Differences between waxing vs sugaring and which is better
Hair removal via waxing and sugaring is similar in skill level, and how long it takes but very different in terms of the hair removal paste and the technique that you use to remove hair. Let’s compare waxing and sugaring on 5 different points – pain, time it takes to wax or sugar, skill level needed, technique, and convenience.
What is waxing?
Waxing is a hair removal method that uses waxes made from resins and tree by-products to remove body hair. Waxing removes the hair from its root, and so lasts longer than shaving or depilatory creams. You can get a wax to remove hair from a professional salon or wax at home.
There are two consistencies available in wax – hard wax and soft wax. Hard wax is applied and then removed by gripping the edge of the applied wax. Soft wax is applied, then a wax removal strip is pressed and smoothed over the applied wax. The wax removal strip is then removed quickly to remove the hair.
Waxing can last up to 2 weeks before new hair grows back in. To wax again, you need to wait until the new hairs grow 1/ 4 inch otherwise the wax will not be able to grab the hairs to remove hair.
Want to learn more about waxing at home? Read our guide to home wax kits, best waxing practices and more.
What is sugaring?
Sugaring is a natural hair removal method that originated in Persia, and is used like traditional waxing to remove hair completely, from the root. Sugaring paste is a simple mix of lemon, water, and sugar melted at low to medium heat until it resembles a candy mix. Once cooled, it can be used just like waxing where you apply the sugar on your skin and hair and then pull to remove the hair.
Sugaring can last up to 2 weeks before new hair growth.
You can make or buy sugaring paste that is meant to be used as a “hard wax” or “soft wax”. Like hard wax, sugaring paste can be applied and then removed by gripping the edges of the applied sugar and pulling away to remove the hair. You can also undercook the sugaring paste to make a soft wax like sugaring paste. This is applied to the your skin and hair and then removed with strips of cotton muslin or another disposable wax strip.
Making sugaring paste yourself is not difficult.
However, if you’re looking to save time or you want to try a sugaring paste before you attempt to learn how to make it yourself, read our guide to sugaring at home to learn which sugaring product can get you started and work best.
There are a few differences between sugaring and waxing.
First, a simple sugaring paste has no additives, essential oils, chemicals, or preservatives commonly found in waxes. So if you have had an allergic reaction to waxing or waxes before, sugaring is a great option for you.
Second, any residue left behind after you sugar can be washed off with water. Waxes need to be removed with post wax treatments or with oils.
Third, the sugaring paste that you use to remove hair is only warm when you apply it to your skin and hair. In comparison, wax is applied hot and removed when it slightly cools. Sugaring paste is an easier and more comfortable way to remove hair because it can be used at a lower heat so you’ll never burn yourself.
And finally fourth, sugaring paste is applied AGAINST the growth of the hair and removed with the growth of the hair. This is opposite of waxing, where you apply the wax in the same direction as the hair growth and remove the wax by pulling against the hair growth.
Want to learn more about sugaring to remove hair at home? Read our in depth guide to sugaring hair removal here.
Compare – Which lasts longer – sugaring or waxing
It depends on how fast your hair grows back in, but for many people, waxing can last around 2 weeks before new hairs grow. Sugaring removes hairs in the same way as waxing (from the root), so it lasts the same amount of time as waxing.
Winner: No clear winner
Both sugaring and waxing last the same amount of time, up to 2 weeks.
Compare – Cost
Sugaring and waxing cost about the same amount of money if you skip the accessories and just compare oranges to oranges. Here’s a breakdown.
An 8oz container of Gigi’s wax costs about $8-9, and an 8 oz container of pre made sugaring paste from CocoJoJo costs about $9.
You can use the same applicators (popsicle sticks) for wax or for sugaring paste. You can also use the same kind of wax/sugaring paste removal strips for both, which you can buy in bulk or tear up an old cotton bed sheet to make strips. One benefit of sugaring paste is that you can throw all of your cotton strips in the washing machine after you have removed hair with them, and reuse them for as long as you want.
Complete kits that include a plug in wax/paste warmer and pre and post treatments for either waxing or sugaring paste are also similarly priced, running from $40 to $120, depending on how fancy you get with the accessories.
We can also compare professional services. If we wanted to get a professional to do it, waxing prices near us in California can cost about $300 dollars for a full body wax. Sugaring costs a little bit more at about $350.
Winner: No clear winner
Sugaring and waxing both cost similar amounts of money for wax/sugaring paste and accessories. Professional sugaring is slightly more expensive than professional waxing.
Compare – Pain
Waxing removes hair but can also remove the top dead layers of skin as a mild exfoliant. Waxes grab both the skin and hair, and so when you pull the wax off of your skin, you are feeling the sensation of both your hair being pulled and your skin being tugged gently.
In contrast, sugaring paste does not stick to the skin at all. It only grabs hair and removes it when pulled away without any of the exfoliation of waxing. So sugaring is a less painful hair removal method than waxing.
The sugar in the sugaring paste can be a gentle conditioner for your skin as well. If there are essential oils in your sugaring paste, these can act as skin conditioners as well.
Sugaring does not grab skin like wax does and so is less painful.
Compare – How long each takes
For this we aren’t going to count the prep time for sugaring or waxing. What does this mean? For waxing, there is prep time involved for warming the wax and for sugaring, you either need to make the sugaring paste or like wax, you need to warm the sugaring paste.
Prep aside, the actual process of sugaring can take longer than waxing, especially the “hard wax” type of sugaring paste.
Waxing involves applying the wax in lines with an applicator stick, and then removing it with a strip or by gripping the edge of the cooled wax. With sugaring, you take a wad of sugar and work it with your hands and fingers to make it more sticky and easy to apply. Then you take the sugaring paste and apply it to your hair, grab the edge and remove the sugaring paste and hair quickly. Before reapplying sugaring paste, you take what you just removed and work it between your fingers again, before you take it and apply it the next area with hair. This process takes a little time to do well efficiently.
With waxing, it is applied while hot and pulled, applied and pulled. Sugaring takes a little more finesse and time because the sugaring paste is not as hot and so it must be worked with your hands to make it easy to apply.
Waxing is somewhat faster to do than sugaring, but not by much. The process is similar for both, but sugaring’s extra step adds a little time.
Compare – Skill needed
As you might have caught on in the previous comparison, sugaring has an extra step because it is used at a cooler temperature than waxing. But does it make sugaring harder to learn?
Actually waxing and sugaring require the same physical skills to remove hair from the root without breaking it halfway. Sure, there is some extra skill needed to manage the sugaring paste, but the application of wax or sugaring paste on your skin and then its removal is the same.
It takes a little practice with both waxing and sugaring to realize how fast and at what angle you should pull to remove the entire hair. If you’ve had a professional wax session before, then you have a good idea of how to grab the wax or sugar and quickly flick your wrist to remove the hair with the least amount of pain. But even if you haven’t, it only takes 1 or 2 tries before you get the handle on the best way to remove sugaring paste or wax.
Winner: No clear winner
Both sugaring paste and wax remove hair in the same way and so require the same type of skills to do well.
Compare – Convenience
Sugaring and waxing are definitely far more convenient than shaving because they last so much longer.
Between the two, sugaring might have a very slight edge over waxing in terms of convenience because you can just wash off the residue of the sugaring paste when you are done removing hair. To remove wax residue, you have to use an oil that will stop your skin from feeling tacky or sticking to clothes. But with sugaring, you can just hop in the shower or wash the area you just sugared with some warm water to remove all stickiness.
Sugaring is a slightly more convenient process than waxing because its residue is easier to remove.
Summary – So which is better
Sure, we have broken down the pros and cons of both sugaring and waxing and it may seem like sugaring is the better option. But we don’t think sugaring has a clear leg up over waxing. We think that sugaring and waxing are very similar, but with one big difference:
Sugaring has all natural ingredients and so is better suitable for those with sensitive skin that is easily irritated or acne prone.
Waxing has more options in terms of aromatherapeutic benefits via essential oils and skin conditioners as well as types of wax, like for face or for bikini.
Otherwise, whether you choose waxing or sugaring is up to your personal preferences or adventure level.
To learn more about sugaring, read our guide to sugaring at home and how to pick a sugaring recipe or product to get starting on removing hair with sugaring.
Want to get into waxing? Read our guide to the best wax kits available today and how to wax at home as painlessly as possible.