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The chic new sugaring salon opened this summer despite the pandemic. 


Photography by Calvin Miller

The ancient Egyptians were doing it in times B.C. — it’s rumored that even Cleopatra herself used sugaring to achieve silky smooth skin. Now, newly-opened Sugar Bar Salon is bringing the millennia-old, newly-revived-in-popularity hair removal method to Rittenhouse. 

The new Sugar Bar, which opened June 26th, joins other in-demand sugaring outposts in the city like Sugared + Bronzed, Honey Bare Studio, Philly Sugaring, and Green City Beauty.

What exactly is sugaring? It’s a similar process to waxing, with a few not-so-subtle differences. The substance doing the removing is a gel-like paste made from sugar, water, and lemon (yup, that’s it), and it doesn’t go on hot like wax does. The sugar mixture adheres only to dead skin cells and wraps around the hair follicle, which a trained esthetician then uses a trademark flicking motion to pull out in the same direction as the hair’s growth. As a result, sugaring is often known to yield a less painful experience than your typical wax job.

Sugar Bar’s lead esthetician Alexandra Heck has seen hundreds of customers transition from waxing to sugaring during the four years she has practiced sugaring in Philly. She recommends the method to people with sensitive skin or who are prone to ingrown hairs. Heck says the technique often leaves skin feeling exfoliated more than raw and sore, and recommends four to six weeks between visits. As an added draw, the salon’s sugar is certified organic and fair trade.

The new salon has branded itself with a minimalist, millennial-chic look designed by DAS architect Sharon Fahnestock, who also designed tony spaces like Boyds and Attico. The look includes a custom blue neon sign for customers to snap a photo with. 

“Creating your own confidence means you need to love yourself first before anything else,” Heck said of the slogan, “Because if you love yourself, you can learn to love all other things.”

Photography by Calvin Miller

Photography by Calvin Miller

Sugar Bar’s June start was not the grand opening Heck and her team had hoped for. For one thing, they had originally set to open in the early spring when suddenly shipping (and thereby the salon’s construction) came to a halt and the city plunged into the Red Phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though June’s shift into the Yellow Phase meant Sugar Bar could finally get up and running, safety precautions have meant that the team’s vision for the salon as an event and party space have not yet come to life. Still, Heck says they’re taking it one day at a time and focusing on providing customers with an affordable, comfortable, and sanitary experience. Customers are required to wear a mask inside and can expect mandatory temperature checks and immediate hand washing on arrival. Sugar Bar is currently spacing appointments to limit the lobby to one client at a time, and the estheticians wear masks and face shields. They’ve also adopted the use of microbial sprays after each person in the rooms, of medical grade wipes on all surfaces, and of replaceable medical sheets on the beds.

“The biggest thing that we pride ourselves on here is making people feel comfortable in this safe environment while wearing a mask,” Heck said. “It’s an intimate setting in general, so we do our absolute best to make people feel as welcome as possible while also being sanitary.”  

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