Staff Writer Rachael Medina
Rachael Medina is the senior content writer and operations manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests o…See full bio
After hearing so much about sugaring—a trendy, all-natural hair-removal method—I decided to get my legs sugared. Well, if we’re being totally honest here, I got most of one leg sugared.
Having done my research, I was stoked to find a hair-removal solution that was 100-percent organic, a great option for sensitive skin, and supposedly less painful than traditional waxing. But holy moly, was I surprised during my appointment. Of course, I knew sugaring would hurt—I was getting hair ripped out of my legs for goodness’ sake—but I was not prepared for this, even with a company that has been in the business since 2013.
But before we get to all of that, you should know why I decided to give sugaring a shot in the first place. After putting in the effort to figure out if sugaring is as sweet as it sounds, I found that sugaring has several benefits that waxing doesn’t offer, including:
With a better understanding of the process, I began looking for sugaring near me and became intrigued by the first sugaring studio in the East Bay. My curiosity stemmed primarily from the local, organic product line the studio used: Sweet & True.
Sweet & True products are made without parabens, synthetic fragrances, or toxic chemicals—much like my favorite natural skincare and beauty products. Aside from using high-quality and ethically sourced ingredients, the company is also dedicated to creating products that are safe enough to eat, are cruelty-free, and are scientifically proven to balance skin. All of these attributes made the products sound right up my alley.
So with this new knowledge, a fear of the unknown, and the faintest idea of how it might feel—since I’ve gotten my eyebrows waxed before (which I can now attest is definitely not the same as sugaring your legs)—I scheduled an appointment.
My heart was pounding against my chest as I drove to the studio after barely having enough time to drink a cup of coffee in the morning. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have had that coffee; nervous sweat coated my hands by the time I walked in the door, and it didn’t stop until the sugaring hair-removal process was over.
After I sat down on the table, the esthetician cleansed my calves and coated them in a light powder that would serve as a barrier between my skin and the sugaring paste. She then layered on the sugar paste from my ankle up to my knee, combing it with her fingers lengthwise and widthwise; it was at this moment that I knew there was no going back.
I attempted to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth as she suggested, the whole time feeling like I should be practicing yoga poses with this breathing pattern rather than subjecting myself to some kind of twisted torture. And then it started.
I never could have imagined what sugaring would feel like. While I’m sure it feels different for everyone, for me it was akin to slowly removing a strong piece of tape with more grip than a Band-Aid from your skin. (For anyone who has been unfortunate enough to have to do this, you’ll understand that there’s far more agony associated with removing it slowly than with just ripping it off.) So when the esthetician started flicking the sugaring paste down from my knee, I was pretty confident that waxing couldn’t hurt worse than this torturous procedure, despite what I may have read about the sugaring process.
And just when I came to this conclusion, the real pain began. Who would have thought ankles could be so sensitive? Removing hair from my shin hurt pretty bad, but it had nothing on the pain that came with tearing hair out of my ankles, let me tell ya. But I really wanted to like sugaring more than waxing because of its natural ingredients, so I held off as long as possible before taking my esthetician up on her offer to try wax on one strip of my leg to see what it was like. And after the ankle torture, I just had to find out if waxing was less painful.
One strip was all I needed to change my mind and my plans: Wax was my hero. This decision had absolutely nothing to do with the sugaring ingredients or the way the product felt on my skin, but rather with how the product was removed. The small, flicking motions necessary to remove the sugar paste—especially after the sugar had melted deeper into my skin—made the process take too long, so it was just not worth it to me. And, in addition to enduring more pain, I experienced a worse skin reaction to the sugaring paste than to the traditional wax.
Despite all of that, I’d still try sugaring my legs again, especially with a more experienced sugaring professional who could remove the sugar paste as quickly as mine removed the wax. And since this was the first time I’d ever tried sugaring, it’s only fair to give it another shot before I fully make up my mind.
If you’ve tried both, which one works better for you?
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