I do appreciate a money-saving tip, especially when finances are very tight, so I was possibly a little too excited to discover that it is possible to make sugaring paste for hair removal at home. You may already be familiar with this method, which is referenced in the Lebanese film, Caramel. It’s a rather pleasant film to while away some time and there isn’t actually much footage of depilation involved, which is all for the better.
I’m not a fan of the razor (leaves large, chicken-skin pores and my hair grows so fast that I get five o’clock shadow on my ankles) or of creams (they stink and I don’t like to put stuff that melts hair on to my skin, thanks very much). I invested in an epilator, thinking that I would never need to buy any more hair removal products again, but developed an unfortunate ingrowing hair problem. As for beauty salon treatments, I simply cannot justify paying for these.
So I found a fairly reliable Youtube video of a very cheerful Arabic teacher who had been persuaded by her students to do a sugar paste recipe tutorial. She made it look quite straightforward, apart from the bit where she exclaimed, “Ow, hot, it burns your hands a bit!” and laughed nervously. I got my sugar, lemon juice, water and pan and bubbled up something that looked like the stuff on the video. When I got to the pulling and stretching bit, feeling very pleased with myself that all was going according to plan, the caramel blob suddenly went really soft and sticky and moulded itself into a runny mess covering both my hands like a pair of candy gloves. I scraped as much of it as I could salvage back into the pan, chucked in another cup of sugar, boiled it all up again and tried one more time. Success.
Now for the bottom line (actually, I only did my legs. I wasn’t going to go anywhere more delicate on the first attempt) – does this stuff work? Being Little Miss Google, I searched for instructions and got on with it. The wrist flick to pull the thick sugar paste off the skin took a bit of practice but the hair was coming away with hardly any pain. Then things must have got too warm because the paste started to get a bit too gloopy again. I hastily Googled “what to do if sugaring paste won’t come off my leg” and discovered that you can add a tiny bit of fresh paste to the blob you’re already using, spread it over the top of the offending sticky patch, flick it off and all should come away. Hooray, it did! But then, as I was dealing with a bigger blob of sugar paste, pieces started to fly across the room with each flick of my wrist. What had detached itself so easily from my leg was now stuck fast to the bottom of the cupboard. I chiselled it off with a knife. Another flying piece of caramel splatted and immobilised itself on the floor tiles.
The whole process of removing hair, removing bits of hairy toffee from the furniture and panic-Googling in between took about an hour. The result – smooth legs covered in a rash of purple bruises, a sticky residue on everything I had touched and some things I hadn’t touched, and a general feeling of tiredness. I was left wondering if I could have achieved similar results by applying a Highland Toffee to my legs. If you’re over thirty, you’ll probably remember these. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, imagine a flat, soft toffee bar about the size of a wax strip.
The good news is, my leg bruises have faded and I did manage to get rid of quite a lot of hair. However, given the time, hassle and energy involved, I’m not sure that it was worth it. It’s made me think twice about embarking on another potential money-saving scheme I’d been pondering – the compost water-heater. I had the idea for this while sitting on the toilet (where I do a lot of my thinking) then, thanks to yet another internet search, I discovered that someone else had already come up with this idea many years ago. If you think that you’ve come up with something amazingly unique, you probably haven’t. Anyway, the plan is that water piping is run, in coils to maximise the surface area, through a compost heap or bin, and the heat generated by the decomposing organic matter will heat cold water as it passes through the piping. There are people who have used this technique to successfully heat water for outdoor showers. Hooray for them. Unless I can get someone fit and strong to install the system for free, I don’t think I’ll bother.
For those of you who can’t be bothered with permaculture but who just want to mock my terrible diagram, here you are:
Moving on to recent occurrences that have filled me with simple joy, last week while I was doing a GP surgery, one patient told me as she entered my consulting room that a real, live mole was running around in reception. It had appeared just as an educational animation about suspicious moles, as in the skin lesions, was playing on the screen in the waiting room. I didn’t get to see the mole of the furry variety, but it was enough to hear about this very funny incident.
As if one animal-related pun happening in real life wasn’t enough, later that week as I was out on a home visit in a local housing estate, I witnessed a chicken crossing the road. Now that is entertainment.
Coming next: Am I ever going to get this podcast off the ground? And is it time to start having a social life?