Pulling My Hair Out: DIY Sugar Waxing

by Laura Pilati

One of the things we’ve enjoyed most since starting GCG is the dialogue that we find ourselves now having with the world. Three months ago, it felt like we were throwing a bag of our favorite seeds to the wind and hoping that someone cared about them, picked them up, and took care of them, somewhere. Flash forward to the last three days, during which time I’ve picked up little conversations with two people who I didn’t even know were keeping up with this little project. Both of them tossed ideas for the blog my way–coincidentally, both DIY cosmetic ideas–and in so doing fueled the flame. Because this blog isn’t about us–it’s about the community of us! So if you’re reading this, thank you. We appreciate your thoughts and attention and hope that you’ll pipe up when you have something to say (which many of you did last week–your comments were amazing and inspiring!).

Intrigued by this GOOD article/series (by Lesley Clayton), which was sent to me by one of you, dear friends, I whipped up some sugar wax and took it for a spin.

at home sugar wax

Let’s start with a truth here…I am no stranger to yanking out hairs; I’ve been plucking my eyebrows for almost ten years now. That being said, the pain still gets me. Have any of you ever accidentally pinched your skin instead of a hair with the tweezers? Or had a stray eyebrow in that super sensitive area right above your eyelid? OUCH. So the thought of pulling out many large hairs on the super sensitive, super thin skin on my legs startled me away from ever trying waxing.

Ok, another truth…I don’t usually shave my legs, either. That’s it–I’ve put it out there to the universe! I guess it started about four or five years ago, when one of my roommates decided to see how long she could go without shaving her armpits, that I decided to do a one-year experiment–no leg shaving. It was sort of the result of laziness and sort of a social test on myself: could I stand people staring at my legs and asking questions? Or would people even say anything? Well, stares happened. And lots of weird questions ensued (many times I got both, and once a fellow lifeguard actually scowled at me). That was hard. And though it hurt every time I got one or the other (or both, as it were), I half expected myself to get used to it after a year. What actually happened was this: I felt super self-conscious about having unshaven legs and, when the year was up, promptly shaved them. And then I let them go again…still not sure why that initially happened. Social rebellion? When people asked about it, I told them that I just shaved my legs whenever I felt like it. Then, that’s what my habit became. These days, you may find me with or without my legs shaven–depends on my level of self-confidence, I suppose.

Your sneak preview: one leg waxed, one leg unwaxed.

Here’s where the sugar waxing comes in! When I got the article about sugar waxing–making a wax for hair removal from sugar–I took it as a DIY challenge. Here goes nothin’…

I followed GOOD’s directions to a T (though I also watched a few youtube videos, most of which had high entertainment value). First, I started by squeezing the ever-living daylights out of a lemon to get my 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. No, really:

Then, I added a cup of granulated sugar (though according to many youtube videos, you can use raw or brown or turbinado sugar as well) and 2 tablespoons of tap water. Stir to combine:

I turned the heat to high, or as my stove likes to call it, 6. Once the mixture began to boil, which happened pretty quickly, I turned the heat to medium, or about 4. As Lesley said of her experiment, mine took about six minutes to turn a shade of honey (though this would probably be different for those using another type of sugar–in the future, I’d recommend using a candy thermometer for more accurate measurement):

I removed the pot from the stove and poured the wax-in-the-making into a small stainless steel bowl to cool. What I didn’t realize would happen is that the wax continued cooking itself and ended up a shade of molasses:

I was a little concerned that it would harden to brittle at this point, but decided to bide my time. All ended well! When the mixture got to about 100 degrees (I did use my candy thermometer here), I took out a dollop with a spoon and began to “knead” it between my hands:

As I kneaded, the wax cooled and got more pliable. At this point, I started to sort of smooth it out on my shin. At first, it didn’t do a great job of pulling up hair–in fact, it didn’t really do anything at all, except make me want sugar (attention: DO NOT EAT the wax after using it on your hair. please. i beg you.).  But as time passed, the wax cooled to my body temperature and lost some of its water content. This is when things got more successful. Well, painfully successful. Were you thinking that I somehow held the key to painless waxing? I wish!

After a bit of time kneading the wax and using it on my left leg, it worked well enough. It was easy to “roll out” on my legs and pull up to remove the hair (interestingly enough, as I used it more, the wax worked better). What I figure happened to Lesley (she says that all she ever got was a stringy mess) was that she didn’t let it cool long enough. When I first took the wax out of the cooling bowl, the same thing happened to me; the trick was to keep kneading it while it cooled, and eventually I could roll it into one mass and start using it for real.

I’m not telling the full story here, though. This process took FOREVER. All in all, making the wax, letting it cool, and using it on my two legs (which was from the knee down) took roughly 3-4 hours. And I didn’t even do what I would consider a “thorough” job. On top of that, it took a while for my skin to “settle down”–I had little red welts and patches for several hours afterward. Nevertheless, after rinsing and drying my skin, my legs felt nice in this Virginia summer heat:

Would I do this again? Maybe. It’s cheap and sort of fun, in a weird way. But it does take a long ass time and hurts like the dickens. I’m wondering if these two cons could be potentially avoided: did I let the wax cook too long (this video shows a slightly varied method that suggests working the wax like I did with less cooking)? should I have moisturized my skin before/after trying the wax out? I’ve heard before of salons applying oil to skin before wax to minimize pain and swelling. Have any of you ever experienced this? Do you have other tips for the next time I give it a try (’cause I’ll probably forget about the pain by the time I wake up tomorrow morning…)?

P.s.-Wanna be featured on GCG? We’re looking for lovely ladies (and gentlemen!) to interview and guest write. Don’t have a topic in mind? No problem! Write us at getcleangirls@gmail.com or leave a comment below–we’ll be in touch soon. 🙂

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25 responses to “Pulling My Hair Out: DIY Sugar Waxing

  1. I’m twelve, and I tried sugar waxing today. It didn’t hurt very much, just a little sting, and this is the first time I’ve ever removed hair from my body. If you put it on and rub it the opposite direction that it grows, and brush n cornstarch before you wax, it helps a lot with the pain. 🙂

  2. I did a very similar method on my bikini line…hurt like hell but did the job! Considering it would have cost me $50 to get it done at a salon, I am happy! 🙂

  3. It’s my second year in college and I’ve shaved my legs less than 10 times since my senior year of HS.
    All inspired by my first bfs mother. She rocks.

  4. Sugar waxing is definitely the way to go! It leads to permanency, does NOT bond to living skin cells, less hair breakage and lets not forget you can make it yourself!!! There are a lot of all natural and organic products are easy to make at home.

  5. Mine came out with the consistency of a light syrup (thick liquid). It doesn’t become a ball in between my fingers when it’s cool. Is that normal?

    • Hi Karjiana! It sounds like your sugar wax did not cook long enough. Think of the cooking process like what it is to make caramel–because that’s essentially what it is. 🙂 The sugar/water solution will reduce over time and become harder the longer you cook it. You just have to find that happy point at which it’s neither runny nor solid. Hope that helps!

  6. Have you ever tried just using a sugar scrub to shave? It works really well and isn’t nearly as painful. And it leaves your skin super soft because it gets off the dead skin!

  7. I’m not a super experienced waxer and to be honest I only waxed my legs about twice in my life but what works for me for pain is keeping a cold washcloth near (or other cold compress like an ice pack)so when u peal the wax off imnediately pat the area with the cold compress to sooth the skin and prevent irritation.

  8. I tried this and it didnt work at all. When it was finally cooled down enough to not burn me (i actually got a few minor burns) i tried to knead it, but after a few seconds it was hard as a rock. Even when i successfully spread it over my skin, it didnt pull anything up. Any ideas on what couldve gone wrong?

    • Emelia, sorry that it didn’t work for you! It can be a very finicky process, and as you’ve seen, I didn’t get it to work perfectly either. The trick is really stretching the wax as it is cooling so that it doesn’t solidify like candy. But that’s hard to do since it’s hot. I honestly think that I developed callouses from trying it so many times before I finally got it to “work”. I can’t understand exactly how that lady in the video I posted got it to react so effortlessly!

  9. If the sugar is too hard (is solid) then you have cooked it too long, try again on a lower heat and take it off the heat as soon as it goes light brown. If it is too runny then try again but keeping it on the heat for a little longer. You should aim for a caramel which is quite tough but malleable at room temp but softens when you stretch it in your hands. You should be able to sugar at room temp and I would recommend this to avoid burns.

  10. I use sugar wax to give myself brazilians. I like it because the wax is water soluble and easy to get off your skin.

  11. I used brown sugar but otherwise followed the recipe. When I was done it turned rock hard. Unless I seriously messed up the recipe, I think it was the brown sugar so I don’t recommend it. Plus it makes a difficult clean up job!

  12. Hello. I shave my legs sometimes as well. Lol. My skin is so sensitive. Shaving makes me itch no matter what I do or use. I’ve been researching the sugar waxing method, so I am going to try it.

  13. I tried making and doing the sugar wax method today – I got the hair out. (yay!) but it certainly took some effort. Yes – it is a timely process…here were my troubles:
    1) by the time the wax cooled enough for me to touch (! – even still decently hot…), when I tried making a ball in my palms, it was still stringy. So, I let it cool some more. Then I tried again, and I know about kneading the wax, so I did that. When kneading it (I think due to introducing more oxygen to the mix??), it went solid! It turned a wonderful gold/gold string color (like I’ve seen in tons of videos!) but got harder and harder and harder to knead/pull…ended up ripping about 3 layers of skin off my finger and blistering (I was pulling so hard!)
    2) I’d love to use the wax at a room temp (the videos make it seem like putting it on was a breeze! – easy to pull, very squishy-esque wax), whereas I had to P-U-L-L it up slowly, very slowly cuz it was already turning hard.

    So – I made another batch. I had it on even heat (my stove goes up to a 9, and I kept it between 6 & 7), boiled it (it took 5 mins to get to a roaring boil, and color didn’t set in until about 12 mins) until it became the honey/gold color.

    Any clues in what I’m doing wrong? I ended up having to wax my legs in my kitchen by the microwave so that I could nuk the wax every 30 seconds or so for 10 seconds, just so that I could let it cool for a second or two then take another glob and spread it on (and it was hot on my fingers and legs when applying!)

    I have no clue what I did wrong…

  14. I’ve tried sugar waxing 3 times. Each time ive used nearly a whole bag of sugar by the amount of times I tried to get the wax to right consistency. Procrastinating for weeks and weeks tonight I tried again. Worst. I could not for the life of me get the wax to stop hardening while it cooled, it was basically just a sliiightly sticky candy. I don’t know what i’m doing wrong I can never get it right on the first try. Kind put me in a bad mood :/

  15. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this before I actually attempt it on myself and all the stuff I’ve seen/read says to clean and dry the skin before use. Also to help with the pain you can either apply oil after or just simply apply slight pressure after the waxing, also every time I get my eyebrows waxed the do both.

  16. If the sugar doesn’t get that dark, is it not ready? Did mine this morning, thought it was finished, cooled it and now realize i didn’t do it all correctly. I am trying to find answers. It is still very sticky and gooy. The color is very light.

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