Sukkar (Hair-Removing Caramel)

This traditional hair removal method is particularly practiced in Lebanon and Egypt, where it’s simply called sukkar, “sugar”. Online it’s sometimes referred to as “sugar wax” but that’s entirely too misleading. What it literally is, is caramel (as in the movie) with a bit of lemon juice. It’s completely natural, washes away without a trace, you can make it at home (no packaging), and the leftover can be stored indefinitely in a jar (I keep it in my dresser). It is one of the somewhat painful hair removal methods, yes (but not the most painful, and the degree depends on the part of the body), but having started with it as a teen, then used every method on the market before returning to it, I can vouch for the superior results of sukkar in leaving the skin smooth and comfortable, both on the body and the face, for much longer than a shave. It’s also a sticky operation, but set an hour aside and do it in the bathroom so you can hop under the shower when done. Note that it may not work is hair is too short: let it grow out a bit.

Making the caramel

The step-by-step recipe, which only requires (regular white) sugar and lemon, is given below. It takes a bit of practice to get the caramel right the first time, and a candy thermometer, while not necessary, really helps take out the guesswork. The end result after cooling should be firm enough to handle, but sticky enough to actually adhere to the hairs and pull them off. Press a little of it on your skin: if there’s no tack, it’s too hard. If you don’t get it right, however, there’s no need to throw away your batch, you can fix it:

  • If your caramel is too sticky, it didn’t get hot enough, so just cook it again.
  • If it’s too hard, it’s overcooked: add some water (no more than 1/4C) and heat it up again so it melts and you can mix the water in; then proceed with cooking till it reaches the correct point.

How to use it

  1. Start by having a wash under a hot shower, and dry yourself off thoroughly. Clean skin prevents irritation; the heat opens your pores making hair removal easier; dryness is important as water dissolves the sugar and completely stops it working.
  2. Pinch off a walnut-sized amount and knead it between your fingers to warm it up. In warm weather this is not even necessary. If you’re tempted to pop some in your mouth, do so now, before you start using it 😉
  3. Spread against the hair growth, and pull away along the hair growth (some people do it the other way around, this is gentler on the skin). In areas where the skin is a bit loose, hold it taut with your other hand so you don’t yank it (that’s much more painful than pulling hair).
  4. Reuse the same bit of sugar until it’s too sticky to be workable. Drop it in your toilet or sink (it’ll melt!) and pick up a new one. If you’re concerned about pain, feel free to use an ice cube inside a towel to soothe the skin after sugaring (just keep it dry till you’re done).
  5. If it’s gone too sticky and bits are staying on your skin that you can’t pull off, don’t panic. Let them be. When you have your rinsing shower, the warm water will take care of them.

Feel free to print this image for your private use. Click here for more DIY Personal Care products and how to source the ingredients.


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