Differences Between Waxing vs Sugaring for Hair Removal

Waxing vs Sugaring for Hair Removal | Mirra Skincare

The best time of year is rolling around (especially for a Florida girl like me) - bikini season. There is nothing I love more than putting on my favorite bathing suit and heading to the beach or pool to catch some rays, with sunscreen of course. But, with bikini season comes the dreaded hair removal process. With sensitive skin, shaving causes a headache. I know I cannot be the only one that struggles with ingrown hairs and irritation. Luckily, we have great hair removal techniques like sugaring and waxing to help people like me and you achieve smooth, hair-free skin with long-lasting results.  But how does waxing vs sugaring compare?

We have all heard of waxing before. We may not know the details of the treatment but we have definitely heard the term thrown around. Sugaring, on the other hand, may not be common knowledge. I didn’t hear about sugaring until TikTok about a month ago! With sugaring surfacing as a popular hair removal technique, people have started debating waxing vs. sugaring. 

Today we are going to be breaking down waxing vs sugaring, outlining every detail of each treatment. From pre-appointment guidelines to post-appointment guidelines, we are covering it all. Use this article as a guide to help you learn about each technique and help your decision, waxing vs sugaring, which is for you?

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Aside from shaving, waxing is one of the most popular hair removal techniques in the United States. Waxing draws in both men and women because of the longevity of the results, lasting up to four weeks. However, waxing can be an expensive investment, ranging from $8-$120 depending on the area of treatment and salon. 

The average waxing appointment time lasts from 30 minutes to an hour, however, your appointment time length varies depending on what treatment you are getting and how much hair you have in the area. A variety of treatment options are available with almost every part of the body as an option. 

Here’s a list of the most popular options for both men and women. 

  • Bikini
  • Upper Lip
  • Armpits
  • Legs
  • Back
  • Chest

To prepare for your appointment, you should grow your hair at least ¼ of an inch, roughly the size of a grain of rice. Waxing professionals also advise exfoliating the day before to ensure all dead skin is removed in order to prevent ingrown hairs and irritation. Unfortunately, if you are on Accutane you will be unable to get a waxing treatment and the use of retinoids should be put on pause several days before your treatment. 

Before your appointment, you should be cautioned that waxing can be painful. Everyone’s pain tolerances are different, but if you know you have low pain tolerance, taking an iBuprofen before can alleviate discomfort during the treatment. Due to my low pain tolerance,  I have always taken a form of iBuprofen before my treatments. If you are opting for a bikini wax, know that the days leading up to your period and after may make the area much more sensitive. Another tip would be to wear loose clothing to your appointment. 

Once you arrive at your appointment, the area of treatment will be cleansed and prepped. Your treatment will differ slightly depending on what type of wax the salon uses. Soft wax will be applied in the direction of hair growth and followed by a cloth strip on top. Once the wax hardens, the strip is removed in the opposite direction of hair growth. On the other hand, hard wax is applied in the direction of hair growth and does not require a cloth strip. The wax will harden quickly on the skin and be removed in the opposite direction of hair growth. 

The main difference between soft wax and hard wax is that soft wax adheres to the skin and hair while hard wax only adheres to the hair. Soft wax cannot be applied to the same spot twice due to skin irritation. Because hard wax only adheres to hair, it can be applied to the same spot as many times as possible to remove any missed hairs. 

Once the waxing treatment is over, a soothing gel or cream will be applied to the area to calm any irritation. Skin sensitivity, redness, and swelling are normal for 24 hours after treatment. Professionals advise against participating in activities that can introduce bacteria into the area such as sweating. If you opt for a bikini treatment, it is also a good idea to refrain from sexual activities for the first 24 hours. 

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Sugaring’s roots lie in the Middle East and have recently gained popularity in the United States. Rather than wax, a paste composed of lemon, water, and sugar is used. The paste is created by heating all the ingredients until they reach a candy-like consistency. The wax is then cooled and able to be used for the hair removal process. Like hard wax, sugar paste only adheres to the hairs, not the skin. 

Sugar paste may be more beneficial for those with sensitive skin as the paste is made from all-natural ingredients and does not contain any added fragrances or chemicals. The paste is also more environmentally friendly due to its all-natural, 3 step ingredient process and lack of need for wooden sticks for application and cloth strips. 

The key difference between sugaring and waxing, other than substance for removal, is the direction of hair removal. Sugaring removes hair oppositely, applying the sugar paste in the opposite direction of hair growth and removing it in the direction of hair growth with small tugs. Waxing can lead to hair follicles breaking in half, while sugaring is less likely to do so. 

Other than substance and the direction of hair removal, the waxing and sugaring process are nearly identical. Sugaring costs range between $10-$150 depending on the treatment area and salon with appointment times varying like waxing. Sugaring may be used to remove hair in the same areas of waxing and have results lasting up to four weeks as well. 

The preparation process for sugaring is the same as waxing, requiring at least ¼ of an inch in hair growth, exfoliation, no Accutane treatment, pause of retinoid use, and recommendations of iBuprofen before treatment to alleviate discomfort. 

The appointment process for sugaring is very similar to waxing as well. The area will be cleansed and prepped, followed by the sugaring process outlined above. Then a soothing gel or cream will be applied to calm irritation. Afterward, the same side effects such as redness, irritation, and sensitivity can be expected and the same precautions during the first 24 hours should be followed as well. 

Differences Between Waxing vs Sugaring for Hair Removal

Waxing vs. Sugaring 

As stated above, waxing and sugaring are nearly identical, with differences really only in the substance used for hair removal and the direction of hair growth. Since sugaring is just surfacing as a popular hair removal technique, it may be harder to find a licensed professional to perform the treatment in comparison to waxing. 

After experiencing waxing first hand, I would choose to try sugaring the next time I seek hair removal. I have had wonderful experiences with waxing and am not choosing sugaring due to a bad experience. I have very sensitive skin, I actually began waxing in high school because shaving my armpits and bikini area multiple times a week was too irritating for my skin. So, the idea of having a 3 ingredient, natural hair removal substance intrigues me. I also appreciate the environmental friendliness of sugaring because it does not need wooden applicator sticks or cloth strips. 

Overall, waxing vs. sugaring is a decision made best by you, catering to what your body needs. One hair removal technique may work great for your best friend, but may not work great for you and that’s okay. Listen to what your body needs and be sure to follow guidelines before treatment to ensure the best results are achieved.

Written by Lauren Conklin


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  1. https://www.onemedical.com/blog/live-well/hair-removal-methods
  2. https://aedit.com/procedure/waxing
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/what-is-sugaring#What-is-sugaring?
  4. https://www.byrdie.com/sugaring-hair-removal-101-1717097

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