Tuesday, March 23, 2010

DIY Sugar Waxing

Last time we talked about sealing wax. Now let's talk about a different kind of wax.

Lately, Sak's been giving me the eww-you-nasty-girl lip curl whenever I walk around the house in shorts.

Why don't I just shave my nasty legs already? Well, I want to experiment. I've never done anything but shaving and Nair before, and well - waxing is just one of those wedding-words that have started up my interest. Like belly-band. And bustle. So, in true Penga-fashion, I did some research on shaving alternatives. Waxing is a pretty good choice, as it helps alleviate common-shaving problems such as ingrown hairs and scabbing.

Being simultaneously a total chicken and a frugal person, I wasn't too keen on the idea of going to a professional for help. So I bought a little no-mess wax kit from Target to try out.
It works well, and it's easy to apply, but it's pretty expensive.

Well, how hard can it be to make your own wax? I turned to my best friend, Google, and found plenty of ideas.

I found one with easy-to-find ingredients, and it turns out the process is called "sugaring" rather than waxing. Mrs. Cherry Pie wrote about it a while back, so I felt confident trying it out on my gross, unshaven self.

Let's try, shall we? I'll keep out all pictures of my legs, I promise.

There are several recipes floating around out there, but I'll use the most common one with the simplest ingredients. (As a side, I also tried the microwave version with honey, but didn't get good results. Maybe my microwave is lame.)

According to this website, here's what I'll need:

2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup of water

Mix it up!

I was supposed to heat the sugar up to 250 degrees F, but seeing as I didn't have a candy thermometer, I tried with a meat thermometer instead. I don't know what happens if you overwork a mercury thermometer, but I didn't let it go all the way to the end of the meter, in case it really does explode.

I let it cool down to about 100 degrees, which took forever and made me very impatient. I forced it in the freezer for a while. While waiting for it to cool, I cut up some leftover cotton fabric into strips.

After retrieving the cooled liquid, I powdered my leg with cornstarch to give the substance something to cling on. I slapped some of the warm stuff on top and covered it with a fabric strip in the direction my hair grows.

I braced myself for pain, held my skin in one hand and ripped with the other hand.

Except there was no ripping. It just fell right off!

Not so good there.

I washed the sugary goop off my leg and went back to assess what went wrong. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the online photos showed a much denser consistency than my liquid sugar. Maybe it was still too hot? I shoved it back in the freezer and cooled it completely.

Now once the first mixture was cooled completely, I tried it again. No luck, it was still too runny. I tried changing fabric, thinking maybe my canvas muslin wasn't porous enough. Still no luck.

Finally, Sak suggested I heat it up again, thinking maybe I didn't cook it long enough the first time.

Well, surprise, surprise. He was right. I boiled the mixture for another five minute or so, and cooled it down once more.

See how much thicker it is this time? More like honey and less like lemonade. This time it worked. Sort of. Here's what I found:

-Canvas strips worked better than the thin cotton, since they were thicker and didn't "over absorb" the sugar paste.
-The layer of goop needs to be really thin. Too much and the canvas slides around too much.
-The strip needed to be pulled in the opposite direction of my hair growth. I don't know why, as this seems counter-intuitive to me, but it just worked better that way.

And it still hurt like none other. But hey - it's a LOT cheaper. And you can re-use your cloth strips by washing them out and drying them.

Now after that I was done for the day. My legs hurt from all the pulling, so I followed up with some of the oil that came with my Target kit. My legs were bare, for the most part, but there's still a couple patches that need to be cleaned up.

Overall, would I do this again? Maybe, but I think I'll only ditch the trusty razor for special occasions (like a wedding, maybe?). To me, it was a lot of set-up and a lot of mess, only to put yourself through excruciating ripping-pain. But I hear it gets easier with time and practice. I do appreciate how simplistic the ingredients are - no crazy chemicals or anything fussy.

Have you sugared before? How painful is ripping your hair out by the follicle for you?


  1. Never sugared before but have waxed frequently on my own. I buy the water soluble wax that Veet makes. Its easy to use, lasts a long time, and comes with a wooden spatula and strips. The fact that its water soluble makes clean up easy (and any mistakes). Been using it for a while and very happy with it. Its painful depending on the area

  2. I have never sugared before and I realized I'm not a good self waxer after investing almost $80 a few years ago into a good waxing kit. (I'm a pro at waxing others though!! Don't tell Pete I told you but I clean up his eyebrows now and then.)
    Instead I budget in a $25 bikini wax in my budget every month (plus a $10 tip). I know some towns its more expensive and some places (like Hungary, France and Tanzania) its a lot cheaper but its better than any alternative I've found!!
    Congrats on having the guts to rip those babies out yourself, I'm wayyyy to much of a scardy cat!

  3. @hannah - is that the secret then? have someone else do it? hehe. it was really painful T-T

  4. You are brave Penga!! My mom does this- and it's crazy painful. I use a topical numbing cream called "No Scream Cream" for when I'm waxing. Maybe it would help?


  5. I've never sugared but got a pro biki waxed once. Never again. That 40yr Old Virgin flick got it right! LOL I luv my old school razor & shave cream. I really like Sally Hansen's spray on hair remover too. It doesn't smell as bad as nair.

    I get my brows threaded. Same price, I don't look like I just got an a$$whooping like I do with wax and I swear it lasts longer.

  6. No pain, no gain. Your legs look smooth afterwards, no? Just like you, I had a hard time doing it the first time. That led me to many feats of trial and error. But it was all worth it when my face was devoid of unwanted hair.