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Iowa teenager rips off hand skin after trying DIY sugar waxing she saw on TikTok – as experts warn recipe is similar to weapon used by prisoners


A 17 year-old Iowa student was told she’d be scarred for life after suffering severe second degree burns from a trendy hair removal method.

Allison Boles was rushed to the emergency room after scorching the skin on her thumb with boiling, melted sugar – and was later told by doctors that she’s need a skin graft to repair the damage. 

Sugaring involves using a sticky mixture of warmed sugar, water and lemon juice. This is applied to the skin and ripped off, removing the hair.

The method has soared in popularity in recent years, with advocates claiming it is a less painful and more ‘natural’ alternative to regular hot and strip wax.

Allison Boles, 17, ripped the skin off her entire thumb in February, after following a tutorial for sugar waxing - supposedly more natural and less painful than other waxing

Allison Boles, 17, ripped the skin off her entire thumb in February, after following a tutorial for sugar waxing – supposedly more natural and less painful than other waxing

However, fans have taken to TikTok to share their DIY sugaring methods, in a bid to save their followers cash.

Tutorials that show how to make the hot sugar concoction and apply it to the skin attract millions of views on the platform.

Allison Boles, 17, became entranced by the clips and decided to try it herself in February. 

Her mother Natalie Renken, an office manager, said: ‘Allison told me that earlier in the day she had seen a TikTok video about making sugar wax. You can use it to wax your armpits, legs and other areas.

‘The original video just came up on her TikTok ‘for you’ page. She hadn’t been searching for it but after seeing the first video she searched for more on TikTok and then did some further research online.

@bodylovebytal

Zero-waste, non-toxic, and eco-friendlyI Sugar Wax! I had to part ways with my armpit hair after 9 months 🥹🤣 Recipe Below! 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1/4 cup warm water Directions Put the lemon juice and water in a medium-sized pan on the stove at medium heat for a few minutes. Add the sugar and stir. Turn up the heat to high. When the mixture gets bubbly, reduce the heat back to medium and continue to stir. IMPORTANT: You must continue to stir, otherwise the mixture will harden and become useless. For another 5 minutes or so, cook at medium heat, stirring constantly. When the mixture becomes smooth and golden in color, it’s considered done. Remove from the heat. Test a spoonful of the mixture by placing it in the fridge. Let it cool and then check its consistency. If thick and tacky, then consider job well done! If not, put the pot back on the stove for a few more minutes at medium heat, again stirring the whole time. Let the pot cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to a heat-safe glass

♬ original sound – Tal 🦋

‘She did her research and they all said the same thing. You use equal parts of sugar, honey and water and you bring it to a boil.

‘You then put it in a glass container and put it in the fridge for an hour or two to flash cool it. You then put it in the microwave to heat it up and make it pliable.

‘Allison followed these steps and as she was stirring the sugar wax part of it popped and went on her thumb.’

When she attempted to remove the wax, the skin on Allison’s finger ‘peeled back’ to reveal bright pink raw flesh.

Later in the day, an unsightly blister measuring three-inches formed on her thumb where the initial burn had been.

‘I took her to the emergency department straight away,’ said Natalie. 

The skin on Allison's thumb blistered into a pocket measuring three inches, and she was told she would likely need a skin graft

The skin on Allison’s thumb blistered into a pocket measuring three inches, and she was told she would likely need a skin graft

The hospital bandaged Allison's wound and said it would take at least five weeks for the injury to health

The hospital bandaged Allison’s wound and said it would take at least five weeks for the injury to health

Once Allison told the doctor what happened he said he had watched the TikTok videos and explained that putting the hot wax in the fridge was the biggest error.

‘When the wax is in the fridge for only an hour or two it doesn’t cool evenly which leaves hot pockets in the wax,’ said Natalie.

‘When you then put it in the microwave these pockets are then going to get even hotter, but the other bits of the wax will only get warm which causes a combustion reaction which pops the hot pockets.

‘The doctor said they had another young woman in the emergency room about a week before with the same injuries.’

The doctor diagnosed Allison with a severe second degree burn and explained she may need skin graft. She’d likely be scarred for life, the physician added.

After a doctor dressed the wound, Allison was transferred to a specialist burns clinic for further examination.

Gruesome images show the skin ripped from the thumb, as a result of the boiling hot wax

Gruesome images show the skin ripped from the thumb, as a result of the boiling hot wax

Fortunately Allison’s thumb healed on its own over five weeks without the need for plastic surgery.

This is not the first time that experts have warned of the risks of DIY sugar waxing. 

In 2021, intimate health specialist Stephanie Taylor told UK online magazine The Tab that it can be very difficult to get the temperature to a safe level, which explains the spate of injuries.

‘Sugaring can cause severe scolding to the sensitive skin in your intimate area if the temperature of the water is too hot when applied. This can leave you with painful burns, dangerous infections and irreversible scarring,’ she said.

She added that it is ‘concerning’ that the recipe for sugar wax is ‘very similar’ to homemade substance often used as a weapon by prison inmates, called napalm.  

Now, Natalie is urging TikTok to put age restrictions on DIY tutorial videos to warn other social media users of the potential risks.

TikTok pointed out that content like the sugar wax trend is not unique to TikTok and is widely available on other platforms. 



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