Whoever decided Americans ought to have hairless bodies was being a jerk. No one disagrees that French women are sexy, and look at those pits! You'd think we'd be used to defoliation, though, given humans have removed body hair since building the pyramids. But, apparently, Pharaoh were smarter than us shaving/waxing/Nairing folks; they used sugaring to eliminate hair before these lesser techniques even existed.
Yet the process was virtually nonexistent in OC until the past couple of years. It's similar to waxing in that you remove hair by applying a viscous substance to the skin, then pulling it off—but 10,000 times better for you. Instead of a sickly orange chemical, sugaring uses only three ingredients: sugar, water and lemon. The mixture is heated until it becomes a soft-yellow ball of caramel, and then it's spread over the skin.
Some sugarists use applicators, but Dillan O'Neal, owner of Sugar Sugar By Dillan in Costa Mesa, is a purist. Her sugar cottage (which we incidentally named Best Sugaring in our Best Of issue this year), built in 1908, looks straight out of the 1950s and is incredibly cozy. She says sugaring is best done by hand so that body heat rubs it into every pore. “In estheticians' school, you have to do 400 hours of waxing, and it completely destroyed my skin,” O'Neal says, “so I had to start searching for a gentler method.”
But don't think its simplicity means you can do it at home; sugaring is a learned technique, and O'Neal has seen the experience spoiled by not going to experts. “It's all about comfort,” she says.
Don't get us wrong: Sugaring is a bit painful—but only the first time. After that, the hair grows back softer, finer and slower, making it easier to pull out. Plus, the process removes only hair, so you'll never be left tender from the first layer of your dermis gone missing, as with waxing. Sugaring also eliminates blackheads and exfoliates, making your skin oh-so-soft.
“I have clients who spent thousands [of dollars] on laser hair removal, and it never worked,” O'Neal says. “It seems trivial, but being smooth really gives people more confidence.” And O'Neal's shop is all about that. Maybe those anti-hair jerks aren't so bad after all. . . .