The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
In 2017, I learned about the concept of sugar waxing, but as a junior in high school, it honestly scared me. For years, my sensitive skin and I experienced breakouts from trying new products and I still remain fearful to try anything new on my body. It also didn’t help that my mother was a young woman in the 80’s and 90’s, when waxing was at peak popularity. She informed me of its horrendous pain, and our shared skin sensitivity genetics leaving her with rashes, itching, and irritated skin.
During the fall of 2020, sugar waxing became something of a trend on the app TikTok. I was fearful of it, but after researching it, and learning how easy it was to make and use, I decided to make it. Soon it was January 2021, and my first two sugar wax batches were horribly burned. Yeah, it seems easy to make… but it’s not. I’ve made blackened batches, runny batches, and some that look fine, but just don’t come out with the proper consistency to be reused. If you’re unfamiliar with sugar wax, let me explain.
Sugar wax is a blend of 1 cup sugar, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (it must be fresh), and ¼ water. All of these ingredients are boiled together until the boiling mixture turns golden. The trick here is to remove the pot from the heat immediately once it reaches this color–and it’s this point that I seem to get wrong every 3 in 5 batches. After it cools, it will become a dark honey-colored paste, and you should be able to easily take a piece into a ball and use it against your skin to remove hair. If too dark/ hard, it won’t be soft enough to use, and if too light and runny, it will stick to skin and be impossible to grab ahold of. However, when made properly, it works wonderfully for removing body hair for about a week, once the hair grows back (slowly), it will be softer and–in my opinion–less noticeable. [Warning: I am not an esthetician or skin professional of any kind, these are my own casual observations over a year].
In January of 2022, I realized that I have been sugar waxing for an entire calendar year. here’s what I’ve learned:
painful as hell
If it weren’t obvious that ripping hair off of sensitive skin could be painful, I’ll double down on it. It hurts like hell, but the results make it worth it. The skin remains soft and smooth for two weeks after waxing. The results are unlike any razor you can find anywhere.
gets more bearable the longer you do it
Consistency is everything. The time I’ve spent sugar waxing has been quite a journey. The first three times I tried it (basically the first three months), it was very hard to grip the wax, it was uncomfortable, painful (obviously), and I won’t lie, I cried a little bit. The reasons I continued to wax are explained in many of the following points in this article, but after encouraging myself to keep trying it again and again, I found the pain more manageable each time, and soon I found the pain worth it.
Softer hair and even hair growth
They say when you shave, the hair grows back “sharper” or “coarser.” Of course, this isn’t true, but merely the sharper feeling of the cut hair growing out. However, when you wax, the whole hair is removed from tip to root. This removal makes the hair regrowth appear thinner and feel softer when it returns, opposed to the feeling of shaving. Aside from this, I’ve noticed the follicle direction of the hair growth. At one point, I heard that underarm hair generally grows in three different directions. When I shaved, I never noticed, but after waxing, the gentle softness of the hair makes the growth direction much more visible. In my opinion, the clear follicle direction makes the hair growth appear more even, and easier to wax for next time.
have to be consistent with it
I said earlier that consistency is everything: it is. Not only will consistency make the experience more bearable, but it will allow for the regrowth to be more comfortable. Specifically, I’m referring to times when you choose to shave over waxing–after you’ve invested months into the learning process and routine–simply because it’s too much work. True, it’s very tempting to just pick up the razor and say “Forget it! I don’t have time to wax!” but shaving after waxing for so long will make the hair growth uncomfortable. After your body has grown accustomed to the soft regrowth after waxing, the feeling of stubble is more irritating than ever.
Exfoliate each time
While showering, use a clean washcloth to exfoliate and remove all dead skin cells around the hair. Removing this dead skin will allow the wax to lay closer to the skin and body hair, thereby getting a better wax. Exfoliating could also potentially free some ingrown hairs, allowing the future hair to grow out easier.
The wax won’t turn out great on every try
I mentioned before that I’ve had many experiences of burning the wax, having it be too sticky, or sometimes just not even laying on my skin properly. It’s such a simple recipe, but it’s hard to get the boiling point just right. Sadly, I mix up multiple recipes to create my wax, so I don’t have a proper recipe to share with you, but hey, maybe you’ll find a great one and achieve better results than me! Piece of advice: make sure your skin is very dry before applying the wax. Some people put cornstarch over their skin before applying wax. This can be helpful but didn’t help the wax stick to me at all.
There’s a bit of a learning curve
Even after waxing for a year, there’s a lot I still get wrong and need to learn. For example, maybe the recipe won’t turn out perfect on every try. It’s possible to bruise (see next point), but this can be avoided by holding the skin taut before pulling the wax. There’s also a learning curve to learning how to stand or sit, as well as how to grip the hair. It’s not a comfortable experience… but I guess that’s expected.
Don’t be scared: it’s common to bruise
This happened to me a few times before I learned I was doing it wrong. Laying wax and ripping it off from the same location more than twice is very likely to result in some small purple bruising spots under the skin. The teeny bruises take about a week to go away. Granted, these bruises are mostly due to improper waxing technique or not holding the skin taut enough, but the mere act of repeatedly waxing over the same area multiple times can be harmful to the skin as well. I recommend only waxing over the same area one time, twice maximum, per day. If you aren’t removing enough of the desired amount of hair, wait a few hours or a day before trying again.
It takes a long time
It’s rare that you’ll have to wait an entire day to try again on the same area, but you get what I mean. Even if you don’t wait a whole day, the process can take quite a while. Of course, I dread the pain, but I also don’t look forward to standing in front of a mirror with either arm above my head for 5-10 minutes, curving my legs around so I can get each side of both legs, nor do I enjoy the complicated task of sitting on my floor with a hand mirror for over an hour trying to wax my bikini. It’s a long, awkward task.
You’ll still get ingrown hairs from waxing
Sadly, I was hoping to avoid this one when I switched from shaving, but they are an inevitable part of the hair removing experience. The good news, however, is that-–as I’ve mentioned before–-the hair grows back soft, and the ingrown hairs are not itchy when they come back. If you don’t use razors, you can’t get razor burns or irritation from a blade against your skin. Although inevitable, in my experience, you’ll earn considerably fewer ingrown hairs if you lay the wax along the direction of the hair growth, and pull off the wax against the hair direction.
Waxing legs is not worth it (for me)
I only wax my underarms and bikini line, but never legs. Remember how I said the hair will be gone for a little over a week? Well in order to give the wax something to grip onto, the hair must be a certain length, so you must wait almost three weeks until the hair is over half a centimeter long before being able to get the best results. In my life, this was inconvenient. I disliked having hair on my legs that were too long to go unnoticed, but too short to be gripped by wax. Waxing my legs also took a long time to do. Even when the hair was long enough, I missed several hairs/ way more than I miss when I wax any other part of my body. Coincidentally, I was waxing my legs before I knew how to hold my skin, and before I knew not to repeatedly wax the same place… so I had bruises on my legs for quite some time. Shaving my legs was much easier, but I prefer to wax my underarms and bikini over shaving.
Nearly impossible to get every single hair
Like I said before, I missed countless hairs when waxing my legs, however waxing more sensitive skin somehow allowed me to miss a few hairs… especially when I waited longer than two weeks for hair regrowth. The same is true for shaving–the longer you wait for the hair regrowth, the better results will be for removing random sparse hairs. Sadly, it seems that no matter the length of time I wait, there will inevitably be a few missed hairs.
Feel way more confident (even sexier)
Okay, so despite the cons to waxing, my absolute biggest pro has been the confidence I’ve gained. As I mentioned, I waxed my bikini area and although I was scared to try it, I loved the results. I spent many years being insecure about the look and feel of razor usage, but after waxing, the smooth results gave me such confidence in everything from wearing strappy tops, swimming in a string bikini, or looking good during hookups. I was confident in the way I looked, and in turn, I felt sexier. As a young woman, with plenty of other insecurities about my body, I’m not planning on losing that small piece of sexual confidence anytime soon.
It’s not for everyone
Lastly, throughout my year-long journey of sugar waxing, I’ve discovered a lot of criticism against waxing. Since I’m comfortable with and open about my sexuality and sexual health, I’m often asked a lot of questions about sugar waxing (hence why I wrote this article)! Many girls are curious, but some are intimidated by the pain and required upkeep, doubtful of sugar waxing’s true advantages over shaving. Not everyone is interested in it, and some have tried it, only to have a horrible experience and never try it again. After reading my take on waxing, I hope you’ve learned a bit about the process of sugar waxing, maybe you’ll be interested or maybe you won’t. It’s not for everyone and that’s okay.