Here’s everything you need to know about this all-natural hair removal technique with added exfoliation benefits.

By Saleah Blancaflor
Updated September 15, 2019
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For anyone looking for the best way to get rid of unwanted body hair, there are tons of hair removal options out there—so how’s a person to choose? Some of it depends on what’s safe to use on which areas, but a lot of it simply depends on personal preference and individual pain tolerance. There’s shaving, waxing, and laser hair removal—but have you ever heard of sugaring?

Sugaring, a form of hair removal that dates back to ancient Egypt, uses a sugar paste consisting of sugar, lemon, and water to extract hair from the root. It's often confused with waxing, but they're not the same—there's no wax here (it really involves sugar!). To learn more about how it works, how it feels, and what to expect before trying it yourself, we did an expert deep dive into the sugaring process to help you determine if it’s the right hair removal move for you.

How Sugaring Works

Courtney Claghorn, founder and chairwoman of Sugared + Bronzed, says that in the process of sugaring, a “sugarista”—a licensed esthetician proficient in the sugaring technique—applies the sugar paste by molding it onto the skin in the opposite direction of hair growth, which allows the paste to seep into the follicle and wrap around each hair shaft. The esthetician will then use a flicking motion to remove the paste, along with the hair, in the natural direction of hair growth. “The technique is extremely effective if done correctly,” Claghorn says. “Sugaristas often make the process look easy, but it actually takes several weeks of training to master the skill.”

It’s All-Natural and Safe for Sensitive Skin

Claghorn says sugaring is hypoallergenic and completely safe for those with sensitive skin. “Sugaring is safe for those with eczema and psoriasis, however, we don’t recommend getting sugared when a flare-up occurs and skin is weeping, moist, or open.”

“In my experience, the sugaring method combined with our proprietary sugar paste, is the most gentle for all skin types, ages, hair textures, and skin conditions,” says Danielle Correia, CEO and owner of sugaringLA. However, if a client has any concerning skin condition, she recommends they request a consult before booking their first appointment.

It Can Serve as an Exfoliant Too

“Many clients absolutely love the natural exfoliation that occurs via the sugaring process,” Correia says. “No other hair removal method offers this added benefit, which sets sugaring apart. We have clients—both men and women—who'll come in just for the exfoliation experience with the added bonus of hair removal. Either way, the results are amazing.”

It Lasts Longer Than Most Other Methods

Claghorn says with shaving, the effect typically only lasts a few days, while the effect of sugaring can last a month. “Many choose sugaring over waxing and shaving because they’re prone to ingrown hairs and want an all-natural method, unlike laser and waxing with chemicals or resins,” she says. She adds that people with sensitive skin, or those who prefer a long-lasting method with minimal pain, should consider sugaring.

It’s Not That Painful

“Typically, pain-wise, the first sugaring session feels comparable to wax, but it becomes less painful if it turns into a monthly routine.” Claghorn says. Overall, she says if you stay on a consistent monthly sugaring regimen, it’s typically found to be less painful than waxing (but can sometimes be more painful than shaving).

What to Expect During Your First Session

Prior to your first sugaring appointment, Claghorn recommends clients let their hair grow out to at least a quarter-inch long and avoid exfoliating the area within 48 hours of the treatment. “We also recommend clients avoid caffeine before their appointment and arrive with clean skin free of any lotions or oils.”

She adds that avoiding caffeine and nicotine helps mitigate any pain. “We recommend avoiding stimulants pre-sugaring because they can increase water retention, which can cause the skin to become more inflamed post-sugaring, as well as acidity, which can cause the body to be more receptive to pain signals,” Claghorn says. “It is best to arrive feeling as calm as possible so that the sugaring session goes as smoothly as possible.”