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.

Related Posts


    • Christine

    Yippee! Finally found a home brew that sounds like it works. I’ve been sugaring and waxing for almost 20 years – I hate to shave. And I’ve always applied with hair, pull against growth. Now I know the right way (Thanks Caitlin and Courtney!) I love sugar vs wax – way more cleaner. Just glad I can make it myself now. Thanks!

    • Crystal

    I’ve tried it before and love it. My only question is can you use brown sugar. I ask because I ran out if regular sugar and if I can use brown sugar I can wait to go to the store later

    • nahla

    Could you please tell me the time duration for heating while i am using on gas stove…??

    • Lara

    Can i use orange juice since it is citrus or grape because i dnt have vingear lime nd lemon..pls answer

    • Guest

    Works quite well! Some tips for arms/legs that worked for me: pull your strip against the grain, may have just been my mixture but this was the only way it would work. If youre a wimp like me, use small strips – I tend to lose momentum towards the end and then none of the hair comes out, lol.

    • Lily

    AMAZING! :))) Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this and all the useful comments! It works perfectly! Bye bye razors forever, from now on I will be using this method only. I did not succeed the first time, I felt disappointed, but then I understood my mistake – I didn’t heat it enough, I tried to do the procedure when the sugar mixture was in a consistency of quite liquid-ish honey, so obviously it didn’t work. Then after reading these comments I tried second time, using the same mixture (from previous attempt) and heating it more. But I did face some obstacles – I was using a small pot which is quite deep, but not wide. One problem was that I couldn’t get it to just simmer – although I put the lowest possible heating regime of the stove, after a while it would start to boil, not just simmer. Then I was just being there all the time looking after and regularly put it off the heat for a bit so it doesn’t start to boil and overheat. I used the ice cold water to test if mixture is ready, as someone here suggested. But it just didn’t get any firmer. So then I poured the mixture in a pan (ceramic) – that’s when things started to happen. It was easier to get the constant simmering and eventually it did hardened – I tested few drops of mixture every few minutes or so (I was really determined not to fail :D). And finally I felt that it should be ready, when those drops in ice cold water became quite firm. And success! I was working with bikini zone (everything “down there”) and armpits. I tried with and without the cloth strips. It was easier with them for me. Well, it was quite painful (but bearable), however way less painful then with an electric epilator which I tried recently in these areas. However, I have been using razor for years in these zones, so obviously the hair had become hard and thick. So, I guess, further on, it will be less and less painful, as the hair will become weaker. No irritation, everything smooth and nice. I am really happy I stumbled upon this. I suggest to everyone not to give up after first attempt, because the key really is to prepare the right mixture and that requires practice and development of know-how. Totally worth some experimenting. Somehow in many websites, where this method is described, they give a false sense of easy-and-simple-to-do-with-first-attempt, but in reality the preparation of the mixture can be a bit tricky in the beginning. So don’t give up!

    • dee

    So.. I was looking for ways to remove my upper lip hair, since it starting to bug me more than usual. I was kinda afraid because I’ve never tried waxing or anything similar to that, but I read that sugaring is a bit less painful.. And it really did. I completely remove the fine hair on my upper lip in very low (or none at all) cost, it’s not as painful as I thought it would be, and it’s actually very easy to do and make. I think now I’m going to try it on other areas in my body. Thank you for this post! (And thank you for making the microwave version, it makes everything A LOT easier.) ^^

    • Nina

    Is there any way to do this with out the acids? Min severly allergic to citrus and vinegar πŸ™

    • Schizo

    I think I followed the directions well.
    My paste is quite hard but I can scoop out a small amount at a time at room temp. It’s quite firm when I try to scoop it. I apply it and everything is good for a couple of times, then it becomes a gooey mess πŸ™
    I am not using the strips. Hoped to just reuse the paste for most of one leg? But I can only get maybe two/three times out of one ball of sugar.

    Did I not cook long enough?

    At least it washes off easily – unlike wax!

    • dawna

    is it okay if i domt refrigerate left over wax? i dont have a fridge in the dorm?

    • Zowie

    How long would you suggest letting it cool before putting into a glass jar? I left mine ‘a little bit’ and my jar cracked πŸ™ but the hard bits left on the wooden spoon are tasty can’t stop eating the hard balls of candy lol

    • Isabelle

    Do you have to use the lemon can’t you use something else like, I don’t know olive oil?

    • Savannah

    I have done this for about a year. It takes some time to get the hang of it, but it is absolutely worth it. I had a terrible 5 o’clock shadow under my arms and it would grow back so fast when I shaved. Now I sugar wax every week and a half or so and shave the fine hairs off. It lasts a good while! AND the hair is thinner and there’s barely a shadow(the more you do it the better it is). I hate pain and I’m the biggest baby. After a few times, you’re golden. Not nearly as painful! And the mixture lasts a good while too!!

    • Amy

    I made this recipe (the stove top one without the honey), but from a different website that said not to use the cloth strips. I tried it last night (without the cloth), and although it worked, I made a huge mess. Today I found this site, and with the strips, I managed to do most of my bikini area in about 15 minutes. I only stopped because I ran out of little strips of cloth. It hurt like crazy, but it worked better than any home waxing solution I’ve tried, and I’m not comfortable going to a salon to have it done.

    I can’t wait to try it on my legs!

    • noha

    Just a little clarification here.. this secret was not lost with the ancient people.. I am Egyptian and this method is still used till now and was used ever since the old times.. but lose the cotton part it’s useless and increases the pain just apply the sugar paste the same direction as the hair growth and just pull it up with your thumb in the opposite direction.. but for some areas like the armpit and the bikini waxing area you can take a small amount of the paste and use it with your thumb and pointer to act as tweezers and pick up the hair “works better for longer hair ewww”.. and by the way these sugar pastes are very cheap in the middle east a pack that would be used for over 5 times is sold with an average of 2 bucks so don’t let anyone fool you with the cleopatra’s secret blah blah.. it’s basically just sugar and water.. and for extra benefits you can add lemon juice or olive oil or any sort of natural oils to moisture your skin but just be careful and do not perform any sort of scrubbing in the same day as you use the paste because the paste already removes the died skin off so using additional scrub could cause irritation.

    • Pj

    i lived in Egypt in the 80’s. The sweetest lady worked/cooked for me and she also showed me how to make this. Such lovely memories of a time gone by.

      • Vina

      Hi PJ,

      Do you know the first recipe(without microwave one) is possible to keep in room temperature for few months or not? I am looking for the recipe of how to make cold sugar waxing , so no need to reheat everytime we use, also no need to keep in refrigerator. Just put in room temperature, so its very convinient and not harmful at all

    • Lisa

    I learned home waxing & sugaring techniques from a Brazilian girlfriend. I live in Southern California & have found when its humid outside, waxing & sugaring are both difficult as neither want to stick to the hair. A thin dusting of baby powder with cornstarch does help but sometimes even that isn’t enough. A dry, air-conditioned room is my preferred area. For me, both waxing & sugaring are only minimally painful, but I’ve been de-fuzzing myself or having a professional provide these services for a long time. At home, I use a small wooden knife/spatula. I don’t like how a popsicle stick applies coverage or feels flimsy in my hand. Sometimes I have difficulty purchasing a good wax to use at home. My Brazilian friend makes her own sugar & I’d like to try making my own too. Wax occasionally stays in my pores & I don’t like that.

    • Cammy

    I decided to try this but instead of using the Lemon Jucie im using White Vinegear.
    Im Excited to try this and see how it turns out

    • becky

    I was taught this method 30 years ago by an Iraqi friend. Used it for a long time until it got to where I needed to do it every other week. Too time consuming then so I quit. Glad to see that others don’t have a problem with it. It did bleach the hair and some of it never came back so that was a plus.

    • Maureen

    If it’s too thick, stir in 1-2 Tbls hot water. Also, I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I only heat it to 240-242 degrees (softball stage).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.