While eyebrow fads come and go, whether you prefer a nice and tidy arch or a classic Brooke Shields boldness, virtually everyone finds themselves in need of a little shaping and cleaning on occasion. And although there are a few tried-and-true methods for improving your arches—breaking out your tweezers or grabbing for some wax—these are far from the only possibilities.
Threading, a centuries-old hair removal technique indigenous to South Asia and the Middle East, has been gaining popularity in recent years. So what’s the big deal? We delved into all of your hot brow threading questions to help you choose the best removal technique for you.
How is brow threading performed?
Threading is not an oxymoron. Indeed, threading is nothing more than thread held in a twisted arrangement between a technician’s hands (and, in certain circumstances, their teeth). As the technician’s hands move, gaps between the twists open and then close again, catching and clinging onto hair and tugging it free, root and all. If you’ve ever used an epilator, the basic principle is familiar.
What distinguishes it from waxing and tweezing?
There are a few reasons why threading enthusiasts forego tweezers and cancel waxing sessions. The first is a matter of accuracy.
“Threading is extremely accurate and gives our professionals better control over which hairs are removed,” explains Shobha Tummala, creator of hair removal hotspot Shobha. Thus, although waxing removes every swath of hair it comes into touch with, which can produce harsh lines, threading creates a more natural appearance. According to Jaimineey Patel, head of training at London’s Blink Brow Bar, “the cotton thread method enables you to specify which hairs you wish to keep or remove – resulting in the ideal form every time.”
While the hair element is critical for hair removal, another aspect of threading that sticks out is its effect on the skin—or rather, the absence thereof.
Threading “does not tear or nick the skin in the same way as waxing or tweezing may,” Patel explains. You see, waxes usually require heat and chemicals (natural or synthetic) that can irritate some skin types, and the removal process can occasionally cause skin damage, including redness and peeling, particularly for people who use skin treatments such as retinol. Not exactly what the majority of us anticipate when we have our brows done.
While tweezing is typically less harmful to the skin than waxing, inadvertently poking, scraping, or pushing on skin with tweezers (particularly an unsterilized pair that’s been sitting in your medical cabinet) can result in skin breaks and infections. Threading, because it is conducted with soft fibers at the surface level, will not unintentionally grab the follicle’s edge or scrape the skin.
Indeed, Tummala is so certain of brow threading’s safety benefits that she doubles down at her Shobha sites. “We believe in this approach so firmly that it is the only choice we provide for the sensitive area around the eyes,” she explains.
Is brow threading painful?
Yes, in a nutshell. While some say that threading is less painful than tweezing or waxing since it is quick and does not require tugging on the skin, the fact is that any method of hair removal that involves pulling the hair up from the root will cause some discomfort. Sorry.
What is the cost of threading?
Obviously, this varies on location and the condition of your brows, but a regular 10-20 minute brow threading treatment can cost between $15 and $45.
How long do the consequences of threading last?
While everyone’s hair grows at a different rate, threading hair removal can last between two and five weeks on average. Additionally, you may prolong the appearance with less-intensive touch-up sessions than a full-scale brow shaping.
Is threading effective on all types of skin and hair?
In essence, yes. Threading is suitable for individuals on drugs that might cause skin sensitivity, including retinoids and certain acne treatments, as well as those prone to breakouts following waxing, due to the absence of skin damage and chemicals. Similarly, threading is excellent at capturing even the finest hairs (Tummala recommends it for peach fuzz or short, stubbly hairs before a major event), which is ideal for individuals with delicate brows.
What about the exceptions? Anyone who is experiencing increased sensitivity (such as after a chemical peel or microdermabrasion) or who has recently undergone cosmetic surgery should abstain from threading. “We recommend seeing your physician first, and then returning to us 3-4 weeks following surgery for your threading session to allow your skin to recover,” Tummala adds.
Are there any risks associated with threading?
As with any method of hair removal, the most common adverse effects of threading are redness and acne. Although redness generally decreases after an hour or two of threading (so avoid scheduling immediately before a party), you may assist in soothe the area with an anti-inflammatory ointment such as hydrocortisone or plain old ice.
Concerning breakouts, it all boils down to properly caring for your newly bared brows. “Because your pores will be wide open following threading, it is critical to avoid touching the threaded region,” Patel cautions. “For the next 24 hours, we also recommend avoiding swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms, excessive heat, and direct sunlight.” Additionally, for optimal effects, you may choose to take a break from your regular makeup regimen. “Spray tans, as well as certain cosmetics, can clog the pores, so use caution when putting makeup to the brows and avoid entirely if you’ve had other areas of the face threaded,” she advises.