The first time I tried eyebrow threading, it was only because there weren’t any other options available. I was at the Glamour offices for a photo shoot (of my actual and very unkempt brows, no less) and while I’d waxed and tweezed my eyebrows in the past, my current M.O. was not doing anything at all. Still, my brows had to be polished (read: completely overhauled), so I submitted. It was either that or have a photo circulating around the internet of me resembling a girl version of Peter Gallagher, otherwise known as dad-hunk Sandy Cohen from The O.C. (in case your memory needs some refreshing).
I was terrified. Eyebrow threading had always seemed like the most sadistic hair removal option available, although that’s a tough race to win once you throw in plucking individual hairs and tearing wax off skin. The technique, which has been the primary mode of hair removal in Asia for centuries, consists of rolling twisted cotton thread over the hairs, which unceremoniously rips each follicle right out of its pore. I know, I know: This does not sound like an enjoyable activity, and I have a notoriously low pain threshold. But once I actually felt it for myself—and saw the results in the mirror—I knew I was never going back. Fun? Not exactly. But worth it? Absolutely.
It Doesn’t Hurt That Much
This is the biggest factor that holds many back from threading, says Sabah Feroz, brow expert at BlinkBrowBar in NYC. It needn’t: “Our clients tend to describe threading to be an unusual sensation but not painful,” she says. If you’re super nervous, you can ask the threading tech to try it on the peach fuzz on the back of your hand first. Once people experience it that way, they’re usually down with doing their brows, Feroz says.
It Gives Your Brows a Precise Finish
Eyebrow threading is, at its core, all about precision. “Even the tiniest hair can be teased out of its follicle,” says Feroz. Because it gets every single hair, no half-grown strays are left behind. Plus, threading allows for total control over which hairs are removed and which aren’t. “You can get really precise with shaping,” says Marco Ochoa, celebrity brow threader and owner of EcoBrow Studio in Beverly Hills. “You can thread one hair at a time or a line of hair, giving you well-defined brows.” (For even more definition, pair it with microblading or microshading).
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Maintenance Is Way Easier
Unlike tweezing, which can’t always grab onto shorter, partly grown follicles, threading can remove all of your unwanted hairs at once, explains Umbreen Sheikh, owner of NYC’s Wink Brow Bar and the woman who oversaw my own brow shaping. Because of that, they’ll all grow in at the same time, so you’re not whipping out tweezers or stopping in for touch-ups every week. In general, “people like to clean up by tweezing at home after two weeks of threading,” says Ochoa. “I recommend my clients come in after four to five weeks to reshape their eyebrows.”
It’s a Quick Process
Most brow professionals will be able to get you in and out quickly. I expected to be sitting there for forever as they ripped and pulled out each brow hair, but the whole thing takes about 10 minutes tops. And if your brows are already in relatively good shape? Expect it to take even less time.
It Costs Around the Same As Waxing
Good news if you are thinking about switching from eyebrow waxing to eyebrow threading: Depending on where you go, they’re usually in the same price range. For example, at Wink Brow Bar, a classic 10-minute shaping costs $27—as does a basic eyebrow wax. You should also expect costs to vary based on location and salon specialty, but plan to pay anywhere from $10 to $40—plus tip.
It’s the Gentlest Form of Hair Removal…
Since only the hair is getting yanked—and skin isn’t an incidental casualty—there’s very little chance of irritation. “There’s no pulling or straining your skin,” says Feroz. Threading is also easier on sensitive and acne-prone skin, so if waxing tends to leave your brows raw or red for longer than you’re comfortable with, you might find eyebrow threading to be less intensive.
…But It’s Still Not a Spa Day
While it is the gentlest form of hair removal out there, you’re still removing hair. Since the cotton thread is rubbing against skin, it can cause a little redness and minor irritation on very sensitive skin types. If that sounds like you, just follow up the service with a cooling gel. “A rose water, aloe vera, or tea tree gel helps to calm the area, soothe the skin, and remove any redness quickly,” Feroz says. Some threading salons offer it gratis post-treatment. If not, we’re big fans of Mario Badescu Facial Spray, which contains soothing aloe, herbs, and rose water.
Save It for Facial Hair Only
“Threading is the perfect temporary solution for hair removal of any facial hair, like your brows,” says Feroz. Because of its precision, though, it’s not a good option for anywhere else on your body—partly because it’ll take forever, and partly because an hour or more of getting your hairs ripped out probably is not something anyone would want to do. “Waxing or laser is much faster and definitely preferred for larger areas,” she says. Want to know more about those options? We’ve got everything you need to know here.
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