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Sugaring vs. Waxing: Which Is Better?

By: Jessica Estrada

When it comes to hair removal, sometimes shaving just doesn’t cut it (no pun intended). Luckily, there are other hair removal options that can get the job done. Waxing, for example, is one popular method that’s been around forever and is often a go-to for many people. There’s also a less mainstream method called sugaring, which—you guessed it—uses sugar to remove hair. Curious to learn more about sugaring and how it compares to waxing, we turned to a couple of experts for some answers.

Sugaring vs. Waxing

So, What Is Sugaring?

In short, sugaring entails using a sugar-based paste to remove body hair. There’s an art and science to it. “The art comes from an intentional dance-like movement of the fingers, wrist, elbow and shoulder,” says Danielle Correia, founder and CEO of Sugaring LA. “The science is both in the paste and in how the sugarist intentionally works the paste onto the clients’ hair follicles. The viscosity of the paste is also critical to success.”

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How Is Sugaring Different from Waxing?

Besides using a sugar paste versus a hot wax to remove hair, one of the main differences between the two hair removal techniques is the way the hair is removed.

With waxing, the wax is applied in the direction of hair growth and removed against it, says Lily McNeil, LunchboxWax's waxologist development manager. With sugaring, it’s the opposite. The sugar paste is worked into the hair follicles against the direction of hair growth and then removed in its natural direction of growth.

Another big difference is that the sugar paste is not hot. “Many clients seek us out initially as an alternative to waxing after receiving minor, non-permanent burns and/or skin irritations,” adds Correia. “We are seeing an increase in lack of tolerance and/or increased sensitivity for the levels of heat that wax application requires.” So if your skin is a bit on the sensitive side, sugaring might be a good alternative for you. Sugaring also gives you the added bonus of exfoliating your skin. 

Price is another difference. “Waxing tends to be a little less expensive,” shares McNeil. For example, getting a bikini wax can cost around $40, whereas getting your bikini sugared can cost around $50. But of course, it depends on where you go.

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Which Is Less Painful?

It depends. Sugaring enthusiasts claim it is less painful than waxing. However, waxing loyals beg to differ. “The pain is pretty similar,” says McNeil. “[Either way], you’re removing the hair from the follicle which doesn’t feel good.”

what is sugaring

Which Method Lasts Longer? 

Again, it depends. Some say sugaring lasts longer while others, including McNeil, say waxing does. “With the sugaring, my hair broke off a little bit more meaning that it didn’t get pulled out by the bulb,” she says. “Then it was more like a shaving experience where it grew back within a week. Whereas with waxing, the hairs do get removed by the bulb and usually lasts two and a half weeks.”

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How Can You Prep Pre- and Post-Sugaring or Waxing Sessions?

There isn’t too much you need to do to prepare for either type of session. Correia recommends just arriving with clean skin sans lotion or oil. McNeil suggests exfoliating beforehand with either a salt or sugar scrub. And if you’re particularly sensitive to pain, you can always take an ibuprofen, too.

After either type of treatment, take it easy on your skin. Keep your workouts light because sweat can cause irritation, says McNeil. And exfoliating is very important for preventing ingrown hairs. “The hair gets removed by the bulb so it grows back weaker,” she explains. “It can have a tougher time breaking through the skin. The exfoliating is going to help that process and prevent any irritation or ingrowns.”

For sugaring in particular, Correia advises avoiding sun exposure for the rest of the day and making sure you keep your skin moisturized.

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So Really, Which Is Better?

The battle between sugaring and waxing really comes down to what works best for you and your skin. “Both sugaring and waxing have such amazing benefits and really what it’s going to come down to is personal preference,” says McNeil. “Try both out and see which one matches your needs a little bit better because everyone’s skin, hair and preference is so different.”

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