Sugar waxing is one of those things I always swore I would never try. I chalk it up to one too many botched eyebrow waxes as a teen. Or maybe it’s just the thought of burning myself with melted sugar that doesn’t sit well. Either way, I’m happy keeping a safe distance between me and any sort of depilatory wax if I can help it. But I’m curious by nature so I started doing some research.
It turns out there’s a reason sugaring is so popular. Said to be traditional waxing’s cheaper, less painful sister, sugar waxing promises a 3-ingredient alternative to daily shaving. While the thought of ripping my hair out by the root doesn’t exactly excite me, not shaving my legs for a couple weeks totally does. So I looked fear in the face, gathered up the ingredients and gave it a whirl.
And guess what? I’m a waxing convert.
How to Make Sugar Wax
For those of us who’ve had a bad experience with waxing, sugaring can be a godsend. It’s made with just three ingredients—sugar, lemon juice, salt—so it’s free of skin-irritating chemicals and toxic scents. And unlike regular wax, you let the sugar paste cool before applying, so there’s zero chance of getting burned. Plus, sugar wax won’t stick to live skin cells, so it doesn’t rip off a layer of skin when you pull. This means it’s less painful than traditional waxing and you won’t have the wounds to boot.
Now, I’m going to be completely honest. Making sugar wax is easy once you get the hang of it. But if you’ve never made it before, pick up an extra bag of sugar (or two) before you get started. As a sugar wax newbie, I scoured the internet for directions and followed the instructions to the letter, but I still managed to burn my sugar the first few times. Once the sugar starts boiling, it can go from golden to black in 2 minutes flat and you won’t even notice until it’s too late. After learning this the hard way, I dug an old candy thermometer out of the drawer to save me the hassle of eyeballing it.
If you don’t have a candy thermometer, don’t panic. Just be flexible and don’t expect perfection on the first go around. You want to pull the sugar off the burner as soon as it turns a light honey color because it will continue browning as it sits. If you overdo it on the first try, pour it in the trash and start over again.
If you would like to see the process in action, here’s a video to get you started:
Once the wax has cooled, scoop it out of the container and apply with a butter knife, popsicle stick or your hands. You’ll want to apply a ¼ inch layer of wax in the direction of the hair and gently press it onto your skin. If it’s still warm, let it cool for a second so that when you pull at a corner, it comes up in one long strip. Then get a good hold on it and pull! You can roll the wax between your hands and re-use it on different sections of skin until it’s no longer sticky.
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Candy thermometer
- Add all ingredients to a pot, and without stirring, turn the heat to medium-high. If you have one, attach your candy thermometer to the side of the pot.
- Once the sugar mixture starts to boil, swirl the pot to mix the ingredients.
- Keep a close eye on the mixture and cook until it turns the color of honey or until your thermometer reads 260 degrees (this took about 5 minutes for me).
- Immediately remove the wax from heat and transfer it to a glass jar to stop the cooking process. Meanwhile, take a spoonful of wax and put it in the freezer. Wait until it has cooled completely, then check the consistency. It should be stretchy like a piece of bubble gum and slightly sticky. If it's too runny, return wax to the pot and boil for another 30 seconds. If it's too hard (like crunchy candy) throw it out and start over.
- Once your wax is the right consistency, let it cool completely before applying to skin.