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Home » Natural Beauty

Homemade Hair Removal Tutorial: Body Sugaring (a.k.a: Sugar Wax, Sugar Paste, Halawa)

Submitted by on October 30, 2010 – 3:52 pm 113 Comments
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I’ve been thinking lately about what I would do if I could not get my hands on any razors for shaving. Money’s tight… what happens when we can’t afford such luxuries anymore? What happens when manufacturers stop distributing coupons that often make razors free with sales? What happens if (or in my mind, more like when) the economy tanks and you can’t even find such things as razors? The thought of having to wear long sleeved shirts and long skirts year round to hide my hairiness makes me cringe. Yuck!!

My mind got to thinking… there must be some homemade hair removal system that can easily be made from everyday ingredients around the home. And then I found it: Body Sugaring; also called Sugar Wax, Sugar Paste, or Halawa. It’s actually an ancient Egyptian method of hair removal that’s been used for centuries; and it seems to be making a come back! Not only is it all natural and cheap to make, but it’s much more preferred to traditional waxing for a variety of reasons.

As soon as I found the following recipe I knew I wanted to share it with you right away, but I had to make sure that it would work before I boasted of its genius. Unfortunately, my legs were freshly shaved. I decided to sacrifice a hairy arm to the experiment instead. ( Though I admit, I was tempted to con my poor husband into being the guinea pig; he does have hairier arms, after all! But I changed my mind after having a flashback of the time that me and his sister snuck up behind him while he was blissfully zoning out on television, slapped a hot wax strip on his arm and yanked it off before he knew what had happened. Fortunately for us, he has a good sense of humor! We died laughing while he jumped up and down in pain. Yeah, I know. Mean. But oh my goodness it was funny. Poor, poor guy. The things I do to him. No, I couldn’t expect him to fall for that one twice.)

I was actually excited about this experiment, and hopeful of good results! There are a lot of different recipes for this out there, and several different methods of application, but here is the one I chose- it looked the simplest:

Homemade Hair Remover: Body Sugaring Paste

  • 2 cups sugar (granulated white, brown, cane… anything but powdered)
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice (fresh or concentrate; just strain the pulp if using fresh)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • A candy thermometer is highly recommended, though I don’t have one yet, so I just winged it.
  • A small or medium sized heavy saucepan- stainless steel is best

Pour all of the ingredients into the saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat. Bring to a slow boil, stirring, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 25-28 minutes. Continue stirring occasionally- I’d recommend using a wooden spoon.

The color will change to a golden honey color. As it cooks it will get darker in tone. By the end of the time it should be a dark amber:

If you have a candy thermometer, the mixture is ready when it reaches a steady 250*. Be very careful not to overcook. If it burns, or caramelizes, it will be ruined.

Once you’ve reached the desired temperature and color, remove from heat and pour into a glass container with an airtight lid. Be careful, it will be very hot!

Allow to cool for about an hour and a half, to room temperature.

The mixture should be thick. Though it will be a little sticky, you should be able to pull out a glob and roll it into a ball in your palm, like chewing gum. I don’t think I let mine cool completely… or maybe I should have let it cook just a tad bit longer, ’cause it was still a bit too sticky to roll into a ball.

Still, I spread it over my arm in a thin, even strip, about 1/4″ thick. Apply it going the direction your hair grows, not against it. If it is the right consistency, you should be able to peel up a small edge of the paste, and pulling against the direction your hair grows, yank the whole piece off in one rip.

Yeah. It hurts.

But not unbearably.

Since mine was still a little too sticky, it would not pull off in one piece. So, I cut a strip of cloth from an old pillow case, and rubbed it over the paste on my arm. With a quick yank, I pulled the cloth off in the opposite direction from my hair’s growth. And it worked!! Smooth as a baby’s bottom! You can even re-use the same strip of wax several times over before it loses its stickiness. Apply some lotion when you are finished waxing.

The cool thing about this stuff is that it easily washes away with water. I even rinsed the cloth strip I used so that I can re-use it next time.

It is recommended to store the leftovers in the fridge, for up to one month. I’m thinking my paste will be the right consistency next time, after having been refrigerated.

A few tips:

Sugar waxing works best on hair that is between 1/8″ to 1/4″ long. If it’s any shorter, it won’t be picked up by the wax. If it’s too long, it will just hurt more.

Your skin must be completely dry before waxing. Don’t do it immediately after showering or working out. You may sprinkle some cornstarch or baby powder on your skin before applying the wax to help it adhere.

Keep your skin smooth and free from ingrown hairs by exfoliating frequently, and moisturizing. Loofah’s work great for exfoliating.

I wish you could feel how smooth my arm feels. I LOVE it!! I can’t wait to try it on my legs. After I was finished, I gave an Egyptian friend of mine a call. I recalled her telling me once that she didn’t shave; she waxed. I was curious how she did it. So when she answered her phone, I asked her if she makes her own wax, or buys it at the store. I was so surprised when she told me how she makes her own… it was exactly this recipe!! Well, actually, she doesn’t measure her ingredients, she just knows how much to use, but she used the same ingredients listed here, and the same method. She’s been doing it forever. Sure wish I’d known to ask her sooner!!

So, now I’m comforted to know that I won’t have to go Sasquatch on hubby if razors become a thing of the past. Yay for homemade products!

I was wondering if any of you have ever tried making this homemade sugar wax? How did it turn out? If you’ve never done it, would you consider giving it a try?

What You Need:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • a candy thermometer

Mix all the ingredients in a heavy sauce pan. Heat on med-high until it reaches a boil.

Turn down to a simmer for 25 min. Stir often! Don’t rush the cooking process. You want it to cook low and slow!

The mixture will start to turn a dark amber color. It will be ready when the thermometer reaches firm ball stage – 245-250 degrees.

Let the mixture cool for 10 min. Pour into an airtight container. Be careful, it will still be really hot!! Let the mixture finish cooling.

When you are ready to wax, make sure you skin is clean and dry. Some people found that lightly dusting their skin with corn starch made the sugar paste stick better to the hair, and not to their skin. (We didn’t really notice a difference.)

The sugar will be pretty firm at this point. You want to grab a blob and roll it into a ball and flatten. Try not to over work it. The heat from your hands can make it sticky. Press the paste onto your skin, keeping it 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick for easy removal. Now flick up one end and quickly pull off skin in the opposite direction of hair growth. You can keep reusing the paste until it gets too gooey.

Because this is just made out of sugar and lemon juice clean up is a breeze! Just use a little water.

Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come out just right the first time. Our first try went past the firm ball stage and was a little hard (this was before we had a candy thermometer). We found it still worked if we warmed it in the microwave for 10 seconds. Another batch was undercooked so we just put it back in the pot and heated it again.

If you find you prefer using strips of fabric, you can warm this recipe in the microwave and use it like our last recipe. However, once we got the hang of this recipe, we found we preferred the sugaring paste method .

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  • Lisa says:

    I tried a different recipe first and it failed big time! But I gave it another go with this one and whallah hair free! It was awesome!!! All the comments at the bottom really helped in making it work. Thanks everyone :)

  • Jennifer B. says:

    I make homemade organic hair removal called Sugar Paste. Of all organic ingredients – Sugar in the Raw, Fresh squeezed lemon juice and purified water.
    Using organic sugar and fresh squeezed lemons has yielded much better results for myself and those who have used my paste. I provided the link to my Facebook page with lots of paste info and photos.
    I live in rural TN and we do our best to live frugally and live off the land (husband hunts, processes our meat, we have a vegetable garden half the size of a football field, we can, make tomato juice, sauce, salsa, and grow our own herbs because not only cooking..I believe whole heartedly in holistic herbal healthy lifestyle.) I, too, was tired of shaving. I’ve waxed 3 times in my life and NEVER will again. A few months ago I came across this recipe. Let me tell ya’ll I haven’t bought a razor in MONTHS and I will never shave again!
    I believe that in our area I may be the only one who makes and sells 100% Organic Sugar Paste. None of the salons in Mid-TN or Southern KY offer this service. Possibly in Nashville but that’s a 50 minute drive into traffic hell. No thanks. I like it back here 1/2 a mile off the road with corn (grown so high you can’t even see our house from the road) on all three sides of us and a forest on the fourth. Can’t get much quiter and peaceful than our lil spot here in this 103 yr old farmhouse (*sighs)
    Anywho!! I’ve always had sensitive skin. When I read that Sugar Paste was
    great for individuals who have sensitive skin due to excema, psoriasis, diabetes or just plain ol sensitive skin because there are no harsh chemicals and sugar does not harm your skin.
    Waxes you buy in the store contain chemicals and hurt like a you know what!
    Have you ever had waxing done? Do you remember how badly it hurts? Especially…yes…the nether regions? OMG worse than childbirth!
    So I went to the local pharmacy (twenty minute drive to town) & she said for when I go to do down “there” use some Lidocaine.spray 30 minutes prior to pasting and make sure you let it dry completely (yes…your hairs down there need to be dry too.) Once totally dried off from spray, get corn starch or talcum and a clean bigger blush brush to wisp on the area a light layer of strarch or talcum.
    LET ME TELL YA (***singing like disney princess with birds landing on her out stretched arms) loving this paste! Yea it a lil discomfort but NOTHING like the excruciating pain of hot strip wax.

    I’ve discovered and now I am making this ancient hair removal system. Its so simple!! and virtually pain free…
    I say virtually because everyone has a different tolerance for pain. and the more you get the technique down, the less pain you feel. It didnt HURT at all for me…just a lil discomfort like peeling off scotch tape) from my toes ALL the way up…

    I understand your frustrations in the recipe and I can help :-)

    $20.00 per 8 oz jar should last up to 2 months if used as instructed.

    Order through facebook at

    or through my etsy shop

  • debbie says:

    I hate shaving, as the results don’t last long at all! I just finished making this recipe and I am waiting for it to cool. I cooked it until it reached a dark honey colour, and I hope this works! Thanks for the recipe :)

  • Anke says:

    I love sugaring! I’ve made many batches, still working on getting it just right, bought done gum Arabic, trying that tomorrow. FYI, if you’re bruising, it’s because you’re pulling UP, not OUT, toward the hair growth.

  • Jazzelle says:

    i tried it but i didn’t have lemon on lime juice so i used vinegar since its another type acid and it actually turned out fine after the second time around im most likely going to use this again

  • Sarah says:

    What kind of container do you need to use if you’re making it in the microwave? Only glass? Could I use a regular bowl?

  • Maky says:

    Hi. I have been trying this for months now and cant get it right. I cook it in a gas stove and most the the time its too hard andcan still feel little grains of sugar in the cooked paste. Maybe its the altitude, I live about 8000 Ft above sea level. I read a comment that altitude makes a difference. The weather here its always cold (60sF) and dry most of the time. Please help! I want to get this right!!!

  • Jessica says:

    I stumbled upon this blog about a week ago and bookmarked it so I could try this. I love the idea! I decided to tackle it today. I made it in the microwave and everything seemed to be going fine..until I started the actual hair-removal process.
    I wasn’t sure what the consistency of the paste should be, but mine was like warm taffy…extremely stringy and verrrrry sticky. It was getting some of the hair, but the results were very patchy and took forever.
    After a few hours, I got frustrated and just cleaned up. Can anyone give me any insight as to what I did wrong?

  • David says:

    Sugaring the downstairs wasnt so bad. Was much less painful than when my wife, girlfriend at the time, convinced me to wax my arm hair just so “i could know what it felt like”. Have to prep for surgery and id have to say this was much less painful and irritating than shaving and having to deal with stubble regrown rubbing against my pants all day. ITCHY! My sucess in making the sugar was med high just until it begins to boil then med low to low until between 150 and 160 degrees. Between those temp I would take a bit out and test under cold water. The ambient temp does indeed affect the cooking process. Btw im cook in a 1 qt stainless steel sauce pan on a gas range. Gas vs electric will affect cook time. And for those using nonstick and teflon coated pan the non stick materials wulll come out into yoir paste and cause more problems. If using aluminum pans u must reduce temp more and cook slower as the aluminum transfers the heat differently tthan sainless steel. Now to talk my wife into “seeing how it feels” *evil laugh*

  • Dawn says:

    Hi Kendra,
    I’ve been using something similar for decades, and other variations I’ve found online…

    I use equal parts sugar and juice (lemon or lime…I’ve even used other citrus…they don’t LOOK the same, but they work. I’ve also read about people using vinegar instead of the juice. I’ve also made it on the stovetop and in the microwave…the microwave is a LOT faster.

    I’ve tried storing it, but haven’t had much success at that, so I just make small batches (1/4 cup sugar & 1/4 cup lemon juice)…

    If you under cook it, just put it back in the pan and continue cooking it, if you’ve over cooked it slightly, you can add more liquid and cook that in (stovetop or microwave).

    I like it at the paste consistency, but, as long as it’s sticky, you can use it with the cloth strips…and yes, either one can be re-used until it’s no longer sticky…if you’re using the strips, rinse then and let them dry…if it’s the paste, LOL, well, that’s the part you’re rinsing out, so I just wrap it in some paper and toss it (so I don’t make the trash can all sticky and messy .

  • Mila says:

    I’ve been doing this forever.. but the results don’t last long.. any suggestions??

  • Nadia says:

    Hi Kendra,

    I tried the sugar paste recipe yesterday, it was too runny. When I spread it on my skin and use a strip of cloth to try yank off the hair, it didn’t work. So i pour it bad into the pan added some sugar and cook some more this time the mixture turned darker color. The consistency is just a tad thicker but I tried it on my skin again same thing, doesn’t work. Is there any way I can fix my sugar paste or just discard?

  • loreen says:

    Ive tried this twice and what an epic fail it was BOTH times. It hardened like candy when cooled off to room temperature. It keeps getting hardened the more cooler it gets. However when its hot its completely perfect but its way too hot and I cant touch it with my bare hands. What am I doing wrong ?

    • Loreen,

      My only guess is that you might be letting it cook for just a tad bit too long. Maybe if you have a microwave you can try as some of the others have suggested and zap the hardened paste for a few seconds (maybe adding a teeny bit of water). Sorry it has been tricky!! Some people just seem to get it right off the bat, and some people try and try and never get it right. My attempts have been hit and miss.

  • cupcake says:

    I’m going to try this with a twist I’m stealing from parissa. I wasn’t sure uf I’d like waxing, so I trued and hated it. Skin is too sensitive. I’m allergic to things like bandaid adhesive! Heard about sugar “wax” so I bought a kit before deciding to tackle the homemade due to an excrutiating June heatwave. Parissa has chamomile in it, don’t know if it makes a difference over a recipe wiyhout, but besides ripping hairs from their roots, this is the most amazing skin treatment. It’s exfoliating, easy to clean, nothing but water needed to remove the residue, and it never rips off fine layers of livinh skin like the wax did the last time I used it. That sucked. And on the inner thigh above my knee, think if all thr friction that spot gets while walkin ghost around at work with an annoying wound like that. I’m going to steep a chamomile “tea” bag in the mixture until it starts to caramelize.

  • kellycupcake says:

    don’t dismay over the consistency. even at the same temperature, the batches may come out with different consistencies due to humidity changes. this is a tip from a pastry chef. you’re making caramel, basically, and summer heat and humidity will leave your mixtures a little softer or runnier than a batch in December for a winter island vacation will

  • Bianca says:

    How long does the homemade product last? When I’m storing it can i use plastic wrap instead of a lid thanks a lot

  • Lalita says:

    Actually it turned out fine. Al first I thought I overlooked it, but it was fine. The main problem was that it was too thick so I added water, heated it in the microwave and it worked fantastic! Used it on my upper lip and arms. Thank you for this :)

  • Lalita says:

    Hey thanks so much for this tip. I tried it twice and both times it turned out like candy, really hard. Any tips?

    I really want this to work. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated

  • Samantha says:

    Thanks! I think I will. Fingers Crossed :)

  • Samantha says:

    Hi Kendra, I Really Like your blog, but i have a question. I was hoping to try this recipe for prom but i am kind of scared. My prom is on the 27th of April. If i was to use it on the 20th would my upper lip still look red by Saturday, and would it still be smooth?


  • Susan says:

    I have been using the commercial sugaring stuff for years…Nad’s, Sally Hansen, Nair, etc. They stopped selling 12oz containers of this stuff years ago & to have to go out & buy 6oz or 4oz (whatever they are selling now in kits for $20+) is absurd. So I was looking for a recipe to make my own. I am very excited to try it, as I am on my last container of Nad’s & have been thinking of simply making my own.

    I will try this out later tonight or during the week & report back. I think my biggest hurdle will be getting the recipe “just right” but your illustrations are awesome & I am hoping I am able to make it and use it for when my Nad’s runs out. :-)

  • grace says:

    yes you can use limes it worked!
    thank you so much! :)

  • grace says:

    can you use limes i seem to be out of lemons :/

  • grace says:

    ok so ive never shaved or waxed but my mom suggested waiting before using a razor i was mad but i listened and im glad i did now ive found all these cool options i cant wait to try this one! im a little bit of a wimp though so well see how this goes
    found this on pinterest

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