The Girlfriend's Guide To Threading
Here's why it may be better than waxing.
I first encountered threading while living in the Middle East for a few months. Middle Eastern women vastly prefer the art of threading, an ancient method of hair removal, over waxing. Why? By using two pieces of 100 percent cotton thread to whisk away hair, threading is natural. Yaaass, bring on the applause! No chemicals. No strong cocktail of potentially irritable ingredients. Nope, just a spool of thread. Gliding quickly over the skin’s surface, the intertwined strands of thread instantly remove hairs from the root of the follicle, so regrowth is slow, meaning threading lasts longer. Fewer appointments = more $ and time for other things — like sipping latte with your girlfriend, girlfriends.
Hmm. Not bad.
And? My brows were gorgeous, shaped to perfection. Threading allows for greater precision than waxing because the threading tech can create the perfect brow-shape for your face by swiping away one hair here or a short row there.
But don’t just take my word for it, sistah. The actress and activist Emma Watson agrees. She threads because she gets a better-shaped brow.
Alas, I then returned to the United States … and to waxing. Since it’s a more common form of hair removal in the West and is offered everywhere, I took the path of least resistance.
Everything changed after a waxing appointment when the esthetician removed a swath of tender skin along with hair. You heard that right. I let out a yelp and she jumped. “Are you taking Retin-A?” In fact, my dermatologist had prescribed the medication, and apparently, it is a no-no to wax while on Retin-A. The skin grows thinner and more fragile because the prescription's job is to peel away the top layer of dead skin cells. Waxing, too, removes skin cells. Together, the two actions are way too much exfoliation for the skin, and I should have known better.
I didn’t and paid the price.
Then I resumed threading and have never looked back.
At any time, threading is a good choice whether or not you’re on Retin-A (among other skin medications, according to WebMD). But all the more on mature skin because threading doesn’t pull or tug on the skin — so buzz off, wrinkles! Its motive is purely to remove unwanted hair with zero impact on your precious skin. And bonus, threading is generally less expensive than waxing, ranging in my experience from $12 to $15. Like me, this may mean that you’re able to indulge more often to maintain your sexy (eyebrow!) shape. It goes without saying: In between appointments I personally pluck the obvious rogue hairs that rebelliously pop up. But overall, the days of biding my time — literally counting down the days to that pricey eyebrow wax, where I arrive with embarrassingly bushy rectangles topping each eye — are OVER.
Out with the wax. In with the thread.
Before you make your maiden voyage and climb into the chair to submit to a professional with thread stretched between fingers and pinched between lips, there are a few things to know:
1. Not gonna lie, friends. The first time could be uncomfortable, especially if your eyebrows are grown out and need a lot of work. The longer the hair, the more ouch during your first threading.
2. Trust me, it gets easier every time. In fact, I wouldn’t characterize threading as painful in the least at this point. You’ll get to feel the same after just a couple visits. Promise!
3. Threading salons are a different universe than spas where waxing services are offered. Generally, you’ll walk right in sans appointment, and maybe wait five minutes or so before being called to a chair. It’s typically very informal. Don’t expect to be offered a cappuccino or mimosa. All in all, you’ll be in/out in about 10-15 minutes max.
4. Be good to your threading tech and warn her that you’re a rookie. She’ll gently help position your hands around each brow just so when it’s time. She won’t be alarmed if your eyes are watery with tears. Plus, she won’t hit the ceiling if you let out an “Ow!” It’s your first time, after all, so for heaven’s sake, have mercy on yourself and your threader: Tell her you’re a virgin threadee.
It’s OK. We all were, once upon a time.
Kathryn Streeter has written for publications including the Washington Post, Austin American-Statesman and The Week. Find her at kathrynstreeter.com.