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Gimme some sugar


New business offers sugar paste as an all-natural alternative to hair removal

With concerns over consumption of sweets these days, it’s rare to find someone who actually promotes the use of sugar.

Lacie Thompson does.

“Sugar Bee’s Natural Hair Removal is all the sweetness of sugar with none of the calories,” said Thompson, esthetician and owner of the recently opened Sugar Bee’s in downtown Gresham. “We use a sugar paste, which is an all natural alternative to traditional hair removal. It has no toxins or resins and only has three simple ingredients, so it’s safe for even the most sensitive skin.”by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Lacie Thompson, owner of Sugar Bees, uses sugar paste instead of traditional wax for hair removal.

Thompson, 33, specializes in an up-and-coming form of natural hair removal called sugaring. A combination of sugar, water and lemon yields a paste that is applied to the skin and removed using a “flicking” process. For those not fond of traditional waxing — or a razor — sugaring is a pretty sweet technique.

A former accounting and finance specialist, Thompson was introduced to the sugaring technique three years ago by a friend in San Diego. Allergic to traditional wax, Thompson was impressed with the hair removal alternative because it was far less abrasive to sensitive skin. The technique also was not widely used in local salons.

So when she found herself unemployed in April 2011, Thompson jumped at the opportunity to change careers.

“I missed being with people, working in an office,” she said. “When I got laid off, I decided I needed to revamp my life. I went to NW College of Beauty (in Clackamas) at nights and knew (sugaring) was what I wanted to do.”

Thompson passed her state boards to be a certified esthetician and went on to attain certification in the sugaring technique through the product manufacturer, Alexandria Professional. She talked to others who utilized the process and felt confident it was a service that would benefit others.

“Because I’m allergic to wax, I had all but given up on that type of hair removal,” she said. “But after feeling firsthand the many benefits of sugaring, and realizing there are only four other sugarers in the Portland area, I knew there was a market for it.”

Sugar paste resembles a thick honey, warmed to room temperature. It is applied with a stick (like wax) or by hand and “molded” to the skin area against the direction in which the hair grows. Thompson uses a wrist “flick” to remove the sugar paste (and hair) by gently pulling in the natural direction of hair growth.

OK, it’s not painless, but it isn’t as painful as wax.

“Wax adheres to live skin cells,” Thompson said. “When it’s removed, it’s pulled against the natural hair growth, which causes breakage. And wax can be heated too much. That’s where a lot of skin irritation comes from — the wax is too hot.”

But sugar paste does not adhere to live skin cells, Thompson said. Instead, the sugar wraps around the hair, and because it is removed in the direction of the hair’s growth, the process produces less breakage and ingrown hair. As an added bonus, sugaring exfoliates the skin by removing dead skin cells. And lemon in the paste acts like a natural skin toner.

Anyone who has endured traditional waxing knows that once it’s on the skin, it’s on the skin, Thompson said. Sugar paste is water-soluble, meaning it can be easily wiped off with warm water and isn’t damaging to clothing or skin. And because it’s a natural exfoliant, skin is left not only smooth, but softer.

Sugar Bee’s offers a wide assortment of hair removal services, including lip, brows and legs, with a specialty in bikini and Brazilian-style hair removal. Thompson’s full-face sugaring is popular among clients and is followed by an uber-remoisturizing Hungarian Mud Mask after two sugar treatments.

This may be one time when sugar can be good for you.

“People with sensitive skin, allergies to the chemicals in traditional hot wax or even folks with tattoos can benefit greatly from the differences offered in sugaring,” Thompson said. “Sugar Bee’s goal is to offer the best all-natural hair removal service and to focus on the special needs of every customer.”