The first time I ever shaved my legs, I was 13 years old and my super-smooth skin felt incredible. But the next morning, confusion set in as I felt the stubble of my leg hair already starting to grow back. Ever since, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with razors and drawbacks of shaving, from nicks that draw blood to razor bumps and ingrown hairs. A friend who has waxed for years suggested going to a salon — not a bad idea, except that I am prone to folliculitis and suspect that I’m allergic to traditional wax, after suffering through more than one post-eyebrow-wax breakout. So I went looking for an alternative way to remove hair from my legs and bikini area that didn’t leave me with red bumps and disappointment.
Instagram sensed my need and showed me a targeted ad for Sugardoh’s at-home sugaring kit. Sugaring is an ancient body hair removal technique that is still popular today, and typically administered in salons. But Sugardoh is designed for use at home. The brand is woman- and BIPOC-owned and cruelty free, and its aim is to make salon-level treatment sustainable and accessible. Although it took a few months to convince myself I could actually do it myself, I decided to give it a try.
There are two firmness levels of sugar paste to choose from, and both contain just three ingredients — sugar, organic citric acid, and water — which is a plus for my sensitive skin. Sugardoh’s website recommends the “firm” option for beginners because it is easier to spread over small swaths of hair like your underarms and bikini area. The “medium” option is softer and easier to spread over a larger area, like your legs and arms, but takes more skill to use. I went for the newbie-friendly firm since my bikini zone was the area I had in mind.
Once I received my jar in the mail, I let it sit in my bathroom for two weeks, nervous that I might rip off patches of skin or have a terrible reaction. Eventually, I jumped on Sugardoh’s website to build confidence — it’s full of how-to videos and troubleshooting tips, explaining that if you don’t master the process the first time, that is totally normal. I watched the models mold and spread the sugar paste over their arms, legs, and pits until I finally felt like I was ready.
The brand suggests using powder to keep your skin dry, as extra moisture will make the sugar mixture goopy. I followed their directions exactly, starting with clean skin and applying body powder around my bikini area. Using my fingers, I scooped out a quarter-size dollop of sugar paste from the jar. The “firm” paste was sticky but very malleable, and I had to move through the steps swiftly so that my body heat didn’t over-warm it and make it more difficult to work with. I used my fingers to rake it in the opposite direction of my hair growth to make sure the wax grabbed hold of the hair.
Once you’ve applied the sugar paste, the main technique Sugardoh recommends is “the flick,” where you flick your wrist to rip the paste off your skin and yank out the hair in a smooth, single motion. The flick has to be intentional and quick, or the paste can become stringy. After a few failed attempts, what worked best was when I moved like I was ripping off a Band-Aid. You can repeat the process with the same lump of paste until it is full of hair.
Did it hurt? Yes. You’re pulling hair from the root, so some level of pain is expected. But I’m the kind of person who will complain about a mosquito bite for half of the summer, so my pain threshold is fairly low — and right from the start, I felt like the sugaring was tolerable and something I could handle.
The first time I tried it, waxing my entire bikini area took under an hour, despite running into a handful of the issues that Sugardoh warns about, like my flick being too hesitant to actually rip out the hair. Anytime the paste become overly warm and sticky, the water-soluble formula was easy to remove with damp towel. And once I got going, the results were undeniable; I’d never seen my skin so hairless and free of bumps and irritation. The hair started to grow back after about two and a half weeks, which is a lot slower compared to when I use a razor, and I didn’t experience any itchy bumps or painful ingrowns. I’ve now sugared three times, my bikini line twice and my underarms once, and the process has become more intuitive, with fewer mess-ups. My biggest learning curve was perfecting my flick, and I’ve figured out that working in smaller sections helps me prevent the paste from overheating or breaking.
Though I think the convenience of a quick pit shave is still useful, I am now phasing out my razors in favor of SugarDoh for my legs and bikini zone. At $35 for a jar that will last multiple sugaring sessions (I still have more than half left) it’s much cheaper than going to a salon. Plus, I find it less intimidating, the results last a long time, it doesn’t bother my skin, and it has made body hair removal less fraught than I thought possible.
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