Here's Why You Should Really Be Sugaring Instead Of Waxing

After one horror waxing story, I set to find out

Illustration by Lindsay Hattrick

As an avid believer that anyone who has ever been waxed anywhere has a horror story about a botched experience, I often find myself wondering why we willingly put what essentially feels like molten lava anywhere near our bodies. (If you're wondering, my waxing horror story involves me getting my eyebrows done with wax so hot that it also stripped off at least a couple layers of skin—which was, incidentally, the last time I used wax.) There are so many better options out there for people who actually want their hair removed, and while I love threading and should be a paid sponsor for dermaplaning—which is definitely my favorite method of removing facial hair—neither of these methods of hair removal work on the rest of my body.

Since I had such a terrible experience with facial waxing, there was no way I'd even consider going any lower on my body—maybe I'm a wimp, but I don't want anything hot going near my vagina, armpits, or even my legs. Plus, my skin is super-sensitive, so I can't just pour anything onto my body because it loves to break out at even a hint of irritation (me typing the word "irritation" may have triggered a breakout). And when it comes to just shaving, I always feel like it's not worth the time and energy, since it grows back so fast (usually causing ingrowns, in my case) anyway. Which is why, after much trial and error, I've found that sugaring is one of the only forms of hair removal that I would actually recommend.

Sugaring, as explained to me by Gunna Covert, the master trainer at Daphne Studio in New York City, is an ancient Egyptian method of hair removal, and uses a gel-like paste formed from three ingredients—lemon, sugar, and water—to remove hair at the root. The paste, she says, "is not applied with a cloth strip or stick," but, rather, is molded into a ball, which is applied to the skin against the hair growth and then "flicked off" in the opposite direction, along with the growth of the hair. The paste is not single-use, like wax is (which results in many a cloth strip going to waste, and the environment doesn't deserve that), and can be reapplied and reused multiple times during a session, until it loses its stickiness.

Though it's my preferred method of body hair removal, sugaring can also be done on the face. Covert says you can actually get sugared "anywhere on your body where there is hair." She also notes that hair doesn't have to be as long as waxing requires to be removed, and can be as short as one-sixteenth of an inch to be successfully sugared, as opposed to a fourth of an inch when waxing.

Covert told me that this method of hair removal is probably the best for those with sensitive skin, because, not only does it snag hairs at the follicle, but it doesn't dry and stick to the skin like wax does. "Waxing just breaks the hair off at the surface and can remove a top layer of skin in the process," she says, but, with sugaring, "there is less risk of breakage because the sugar paste is more moldable and adheres to hair and the root." And, too, the paste does not attach itself to your skin, meaning that it won't take a layer with it when it's pulled off. "Sugaring does not adhere to live skin cells, only to the hair and dead skin cells, which means less irritation and discomfort." So, in other words, there was no chance that I'd ever meet the same fate as that which turned me off of waxing.

There's also no chance that sugaring will burn your skin, because the paste won't work if it's heated to the same temperature range as wax. "If you actually heat sugar to the temperature you heat wax, you'll burn it," Covert says, noting one of the main ingredients of the paste itself. "Sugar's not supposed to be soupy; it actually needs to be a little bit firm, so it's better if it's cool and, therefore, will not burn the skin." And not only is there virtually no chance that you'll be burned while your hair is being ripped from your body (only chosen methods of pain here, folks), Covert notes that many of her clients actually don't experience as much pain from sugaring, as opposed to waxing. "It all depends on the individual and their pain tolerance, but there can still be a bit of an ouch factor with sugaring since it's pulling out hair from the root," she notes. "However, the feedback we've received from our guests is that most do find it less painful than waxing." Of course, pulling hairs out at the root isn't going to be painless, but it's definitely the lesser of two evils.

The first time I got sugared, it was because I had heard a rumor about how, over time, repeated sugaring leads to sparser hair growth. Being pale with thick black hair, this was as good a reason as any to put myself through what I thought would be as excruciating an amount of pain as waxing had been for me (even though it isn't at all). Basically, this was me. And the rumors are true: Covert confirms that continued sugaring does cause reduction of hair growth over time, and that "hair grows back thinner, finer. and sparser." This happens, she says, because "when removing hair from the root, the follicle has less blood supply over time, which will, in turn, weaken it."

If you're comfortable without removing your body hair, more power to you; it's definitely not necessary to change anything about your appearance. But if you're looking for a less painful, more natural, and less risky form of hair removal than waxing (my mortal enemy, if you didn't know), sugaring is definitely the way to go.