Monday, September 9, 2013

Down & Dirty DIY Beauty: Sugar Waxing

This is the first guest installment on Makeup & the Machine for DIY beauty projects.

First up, Hair Removal! Though we don't like to acknowledge it most of the time, we all have hair in places that we do not wish it to be. It can be attacked with several different methods varying in effectiveness and discomfort. The method outlined today is Sugar Waxing, likely one of the oldest known depilatory methods.




Sugar waxing employs only three simple ingredients; Granulated Sugar, Lemon Juice, and Water. There are two different ways to employ the Sugar Wax you will make. You can either make a slightly thinner wax that can be spread on the offending hair with a butter knife and then removed with a strip of scrap cotton, or you can make a thicker wax that can be spread by hand and removed with the same, as a single reusable piece. I prefer the latter method, as I do not need to drum up any spare fabric that will later have be discarded.

If you are interested in following the Strip Method, the Instructable here offers a good step-by-step that will conclude in smooth skin. Today, we will use the Ball Method. Below is an excellent video that demonstrates how to make the Sugar Wax. Ignore the "Prepare in 2 minutes" portion of the video's title. Thought the recipe can be made quickly, it certainly takes longer than 2 minutes. Also, don't worry about copying down Maha's recipe, I will include one below with more precise ratios and instructions.



Ok, I am sure you have some questions like -

  • But I don't have marble counter-top to cool the sugar solution!
    • Don't worry. Pop a metal baking sheet (with raised sides) into the freezer while you prepare the wax, it will work as a perfectly reasonable substitute for lovely marble counter-tops.
  • Now I know how to make it, but how the heck to I use it?
    • We will cover that below since the video's author was a little to shy to demonstrate it's application.
  • Those ratio's weren't precise at all! How much of everything should I use?
    • Never fear, the measured Sugar Wax recipe is here -

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Sugar Wax (Ball Method)

  • 2 Cups - Granulated White Sugar 
  • 3/4 Cup - Water
  • 2 Teaspoons - Lemon Juice (Fresh or bottled is fine, and Vinegar can be a decent sub)
  • Required Equip: "Cooling" surface either a Marble Counter or Chilled Metal Baking Sheet
  • Optional Equipment, Wooden Spoon and Candy Thermometer
Warning! This recipe uses a hot sugar mixture. If not handle carefully and at the appropriate time, you run the risk of burning yourself. Do not pick up wax until it has properly cooled so that it may be handled with safety. Makeup & the Machine bears none of the responsibility if you burn yourself because you decided to grab molten sugar willy-nilly. Use common sense and handle at your own risk.
1. Mix together Sugar, Water, and Lemon Juice in a small pot (non-stick is fine if that is all you have). If you don't have a marble counter-top, now is the time to put your Metal Baking Sheet in the freezer.

2. Cook on Med - High heat and stir (preferably with a wooden spoon) until the mixture starts bubbling.
Watch the color transition from clear, to "Champagne", to an amber tone rapidly. For those of you with a Candy Thermometer, you need to bring the sugar mixture to the "Hard Ball" stage and hold it there to achieve the appropriate final viscosity.
Note: The cooking times can vary greatly, so much so that I won't assign any specific cooking time in this recipe. Different stoves and ambient temperatures being such inconsistent variables, can play games with cooking time. The key is to be patient and to pay attention to your sugar mix color and/or your candy thermometer. These will guide you toward a satisfactory final project. 
3. Once you have achieved the appropriate, color and/or stage, remove from heat, then let your mixture "settle' for two minutes before pouring it gently onto your marble counter-top, or more likely, your chilled edged baking pan.

4. Remove from freezer if necessary and lightly moisten your "cooling surface" (marble/baking pan). Pour sugar mixture onto it. 

5. Work the mix with a spoon toward the center, starting at one edge, pushing inward, then repeating as you go around the sugar "puddle". This is to help keep the temperature and "thickness" of the wax consistent. If left alone the wax will harden at the outside edges and still be too soft in the middle. You need to keep it moving to get to that Goldilocks Zone where it will be just right.

6. When your wax is cooled enough to handle safely, with barely moistened hands, pick up the wax and work like taffy, stretching it apart and gathering it back together. At this point your wax should be stretchy, soft, slightly tacky, and ready to use!

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Now for the fun (and a little painful) part, Application! Take a small portion of your Sugar Wax and drag it across the haired surface against the direction of the hair's growth. Once spread to your satisfaction, with a quick un-halting movement, pull the wax quickly in the direction of your hair's growth. It should rip away cleanly, taking the offending hair with it. If you need visual assistance, here is a video of the ball wax being used. I don't recommend the author's recipe, though feel free to apply her waxing technique.


Now that you are acquainted with the application I will conclude with just a few general waxing tips:


  • If you are concerned about the wax adhering to your skin, lightly dust the area with baby powder or cornstarch. I use neither when waxing, but to each their own
  • Hair to be waxed should be between 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. Anything longer should be trimmed first with clippers to ensure a successful and comfortable wax.
  • Areas with soft or slack skin should be held taught so to avoid excessive pain or sometimes bruising. Though waxing can be a private endeavor, a buddy is helpful to have for "hard to reach" places.
Though all the information above may seem daunting, I assure you that it can be done easily. If you have any difficulty with cooking up your own batch of Sugar Wax, just give it another try. It took me several tries before I was able to produce a consistent wax. Luckily, the ingredients are cheap and easy to come by. Considering how expensive a professional wax can be, I believe this project to be well worth the effort involved. 

I hope that you all found this instructional helpful. Have a safe and happy waxing!




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