Sugar waxing. It sounds sweet, doesn't it? There is sugar waxing with strips and there is "sugaring," which removes body hair with a ball of natural sugar and water paste. I get Brazilian waxes regularly and have for many years. I've done with traditional hot wax with strips at the famed J Sisters in NYC and at the European Wax Center chain. I have done Brazilians via sugaring administered by an esthetician named Isabel Sutherland, who I have sadly lost touch with or I'd still be going to see her. I vastly prefer sugaring, because it exfoliates dead skin cells while it removes hair. That makes for extra smooth, baby soft skin. But what about the pain level. Does sugaring or sugar waxing hurt?
Well, any sort of hair removal can be painful, depending on the skill and technique of the person administering the procedure. It also depends on your personal tolerance, threshold, and body sensitivity. A variety of factors contribute to what you can and can't handle, so you need to consider that.
However, based on my own personal experience, I can confidently and without hesitation say that I found that sugaring was not a painful procedure. Yes, it stings and it smarts when that ball of paste is pulled back. But it was more irritating than it was painful.
That said, a friend who went with me for a Brazilian sugaring thought it was agonizing. But it was her first time getting a Brazilian, whereas I was a veteran. So that explains our different experience.
As SugaringNYC explains in its FAQ on sugaring, the sugar doesn't adhere to live skin cells, so there is less discomfort. Wax adheres to live skin cells and can pull them off, causing pain.
Also, according Hibba Beauty, the reason sugar waxing is less painful than hot wax is because it removes hair in the direction of growth and only sticks to hair. Hibba's version of sugar waxing still uses strips, whereas pure sugaring doesn't require strips. So the use of strips could contribute to the pain factor, depending on the aforementioned variables.
In my experience with Sutherland, the ball of wax was applied directly to skin and the ball was pulled back. It felt like a more intense yanking off of a Band-Aid and was less painful than usual hot wax strips.
Overall, on a personal level, I found sugaring to be way less painful than regular hot waxing, which I actually consider minimally painful to begin with, since I have a crazy high pain tolerance. I do recommend trying sugaring at least once if you do regular Brazilian hot waxing.