The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
August 4, 2011

Remove Hair with DIY Homemade Sugar Wax: Cheap, Plastic-free, and Dangerous in the Wrong Hands

The BlogHer conference is this weekend. Time for my annual eyebrow wax and pedicure. You know the saying that women dress for each other? When it comes to BlogHer, that saying couldn’t be more true. All other days of the year, I’m a pretty low maintenance gal. I mean, how often do I write about cosmetics on this blog? Almost never.  But when the BlogHer Estrogen Fest rolls around, I get all self-conscious about my neglected feet and crazy eyebrows.

Witness the crazy eyebrows for yourself.  Don’t see what I’m talking about?  That’s okay.  I see the crazy, and that’s what matters.

Beth Terry with bushy eyebrows

This time, instead of paying $15 for someone to slather paraffin wax (a petroleum product) on my face and rip it off with half my skin, I decided to save my money and inflict the pain on myself.  I found some ancient wax strips and a sugar waxing kit in the bathroom cabinet.  I can’t remember buying them, so I’d guess they could be over 7 years old.

hair waxing products

The wax strips are paraffin coated plastic. I’m not interested in using them, and as I recall, they never worked anyway. Into the plastic collection they go, unless I can find someone who wants them. The Sally Hansen sugar wax kit seemed like a possibility, despite all the plastic packaging… until I read the ingredients. In addition to various kinds of sugars and herbal extracts, the stuff contains methylparaben (a preservative which the Skin Deep Database describes as an estrogen mimic and hormone disruptor), imidazolidinyl urea (which Skin Deep says is an “antimicrobial preservative that acts as a formaldehyde releaser in cosmetics and personal care products”), and artifical colors. Um… no thanks.

So I Googled “homemade sugar wax” and found that 1) There’s no wax in it. The stuff is basically just candied sugar and water. 2) There are a ton of posts and Youtube videos explaining how to do it. Cool! I based my experiment on the Youtube Video D.I.Y Hair Removal Wax With Honey and Sugar because the recipe includes honey, which I thought would be nice for my skin (although honey is not necessary. You can do it with plain sugar.) and because the video shows how to use the “wax” to shape eyebrows. Also, the recipe makes a very small amount. Check out this video if you need to make a larger quantity for waxing legs or other body parts.

Note:  I realize I could skip this whole process by simply tweezing my brows.  But honestly, I’m too much of  a wimp for that.  I’d rather rip it all off at once.

Recipe: Homemade Sugar Wax With Honey

Ingredients: 2 tsp brown sugar (from Whole Foods bulk bin), 1 tsp honey (purchased in bulk from Whole Foods in my own container), 1 tsp water. You’ll also need a knife or something flat to apply the wax and some cloth strips for peeling it off.

homemade sugar wax ingredients

1) Combine ingredients in a microwavable container. I used a Pyrex measuring cup. You could also use the stove instead of microwave, but you’d need a very tiny pan.

homemade sugar wax

2) Cook mixture in the microwave (or on the stove) until it bubbles and turns brown. This part was challenging. If you don’t cook the mixture long enough, it stays too soft and sticky to work. If you cook it too long, it turns into hard candy.  I experimented with two different batches until I got it right. I believe I cooked it for about 30 or 35 seconds.

3) Let cool. This is also important. You won’t know if you’ve cooked the wax long enough until it cools down. If it’s too thick, dilute it a little and try it out.

4) Brows, get ready for some waxing! Here’s my immediately BEFORE shot:

Beth Terry with bushy eyebrows

5) Apply wax to only the part of the brow you want to remove. I didn’t have a little spatula (except I actually did — in the Sally Hanson kit — I just didn’t realize it was there until too late) and didn’t think to use a knife, so I used my finger. Not recommended. You’ll see why.

homemade sugar wax

homemade sugar wax

6) Apply cloth strip to waxed eyebrow. Press and smooth in the direction of the hair growth. I cut some strips from an old raggedy pair of flannel pajamas that were no longer wearable. I realized in hindsight I could have used some of the reusable organic cotton rounds I got a while back. Why? Because unlike actual wax, sugar wax dissolves in warm water, so I could just rinse them off and reuse.

homemade sugar wax

7) The moment of truth. When you’re ready, rip the cloth off of your eyebrow in the opposite direction of the hair growth. And…

CRAP. Not what I intended.

homemade sugar wax

Um… this is what I mean by dangerous. The stuff really, really works. Don’t mess around. Be careful where you spread it, and make sure it’s only coating hair you actually want to remove. Do not follow my example and end up with a big chunk of missing eyebrow right before the BlogHer conference!

Turns out, the situation was not as bad as I thought. I went ahead and waxed the other brow, much more carefully, and then came back and attempted to clean up the bad situation with a bit more waxing. And then I filled in the missing bit with a Dr. Hauschka eyeliner pencil that I rarely use and forgot I even had. The pencil is wood with what I believe is a metal cap. I know, sometimes plastic disguises itself as metal. But this cap also sounds like metal when dropped on the floor. So I’m pretty sure it’s not plastic.

Dr. Hauschka eyeliner pencil

8) Here is the completely unretouched AFTER picture: after waxing, tweezing just a tiny bit to clean up strays, and filling in the gap with a little bit of eye pencil. Not too bad from a distance, right?

Beth Terry with waxed eyebrows

Even better with my glasses on.

Beth Terry with waxed eyebrows

So how does sugar wax feel compared to actual wax? Pretty amazing, actually. Ripping off the sugar wax didn’t hurt nearly as much as ripping off paraffin wax. And hours later, my eyebrows just feel soft and smooth… probably from the honey because I didn’t put on any cream or lotion afterwards. There was much less redness too. Overall, I’d say this experiment was a success.

By the way, have you ever noticed how weird eyebrows start to look when you stare at them long enough?  Or how weird your own face looks after while?  My next post will not include so many photos of my face.  I promise.

55 comments
Erika
Erika

Yes, I am aware that this post is old. But I need to just share my experience with this. I tried the recipe and waxed my eyebrows today. It is awesome! So easy, and you save money. After trying this, I am never ever going to go to a salon and pay a ridiculous amount (well...over time it accumulates into a ridiculous amount) of money. In fact, I just like the fact that I can make my eyebrows look exactly the way I want!

TIP: While the wax is cooling, it will harden over time. So if after you heat it up and it looks all runny, don't keep reheating it over and over again because it'll just turn into "hard candy". ;)

Daz
Daz

Hey! I know you posted this a few years ago but I had a few questions!

First off, it somewhat worked for me. To be fair I bought $1 store brown sugar and honey. I added a bit more brown sugar every time I microwaved it, let it sit, and it didn't seem thick enough. So I thought I had finally gotten it but alas, as I said, it somewhat worked.

With that said, the questions!

What material do you find best for using as "wax strips"? I used a cut up old shirt, and perhaps that was the problem? Secondly, if I wanted to make this in a bigger batch to fill a small (I mean like 4-8oz) mason jar, does this have the potential to be stored and reused? If it can be stored, should it be in the fridge, in a cabinet, do I need to reheat it?

Sorry for all the questions. Thank you though if you can find the time to pick through my post! <3 I am thankful for this recipe as I hate store bought wasteful gross stuff and if this gets near my mouth, well, it won't taste nasty haha! I'm wondering if this is better for eyebrows then upper lip fuzz due to eyebrow hairs being longer? Maybe that was the issue, my lip fuzz/hairs are just too short. Hmm.

mimi
mimi

I tried this with maple syrup instead of honey. Just use a bit more sugar than what is called for and let it cool. Didn't hurt at all.

angel21
angel21

I just tried this and it didnt work :( what am I doing wrong I followed the directions and I used old jeans but it doesn't even stick to the jeans please help!!!

Becca
Becca

I just tried this and it works! Ahhhhh! I am 14 and just wanted to get rid of some lip fuzz. I used some torn up pieces of an old pair of jeans and it worked perfectly. Thanks so much!!!!


Tammie
Tammie

I just tried this and I have to say i am impressed. It took me a few times to get the sugar and honey to the right consistency but once I did it worked better than store wax. I waxed my upper lip and I used a cut up cotton pillow case for the strips. I had no redness after and it didn't feel like any of my skin got ripped off like usual. No burning, no stinging, and when it got on my lip where those teeny tiny hairs are I didn't have to worry about it getting in my mouth because it tasted great. I will use this again for sure, and for the cut up pillow case strips, I just washed in some dish soap in the kitchen sink, rinsed and let dry for next time. This sure beats that whole box mess and cost because everything was on hand. While the mixture was still hot I put some on a pesky black head between my nose and cheek crease put the cloth on and let it sit a few minutes and it pulled it out!! No more blackhead and no more hair. 

Ray
Ray

Threading does hurt and I find it awkward to go to a beauty parlour to get my bushy unibrow done. So I thought Id try this out. But as most things I get off the internet, it didnt work out for me. Everything was ok until I applied it, it didnt set. Help?

Anna
Anna

I know I shouldn't be laughing at the disastrous event of missing patches of eyebrows, but when you said "it really, really works" that did me in.

Elane
Elane

Amazing. Instant remover. Is this painful? I think it is tolerable. Hmm.. I will try this right after I post my comment here.

Allie J
Allie J

I stopped doing all this stuff once I hit 50, I figured 38 years of torture was long enough, I was a professional dancer starting at age 12 and our teacher would hit us with the electric razor in front of everyone if our armpits and legs did not pass her inspection.

Gracie
Gracie

As a hirsute Scottish/Greek mutt, I appreciate the natural, homemade, and cheap way to tame the squirrels that reside on my face.

sassy
sassy

WOW I just came across your blog, and let me say I am INSPIRED :) Secondly, you have a special place in my heart as I've never been able to find wax that works (and the stuff in the box smells SO nasty--no wonder!) and now I have! Whats more is I can AFFORD IT :-D And my boyfriend just got rid of a bunch of old t-shirts.... But just as a hint of caution, if you are trying to be kind to yourself and the earth, do not use microwaves. They're radiating our homes and air. Look on youtube for the guy measuring the radiation when his microwave is running with a Geiger counter (I believe that's what is was called). And really, after a week, you don't miss it I promise! (And I say that being a stay at home mama with 2 boys under 3...its not always easy, but TOTALLY worth it!) Just a friendly word of caution :)

Lena Beckman
Lena Beckman

You look great !! And let me tell you as a new member of no-plastic-club , you are such an inspiration!!!

The Green Cat
The Green Cat

Perfect timing on this post Beth. I use wax strips on my brows but have run out and have been meaning to buy more. I hadn't thought about sugaring so I will try this next time.

Ms. Adventuress
Ms. Adventuress

P.S. Looking forward to the BlogHer follow up. I opted out, due to the non-green nature of the event. Hope to hear of some improvements, though. Either way, it will be great to hear your take on it.

Ms. Adventuress
Ms. Adventuress

Excellent post, recipe, tips. So glad it did not hurt as much as other options. Good job!

Dmarie
Dmarie

*chuckle* love this post. sorry for your little slip, but you look lovely in your after photo, so all's well that ends well, eh?

Karli
Karli

I just had to read this right after shaving. Now I have to wait. lol

Madz
Madz

You should totally try threadding. No chemicals whatsoever and plastic-free. All you need is a piece of threadding cotton and the nimble fingers of an Indian woman. Here in NZ you can get your eyebrows done for as little as NZD$7, though the parlour closest to me does them for NZ$10 - half the normal AUckland price for waxing and, if done right, with much less pain.

helga
helga

I also recommend doing threading instead of waxing. I would get it professionally done though since they have the experience. I doubt there's much plastic involved in threading, so you should give it a shot. If there are any Indian beauty salons near you, they would definitely do that.

Rob
Rob

Phew. I thought you were gonna talk bikini waxing or something else that would make me uncomfortable. But Eyebrows I can handle. As a man, may I say I just use my electric trimmer and a comb.

Chris
Chris

Your beautiful spirit shines through, Beth, even before you did your eyebrows. I stopped doing all this stuff once I hit 50, I figured 38 years of torture was long enough, I was a professional dancer starting at age 12 and our teacher would hit us with the electric razor in front of everyone if our armpits and legs did not pass her inspection.

juna
juna

Enjoyed this post! Honest and fun to read. And I learned something... yeah!!

Condo Blues
Condo Blues

I tweeze my own eyebrows. It takes longer than waxing but I have more control on what stays and what goes sometimes by accident. I tried waxing my legs. It gave me little tiny bruises up and down my legs. I'm such a wuss.

Melanie Jade
Melanie Jade

Great job, Beth! I think your eyebrows look great. I tried sugar wax on my legs once...uh...didn't work. It's difficult to get it cooked the right amount. I could see myself trying your version though because of the limited quantity. Thanks for posting!

Tracey TieF
Tracey TieF

I got attacked with tweezers by my sister before a big family event. Ouch. I didn't think bushy eyebrows were a problem. Thanks for the recipe and tutorial - I'll refer people to this post at my next DIY Natural Shaving Workshop.

Isabel
Isabel

Wow@ the end result was great! Thanks for share the video and your pics,

Meaghan B
Meaghan B

In case you weren't aware, there's a waxing place near you called European Wax Center that uses beeswax (no strips). Hard waxing is far, far kinder to my skin than traditional waxing, there's less risk of overheated sugar hitting my skin (burns more than wax does) and I can have a licensed, trained professional shape my brows (yours look great but I have scarring in mine that needs to be worked around and I can't easily do that.) They use wooden dip sticks and paper table covers, too. It's also recommended by most folks that you don't try and do your own, uh, "other" waxing as the risk for delicate skin ripping is pretty high if you can't see everything you're doing up-close.

Kiyomi
Kiyomi

You look great! I want to know about your pedicure too. Is that next...? Please...?

Sarah
Sarah

I never thought about making my own waxing stuff! This is AWESOME. One of the mini problem with my current Sally Hansen waxing is that I'm running out of the strips. Reusing cotton would just be so much better.

Amy
Amy

Beth, great post! I've used the Moom waxing kit , and I really like it. The sugar wax comes in a glass jar with a plastic cap (in a plastic box....). The reason I appreciate this kit is that, after my Moom wax is gone, I can continue using the pre-cut fabric strips the kit came with. There are little guys for eyebrows and bigger pieces of fabric for leg waxing. Make my own wax,and I didn't have to fuss with making my own fabric strips. Have a great time at BlogHer!

autumn
autumn

p.s. i tried plucking my eyebrows once. thats how i got pierced ears.

autumn
autumn

you are hilarious. im a big fan of threading. hurts no more than a tattoo. kidding. but seriously, no chemicals or plastic. i go to a lovely salon in the walkway between yogurt park and ucb. $9.

EcoCatLady
EcoCatLady

OMG... you know... I have spent many an hour cursing the fact that my eyebrows are so fair that they're practically transparent. I often wonder if people look at me and think "Was that woman born without eyebrows?" But after reading this, I'm starting to feel grateful. I did try to make a sugaring concoction several years ago for my legs. The recipe I used called for sugar and lemon juice and I basically ended up with a big batch of lemon candy. But I would dearly love to find an alternative to shaving so perhaps I'll give your recipe a try...

SavvyChristine
SavvyChristine

I love that you're posting about this. It never would have occurred to me to use sugar wax, not having known anything about it before -- but more than that, I love that you're willing to post all these personal pictures on your website! I won't lie: my favorite is still the neti pot post.

Erika
Erika

Have you ever tried threading your eyebrows? You're basically doing the same thing as waxing, but it uses thread wound around your fingers in a specific way to yank the hairs out, kind of like a Super Tweezer. It's also plastic-free, and you get a lot more control over which hairs get removed. I haven't tried it myself, but I'm keeping the knowledge in my pocket for when I need it! Search YouTube for "eyebrow threading tutorial" for tons of awesome how-to videos.

Nicole
Nicole

How funny that you should post about this just as I have decided that I need to switch from razors to waxing so that I don't have to purchase disposable razor heads. (I had a connection a few years back that provided me with endless free razor heads and I am just now down to the last 2!) I have started letting my leg hair grow to be long enough to wax and also did some Google searching. I'm glad to see you've had such great results!! I will stick to tweezing the eyebrows though.

Desi
Desi

Awesome post. I have had MANY waxing catastrophes, so I had to chuckle and commiserate a little bit. Seriously, though, I am so going to try this when I get through my tub of pine resin wax. That stuff hurts!

kristine
kristine

@angel21 you can't use only jeans. You need cotton. Like an old sheet or pillow case. Nothing that stretches. I'm an aestician trust me use an old sheet or cotton. Fabric

sabriena
sabriena

@angel21 is it thick enough? Every time I've tried it, it's worked fine for me. The first time I did it I made it too thin but when I got it the right consistency it worked a treat.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

Yes! Denim would be perfect for this. Thanks for letting us know.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

Make sure you cook it long enough.  If not, it won't set properly and won't work.

Kry
Kry

Yes there is radiation used in Microwaves but its not the type of radiation you are thinking of and it doesnt stick around. Do some research hun.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Sassy. Hope the sugar wax works for you! One thing... I am not sure that t-shirt material will work. You don't want to use anything stretchy or instead of pulling off the wax, it will just stretch. So avoid knit material and go for woven. I used old flannel, which worked great. Old sheet, old tablecloth, old cloth napkin, old cloth handkerchief, etc.

Trackbacks

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  5. […] of Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, Beth Terry, offers a great DIY sugar was with honey recipe and a fun and detailed description of how it […]