The safe, organic way to remove hair, or so those in the business of sugaring claim. We investigate.
Sugaring has been a method of hair removal for hundreds of years, some say Cleopatra was a fan, however it has recently made its way back into the mainstream. Predominantly, the reasons for it trending are that you can do it yourself from home, the ingredients are simple (you probably already have them in your kitchen) and natural, plus you don’t need any equipment.
The process is similar to waxing but apparently less painful. A gel-like paste is applied to the skin and then flicked off again using only your hands. The paste is smoothed over the unwanted hair in the opposite direction to their growth and so when it is removed the hair is easier to pull out in the natural direction of growth. The process removes hair from the follicle rather than cutting it off as you would when shaving.
This is a really straightforward mixture that you make on the stove at home. There are only three ingredients needed to make the paste for sugaring. Lemon juice, sugar and water. It’s that simple. You can purchase it if you prefer, but to make it yourself is really easy. To create the texture and consistency of the paste combine the ingredients and warm on the cooker until caramelised.
The ratios you need to stick to are as follows:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
You can multiply the amounts to make more if needed.
First, place the sugar in the bottom of a heavy-based pan, gently add the water and lemon juice to cover all the granules of sugar. Scrape down any sugar that may have stuck to the sides – all sugar must be covered in liquid.
Place your pan over a medium heat.
You should not stir the mixture or you will get crystals which will not be beneficial when you are using your paste. You can give it a light swirl just to make sure the ingredients are all combined well. Then leave it to caramelise.
Keep watching the pan as the paste will be ruined if any sticks and burns. Once the mixture becomes a honey colour, take it off the heat. It can always be put back on if necessary. If you have a thermometer the temperature of the mixture should reach 115ºC. The consistency should be thick and honey-like, as should the colour.
Do not use when piping hot as it will burn the skin and be painful, so allow to cool to room temperature before use. Pour into a glass bowl to prepare for usage.
How to apply
You can use the paste on any part of the body which you would usually shave or wax. Although male facial hair is considered too coarse to be sugared.
Before you apply the paste your skin needs to have been exfoliated, cleansed and powdered (baby powder is fine), so that any dead skin has been removed, there is minimal dry skin, and no moisture. You can do this an hour or so prior to the treatment to allow the skin to recover after exfoliation. Once the paste has cooled enough to touch and spread on the skin, scoop a spoonful worth of the mixture with your first two fingers, and work the paste into a ball (you may want to wear gloves) using your thumb. Begin at the bottom of the area you are going to work on and smooth the paste upwards against the natural direction of the hair applying as much pressure as you can with the tips of your fingers. Keep smoothing the paste until it is the same thickness across the chosen area. Now use your fingers to ‘flick’ the paste off the skin in the direction of the natural hair growth. Your other hand will be needed to hold your skin in place while you pull off the paste. The hair should come out from the root and so should not grow back for a couple of weeks – for some, even longer.
Continue the process until all unwanted hairs are removed using a new ball of paste once the ‘stickiness’ is reduced. The paste is a great option for those with sensitive skin as it shouldn’t irritate as much as synthetic waxes or shaving. Apply a light moisturiser after you have finished your sugaring.
Besides being made of inexpensive natural ingredients and very simple to make at home, the sugaring process is beneficial as it has minimal negative effect on the skin, and is therefore approved for all skin types. It may be argued that traditional waxing methods are more effective in removing the hair, and that sugaring can leave some behind, however the same area can be treated more than once without irritation and the hair is less likely to break during sugaring than other methods. This reduces the risk of ingrowing hairs after the procedure.
The hair should be at least the length of a grain of rice to be able to be removed effectively. After sugaring you should refrain from perspiring to avoid any pore clogging. Exfoliation should also be avoided for at least 48 hours after sugaring.
You might find the ‘flicking’ technique to remove the paste and hairs a little tricky to start off with, it does take some practice to get it right. The paste needs to be pulled off away from the skin, but not upward, to avoid bruising. If the paste happens to harden before you get around to using it, you can add a touch of water and microwave it for ten second intervals until it softens.
Sugaring is a cost-effective, safe and simple method of hair removal. Once you get the hang of the ‘flick’ it could well become your go-to way to rid yourself of those unwanted hairs. Do carry out a patch test just to make sure your skin approves of the paste, it is considered the least risky when it comes to aggravating the skin due to its straight-forward and natural composition, but it is always recommended to try out any new skin treatments first, just to be safe.
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