Tired of ingrowns and itchy red bumps? So was our writer, who decided to find a better way to groom down below.
I’ve always wanted to wax my bikini line, but modesty and fear kept me in that population of women who spend their money on fancy razors and expensive shaving creams. So when a friend told me about a hair removal technique called “sugaring,” I was intrigued.
She assured me that sugaring wouldn’t cause razor bumps, ingrown hairs, or vaginal infections—all of which I’d experienced with a razor. Even better, my pubic hair wouldn't regrow as quickly as it did after shaving. But what really sold me on the idea were all the internet claims that sugaring was better than waxing for people with sensitive skin. "Once you try sugaring, you'll never go back," estheticians promised in ads.
After having an allergic reaction to a new anti-bump shaving gel, I finally put aside my fear earlier this month and decided to give sugaring a try.
I live in New York, so I made an appointment at Sugaring NYC, a salon in Manhattan. The place was super clean (and entirely painted pink) and the estheticians were welcoming. After undressing from the waist down and getting comfortable on a soft table in one of the treatment rooms, the sugaring esthetician came in and explained the process. “It is going to sting a little only because it’s your first time, but if you keep coming, you eventually won’t feel a thing," she said.
Let me clarify upfront that “sting a little” is a bit of an understatement. But before I tell you how the process went down, here’s some information about sugaring.
Sugaring is a hair removal technique used in the Middle East and Northern Africa for centuries. The name comes from the organic paste used to remove hair, a mix of sugar and water. According to Sugaring NYC, because it’s hypoallergenic and free of chemicals and fragrances, sugaring paste won't irritate skin the way chemical-laden wax can.
The paste looks sort of like honey, and it's applied at body temperature. It only adheres to the hair, and it pulls hair from the roots rather than pulling at the skin. This means sugaring won’t cause hyperpigmentation or damage the skin, and that's why the process is considered to be less painful than waxing. A sugaring session ranges from $10-60, and the hair can take about a month to grow back.
Sugaring NYC offers sugaring for the face, body, and vaginal area, which is what I wanted. I knew that getting a totally bare full Brazilian would be too intense for a sugaring virgin like myself, so I went with the bikini option—which removes all pubic hair from the top and a little from the sides (cost: $45).
I'm the kind of person who does a lot of research before trying anything new, so I learned that my pubic hair had to be at least an eighth of an inch long (the size of a grain of rice) so the paste can bind to the hair. You're also supposed to shower before the appointment to get rid of any oils in the area that can interfere with the paste, and wear loose-fitting clothing or underwear as well.
So, here’s the real deal. Although my opinion could be due to my inexperience with any kind of hair-removal method other than shaving, to answer the question if sugaring hurts—yes, it hurts. The process felt like never-ending bee stings in an area that you would never, ever want a bee to sting.
The esthetician spread the sugar paste and then did four to five little pulls, rolling the paste into a ball and then dabbing it on the stubborn pubic hairs. In an attempt to distract me, she asked me questions about my life, but that didn’t stop me from screaming like I was in labor. I noticed that some spots caused me more pain than others (hello, inner thigh). For the entire procedure, I was holding back tears and angry with myself for willingly signing up for torture.
The process lasted about 25 minutes, which I was told is a little longer than normal because the esthetician did some extra tweezing to get rid of some pubic stragglers. She then cleaned off the remaining bits of sugar paste and told me to avoid hot water, tanning beds, and the gym for a day, to prevent any irritation.
When I finally looked down at the finished product, I was in shock. Part of that was due to the trauma I had just experienced, but also because the results looked . . . beautiful. My bikini area was completely bare. No leftover hairs, no paste residue, and no redness. For the first few hours post-sugaring, the skin down there felt a little sensitive to the touch, and walking was slightly uncomfortable. But by the next morning, I was back to normal.
It’s been two weeks since my sugaring experience, and I am happy to report that I’m still free of hair, razor bumps, and ingrowns for the first time since I began grooming myself down below eight years ago. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone with sensitive skin—or anyone who is totally over lifting one leg up in the shower and still not getting rid of all their unwanted hair.
Although sugaring was probably one of the top five most painful things I’ve done so far in life, I am going to continue with this method. I would rather deal with 20 minutes of pain than all the discomfort from shaving every week.