Sugaring vs. Regular Waxing: A Guide

What’s Better? Sugaring vs. Waxing

Sugaring vs. Regular Waxing: A Guide

Today we are going to talk about a sticky (literally!) subject – sugaring vs. waxing. I get a bikini wax every month and more recently my aesthetician (I go to Shobha in Williamsburg but they have locations all over the city) convinced me to try sugaring instead of waxing. I’m going to talk about the benefits of both.

Sugaring vs. Waxing

As it turns out, she was right – I sugaring so much more than waxing. So much more. But it isn’t right for everyone; whether you should sugar or wax definitely depends on your hair type + skin.

Both techniques have been around for centuries and both (for lack of a more delicate way of saying it rip hair out from the root) so the results (while painful) last MUCH longer than with shaving.

Today I’m going to break down the two different treatments and my experiences with both!

What is Waxing?

Waxing is when a wax (usually a hard wax) is applied to an area of skin and then pulled off in the opposite direction; removing the hair from the follicle. It’s good to check with your salon to find out what’s in the wax they’re using… some waxes are all natural, some contain essential oils or other ingredients (I Azulene), and some contain chemicals (which I try to avoid).

Is Waxing Painful?

Yes – it’s painful! You are pulling out the hair from the root and because the strip is pulled in the opposite direction of the hair growth, it can be pretty painful.

The Pros & Cons of Waxing:

It lasts a long time, and it’s super effective no matter what your hair type… even the thickest, coarsest hair types respond well to wax. Waxing hurts, but it delivers smooth long-lasting results and it’s always effective.

What is Sugaring? 

Sugaring is a completely natural treatment. The warm (not hot) paste consists of just three ingredients: lemon, sugar, and water.

There are no additives or cloth strips involved which makes it more environmentally conscious vs. waxing.

One thing I just learned is that sugaring can help you avoid ingrown hairs as it cleans out the live skin cells that keep your hair from growing normally.

Is Sugaring Painful?

Yes, it hurts! That being said it’s more gentle than waxing because the sugar lemon mixture is warm and not hot.

Also: with waxing, the hair is pulled out from the opposite direction of your follicle’s growth pattern but with sugaring, hair is pulled in the natural direction of the follicle’s growth pattern.

One other thing that makes it less painful than waxing is that the paste does not stick to your skin; it only attaches to the hair.

Still, you’re pulling hair out so I want to manage expectations: while less painful than waxing, it does hurt quite a bit, especially if you are doing a more sensitive area the bikini line. The pain level is more in line with tweezing… if you tweezed several hairs at a time!

The Pros and Cons of Sugaring:

Sugaring is amazing for sensitive skin, it’s gentle and it’s natural. So the pros are pretty good. The only con is that if your hair is very thick or coarse, it may not be effective. Your aesthetician will be able to determine which option is better for you.

Which is Better for Your Skin?

Sugaring is better for your skin. It’s natural, and it’s gentler. If you have sensitive skin it’s definitely the best option!

Which process is more effective for hair removal?

There’s definitely a debate here and there are pros and cons to both. If you have thick or coarse hair, waxing is going to be more effective. Otherwise, sugaring can actually be more effective as the treatment causes less breakage and can pull out more hair.

In my own experience they results are pretty similar – hair grows back no matter what. I found that sugaring is more effective and gets off even the little baby hairs. Waxing lasts about 4 weeks long (for me) and sugaring lasts about 5 weeks long.

It’s pretty negligable and for me it’s more about the experience than the result (sugaring is so much more gentle and I love that it’s organic!)

Price Comparison

Sugaring is a little bit more expensive than waxing (in my experience, $5-10 more).

So what’s the verdict? Sugaring or Waxing?

This definitely depends on your hair and skin types. If your body hair is more coarse, waxing is the best option.

But if not, I would definitely recommend giving sugaring a try! I really appreciate that it’s totally clean and natural… and I that it’s warm vs. hot.

If you have sensitive skin, sugaring is definitely the better option… I definitely notice less redness with sugaring vs. waxing.

I will be honest – now that I’ve tried sugaring I don’t think I will go back to waxing, unless it’s an emergency and the salon doesn’t offer it. It’s gentler, the pain difference is noticeable, and again, I that it’s all natural and I know exactly what’s in it!

What about you? Sugaring or waxing?

If you this sugaring vs. waxing post, also, check out How to Pick the Best Yoga Retreats, What to Pack, + More! and Summer Fridays Mask Review.

photography by Carter Fish.


Sugaring Vs Waxing Complete Guide: 11 things you need to know

Sugaring vs. Regular Waxing: A Guide

Sugaring and waxing hair removal methods both work on the same principle of gripping and trapping hair which is then removed by rapidly pulling off the wax or sugar paste, but which is best?

In this article, we’ll explore both methods to provide a comprehensive guide to help you decide which method is best for you.

Sugar waxing explained

Derived from an ancient method hailing from the Middle East, sugaring involves applying a mixture of natural ingredients to skin, allowing it to set and then quickly removing it to remove unwanted hair.

Although some practitioners develop their own recipes using ingredients such as honey, refined salts and essential oils, the traditional sugaring paste is made from sugar, water and lemon juice, hence the name.  Although ingredients can be replaced or substituted, all ingredients must be entirely natural.

Sugaring is sometimes referred to as ‘sugar waxing’ as the paste forms a waxy substance on the skin when set.  Sugaring is available from professional salons and also in the form of home treatments, in fact, many people choose to make their own due to the simplicity of the ingredients needed.

Wax hair removal explained

In recent years, waxing has become one of the most popular methods of hair removal for face, armpits and legs and, treatments can be conducted either in a salon or at home.

Waxing involves the heating of a wax based solution and applying it to skin then covering with gauze strips.  As it dries, the wax solution grips hairs which are removed once the dried wax solution is quickly removed from the skin.

The primary ingredient of hair removal  is Bees Wax but different brands vary and can also contain fractionated synthetic resin, hydrocarbon resin, titanium dioxide and other ingredients.  Hair removal waxes also tend to contain natural oils for perfume and skin soothing purposes.

Hair removal wax treatments are available at professional salons and as home based treatments in the form of strips and loose wax which can be heated either in a microwave, with a hairdryer or simply by hand.

A look inside sugaring and waxing, what’s the difference?

Sugaring:  Main ingredients are sugar, water and lemon juice.

Waxing:  Main ingredient is bees wax with many chemical variations including fractionated synthetic resin, hydrocarbon resin and titanium dioxide to name a few. Despite the scary names, all of these chemicals are perfectly safe for use on human skin.

In terms of ingredients, the main difference between the two methods is that sugaring, in order to be authentic, must contain only natural ingredients whereas, most commercial hair removal waxes contain chemical ingredients for preservation and texture.   It is believed that the natural ingredients in sugaring result in much less skin irritation and allergic reactions than the sometimes harsh chemicals contained in waxing solutions.

How to apply and remove sugaring solution and waxing solution for hair removal

Sugaring:  The sugar paste or gel is applied and removed by hand.  The paste or gel can be fully removed from the skin using warm water.

Waxing:  The wax is applied either by hand or with an applicator.  A fine cloth strip is then placed on top of the wax before it sets.

  The wax is removed by taking hold of the cloth strip and quickly pulling it off, removing the cloth, the wax and the hair.

  Traces of wax left on the skin are removed by using the special oil which is included with most home waxing kits.

How to prepare your wax or sugar solution for hair removal

Sugaring: Make sure that hair is at least ¼ inch long.  Avoid any kind of hair removal for at least 2 weeks beforehand.  Make sure that you test a small area of skin beforehand to avoid irritations.

  Home sugaring solutions should be used at body temperature.  Most sugaring solutions are of a texture that shouldn’t need heating but, if necessary, you can do so briefly in a microwave or pan of warm water before application.

Waxing:  Make sure that hair is at least ½ inch long.  Avoid any kind of hair removal for at last 2 weeks beforehand.  Make sure that you test a small area of skin beforehand to avoid irritations.  Wax may need to be heated before use so always check the instructions before you start.

Waxing solutions can become really hot and can burn skin so care must always be taken to ensure that the solution has cooled sufficiently before application.  Due to the pain factor, it’s advised that you avoid alcohol, caffeine and exercise in the 24 hours before treatment as these encourage circulation and increase pain.

  Some find it helpful to take a painkiller 45 minutes before waxing.

How often do I need to wax vs sugaring?

Sugaring:  Facial, every 4 weeks.  Arms and armpits, every 8 weeks.  Upper legs, every 6 weeks.  Lower legs, every 3 weeks.

Waxing:  Facial, every 3 weeks.  Armpits, every 3 weeks.  Legs, between 2 and 4 weeks depending on hair growth.

When it comes to frequency of waxing and sugaring, everybody’s hair grows at different rates so this is only a guide – as a rule of thumb, you’re ready for your next wax or sugaring session when hair has grown to between ¼ inch and ½ inch in length.

Sugaring Vs Waxing – how much does it cost?

Sugaring:  In a salon, approximately $15 for facial and up to $95 for full leg wax.  Home treatments approximately between $15 and $60 depending on brand.

Waxing:  In a salon, varies widely dependent on the salon but, usually between $10 and $70.  Home treatments approximately between $8 and $40.
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Sugaring Vs Waxing At Home

Sugaring:  Not only can sugaring be applied at home but you can even make your own sugar solution to save money.  Sugaring kits are available from most major retailers.

Pros:  Easy to apply.  Can be removed with water.  Can be home made.

Cons:  Due to a slightly runny texture, can be messy. Kits can be expensive. Kits are not very widely available in store.

Waxing:  Hair removal wax can be applied at home and is available in a wide range of kits from most major retailers in a number of different formats such as loose wax and strips.

Pros:  Easy to apply.  Kits are relatively inexpensive.  Easy to use.

Cons:  Can be difficult to remove, even with specialist oils.  Can be painful.  Takes some expertise.

Both sugaring and waxing are easy and convenient for home use.  As with any new method of hair removal, it may take a bit of practice before you get the hang of it and you’ll want to make sure that solutions are kept away from any fabrics or furnishings which may stain.  It’s worth watching a few tutorials on before you get started so that you know the basics.

Sugaring Vs Waxing, which is best for sensitive skin?

Sugaring:  Due to its natural ingredients and texture, sugaring tends to be relatively kind to even sensitive skin, leaving very little redness or soreness.

Waxing:  Although those with sensitive skin are often advised to avoid waxing due to its pain factor and inflammation of pores, many brands to have specific home wax kits available for sensitive skin.

Sugaring Vs Waxing for coarse hair

Sugaring:  Sugaring works well on thick hair in a single use and, many find that hair begins to grow back finer almost immediately.

Waxing:  Although waxing can work on thick hair, many people find that they need more than one session to begin with in order to fully remove those stubborn thick hairs.  The good news is that, after the first couple of sessions, the hair should start to grow back finer, making it easier to wax in the future.

Overall, sugaring tends to be more effective on coarser or thicker hair than waxing.

Sugaring Vs Waxing for finer hair

Sugaring:  Although sugaring can work on fine hair, it’s found that sugaring often ‘misses’ overly short or fine hairs.  Happily, these missed areas can be re-sugared immediately without irritating the skin.

Waxing:  Waxing works really well on fine hairs due to the unique way that it grips and pulls hair in order to remove it.

How long will it last?  Sugaring Vs Waxing

Sugaring:  Depending on rate of growth and density of hair, the effects of sugaring should last at least two weeks.

Waxing:  As with sugaring, effects will last on average two weeks before regrowth is seen.  It is not recommended that you wax any more frequently than every three to four weeks in order to avoid skin irritation.

Sugaring Vs Waxing – Which is most effective?

On the whole, waxing is considered to be more effective in a single use than sugaring which often needs to be repeated. Due to the consistency of sugar solution, it doesn’t always catch all of the shorter and finer hairs and so you may need to dab a little more on afterwards but, thankfully, the solution is gentle enough that a second application won’t irritate skin.


Waxing is the cheaper and most effective (single use) method of hair removal in general, however, sugaring offers a large number of benefits including the fact that it can be applied easily without heating, its natural ingredients mean less allergic reactions & skin irritations, it causes less hair breakage and unsightly growth bumps due to damaged follicles and, it is more hygenic as it is less susceptible to retaining bacteria than waxing.

Finally, for those sensitive souls, sugaring tends to be much less painful than waxing and so does not require the pain-management preparation that waxing does.

As with most beauty treatments, the choice of method is a personal one and is skin type, allergies and lifestyle, however, we hope this article has helped to see the benefits and downsides of each method.


Sugaring vs. Waxing: Everything You Need to Know

Sugaring vs. Regular Waxing: A Guide

It's impossible to keep up with the hair removal world when a new device is popping up every other day. However, waxing and sugaring are hair removal techniques that have been around since the beginning of time. Research says that hair removal is increasingly the norm in Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom but has been documented as early as ancient Egypt.

Waxing and sugaring are often grouped together because both techniques lift hair from the root of the hair follicle and have a longer effect on the skin than shaving. But truth be told, they're two very different techniques.

With waxing, sometimes a strip is used to remove your hair in the opposite direction of your follicle's growth pattern. The opposite happens with sugaring, where the hair is pulled in the natural direction of your follicle's growth pattern.

Wax also tends to be hotter than sugaring, which is normally room temperature.

To get the lowdown, we tapped Shobha Tummala and Enrique Ramirez.

Meet the Expert

  • Shobha Tummala is the founder and CEO of Shobha, a full-service hair removal salon in NYC.

    With over 18 years of experience, Shobha has brought the beauty traditions of her home country India to her extensive list of clientele.

  • Enrique Ramirez is a wax expert, esthetician, and the founder of Face to Face spa in NYC. His nearly fifteen years in the industry have brought clients such as Ellen, Alanis Morisette, and Lindsay Lohan.


“Sugaring is an organic way of removing hair using a sugar paste mixed with lemon juice and sugar,” says Ramirez.

“Sugaring is a form of hair removal that resembles waxing but is gentler on the skin and is all-natural (only sugar, lemon juice, water, and glycerin),” explains Tummala. “It dates back to the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece.

Sugaring tends to hurt less than waxing because it pulls less on the skin while still effectively removing the hair. This also means that you will have a lot less irritation and redness. In addition, the weight of the denim cloth used in our salon for the sugaring gel helps reduce some of the pain.

” While the recipe cited above is the standard recipe, some technicians may put essential oils or honey in their sugars, too. If you're worried about allergies, just ask.

 Byrdie / Emily Roberts

“At our spa, waxing is aromatherapy-based,” explains Ramirez. “It's gentle with a composition of essential oils that makes waxing less irritating and close to painless.”

“Waxing is a tried-and-true method for getting rid of unwanted body hair,” Tummala elaborates. “Some benefits of waxing are super-smooth results—it effectively removes hair from the root.

Our formula contains azulene oil, a natural anti-inflammatory derived from the chamomile plant, to soothe the skin during the treatment.

Waxing is also fast and efficient, meaning large areas can be waxed at once.”

“Sugaring is an organic paste made for those who prefer organic, natural, and gluten-free approaches to life,” says Enrique. “The waxing offered at Face to Face is close to organic with a touch of aromatherapy from scents of lavender, rosemary, and chamomile.

The level of pain depends on the pain threshold of the individual—no hair removal is left unnoticed or not felt unless you're unconscious. Some tolerate either technique well, and others can't even look at sugaring without breaking out.

Results really depend on each individual and their specific skin type. In terms of technique, sugaring paste is molded onto the skin using a gloved hand then removed, while wax can be used with a strip or alone.

” Sugaring is also able to remove shorter hair—it only has to be 1/16th of an inch—than waxing can, as to get waxed your hair has to be at least a half-inch.

“Sugaring is all-natural, which is great for folks who may have allergies to certain ingredients or just want only natural ingredients on their body,” explains Tummala. “Sugaring is also a lot less sticky than wax, so usually the redness and irritation that a lot of people see with wax will not be seen with sugaring.

In sugaring, the sugaring gel is sticky enough to adhere to the hair but not so sticky that it is lifting your skin, so a lot of folks find sugaring to be a lot less painful.

” You're also able to wash the sugar off with water, whereas wax has to be washed off with a special cleanser that could also potentially contain allergens.

According to Ramirez, each technique depends on the body area, hair thickness, and length. For fine hair, he suggests sugaring, and for thicker hair, he recommends waxing.

“Clients tend to comment that smoother results last longer with sugaring than waxing,” he says. “I personally prefer sugaring, as results last longer and it's less redness left afterward.

” If any part of your body is particularly heat-sensitive, stick with sugaring, which is done at room temperature. Wax has to be at least somewhat hot to work.

Sugaring is definitely better for sensitive skin, as it is all-natural and attaches more to the hair and less to the skin, making it less painful,” Tummala reiterates. “It's the most gentle and natural option for the skin.” She also notes how it's important to consider different methods for different body parts.

“If people tend to break out or have adverse reactions to waxing, sugaring would also be a better option. I also have more sensitive parts of my body that I sugar, my bikini area and my arms. For legs, I wax, as it tends to be a faster process because when you sugar, you might have to go over an area two times because it is less sticky.

There you have it. If you've found that your skin feels aggravated after waxing, you may want to give sugaring a try, which is better for sensitive skin. Either way, both techniques remove hair for an extended amount of time.