The first time I tried sugaring in my early teens, I felt as if I was accepted into a private club. Being able to remove all the hair that bothered me, and heading behind the public salon area with the wax lady for a makeover without my mother, almost made me feel like an adult. In the middle of the nerve-wracking pain, I discovered the privacy of that moment and kind of enjoyed it.

Our region has been sugaring (or sukkar) for centuries, especially in ancient civilizations such as Greece, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. It’s often said that Cleopatra was even a fan of waxing, an element that was crucial to her meticulous beauty routine. Today, you can easily book a waxing professional for a salon or even an in-home appointment.

Stills from ‘Sukkar Banat’ by Nadine Labaki

Sugaring has become increasingly popular across the globe due to its eco-friendliness. The sukkar is often reusable (you need to reheat it quickly) and can be easily prepared with common pantry ingredients. People with skin conditions and sensitivity prefer sugaring over waxing because it is hypoallergenic; the ingredients (sugar, lemon, and water) are clean and chemical-free.

Aside from their exfoliating properties, sugar and honey are also healing agents. Sugar’s exfoliating effect prevents ingrown hairs or other types of inflammation. Afterwards, the skin is soft, and the hair is finer than before.

How to?

You’ll need sugar, water, or lemon for the sugaring paste. Honey works just as well if you don’t want or have sugar. Mix all the ingredients on the stove until they turn golden brown.

Then, apply it in the opposite direction of hair growth to your target area. The leftover wax can be kept in your fridge and reheated quickly in the microwave when needed.

It is always a wise idea to moisturize your skin afterwards with an oil or cream. By following these simple measures, you can avoid post-depilatory pimples and nourish your skin effectively.

Now, you can make your sukkar at home since it’s neither time-consuming nor expensive. If you’re looking for a more professional experience, hammams and Arab-owned beauty salons are your reliable choices.

Yasmine is a Tunisian-Italian freelance writer based in Amsterdam. Her writings are strongly inspired by her North African upbringing and culture, and her thoughts on identity and diasporic nostalgia. You will mostly find her reporting on societal phenomena in the MENA region, often in relation to digital culture, art, and fashion