Body Sugaring Recipes For Hair Removal: { Legs | Armpits }

Centuries ago in ancient Egypt, Cleopatra and her handmaidens discovered a secret beauty treatment that magically and painlessly got rid of unwanted hair…and this recipe was lost for years until it was recently discovered.

At least that’s what the television infomercial declared years ago when I first became aware of body sugaring. So intriguing, wouldn’t you agree!

I pulled out my credit card, ordered myself a tub and when it arrived in the mail, gave it a try on my legs and armpits.

Results? I found that a) it wasn’t painless like the infomercial stated and b) it was pretty pricey considering I could go to the salon and have a professional take care of the awkwardness and mess for just a few bucks more. I never placed another order.

Over the years I’ve discovered a few homemade versions that do just as good a job as that pricey tub cost me, and they cost only pennies to make! Now we’re talking ;).

If you’re wondering just what this is all about, it’s epilation that’s very similar to waxing. A sugary mixture is warmed then cooled and slathered over the area of the body that you want to get rid of hair. Strips of fabric are pressed over top then ripped off. If it works, the fabric is now covered with the stubbles. If it doesn’t completely get it all, just reapply and rip again.

Since the paste can grab and pull out each hair deep at its root, the new growth is slower to appear than if shaved (which just removes growth at the surface). Skin is left soft and smooth and there’s not much mess (especially when compared to waxing) since the mixture is water soluble and washes off easily.

If you’d like to give this a try, here are three different ways to make it plus directions for how to do it. Good luck!

DIY Body Sugaring/Epilation Wax

Supplies Needed:

  • Candy thermometer (to measure temperature while mixture is warming)
  • 1″ strips of cotton fabric (about 8″ to 10″ in length)
  • Wooden popsicle sticks or spatula

Before getting started: Wash skin well with soap and water, removing all traces of oil, makeup, deodorant and dirt. Pat dry.

Stovetop Method: (Two different recipes, choose one)

  • #1: 2 cups white granulated sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed), 1/4 cup water
  • #2: 1 cup white granulated sugar, 2 TBS honey, juice from one half lemon (freshly squeezed)

Heating Directions:

  • Combine ingredients in a heavy saucepan and turn on the heat to medium. Once it starts boiling, reduce to low heat and cook until the mixture reaches 250°F (stir often so it doesn’t boil over) then take off stove. If a thicker paste is preferred, just heat to 245°F.
  • Let it sit until it’s warm then pour into a glass canning jar. Continue to let it cool till it’s at room temperature. Careful! This will cause serious burns if it’s not cooled down properly before applying.

Microwave Recipe:

  • Ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup honey, juice from one half lemon (freshly squeezed)
  • Directions: Combine items in a large glass bowl then start the microwave for two minutes, stopping every 20 to 30 seconds to stir. Once it’s finished cooking, allow to cool down a bit before pouring into a glass canning jar and letting it rest till it’s at room temperature. Source:

How To Apply

  • As mentioned above, wash the removal area well then pat dry with a soft towel.
  • Lightly dust the body surface with cornstarch and rub it in. Lightly is key, this will help protect the skin a bit so the paste doesn’t stick to it as much (helping lessen the pain).
  • Before application, smear a bit on the inner arm up by your wrist. If the temperature is comfortable, proceed. Too hot? Wait a bit.
  • Using the popsicle sticks, slather on a thin layer in the direction of the hair growth then cover with cotton strips (do in batches of 3 or 4 until the entire area is covered). Rub the fabric a few times firmly (in the direction of the growth).
  • Let it sit for about a minute then pull skin tight with one hand and rip each strip off quickly with the other (in the opposite direction of the growth). Reapply as needed (can reheat if it gets too cool).
  • When you’re done, jump in the shower to rinse off any residue or wipe down with a warm, wet cloth.

That’s it! Does it hurt? Yes, I think it does but I’m a bit of a wimp ;). Over time with more treatments you do get de-sensitized to it a bit.


  • Hair should be at least 1/4″ to 1/2″ long so the concoction has something to really grab onto and pull out at the follicle.
  • Hand wash the strips in warm soapy water, dry and reuse them again and again. Muslin or diaper flannel work well.
  • This homemade wax is best suited for legs, top of arms, armpits, upper lip, sides of face. Avoid using on thinner/delicate skin areas such as the area around eyes since rapid pulling is required. Unless you are very experienced with doing this and quite diligent in application, I’d avoid the “nether regions”. Inadvertently dropping a blob of the wax in the bikini area and then being pulled/ripped up can be extremely painful and even cause injury.
  • Careful to avoid growths such as tag growth, warts and moles. Also avoid applying on top of stretch marks, abrasions, scrapes or cuts, scar tissue, delicate areas, rashes and varicose veins.
  • Drink plenty of water and frequently moisturize during the few days before procedure (do not moisturize the day of). When the skin is well hydrated, it helps minimize the pain.
  • Have ugly dark “stubble” bumps on your legs? Shaving is likely the culprit. Try exfoliating your legs the day before treatment, this will help get rid of them. Simple method: Take a rough facecloth, saturate in warm water then rub small circles all over calves and upper legs. You can also try a good DIY salon-style scrub. About three days after treatment, gently rub skin all over with an exfoliating glove our another rough washcloth.
  • Seal any leftovers in the jar and refrigerate to use next time (simply reheat).
  • If concoction is too hard to work with, add a spoonful of water and zap in the microwave for a minute or so until it’s hot. Stir then allow to cool as above.
  • Avoid shaving between treatments and reap the benefits! This helps train new hair growth to be finer, softer and more sparse (hooray!).
  • Results should last between 3 to 6 weeks.

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    • Hailey

    Okay, I made it and am waiting for it to cool to room temperature. So far so good though. I’ll let you know what happens when I actually wax..I’m trying the bikini line first, cause its the only hair that’s long enough ):

    • Mikaela

    Hello! My sister is an esthetician and a few years ago taught me the right way to wax myself or someone else. For christmas she bought me wax and all the other necessary products to go along with it (wax remover, wax strips, popsicle sticks, etc.). If I remember correctly you’re suppose to apply it in the direction the hair grows, place the strip over top, rub the strip for a few seconds to create friction, then pull the strip off like you would a bandaid (relatively fast!) and while doing so, hold the skin surrounding the area taut. The hair has to be quite long in order for it to be removed, i’d say almost a 1/2″ at least if it can grow that long. I’m sure you have to do relatively the same with the sugaring hair removal listed above in order for it to actually work. Be sure to cleanse the area properly beforehand, along with whatever tools you are using, including your hands, to protect from bacteria. I have never heard of this before (it sounds awesome and I can’t wait to try it!), so I could definitely be partially if not fully wrong about how to do it… Just figured i’d post some tips for those of you that didn’t achieve the full benefit of doing this! Please correct me if i’m wrong at all so I will know how to properly do this as well (:

      • Shannon

      1/4 inch should be fine and there are several responses on here that say to put it on against the grain and pull with the grain, that it helps to avoid breakage.

    • Colleen

    Didn’t even kind of work 🙁

    • Carrighan

    How important to the recipe is the lemon juice? I am allergic to all citrus fruits, and I would like to try this but I can’t use lemon or lime juice?

      • Andi

      You could likely use vinegar if citrus is a problem. The acid just helps keep the sugar crystals small–I’d guess it’s interchangable.

      • Emily

      I tried it with white vinegar and it worked fine! Good luck!

    • Karis

    Worked perfectly. For those of you whom it didnt work it probably wasnt cooked enough. I cut the recipe in half and used lime juice instead of lemon. I dont have a candy thermometer but ive made candy before without. I stored it in a mason jar and it was just enough for a brazillian wax with a little left over. What you want is for it to cook to a ‘hardball’ stage. Once it gets to a dark amber color take your stirring spoon and let a drip fall into a cup of ice cold water. It will make a little flat disk on the bottom of the cup, if you feel it is hard as a lifesaver candy you know its done. Now it wont get this hard on your skin 1 because the lemon juice stopps it from comepletely hardening and 2 your skin isnt ice cold lol. But it will solidify enough to grip the hair. When spreading it on your skin i went with the hair growth and then against. I find you get more hair going both directions. Good luck!

    • Emma

    Can you do this with our the thermometer

    • Frankie

    Can you put vitamin e oil in it to preserve it? I want to make it, but i don’t want the sugar to mold…

    • Victoria

    Can I use lemon juice from a bottle? It has a few extra things like preservatives, flavour and contains some sulphites. Would this be okay to use? Or should I just go and raid my neighbours lemon tree…

    • souha

    this is actually used in Lebanon. This recipe has been used for ages in my country. Instead of making it at home. the same exact thing is sold in stores and its called MIM, its a Lebanese product. I used to make it at home but its just too messy. I buy them from the stores and heat them in the microwave.

    • Melissa

    I tried the1st recipe and it didn’t work. From reading the comments I think I didn’t cook it long enought. Can I put it in the microwave to try to make it thicker or recook it? Or do I have to start all over?

    • genny

    does the lemon juice have to be fresh? or can it be bottled?

    • becky

    I did this yesterday, though I followed different directions for removal, and I think it was better! Normally I am left with bumps after hair removal- I think from the shock of hair being ripped from my body. I did apply cornstarch before sugaring. So I applied the sugar in the opposite direction of the hair growth and then placed the strips on the sugar and removed them in the direction of the hair removal. I was left with smooth skin, hair free, bump free! I was a little red afterwards for a while, but that went away quick enough.

    • Sarah

    After reading the comments I took all the advice I saw and decided to give this a whirl tonight and went straight for the bikini. I’ve had a brazilian done probably every 3 months give or take for the last 4 years so I was really anxious to save myself the $65. I felt like I had a good idea of the application technique (again, read the suggestions!) so I just started where she normally does and made my way in! Needless to say I AM SOOO EXCITED this not only worked, but I was able to get the hard to reach hairs all on my own and really got the hang of this in the end. I used strips of muslin and went through quite a few, had to reheat it in the microwave a few times, and it got kind of messy, but it is super smooth down there and it really wasn’t that painful!! It probably took me an hour or so to wax myself, but it was my first time so I’m sure it will get easier!

      • Mari

      Did you apply against or with the hair growth? And how did you pull it off?? I’m trying the bikini area tomorrow and I can NOT wait to save $65!!!!!

    • Beth

    So, for someone who has never waxed anything before in my life, this was a completely new experience to me. It definitely DOES work but holy cow, it hurt too. Ha ha. I wasn’t sure to what consistency the mixture needed to cool so I started attempting to rip off hair before it was thick enough to do much…by the time it had cooled to the right consistency, I could only manage to do one armpit before I’d had as much as my pain tolerance could take. Ha.

    I will definitely do this again, now that I know how cool the mixture needs to be before using it. Also, I reused the same strips of fabric a couple times before washing them…with wax residue already on the fabric, it seemed to actually work much better…

    • Melanie

    I tried this last night and it didnt work. I don’t think I let it cook long enough and I didnt bring it to a full boil now that I think about it. I’m trying it again tonight 🙂

    • Heidy

    Does any body know if I can use baby powder instead of cornstarch? Or has anybody tried it with baby powder instead of cornstarch? If so does it work?

      • Aly G

      Christi below said she used baby powder and it worked fine. I think corn starch is cheaper though, if you’re sugaring as a budget saver.

    • Emily

    I decided to try this on a whim and WOW! It works! Is it the best waxing I’ve ever had? No, but this was exactly what I wanted in a home wax/sugaring: easy to make, easy to do, and easy clean up. It exceeded my expectations. Also, for the acid, I used white vinegar instead of lemon juice. It seemed to work well and didn’t smell badly. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Nicole

    I tried both the version with two cups of sugar and the microwave version. Neither worked; the two cups of sugar on the stove version turned into some kind of a syrup and the microwave version went on my skin and then ripped off, but it left the hair and some of the goop left with it. I may have messed up on the microwave one because right as I was supposed to be stirring it, my dog decided to absolutely need to come in the house so I missed stopping and stirring and it over cooked and went all over the microwave plate! Thankfully it was removable so I could just wash it off. Overall, it didn’t work for me and I am just quite sticky with a bit less sugar in the house. Anyone have tips for me or anything?

    • Sarah O.

    I think we would know by know if caramel was an acceptable hair removal substitute.

    Also, if you are ripping out your hairs by the root, it’s gonna hurt. I don’t care what confections you’re spreading all over your legs.

    • Jessie C

    So I tried this recipe and it worked with the strips just fine. Then I tried it again this time I used sugar in the raw, that is what you need to use to not have to use strips. You add the sugar lemon and water cook it like the directions say heat it up till 240 245, let it cool down till it is easy to play with. It will still be sticky but if it is to sticky let it cool down a bit more. If you want to use the strips just cool down enough so it wont burn you. Make sure whether you use the strips or just the sugar goop to put it on against the hair pull skin tight and pull off with the hair. Good luck.

    • Ashley.c

    It’s not working I have been cooking it for a hour

    • Gina

    The true art of “sugaring” does not require any type of strip.

    • Really Hairy Guy


    As my name indicates, this thread is of great interest to me. I’m extremely hairy and shaving by myself is painful and not long lasting. I’m willing to try this but I’d like to get additional insight from those who have succeeded. I’m have a lot of area to cover- back upper arms, shoulders etc. should I do strips or not? I have little experience with waxing. As for the recipe, should
    I increase it to get enough to cover the areas mentioned (as well as others
    not) or stick with the original and go one area at at time? Thank you for posting this and your comments. This is a difficult and embarrassing problem for me and it sounds like I might have an inexpensive and realistically manageable solution.

    • Mari

    Does it matter what kind of sugar is used?

    • Sarah

    To *really hairy guy*:
    Waxing definitely sounds like a good idea for you, especially since shaving areas like your back and shoulders is difficult and also an awkward place to have bristles.
    Do strips. Small strips…this is one time that covering less area is good.
    You could probably make more at one time…although you might want to try it out first and make sure that you can go through with it. (I have noticed that men sometimes have less tolerance for waxing.)
    Also, have someone help you. Waxing your back yourself will not be possible unless you are a contortionist. 🙂

    • Savannnah

    Mine came out the consistency of honey I don’t know what I did wrong I used the stove top version and followed the recipe to a t, I’m really glad its water soluble because I just made a big mess

    • Krin

    Incredibly disappointed. I’ve tried this twice and I can’t get it to work. I have a candy thermometer and I know i’ve made the “wax” correctly, but when I try to pull it off my leg only about 45% of the hair comes off.

    I’ve read the comments and watched Youtube videos and have tried all the tips and methods people have suggested. The consistency of the wax is right, I let it cool before I reheated it. I applied against the hair, pulled in the direction of growth. I stretched my skin taut when yanking. I yanked exactly parallel and VERY quickly. 🙁

      • Dana

      you need to both clean your skin first ( to remove dirt) and then use a light dusting of cornstarch on your skin and rub it in to elminate oil so it will properly stick to your skin 🙂

    • Megan

    Is there anything recommended on the market for numbing the waxing area?


    • Hairy Teen Girl

    I am super excited to try this!! Unfortunately, I inherited my dad’s genes and have to shave every other day, which is EXHAUSTING! I’ve only ever had my eyebrows waxed once and it didn’t hurt that bad (and I am a BIG baby when it comes to pain, that’s why I can’t pluck my own eyebrows :). Will this work for upper lip? As it is, I have to use Nair (which doesn’t get it all) and then bleach the rest! Also, will body lotion afterwards keep it from being raw or getting irritated? Or is there something else I should use?

      • carly

      you can put some aloe vera gel on after, it is soothing and won’t clog pores

    • Emily

    I tried this and it did not work, I had it cooled to room temp and everything. It hurt like heck but did not take any hair.

    • Christi

    I was a little skeptical about this but thought I would give it a try because I hate having to shave every other day and I don’t like to have to pay an arm and a leg for waxing. I just got done with one leg and I am very pleased with the results! It’s really not very painful and rips the hair out wonderfully! My skin feels pretty smooth and I’m really happy with this recipe! I used baby powder instead of corn starch, but I did everything else according to the directions. So glad I found this on pinterest. ^_^

    • Allie

    Will lime juice work? Or can u do without the juice? I’m just trying to be lazy and not have to go to the store.

      • Bridget

      Many posters have said vinegar is an acceptable substitute.

    • Erica

    Just used this to wax my bf’s back! Worked really well! It has to be fairly cool to work well. Also nice when it is cooler because it turns into a paste of sorts & you can’t just pull hairs out. My bf didn’t seem to mind the pain too much. I cooked mine in the microwave for 2 minutes & let it cool for about 10. Will be using it again!

    • Maria ng

    can you leave it in the wax tin with the heating wax on ,so it can stay heated all day for salon

    • Tabby

    Had anyone tried this on their bikini area?

    • Kiki

    Can you try this wax on all areas??…could I use this was for bikini and Brazilian waxes???

    • Marissa

    The proper method to use sugar wax is to not even use strips at all….

    • Sharon

    This works a treat! I just waxed my legs and the hair comes off all the way with the roots and does not break. Using the stove recipe I slow boiled for abt 15 mins, it’s hard to tell when it’s ready by just looking at it (ident have a candy thermometer) so I put a couple saucers in the freezer then every so often tested a couple drops on the cold dish, when it turned to the consistency of store bought sugar wax I turned it off and it cooled to the perfect consistency for waxing. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lauraxx

    I just made this.. I used confectioners sugar (using the recipe with honey, sugar and lemon juice) so I’m not sure if that will make a difference or not. I also didn’t have a candy thermometer so I used the tricks that other people had posted (amber colour, putting drops of it in cold water, aprox 20 mins.. Plus I used a meat thermometer). While it was cooking, it was mainly foam. I waited until it was that amber colour mentioned and the meat thermometer said about 245. Once I took it off the heat the foam said goodbye and the honey mixture was darker than expected! Hopefully it was the right temprature… Its cooling now, I’ll let you know the result later!

    • ZainaM

    thanks for the recipe , this sugar recipe in arab countries is called “Halawa” ,and you can find it packaged in shops , I used to use it but now I sticked in using braun shaving machine .
    And here’s a tip , if you tryed a couple of times in a specific spot and the hair won’t be removed use a tweezer instead , so that the skin layer won’t be ripped of ,b because the “Halawa” removes the dead skin also 😉 .

    • Lea

    I made recipe one today. I love it! It was so easy to make. When I thought it was done I cooked it a bit longer, it came out perfect! I don’t have a candy thermometer and it still came out!

    • MR

    Hi Thanks for posting this! I am glad more people are becoming aware of this way of hair removal. I use this method the most since it has the best results.
    Just one correction: it says in the beginning that this is a secret recipe that was lost and recently discovered. I think that’s just for advertising’s sake for those who sell these products. Women in Egypt and neighboring countries have always used this method, up to and including this day.

    • Mireya

    Does it matter what type of sugar you use? Does it have to be plain white sugar, or can you use organic turbinado sugar?

    • Abby

    Would using lemon juice from a container work? You know the kind you keep in your fridge for cooking.

    • Pressley

    Will it work without the lemon juice or is there a substitute?

    • Sushma

    I just tried it, it did peel off all the hair instantly with a little pain! The trick is to pull the strip damn quickly! Just wanted to tell you guys that IT WORKS! Also my skin feels satin smooth!Even though, it doesn’t hurt all that much, I applied vaseline just in case, I used the lemon, sugar , water recipe on stove!

    • nikki

    Do you have to use cornstarch to base the skin or is there anything else i cud use?

    • Tamara

    Is there anything that can be used instead of cornstarch? Or is it actually necessary?

    • amanda

    AMAZING! I went through a bit of a saga though- I used the stove top recipe with lemon sugar and water, but I didn’t have a candy thermometer. I undercooked it and had a gooey painful mess. After quite the trial, I put it in the microwave for a few minutes, stirring so it doesn’t bubble over, until it was dark amber in color. I tried the ice water test mentioned by a few other repliers, and then I let it cool. It never did get to a consistency that I could use it without strips, but once it was cooked properly I had fantastic results!

    I’ve tried store bought products before to get rid of bikini hair, and had finally given into expensive monthly salon visits. Never again! This sugaring recipe is SO worth it!

    • Tonya

    This recipe is amazing! I was concerned that the cooking took me well over an hour, but the results are fantastic! thanks so much!

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