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Sugaring, sugar waxing or Persian waxing is a method of hair removal that has been in use since 1900 BC. Historically, sugar was confined to the regions surrounding Persia until the first millennium AD. As a result, it is speculated that honey was the first sugaring agent. Sugaring was also known as sukkar or ḥalawa in the Middle East, as ağda in Turkey, and as moum in Iran.
Sugaring is often compared to standard waxing. During the process, a sugaring substrate sticks to and essentially removes hair without attaching to the skin. The substrate can be applied at room temperature or heated to a lukewarm temperature, minimizing the risk of burns. For this reason, sugaring is generally preferred over waxing when it comes to removing hair from larger areas of skin. Nevertheless, if you have sensitive skin, sugaring can result in skin irritation and reaction. However, this can sometimes be prevented by taking an anti-histamine. Sugar itself is otherwise hypoallergenic.
There are some distinct differences between home and professional-use sugar paste. The majority of store-bought products contain wax, while homemade pastes often utilize sugar and other natural ingredients.
Sugaring paste can be prepared with common household food items such as water, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, honey and molasses. Since natural sugar is used in the solution, it also has the benefit of being anti-bacterial. Lemon juice is added for its acidity, which breaks up the sucrose into fructose and glucose. As in candy making, this gives the finished sugaring wax a non-crystalline, or amorphous, structure. Getting the correct consistency takes practice for most users. Pre-made sugar paste is also sold. This includes professional and retail versions, which may contain guar gum among other ingredients. Since sugaring paste is water-based and water-soluble, the substance can be easily cleaned up with warm water.
The most common recipe for sugaring wax is as follows (units by volume):
- 8 units of sugar
- 1 unit of lemon (either fresh or from a bottle, not from concentrate)
- 1 unit of water
The ingredients are heated and mixed until they are completely liquid; afterwards the liquid changes from seemingly white to a light, gold-like color (while being heated). The solution should not grow dark. Color and consistency are controlled by heating the solution to specific temperatures. For a thick paste, the solution should be heated to 118°C, and to 121°C for a gel.
After the application process, any leftover solution can be left to cool to room temperature.
With the strip method, the area to be epilated is typically dusted with powder (commercial or corn starch) prior to application of the sugaring solution, which is spread on with a spatula or tongue depressor. Some eco-friendly salons have noted that these products are not necessary for applying the sugaring solution. To begin the process, a pliable, honey-like sugar paste, typically made from sugar, lemon juice and water, is applied to the skin. After the sticky paste is applied to the skin in the same direction of hair growth, a strip of porous cloth or paper is pressed into the preparation and quickly removed, with the strip taking hairs along with it. Afterwards, the process can be repeated after 8–10 days of hair growth. This is unlike the 3–4 weeks worth of hair growth traditional waxing requires.
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