From time to time, I have the privilege of swinging by the call center at Sugar Plum, where hard working, patient women handle the phones, the website, our emails, and book our guests at four different locations. They take care of questions about services, locations, parking, expectations, concerns, and sometimes complaints.
They send complaints to the managers, trainers and in some cases the owner. Most commonly, there are concerns from guests who are trying to understand what is happening to their skin after their service has been completed.
While sugaring is less aggressive to the skin than waxing for instance, it does exfoliate and rip out hair, bulb and all. Even if the service goes by smoothly, the skin is still undergoing some trauma.
What our sugaring technicians do is mold the sugar paste onto the skin, allowing it to slide down and encapsulate the hair follicle. Since sugar paste melts against the warmth of the skin, it can get deeper into the follicle than wax can. Wax has a sort of “shrink wrap” effect, latching onto the hair and pinching it at the skin’s surface. We love sugar paste, because it soaks in below the surface and completely covers hairs to the root.
One example I often share with my guests is:
If you were falling off a cliff and I tried to pull you up hanging onto your fingertips, that is waxing. If you were falling off a cliff and I tried to pull you up hanging onto your forearms, that’s sugaring.
With sugaring, because we are grabbing the hair deep below the skin’s surface, we get the bulbs. Bulbs are that dark dot at the end of the hair. It has many functions, but for the sake of this article, let’s call it the anchor. If the bulb is fully extracted, it is common to see a dot of blood. Now understand, we don’t want our guests to bleed, but if blood is present, we can safely say that the foundation of that hair is permanently damaged, and unlikely to grow back hearty hairs in the future. If we manage to remove the whole hair to the bulb, without one cell left behind, it is possible that the hair won’t grow back at all. A dot of blood will be present, and that is okay and healthy. Your skin is starting the repairing process. Keep our after care guidelines in mind and your skin will be flawless soon.
Okay, back to the “ripping out the hair” that takes place. The bulb attached to the hair gets saturated with sugar and is pulled through the follicle during the snap. The body goes into defense. If the body believes it’s under attack, it causes a histamine reaction. This could look like anything from a few red bumps around the follicle or all the way to full blown hives.
Some of our guests experience this after every hair removal service. For most, the skin calms down within minutes. For others, hours. And for a few guests, it can take days. If the redness lasts more than three days, we want to hear from our guests, so we can assess and provide further direction. More commonly, this is only experienced on the first visit. With guests who visit every four to six weeks, the bulb doesn’t have time to get big and beefy, so the trauma to the skin is minor and heals much faster.
The body parts that see this reaction the most are facial services, chests, and shoulders. It is so common for a first time guest, we strongly suggest NOT scheduling a first time hair removal service within a week of special occasions, including weddings and photoshoots.
When a guest comes in for sugaring services frequently enough, their hair grows in thinner. The thinner the hair gets, the sooner the skin looks flawless again.
Sometimes our guests leave Sugar Plum after a great service, and within 24 hours red bumps show up! If it happens during the service, the technician will address the concern. If this is shows up at home, we understand that can be worrisome. Let me assure you, all is well.
This is a natural process, where our skin secretes oil (sebum) to make us waterproof, and excretes sweat to cool and purge. Our follicles are also used as a delivery system, removing wastes from the body through these fluids. If the follicle has just been traumatized by a hair being ripped out, it may be a little swollen, which slows down and traps those fluids in the follicle causing a back up. This is the number one reason we suggest no lotions, no potions, no repetitive motions! Not following those guidelines can really exacerbate a follicle back up.
If this happens, there are a few things we suggest you try at home. If the follicle is red and raised, try mixing together a paste made with oatmeal and warm (not hot) water. Spread this on your skin, letting it cool and dry a little, then gently rinse it off and pat dry. This treatment can be followed with a lightweight moisturizer free of exfoliant properties. Try this once a day. If it isn’t getting better, we want a call!
Another thing we see are little pustules. These can be calmed down with baking soda combined with water to make a paste, then applied following the same instructions as the oatmeal paste. This slows down the production of oil (sebum), and usually after three days the follicle has returned to it’s original size.
In a typical workout, the skin is flushed with heat and sweat. With excessive exercise and after a hair removal, this can lead to lots of red bumps and pustules. We recommend scheduling your visit to the gym before your sugaring appointment with a quick shower to wash your skin, or at least 24 hours after. If anything goes awry, remember: oatmeal to soothe and baking soda to neutralize the oil production.
This all may be a bit surprising to learn about the skin. While there are precautions you can take, sometimes you’re in the perfect storm. Whether it was a warm day, the breathability of your clothing, or a 5 mile run, apply a little extra care and your skin will be back to normal soon.
We know how amazing the skin feels after the hair is removed. It is surprising how much sensation the hair buffers and how smooth the skin feels; silky, clean, and sexy. There are many reasons our guests come to see us. Makeup goes on smoother, tans look better, and guests even say they run faster. Let’s be kind to that skin we are exposing.