Sugaring Vs. Waxing: Which Is Less Painful?

It seems like in all things beauty, there's a new method, tool, or brush coming out every day that's supposed to change the game. Cosmetic hair removal is no exception. While you may only just be hearing about the techniques of sugaring and the difference between it and the long-time standard of waxing, both have been around since as early as ancient Egypt (via Byrdie).

The processes of sugaring vs. waxing are similar in that, unlike shaving, which cuts the hair off before the follicle, they both lift hair directly from the root. This has a longer effect on the skin than shaving, so you can do it less often than shaving. Even though the results are similar enough to group the two together, the actual processes differ in important ways, and if you've ever thought about trying either one, we're sure you've had the question we're about to answer: how much does it hurt? Keep reading to find out.

Wax can be harsher on sensitive skin

Waxing is a tried and true method of hair removal. Hair removal wax contains beeswax, resin, and typically some additives such as oils and anti-inflammatories (via Healthline). There are two types of waxes — soft wax requires a strip of muslin or another kind of material to rip the wax off, while hard wax is pliable when applied but cools on the skin so that a strip is not necessary. Wax is applied in the same direction as hair growth, then once it's cooled it is pulled in the opposite direction to fully remove hair from the follicle.

Waxing tends to be harsher on the skin than sugaring is, and in some cases, this can actually cause the wax to break shorter hairs rather than fully removing them. Celebrity esthetician Enrique Ramirez told Byrdie that it's important to consider skin type when choosing between sugaring and waxing, and that waxing typically leaves behind more redness and irritation than sugaring does.

Sugaring tends to hurt less than waxing

While the amount of pain you feel truly depends on your own personal pain tolerance, it's found that sugaring tends to hurt less than waxing does. Just from the ingredients, it's clear that sugaring is at least gentler on the skin and more of an exfoliator than anything, as the paste is made of just sugar, lemon juice, and water (via Healthline). The ingredients are heated together to form a paste-like mixture and applied to the skin in this form. Unlike wax, the sugar mixture is applied in the opposite direction of hair growth and removed quickly, and this process is repeated over the entire area.

Shoba Tummula, founder of New York-based hair-removal salon Shoba, told Byrdie that sugaring is "the most gentle and natural option for the skin." She also explained that since the sugar paste is less adhesive than traditional wax, people who sugar typically don't see the same redness and irritation that people who wax do.