I'm an Arabic woman, hair removal topics are among the most important topics any woman can talk about and give opinions and ways to make it easier.
It's one of the first thing we learn about taking care of our beauty and staying clean in a very young age. It's very important because unlike the foreign girls, Arabic girls are usually very hairy, like most of the Mediterranean girls. It's because of two main factors, first DNA and second the weather.
For myself it's DNA for sure. So because of my grandma' heritage, I need to take extra care of my skin, how I look and how I clean myself. In my world, self hygiene is equal to hair removal. A girl who doesn't remove her hair isn't very attractive even for other girls. They won't befriend her because she's not like them.
You see us, Arab girls we love salons, taking care of ourselves from head to toe, we love to dress us, put make-up, make out hair, from straight to curly even to up-dos. As for fashion, that's a whole new level, because we are amongst the most stylish women in the world. I mean, check our Queen Rania and you would know what I mean. We LOVE fashion!
Back to hair removal.
So, personally, I have tried EVERYTHING. And I mean it when I say EVERYTHING! I tried out main specialty "Sukra / سكرة" which comes from the word "Sugar / سكر", I tried waxing from bee wax to perfumed wax, I tried shaving, and even laser. There was even some creams from Nivea that after hair removal you apply and it keeps the hair from growing back slower. I used it, but to tell you the truth I didn't feel much different.
So I'm going to list some cons and pros from my experience and special things I know about one of the largest industry in the world.
To make it easier for everyone:
- Pros- good
- Cons- bad
Sukra / Sugaring / سكره
Long ago, women, my mother said, used to wonder how to make themselves prettier, softer and more appealing to their men. You see, mother said, women always wanted to own beauty, perfection and secrets that other women didn't know.
I think removing hair with heated sugar came from Persia. I'm not sure how it was invented or what's it's history, but I'm sure of one thing, because that's always the story, a merchant brought his wife a thing he discovered in Persian lands and the wife told her friends, and everyone start to use it but no one knows exactly how it got to them.
Cons: Sugaring can be VERY painful and it can leave you skin splotchy and red afterward but not for long. BUT some girls' skins are too sensitive so if you have an event make it the day before, especially if you have never used it before. Some bodies react differently.
Pros: Sugaring is very affective, it doesn't not just remove hair, it removes dead skin, any thing unattractive on the skin can be removed and it makes the skin so soft and smooth, even when that hair appears, it come out soft to the touch and not scratchy, unlike shaving. While removing you can repeat the applying more than twice and it won't harm the skin, unlike waxing.
Sugar paste looks like dried caramel, and if it's home made then you can even taste it. It's all from sources from the house. Each woman makes hers differently. Grandma like it burned, which looks so dark, and removal is so hard and frustrating in it, she says it's like exercising. So her's is called "سكرة محروقة" which means "burned sugar". My mom loves her sugar to sound like a gum, making bubbles while removing hair, she says more bubbles, more luck. She like's her's to be very light, very flexible and very easily applied with not fights! We call her's "سكرة شقرة" which means "blonde sugar".
I broke confection when I discovered that you can buy you sugar from any pharmacy, supermarket or store. My favorite is a Syrian brand called "MiM", it comes with different sizes, and it taste and feels like the one you make at home. My favorite is the Oval size.
Why do I like to buy it then make it?
Simple, because making sugar can destroy the bottom of the pot, of course it can be removed with hot water, because it's only sugar and water but this way it's a cleaner process, and it always come out perfect, no need to stand beside the oven wondering what color would it be today!
How to make Sugar Paste:
The most common recipe for sugaring wax is as follows:
- 1 unit of sugar
- 1/8 unit of vinegar, or lemon/lime/orange juice (either fresh or from a bottle, not from concentrate)
- 1/8 unit of water
The ingredients are heated and mixed until they are completely liquid, after this the liquid changes from seemingly white to a light, gold-like color (while being heated). The solution is not allowed to become too dark. Darkness and hardness are controlled by the heating to specific temperatures. For a thick paste, the solution is heated to 118°C; for a gel, it is heated to 121°C.
When completed, the solution is left to cool to room temperature.
We, mom and I, prefer lemon. You might ask yourselves why do we put any of the above, water and sugar are a given, you need it to make it, but how about lime, orange and vinegar?
Vinegar, lemon, lime and orange are very effective juices, because they are used to lighten up the skin! YES, I remember once when I went to swim for three months in summer when I was 12 and I became very dark, but most importantly I burnt my skin badly. Of course too much sun means too much hair dandruff, so my mom had to put vinegar on my scalp for half an hour, when I showered we were shocked! First it burned, but then my skull was so white! Too white of you ask me! As if it were bleached!
Of course, don't get any ideas, by applying it all in your skin to whiten it, it's not healthy, and the white of vinegar is not attractive! You can use it on a dark spot for minutes, like dark knees or dark elbows. But be careful, leave it for a long time and your skin will look unmatched! You have to make sure you check the process every second and clean it afterward thoroughly, it will burn while waiting, I warn you!
As for lemon or lime, I remember my aunt using it while tanning to give herself smother skin and lighter hair. And applying beer on her body to get the perfect tan.
So they put it in sugar to make the skin lighter while removing it. And it smells nice.
Let's jump to waxing! Waxing is like sugar in many ways, like the long lasting effect, huge spaces of skin will be removed quickly and painfully. But let's start with the good and the bad!
Pros: Waxing, for me, is much less painful then sugaring. It feels good, and if the waxing expert is quick and good, the removal won't take an hour for the whole body. Waxing unlike sugar feels clean, because you might be sticky, but it's quick.
Cons: You can't wax the same space more than once, maximum twice, or you'll skin will be removed!Waxing unlike sugar is dangerous, if you leave the wax on skin more then seconds you will burn [believe me!] Waxing should be quick. If you are hairy and your hair is dark and thick then sometimes after waxing more then once, you'll notice that under-skin hair is growing!! Yes, because wax doesn't remove the dead skin correctly, it harms it. Unlike sugar. It's so hard to apply wax for oneself, doing it with an expert is much easier, especially parts you can't see or reach, unlike sugar.
Usually there is two methods for waxing.
Stick. I prefer this method, it's less painful and it feels nicer on the skin. you spread wax with a wooden stick on the body thinly then with a paper or a cloth, cut in rectangles [or cut for a specific part of the body]. It's removed quickly and easily with an expert.
Of course wax would be heated in a heater especially made for it, usually professional wax comes in a metal can just like food cans and it gets opened and heated for few minutes, because you can't use wax when it's cold and you can't apply it when it's hot, it will harm the skin. It should be like tea, lukewarm.
A kind of machine that you pot a bottle of hot wax in and spread it on the body. I HATE that method! It's very painful to even spread, it feels like someone is pulling you hair without removing it. Then everything else is the same.
Cons:Of course there are SO many kind of waxes. Some are used even for people who have allergies, but so many people react violently to waxing, and have read splotchy skins.
WARNING: For both sugaring and waxing. NEVER use cream before hair removal, it either won't make them stick, or it will help in removing too much skin. NEVER scrap before or during waxing, it will harm you like a burn.
If there is a need to scrap, use a very light one afterward without too much force or a sponge, use your own hands to apply and remove the paste.
After waxing or sugaring the skin is left open, that means all your cells are open to everything around, that's way they say don't dry yourself too hard and you should put a good cream on your skin to make the body absorb it and close the cells cleanly.
Personally I LOVE Vaseline. I have so many kinds of cream from that brand. It suits my skin perfectly.
Shaving for hairy girls is an art. If you want your skin to look good and soft, you should do it right.
First, unlike movies, never shave without hot water, and I don't mean around, you should shave after showering. It makes the skin open and easy to maneuver. Of course I don't mean to tell you to leave the bathtub, I mean do what you usually do then start shaving with hot water on.
You might ask why?
Hairy girls have more noticeable goosebumps, imagine shaving with a razor while your cold or uncomfortable, the obvious result is blood.
Having scraps and bleeding marks isn't attractive at all!! Believe me.
Remember what your holding isn't plastic it's like a little knife, so use it wisely and lightly. Keep your hand light while using a shaver.
Most importantly, you must have a bottle of any product that suits you that helps stand between your skin and the razor.
Thankfully some geniuses already thought of that, I have so many bottles of shaving gels that I like. Even if you have none, use soap foam, never shave your skin without protection.
Afterward or before hand, you can scrap it so it will be more soft.
That's the product I'm suing this time, I use different product every time. Veet isn't for me, but I decided to add it here. Veet is another way to remove hair but I don't like it, you apply the paste and wait for about half an hour and shower, the hair will fall while you clean your skin.
A Family Secret: My grandma used to scrap her skin with sugar and Vaseline mixed together, and she would apply it like a scrap while bathing and remove it with an Arabian lofa "ليفة" which has two side, hard and soft. Use the hard side for affective scraping and softer skin.
We all know the cons for shaving, hard, scratchy hair afterward.
And the pros, easy, no pain removal.
WARNING: Be very careful, this mix is very slippery, when it falls from your skin it could make you lose your balance while standing! It would help if you have a very rough floor in your bath. Of course cleaning it afterward is a nightmare.
But I tell you, your skin will surprise you. It's better then all the products in the world. You will feel like a baby, and you will smell like one too!
Laser hair removal:
There are mainly two ways for laser hair removal,
First, if your hair is light or soft, don't use this method!!! Because after weeks or months, the hair will grow dark and very hard! Basically, you'll destroy your skin!
Second, don't ask just one specialist, ask at least three about your case.
It's a law, the darker the hair, the more effective the removal.
There is the lighter laser which doesn't hurt as hard as the bigger one. Laser basically is a burner, it burns the roots of the growing hair. That's way they ask you not to remove it, they shave it in the session and start. That's why you need more then one session, it depend on the strength of your roots [DNA anyone!?] Yup, the more roots that dies the better. this way no hair will grow again in that cell.
Another way that is good, is using Oxygen to lighting the hair. They say that the beauty icon Marylin Monroe used to bleach all her body head to toe to look the way she did, lily white like a moon fairy.
Bleaching body and facial hair doesn't take the hair away, but can make it appear less noticeable because it lightens the color of hair to a light shade of blonde. Results last anywhere from 2- 6 weeks, or less.
How Does it Work?
The bleach is applied over hair and left on about 10 minutes, and takes out the pigment (color) of the hair- and then it's removed with cool water. While similar ingredients (like hydrogen peroxide) are used for bleaching hair on the head, the specific formulation used on the face and body is gentler.
Pros: It's fast, easy, and without a lot of risks. Bleaching creme can be found at any drug store fairly cheap, and you can bleach right in your own home. Large areas of hair can be bleached at the same time, with the entire process only taking minutes from start to finish. You don't risk a lot pain or getting ingrown hairs, since you aren't removing the hair follicle.
Cons: Bleaching facial and body hair doesn't give you a smooth and hairless surface. These are the main reasons people want to rid hair. Even though hair is lighter, it still may be noticeable, especially if you are standing in the sun or a bright room.
Not all hair or skin types can benefit. Don't count on bleaching disguising long or thick hair- only finer ones, like on the face or arms. Bleached hair on dark or tan skin, can still stand out because of the color contrast (light hair against dark skin).
The results aren't very long-lived. The hair above the surface is the only part of the hair follicle that has been lightened. As the hair grows, you will see the darker, natural color.
It can temporarily lighten dark skin tones.The lighter skin tone can last for up to 3 days.
Ouch Factor: A tingling sensation while the cream is working is normal, but shouldn't be painful. A strong, burning feeling is a good indicator it's too strong for your skin, or you're allergic to a bleaching ingredient. In either of these cases, you could turn red for hours or days, and even blister. And the smell!! It chemical and not good at all. I hate the smell of bleach products, it makes my nose tingle and burn.