A Sweet, Soothing, and Natural Alternative to Waxing

Sugaring studios are popping up all around town, so we set out to see what the natural hair-removal technique is all about.

By Allison Jones and Rachel Davidson June 3, 2015

Sure, it sounds like something a pastry chef learns in culinary school, but sugaring is actually ancient form of hair removal that is on the rise in the Portland area. 

Instead of chemically harsh (and hot!) wax, sugaring uses a simple, three-ingredient mixture of sugar, water, and lemon. A ball of body-temperature sugar is applied to the skin, then “flicked off” in the direction of the hair growth. The age-old method is quickly becoming one of the most popular natural hair removal techniques, because it can be performed on shorter hairs than wax, is less irritating to sensitive skin, washes off with water alone, produces less waste than waxing, and is said to be less painful than traditional waxing methods. Even better? Regular sugaring minimizes in-grown hairs and can eventually lead to a decrease in hair growth.

Thanks to the explosion of sugaring studios, there are plenty of places to experiment with sugaring around Portland. Ready to try out the trend?  

909 NW Everett St

Founded by local holistic beauty legends Jami Sherman and Shannon Milligan, Echo Beauty focuses on natural treatments and green products—without artificial colors or fragrances—that take care of you and the planet. Over a decade ago, Sherman was the first esthetician to introduce sugaring to the Portland market, and together the owners bring 15 years of skincare expertise, nutritional know-how, and a caring, therapeutic approach to their chic Pearl District studio. When Sherman first brought sugaring to PDX, she says "clients wondered why more people didn't do sugaring—they loved it and would say 'I'll never go back to waxing.'" At Echo, the pair specializes in sugaring hair removal, facials, massages using local Portland's own Molly Muriel oils, as well as organic makeup applications. "We believe self care is a divine responsibility in order to shine your purpose in the world," says Milligan, and she certainly walks the talk: "Our self-care includes a daily skin care ritual, green juice, sunshine, time with loved ones, long walks, nature, and breath." We'll have what they're having.

915 NE Oneonta 

The Portland Girl, "indie esthetician" Anna Long's brand new boutique studio in Northeast Portland, opened mere months ago but has already earned a loyal following in the Woodlawn neighborhood and beyond. What sets the Portland Girl apart? An understanding of the unique challenges to skin in the Pacific Northwest—from the rain and wind to friction from bicycle helmet straps—and an appreciation for natural beauty (without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and fake perfumes). The Portland Girl offers a house line of skincare products, facial services, beauty happy hours that include discounts on beauty services, and monthly membership option for easy regular maintenance, as well as an opportunity to give back. Long and co-owner Jessica Daniels donate 5% of their proceeds to an Oregon non-profit like the Dougy Center, Girls, Inc., the Oregon Humane Society, and Ecotrust, so you can feel good while you look good. 

The Sugarista
1962 NW Kearney Suite 101 

The Sugarista’s owner Stephanie King is a Midwestern gal who moved to Portland seeking greener pastures and more opportunities. Her studio, which she opened four years ago in the Alphabet district with co-owner Aja Crocker, specializes in body sugaring and lash extensions. Having sensitive skin herself, King says that with sugaring, “there is virtually no risk.” She explains that the person in Portland looking for an esthetician is more conscious of what ingredients they are putting on their skin—because sugaring is a completely natural process, it meshes well with Portland values. Because of this no-brainer partnership, the sugaring community is expanding and King herself is offering sugaring certification training to local estheticians. Overall she says, “if you haven’t experienced sugaring before, it is a really easy, gentle, natural way to start a regular hair removal routine and stop shaving.”

Image: Sugar Me

Sugar Me
Fremont Sugaring Studio at 1313 NE Fremont and Division Sugaring Services at 3219 SE Division

Kate Sprouse is a Portland local, mother of twin toddlers, and a positive ball of hot-pink enthusiasm—and Sprouse’s personality is just as sweet as the inside of her feminine, shabby-chic sugaring studios-Sugar Me. A mainstay of the local skincare realm for over a decade, Sprouse made the switch to sugaring and opened her first Sugar Me location almost five years ago. Today, Sugar Me is the only sugaring-only studio in Portland. Clients can expect local and organic products before and after treatment, like organic coconut oil and house-made drying powders. Spouse swears by the advantages of this natural organic hair removal technique and says that one of the best benefits is that there is no awkward post-wax feeling. After traditional waxing, “when walking out of the treatment, truthfully, there is 24 hours when you will know personally that you have just been waxed. With sugaring that is taken away,” she says, “You don’t feel that throbbing feeling. It’s like before you walked in but’s trippy.”

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