For those women who wax to obtain beautiful hair free skin, or even for those who merely use a razor, there is a better alternative. Hair removal can be much less painful and less expensive than waxing and obtain longer lasting results than shaving. The method to which I am referring is an ancient, but rediscovered art of sugaring. It has been around for centuries, as long as we women have been vain enough to pay careful attention to our grooming. Ancient Egyptian women practiced it.
The principle is similar to that of waxing, but does not require expensive aftercreams to sooth damaged skin. And the really great part is, you make the solution at home if you choose, for a truly inexpensive solution. The sugaring solution is merely sugar boiled down with lemon juice (the lemon juice conditions the skin and adds a pleasant smell) so that it is a thick syrup. This is applied warm (please be careful and make sure it is not scalding!) to the skin and a cotton strip is smoothed firmly over the area the solution has been applied to with firm strokes in the direction of the hair growth. It is then swiftly pulled away from the skin in the opposite direction of the hair growth. It is gratifying to see all the little hairs stuck to your strip. Painless? Not quite, but decidedly less painful than waxing! You may have to do it again in a week or two depending on how fast your hair grows to take care of new growth that was below the surface of the skin. Also, you have to wait till the hair is sufficiently long (preferably ¼ inch) for the sugaring solution to grip the hair.
Generally you need to use a different strip for each application. It is best to go to a fabric store and have them cut you about ½ yard of unbleached cotton muslin fabric. Cut these into 3” by 9” strips and trim them with pinking shears so they do not fray. This should ensure you a steady supply of sugaring strips. When you are finished sugaring, let the strips soak in a sink of hot tap water and wash them in the washing machine. They are then ready for reuse.
Here is the recipe for making the sugaring solution at home. I have never used the oil and it turned out just fine. Also I poured mine directly from my pot into a glass canning jar for storage and got great results. I substituted ½ cup lemon juice for the water. It is better to undercook the solution than overcook it as otherwise it will be like a hard lemon candy! The principle for making it is very similar to that of candy making in fact. You should not let it get beyond the soft ball stage which is 234 to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. If you do not have a candy thermometer, it can also be measure by dropping a tiny amount in a cup of very cold water. If it make s a soft ball which does not hold its shape, but flattens when held with the fingers, you have reached the softball stage. Remove from heat and cool sufficiently to pour in a container. Never pour it hot into a plastic container!
Here is the recipe:
Start with two cups of sugar to one-half cup of water. Add the juice of two lemons and one tablespoon of sesame oil. The oil keeps it softer and the lemon juice softens the skin and adds a little fragrance. Boil it until the sugar melts and begins to turn the color of toffee or a bit lighter. The sugar keeps cooking if you leave it in a hot pot, so you must spill it out right away on a piece of smooth tile or marble that has some olive oil on it. When it cools a bit, work it with a spoon so that it does not harden. While it is warm put it in a container. Plastic is fine. When you want to use it, it must be heated in some hot water or in the microwave. In the later, it turns liquid quite rapidly and is VERY hot, so about 30 seconds is enough. Work it well in your hands until it is soft and pliable. Small areas of hair should be removed at one time, as it can be painful otherwise. The more often you do it, the less pain there will be. It is really a wonderful technique. It also removes dead skin and leaves you very soft and smooth. Do not use deodorant after. You can remove underarm, leg, and pubic hair with an amount about the size of a heaping tablespoon.
A few more quick tips on sugaring. It is best if possible to hold the skin taut while pulling on the cloth strip to prevent any bruising of the skin. If it does occur, it will be minor and go away after a few days, but a little prevention is nice, especially on sensitive areas. Also, be sure to spread the solution fairly thin. It is much more effective than if you have lots glopped on. I use a rubber spatula for this task. It is easier to spread it thinly if it quite warm and fluid. You don’t want it so hot it burns your skin, but you want it hot enough your skin can just take it. As with anything, practice makes perfect. The really great thing about sugaring is the more often you do it, the finer and more sparse and more slowly the hair grows back. Teenagers should take note. Shaving causes it to come in thicker and coarser, but if they begin with sugaring instead, they may be able to go on to a hair free future! Be sure to work in an area that is easy to clean. In the summertime, ants could be a problem, if you didn’t make sure to clean up sugary drips! A nice warm shower is recommended after this. Or you could do it in your shower if it well lit enough to work in. Also, it is a good idea with sugaring as is with waxing, to regularly exfoliate your skin to prevent ingrown hairs. This is also a good idea with shaving and it makes your skin softer by removing dead surface skin cells.
If all this seems like too much work, then you can go here to order the products from this wonderful web site.
The solution could get expensive to use time after time. I ordered the kit and then made my own, using the fabric strips that had come with it. Happy sugaring!
Gretchen – USA