Sugaring vs. Waxing: Which Hair Removal Method Works Best?

Find out the pros and cons of each method

Woman getting eyebrows waxed
Woman getting eyebrows waxed. Steve Mason / Getty Images

There's no better way to get rid of bikini hair than with waxing or sugaring. Both options give smoother, better results than shaving, but which hair removal method is your best bet?

How Waxing Works

Waxing is the application of a sticky substance to skin. The resin binds hair to a strip of cloth, which is yanked off (usually in the opposite direction of hair growth). Hair is removed from the roots and will eventually grow back.

See The Bikini Wax: What to Expect With Your First One.

How Sugaring Works

Sugaring, an alternative to wax, is made up of a mixture of lemon juice, sugar, and water. Hair needs to be longish for the waxing to work because the wax needs to bind on the hair in order for it to be yanked out (notice how we refuse to use the tamer word, 'pull'?).

The more traditional method uses a paste and applied with the hands, not a stick. The other common sugaring method uses a gel and is applied much in the same way as wax. Some salons will mix sugar into wax and call it sugaring, so we recommend asking before you go under the stick.

You can make your own sugar wax. Find out how in Sugar Wax Recipe: How to Make Your Own Wax.

What Body Hair Should You Have Waxed or Sugared?

The legs and the bikini area are both the most popular spots for waxing and sugaring, with the upper lip and brows also popular spots. Some people go so far as to get their arms waxed or sugared and back waxings on men have become very popular.

By far the most popular area to be waxed or sugared is the bikini area, with more and more women getting Brazilian waxes for the cleanest hair-free experience possible. Find out what's really involved in a Brazilian in, The "Brazilian Wax" (Or, What to Expect When You Sign Up to Get One).

The Pain Factor

The pain factor here is high with both methods, although some people claim sugaring is less painful.

The first time hurts the most. Hair grows in thinner. (We swear). After a couple of times, it hurts a bit less.

Do It Yourself? You Bet

You can wax or sugar your own body hair, but it takes some getting used to. I have tried both methods and failed miserably but my friends swear they save a ton of money by waxing themselves. Check out How To Wax Your Own Legs.

We include a recipe for sugaring found on the Double X Website for women. Editor Hanna Rosin shares the recipe her family used to remove arm hair (they were hairy Sephardic Jews, according to Rosin). While you can buy wax kits in any drugstore, cooking your own sugar wax over the stove can save an extra few dollars on the wax itself. Check it out: How to Make Your Own Homemade Sugar Wax

The Goods

Waxing and sugaring last about 2 to 6 weeks and costs $10 and up for upper lips to up to $75 for legs.

More on hair removal:

  • Hair Removal Methods: When Should You Shave, Wax, Laser or Tweeze?
  • I Tried Laser Hair Removal. Did it Work?
  • Women’s Pubic Shaving Guide