When Sugar Does You Wrong

For those of you who aren’t interested in reading about my personal experience with hair removal (though we’re just talking about legs here), you may want to skip this post and come back tomorrow. TMI – you’ve been warned! ;)

Alternate titles for this post: The Day a Beauty Experiment Made Me Feel Like an Incompetent Idiot, How to Treat Legs Suffering from PTSD, or A Spoonful of Sugar Does NOT Make the Medicine Go Down.

After doing research on sugaring last weekend, I was completely stoked to try it. People said it really didn’t hurt much, was non-irritating and oh-so-easy. The only drawback seemed to be that it didn’t get all the hair. I could live with that.

Making the syrup was no big deal. I heated mine to 244 degrees on a candy thermometer, as I’d read that 240-246 were best. That process took almost an hour.

After it had cooled, I sat down in the kitchen (the only room with no carpet, and I sure didn’t want this syrupy stuff in the carpet!) to get down to business. I already knew I was in trouble when I scooped it out and it was still a little too warm. Not painful, but just too stringy. I let a gob sit out on a plate for several minutes, and it hardened up a bit. However, I still initially had trouble with this, as it wouldn’t pull off easily. I resorted to using cloth strips to getting it off and……OUCHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I’ve never waxed before, so maybe I’m a big baby, but let’s just say that after hearing me scream bloody murder four times in a row, my boyfriend and our dog went into the bedroom to drown out my cries of pain with the TV.

For some reason, that initial pain didn’t last long – maybe my leg had become numb? And I finally got the syrup to a temperature that allowed me to use it in a big, gobby handful, like the videos I posted. I pulled it up my leg, then pulled hard in a downward motion. I found this process to be a bit painful – especially around the ankle, and below the sides of the knees. But nothing to induce screaming, like the cloth strips had. No big deal.

However, I just couldn’t get all the hairs, and I was redoing areas over and over. As time wore on, each gob I’d pulled out of the jar got warmer and warmer, and more incorporated with arrowroot powder (which I had used in place of talcum powder), and the warmer it became, the harder it was to get off. Sometimes, the only way I could get it off was to pull it off with more cloth strips. I know I could’ve washed it off, but I wanted to get to the hairs I had missed, and didn’t want to mess up the process by getting my legs all wet.

Time dragged on. And on. And on. Two and a half hours later, I was still working on the second leg (and this was just from the knees to the ankles!). As you can imagine, the longer it took, the more trouble I had keeping the sugar wax at the right temperature. I had to reheat it, which made it too hot, then I had to cool it, and on and on. I had to get up and wash my hands at least ten times because they would get so webbed with sugar strings that I couldn’t maneuver properly. And with all that smoothing and flicking of the sugar wax on my legs, the sugar mixture got EVERYWHERE. I mean everywhere. On my shorts, on my shirt, all over the table, on the kitchen chairs, all over the kitchen floor… In fact, when I woke up the next morning, I found a HUGE gob of it on the kitchen counter about 10 feet away from where I had been sitting. How on EARTH did it get there???

At 10PM, I finally “finished.” I use that term loosely, as I still had lots of areas on my legs that still had hair on them. But I couldn’t take it anymore. B (the boyfriend) had walked in twice to find me crying, with sugar dripping from my fingers. I felt like one of Roald Dahl’s naughty child characters, tortured to within an inch of her sanity in Willy Wonka’s candy factory. I was sure at any moment, the Oompa Loompas would come and cart me away.

My legs hurt so bad when it was over. They were red and irritated and stung a bit. I had tons of bruising on the left leg, which I guess is because I didn’t hold the skin taut enough? (After 2 1/2 hours, I could barely move my fingers! Come on!) All I could think was: How could this have possibly turned out SO BADLY?

Bruising on the left leg, 12 hours later.

Yes, I am intoxicated by the smoothness of certain areas of my legs. I’ve never felt them so smooth before, which almost makes me want to try this again. Almost. But…bruising, pain, irritation? THREE HOURS of effort and it didn’t even get all the hairs? Sugar all over me and the kitchen? So not cool!

After doing this experiment, I have a couple of observations, though remember, these are from a complete (and possibly incompetent) amateur:

1. Temperature is everything. It is essential to get the syrup to the right temperature when cooking (and I suspect 244 wasn’t right), in order to make it work effectively. It is also essential to have it at the right temperature when applying – otherwise, it is too hard or too runny and sticky.

2. You have to really push hard when you are applying (at least I did), and it is best to make several “passes” in upward strokes before pulling down. This seemed to be the most effective way of getting most or all of the hairs off one section.

3. Pull the skin taut as best you can, before pulling the sugar off.

4. If the sugar gets stuck on your leg, try pulling more out of the jar, applying over the stuck sugar, and ripping off from there. If that doesn’t work, try washing it off, or using cloth strips (ouch!).

Right leg - nicely smooth in some spots, but some bruising. :(

I hate to say it, but I don’t think I’ll be trying this again. I kinda want to – I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I want to learn how to do it right. And I LOVE the feeling of the smooth patches on my leg (ha ha). But, my legs are still feeling irritated 12 hours later, and the bruising is not something I want to encounter again. I guess this is something I’d best save for the professionals!

But please don’t let this post discourage you – I know you’re probably laughing to hear that. Like you want to try sugaring after reading this! But seriously – I have talked to people who have done this, and the ONLY problem they had was that it didn’t get every hair. I have yet to encounter someone who has experienced this much pain, and no one had such a messy time. I’m convinced that some skin problems I have contributed to the pain, and that I just didn’t get the sugar wax cooked correctly (hence the mess).

If you have tried this method, how did it work for you?

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8 thoughts on “When Sugar Does You Wrong

  1. Awe, you are such a trooper! After reading your review, I think I will have to pass on DIY sugaring. :) I just googled sugaring in the yellow pages and there is a place about an hour and a half away from me that does the Alexandria Body Sugaring professionally. Something to consider I guess. Thanks for experimenting and writing about it, you deserve a big gold star. :)

    • Oh, T, I was hoping I wouldn’t discourage anyone. I’ve seen so many people do it without problems. BUT…I honestly think it would be worth the money to have it professionally done! Please let me know how it turns out if you go!

  2. Oh. No. It’s amazing what we women will go through for beauty. As you know, my experience was a bit different, but it sounds like you got a lot more hair out than I did! I never even made it to my second leg. Ha! I was just begging my hairs (individually) to come out. Ha! It is so silky smooth though, isn’t it? Maybe pro is the way to go.

    I cooked my sugar for about 20 minutes until it was a caramel color. The videos I saw (mostly Nina’s, cause she appears to have the process down) said 15-30 minutes on the sugar. But I agree with you, that’s probably the key to the entire process. I want to research some more about it.

    I didn’t have stringy sticky fingers or sugar getting everywhere though. I did have to reheat my supply a lot because it kept getting too hard. I read that you can just add a bit of water to soften it up again, but I had to reheat it like every few minutes. (I only made a small test batch anyway). As I remember though, the goopier bits took more hair off, so maybe that’s why you were more….er…successful???? than me. It’s hard to say successful when your legs are all bruised up. Poor Yancy :(
    Your experiences with home sugaring sound like my experiences with home waxing – horror stories!!!

    I’m sorry it was so crappy and painful for you.


    • I know I must’ve done a lot of things wrong. And the cooking thing – a lot of the videos said 20 minutes, but my mixture wasn’t even at 200 degrees by that time. Weird.

      It sure did do a good job where it worked, though…oh my. My legs feel soooo smooth.

      Well, it was a worthy experiment! Maybe next time, if I decide to go that route, I’ll have it done professionally!

  3. Eeek – that sounds a little painful. Maybe I should hold off until I’m not pregnant to do this. I’m about 6 months, and getting to my legs is going to be hard no matter what method I use (shaving, waxing, sugaring). But, even though your experience sounds a bit painful – I think this is still something I want to try.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Your description is so funny. I can just picture your boyfirend walking in and seeing you trying this. Oddly enough your experience makes me want to try it, must be the idea of a super smooth leg or two. Thanks for being daring enough to try it and for sharing the outcome.

    • Hi Lisa! Always a pleasure to hear from you!

      Yeah, B thought it was so amusing at first – the thought of using sugar to remove hair. I think he just assumed the whole process would be hilarious. It was, I guess, in its own weird way! But ultimately, I think the pain factor freaked him out and he decided to take cover and check on me every hour! :)

      I have to say, I’m still blown away by how smooth parts of my legs are. OMG, I LOVE that. It’s been two days now, and I’m not already thinking about shaving again. It’s so nice! I may decide to have this professionally done in the future. Wouldn’t it be fabulous not to worry about shaving all the time?!

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