A spoonful of sugar? Um, not quite

sugaring
Danielle Ghan peels of a sugaring substance used to shape the brows of Kathleen Luppi in Huntington Beach, Calif, on May 22, 2014. Sugaring is an alternative to waxing. (Christine Cotter/Orange County Register/MCT)

(MCT) -- SANTA ANA, Calif. - "Oh wow!" marveled our esthetician. "That's a long one!"

We're at Studio 37 Salon in Huntington Beach, Calif., undergoing "sugaring," a trendy alternative to waxing to remove unwanted body hair.

No need to get all grossed out, folks.

Our delightful, professional and talented sugaring expert, Danielle Ghan, is commenting on a hair she yanked from Kathleen's left eyebrow - nothing too funky, so relax.

And despite Greg's joking threat of offering to get sugared down there, well, Studio 37 Salon only offers that service to women.

Greg would have wimped out anyway.

So, anyway, about sugaring:

The point is to remove hair follicles from their roots. Results can last up to six weeks.

Sugaring slows the growth of hair and reduces its thickness. After several years of regular sugaring, the roots will die and your skin will revert to a permanent state of baby-butt smoothness.

Sugaring dates back to the ancient Middle East. Although it's catching on, it's still not a regular service at most salons because of the extra training involved and because it's a specialized skill, says Deanna Spangler, owner of Studio 37 Salon.

"Once people get it done," Spangler says, "they love it."

THE PROCESS

Kathleen opts for the $20 brow sugaring, while Greg, a runner, decides to shy away from the pain by sticking out his feet and toes.

In a cozy, comfortable room she calls the Zen Den, Ghan plucks a quarter-size blob of gooey, lukewarm, amber-colored paste, which is eight parts sugar to one part water to one part lemon juice.

"You could eat this," Ghan says.

Sorry, Danielle, we just had lunch.

Wearing pink gloves, she gets to work on Kathleen's brows, first applying baby powder to the area to absorb oil.

She then applies the lukewarm concoction, which she has formed into a small ball, in the opposite direction of hair growth, then flicks it off in the direction of hair growth. When you wax, hair is ripped off in the opposite direction of hair growth, resulting in more ingrown hairs and breakage.

When she's done, Ghan "calms" Kathleen's skin by applying a toner. The slight redness around her brows disappears about 30 minutes later.

"It feels like you ripped a sticker off my face," Kathleen says.

Greg laughs nervously. No one touches his blond locks. And feet? Now he's fanning himself. "Hold my hand!" he demands of the photographer. "And someone give me water!"

It takes less than 10 minutes for Ghan to remove the hair from Greg's feet. The first few yanks of the goop off the skin tingles a bit, but by the time Ghan is close to finishing, Greg is ready for more sugaring.

"No big deal!" he says.

Right, big boy.

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THE BENEFITS

The benefits of sugaring, according to Ghan:

-It's more gentle and less painful than waxing. Sugaring doesn't yank away live skin cells or stick to the skin like wax does, which means less irritation. Miss a few hairs? No worries. Your esthetician can sugar the area again without irritating the skin more. And there's never the possibility of burning the skin, as there is when you wax.

-It's good for your skin, since the ingredients all are natural. Sugar is anti-bacterial.

-You can get sugared with shorter hair. Waxing typically requires at least \ inch of hair growth, while sugaring only requires [ inch.

-It's sanitary. The same ball of sugar is used throughout the entire process. When you get waxed, shortcut-minded estheticians sometimes uses the same stick and dip it into the wax several times, increasing the risk of contamination.

To consider:

-Sugaring is slightly more expensive than waxing.

-Waxing generally takes less time.

-Make sure a licensed esthetician who has been trained in sugaring performs the service.

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