DIY Beauty Bar: Wax On, Wax Off

You know how those nights go. You’re home alone, it’s late and you’re poking around on Netflix hoping to find a movie good enough to justify staying up until all hours of the morning. You eventually settle for the first decent looking movie with the word “lesbian” in the description, only to find yourself exhausted at work the next day, wondering why you thought it was a good idea to pass up sleep for Elena Undone.

That’s how I found Caramel. The thing is, though, it didn’t suck. It was cute, the characters were interesting and insanely pretty, and I learned something new: you can wax your legs with sugar! Instead of feeling cranky the next morning, I leapt of of bed like an overexcited kangaroo and ran to the grocery. Three failed attempts and a melted candy thermometer later, I finally managed to make something usable.

Making caramel takes time and a little finesse. There are two ways you can go with it: the semi-solid, silly-putty route (like in the movie) or the painted-on liquid avenue. Today I’m going to teach you how to make the liquid version. The recipe is a little more forgiving because the temperature doesn’t have to be quite as precise for it to work, it doesn’t require nearly as much patience to use and you can easily bottle up your leftovers to use next time.

There’s something weirdly satisfying about waxing. Yeah, it’s time-consuming and messy, but it’s also a pretty fun way to spend an hour with yourself. That’s not to say it’s for everyone. Lots of people like shaving and lots of people like keeping their hair attached to their body and both of those things are more than fine. I’m okay, you’re okay.

But if waxing’s your thing (or might be your thing), start your crafty little engines. We’re talking honey-colored kitchen science candy that costs less than your tip at a salon.

Sugar Wax

2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of lemon juice

Other stuff
2 sauce pans
1 microwave safe jar
1 yard of 100% cotton fabric
1 knife


1. Pour the sugar, water and lemon juice into a big sauce pan and turn the heat on medium-high.

2. Fill another sauce pan with water and boil it along with your wax. You’ll use this to clean the sticky mess out of your other pan a the end.

3. Stir the sugar water regularly to keep the bottom from burning.

4. When the sugar water starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium and start paying attention. This is when it gets tricky.

5. First, the sugar water will turn white and foamy, but eventually it’ll turn clear and bubbly again before it starts to brown.

6. If you’re using a dark pan, it’s hard to tell when the sugar water has changed into caramel. You could go out and buy a white pan or a candy thermometer, or you could just stick with the stuff you’ve got and count. Scoop up a spoonful of the stuff and count how long it takes for the bubbles in the spoon to disappear. You’ll know you’ve got the right consistency when the liquid in your spoon bubbles for three full seconds.

7. Pour the caramel into a microwave safe jar and then immediately pour your boiling water into the pan. It’ll save you a ton of time when you go to wash the dishes later.


1. If you’re using the caramel right away, give it about an hour to cool down so you don’t burn yourself. If you’ve stored it, heat it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

2. Cut your fabric into strips. Mine are roughly 1″ x 3″, although I don’t try very hard to keep them uniform; I always end up needing one or two weird shape pieces.

3. Make sure whatever skin you’re waxing is clean. Dirt, sweat and dead skin will keep the wax from sticking to hair.

4. Grab a dollop of wax, smooth it against direction grain (the thinner the better), wait 10 seconds or so, slap on a fabric strip and the rip it off in the direction that the hair grows.

5. Lather, rinse. repeat. (Minus the later and rinse.)

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. Methinks I’d need a waxing buddy in order to do this successfully. Whenever I’ve waxed my legs in the past, I’ve wimped out on the ripping off part and didn’t do it hard or fast enough to make it effective. This is coming from someone who has no problem tweezing the stray hairs that grow in her chin divot and has relocated her own dislocated kneecap in the past.

    I wuss out on waxing. Go figure.

  2. This is so perfect! I’ve been wanting to wax for a long time, but have been a bit tight on the money factor. Thanks! <3

  3. Laura, thank you for writing this article (I love DIY) and for mentioning Caramel (I still have yet to see this movie).

    So I made this halawa/sugar waxing stuff like four times, so I have a little experience with it.

    -You can clean the pod, after you transferred the sugaring wax, easily when you put water in it while it still is hot, just leave it in the sink and clean it later, the sugar dissolves.

    -You can pour the “wax” on a baking sheet covered with baking paper to let it cool down faster.

    -Some websites suggest to put it on against-hair growth-direction and pulling it off in hair growth direction, because it’s supposed to be gentler. (I don’t care much about it though).

    -Make sure your hair is not too long, because damn it’ll hurt. Or only use it on your legs.

    -If you have leftover wax you can reheat it by putting on a little bit of water (I’d say start with no more than a teaspoon) and heat it in 10-sec intervals so you don’t burn it.

    -I read that you shouldn’t stir the mix when heating it, because the sugar will crystallize. Shake the pan but don’t stir after the mixture starts boiling. (Make sure the burner/hotplate is on medium heat no higher.)

    -Exfoliate. Exfoliate. Exfoliate.

    Everything about this waxing would be perfect if my hair didn’t decide to be bitch about it grow sideways to the skin… (Any suggestions other than now waxing?)

    • If you wax while lying on your side your hairs will be the right way up. Should work.

      Or, you could get an epilator, which I think should be able to grab hairs of any orientation.

  4. I can bear the pain of waxing, but can I bear the pain of not eating my caramel? I just don’t know.

    • OK I’ve thought about it and decided I’d have either to be grotesquely hairy or guaranteed to get laid to justify that kind of sacrifice.

      So I’m saving this one for the next time one of those things happens. Thanks!

  5. What an excellent solution to my tedious eyebrow plucking problem!

    Um, can I at least lick this off someone else’s leg? I’m just asking in the name of science. You know. And stuff…

  6. I did this once, because I had never waxed my legs before and wanted to know what it was like. It was very messy, and I decided that I like to just keep my legs hairy. But it was fun to eat ahahaha!

  7. My story of how I ended up watching Caramel is exactly the same as yours, minus the waxing-the-next-day part. I don’t actually remember any lesbian story line, but it’s been over a year since I saw it.

  8. For some reason, not buying waxing strips but making the wax myself made the actual waxing pain less. (“Ha, I only had to rip up an old bedsheet and cook some sugar, instead of giving The Man money to cause myself pain.”)

  9. I saw Caramel, too! It was part of our Queer Women Movies Thing in college. I always wondered if it really was feasible for me to use caramel as a waxing thing, but never followed through. Thanks, Laura, for making my life that much easier.

    This + Lizz’s article on boyshorts = I’m ready for the summer.

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