waxing exist for sugaring. Anyone using a drug, like Accutane, that should not be waxed most likely should not be sugared.
Is there any sugaring after-care involved?
Clover: The same applies for sugaring as it does with all skin care, hydrating and exfoliation is suggested. I recommend for 24 hours after sugaring, to keep the area from being exposed to the sun, perfumes or any chemical irritants. Sugaring removes dead skin cells, so the new skin can be sensitive. I apply a mask right after sugaring to sensitive areas, like the face or bikini. My clients love the Hungarian mud mask.
Can people really make sugar at home?
Moalemzadeh: Yes, you can make sugar at home in your kitchen to sugar yourself! However, it is recommended that you seek a professional because you can end up burning your skin or damaging it by not using it properly. The sugar that is manufactured for my use is the highest quality and is at the proper temperature and pliability for use of the handheld method that I perform.