Hair Threading 101

Close-up of woman getting her eyebrows threaded

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Let's be real: Grooming your brows is an art form. And while some of us may be blessed with envy-worthy arches (we're looking at you, Cara Delevingne), the rest of us mere mortals need to up our game if we're aiming for eyebrow perfection—and that starts with hair removal. Sure you've got tweezing and waxing, but there's also another method of getting rid of unwanted hair that deserves attention: threading. To get the details, we talked to Umbreen Sheikh, CEO and founder of Wink Brow Bar.

Below, we break down everything there is to know before scheduling your first eyebrow threading appointment.

What Is Hair Threading?

Hair threading is an ancient method of hair removal that originated in Southeastern Asia and is still popular today. "It's been around for centuries and is a way of shaping eyebrows using a cotton thread," explains Sheikh. How does threading work? Specifically, the eyebrow treatment involves pulling a cotton thread along unwanted hair in a twisting motion, trapping hair in a mini lasso, and lifting it up and out of the follicle.

"It is an ideal hair removal technique because it is natural and precise. Threading can be performed on small areas like the brows, upper lip, and sides of the face." Keep in mind that this isn't a hair removal method that should should do yourself. "It is a skill and is difficult to do correctly at home without really good practice. It is an art, best performed by professional technicians," says Sheikh.

Benefits of Threading

  • Long-lasting results
  • Minimal discomfort compared to other removal methods
  • Less irritating
  • Extremely precise
  • Quick process
  • Can be done on very short hair

There are quite a few noteworthy benefits to threading, according to Sheikh, especially when compared to other popular hair removal methods like waxing and sugaring. One of the biggest perks is how long the results from threading can last—up to six weeks, to be exact. This is because threading removes hair from the follicle.

Exfoliate the brow area a day or two in advance so any ingrown hairs or dead skin can be removed.

Threading vs. Waxing

Threading is often compared to waxing, since it was one of the only mainstream hair removal methods for quite some time. Since nothing but the thread touches the skin and every thread is thrown away after use, it is extremely sanitary. There's no need to worry about double-dipping like with waxing. "People ask me why should we pick threading over waxing, tweezing, or sugaring? The benefits of eyebrow threading is that we can be very precise without damaging the skin," says Sheikh.

Like other hair removal methods, some growth is needed—but only about 1/16 of an inch as opposed to sugaring which requires 1/8-1/4 inch or waxing which needs at least a 1/2 inch. "Threading can get hairs that are much smaller than with wax, sometimes even from just under the skin as it gently pushes on the skin to help catch the hair. This means your brows stay more groomed for longer."

It's also an ideal hair removal method for those with dry and sensitive skin, according to Sheikh. "People with sensitive or very dry skin (most of us!) prefer threading hair removal over waxing as the heat and wax can aggravate the sensitive skin around the eye area, causing rashes and redness and removing an excess of skin cells."

How to Prepare for Eyebrow Threading

One of the great things about threading is that there's really no prep work involved aside from letting your brow hairs grow. "It’s a clean simple process that takes only around 10 to 15 minutes in a brow bar," says Sheikh. "Just know that if it is the first time you're doing it, you may feel uncomfortable from the feeling of the thread near your brows, but trust me it’s a better process!"

What to Expect During a Threading Appointment

As far as the actual threading process goes, Sheikh says it should be pretty fast and simple. "Expect to be there around 15 to 20 minutes. A good eyebrow threading place will look at your face shape and do an initial consultation and brow mapping on you to identify how to best shape your eyebrows according to your face and personal preference," she explains.

After, the technician will have you hold the skin around your brows taunt as she threads. "After the threading is complete, she may trim your brows (preference of the client). Some aloe vera gel is applied or an aloe vera based lotion to finish. Then you are good to go!"

Side Effects

Sheikh explains that generally, there are no side effects with threading. "It is extremely rare when someone breaks out into bumps."

That said, over time, frequent threading can cause the hair follicle to become damaged and stop growing hair (although, some might consider that an upside). If done incorrectly, the hairs could also break, which can lead to unevenness and ingrown hairs. It's important to find a good tech and avoid any DIY attempts at home.

Aftercare

Sheikh's #1 post-threading rule is to avoid touching your brows. "In any case, after threading, it is best to apply aloe vera gel or anything that can bring down any slight redness you may have, though the redness from threading is usually from stimulation of the area like a massage, rather than excess skin cell removal. It also goes down in a few minutes after the threading."

Before and After

The Final Takeaway

Threading is a great hair removal option for those who want to steer clear of the discomfort caused by waxing. Since the process involves removing hair from the follicle, the results can last for up to six weeks. It's a quick and efficient way to get precisely-shaped brows, whatever look you prefer.

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