Homemade Sugar-Based Hair Removal “Wax”

Gaiam.com, Inc

In our last installment, I went on at some length about Leg Hair and how the stinkin’ heck to get rid of it.

I gave a short recipe for concocting a truly all-natural sugar “wax,” which went as follows:

3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon water

As I went to mix that up and throw it on the stove, I realized, “Those amounts are ridiculous.” While a total of 7 tablespoons of  ingredients might work well for those waxing an upper lip, we’re talking legs here. Too, a lot of the liquid will boil away.

Thus, I kept the same proportions and made a larger batch. The amount I made was good for one leg plus a little extra. I’ll double the batch next time. However, for one leg, I used the following:

1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup water

Then, I set it on the stove in a pan with high sides, stirred to dissolve the sugar, put it on low heat, and walked away for about a half hour.

When I came back, it was utterly unchanged. This didn’t come as much of a surprise, as low heat isn’t going to caramelize much of anything at all in that amount of time. On my glass-top, electric stove, upon which the temperature dials go from 0 to 10, the magical point was at about 3.75.

This induced a slow boil and the liquid began to change from yellow to a more golden brown in short order.

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, KIDS! Do use a pan with high sides, which is much bigger than the volume of the sugar solution. Why? Because this stuff boils at about 230 degrees F, and, when stirred, foams up like crazy. Not much stirring will be required, but when you do, be prepared for it to foam up – a lot.

I left mine to roast for another half hour before I called it good. I tested it with a spoon I had placed in the freezer ahead of time – but that wasn’t a good test, as it turns out, because when I removed the spoon it immediately became coated with condensation, which rendered the sugar non-sticky. Derp.

After I realized my mistake, I just tested it off the spatula. Until it was most of the way to the color of Grade B maple syrup, it didn’t seem to have much sticking power, even when cooled.

homemade sugar wax

Another important safety tip: Because the sugar solution foams up wildly when disturbed, make sure you stir it a bit before pouring into your containment vessel – otherwise, you risk it foaming up over the edges of that, and either making a mess, or burning the hell out of you.

Allow the mixture to come to about 100 – 110 degrees F before using – I know that’s a no-brainer, but seriously – sugar syrup is hot. The cooler it gets, the stickier it will be.

The trouble with this homemade version is this: If we don’t boil it sufficiently, it’s not going to be sticky enough to yank out our unwanted hair. Thus, this is somewhat of a trial and error process.

What we have at this point is a non-toxic, incredibly inexpensive body hair removal system we can make from common household ingredients.

It is also a delicious dessert topping.

Well, maybe not, but it tastes like honey-lemon candy (because that’s what it almost is.) (“It’s a leg wax!” “It’s a dessert topping!”)

It will take a significant amount of time to cool to a usable temperature. One could accelerate the process by sticking it into the fridge, but then the outsides would be unusably hard and the innards probably too soft. I’m exercising my oft-neglected Patience here. I did, however, put it onto the window sill to cool faster than it would at room temperature. Compromises, I reckon.

I’ve been staring at it off and on, and testing its consistency for twenty minutes, and it still has a good way to go. I’ll be back later.

After an hour, I started testing. It was clearly still too runny, but I tried anyhow.

homemade sugar wax dripping off spatula

The results were “all pain, no gain.” It hurt nearly as much as the Nad’s did, but only yanked out a scant few hairs.

a poor attempt at pulling hair with a cotton strip

I tried again after about two hours of cooling time, had the same, disappointing result, and threw it back onto the stove, where I cooked it down to the color of dark molasses. This time, I did put it into the fridge, because after several hours, my Patience Gland was plum out of juice.

The photos after this point are terrible, due to it being dark out, and our using CF bulbs in the house, which are lousy for photography. Also, as is apparent by the collards soaking in the sink, I’m in the kitchen – watching for the pot roast to be done. Whee! Hope the neighbors weren’t looking in the kitchen window.

darker, thicker, stickier sugar waxAfter about 30 minutes, I gave it a shot.

I knew I was on the right track when the wooden spatula broke in half during application – score!

broken wooden applicator stuck in sugar wax

This time, it may have been slightly over-cooked, as it wanted to stick to my skin more than it wanted to stick to the towels or Nad’s strips. Still, it worked better than the Nad’s gel did, there was almost no post-rip irritation, and it’s only sugar, lemon juice, and water. Double score!

homemade sugar wax applied to leg

Since the ingredients are utterly non-toxic, you may safely use this stuff anywhere you can stand having waxed, provided you’re not allergic to sugar, or lemons.

The process was far, far, messier than the Nad’s – I gave up trying to keep it from getting all over the place, realizing it would literally wipe up with a warm, damp cloth. The end result was a pile of strips and towels reminiscent of an abattoir:

a pile of used cotton wax strips

The end result of both the Nad’s and the homemade sugar wax are largely the same – a not-entirely-smooth-to-the-touch, but visually clean leg. Whether the extra time, effort, and discomfort are worth it remains to be seen.

Perhaps it will become quicker with practice, after I figure out the idea temperatures and methods. For now, excluding cooking/cooling time, it took an hour for the Nad’s leg, and about 30 minutes for the homemade sugar wax leg. That’s a lot of time, considering it takes 5 minutes or less to shave. But I still hate shaving enough to remain hopeful.

If you give this method a try, let me know how it goes! Photos optional. 😀

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