Sugaring Paste as an Important Component of the Dermatologic Arsenal

By Khalid Al Aboud, MD

Unwanted hair growth presents a significant problem for many patients. It can have adverse psychological effects on women and reduce their quality of life. Considerable resources are spent to achieve a hair-free appearance, and researchers are actively searching for cheaper and safer methods for therapeutic treatment.1,2

Hair removal with optical devices has become a popular mainstream treatment that today is considered the most efficient method for the reduction of unwanted hair. However, safety issues must be addressed, because burns and adverse events do occur.1

Sugaring, also known as sugar waxing or Persian waxing, is an alternative method of hair removal.3

Although it has been in use since 1900 BC, it is rarely mentioned in dermatologic literature.4

Sugaring can be less painful than waxing, because the substrate sticks to the hair without attaching to the skin.3 It is a cost-effective and practical method of hair removal4 compared with treatments like shaving, waxing, electrolysis, and lasers.4

Sugaring paste (Figure 1) can be prepared with common household food items, such as water, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, honey, and molasses. Getting the consistency correct takes some practice for most users.3 However, the most common recipe for sugaring wax is as follows (units by volume)3:

  • 1 unit of sugar
  • 1/8 unit of vinegar, or lemon/lime/orange juice (either fresh or from a bottle, not from concentrate)
  • 1/8 unit of water

In sugaring, a “heated sugar mixture” can be either covered with a strip of fabric or spread directly on the skin.

I found the latter to be more effective. The procedure is very simple: The area to be epilated is dried with gauze prior to application of the sugaring paste, which is spread with a spatula, tongue depressor, or by hand. After the sticky paste is applied to the skin in the same direction of hair growth, the layer of the paste is pulled out from the skin in the opposite direction of hair growth.

There are many advantages of sugaring, which include low cost, ease of use, absence of pre- or post- procedure instructions, and great cosmetic results with no complications. Therefore, I strongly recommend the addition of sugaring paste as an important component of the dermatologic arsenal.

Figure 1. Sugaring paste.


1. Haedersdal M, Haak CS. Hair removal. Curr Probl Dermatol. 2011;42:111-121.

2. Wanitphakdeedecha R, Alster TS. Physical means of treating unwanted hair. Dermatol Ther. 2008;21(5):392-401.

3. Sugaring (epilation). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Updated September 17, 2011. Accessed October 15, 2011.

4. Tannir D, Leshin B. Sugaring: an ancient method of hair removal. Dermatol Surg. 2001; 27(3): 309-311.

About the author

Khalid Al Aboud, MD

Khalid Al Aboud MD is a clinical dermatopathology fellow in the Pathology Department, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, USA. 0Dr. Al Aboud has authored and co-authored many publications in dermatology. He is also a member of the editorial boards of several dermatology periodicals.

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