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With eyebrow threading, perfect brows are just a twist and a pull away. This intriguing hair removal method takes mere minutes to create stunning brows, with nothing but a little length of cotton thread.
Anyone can learn how to thread eyebrows, but doing it well takes skill and dexterity that can only come with a lot of practice and a keen eye for eyebrow threading shapes. In this article, brow threading experts weigh in on the practice and give all the insider secrets.
Eyebrow Threading Guide: Contents
- What Is Eyebrow Threading?
- Eyebrow Threading vs. Waxing vs. Plucking
- The Benefits of Eyebrow Threading
- The Disadvantages of Brow Threading
- How to Thread Eyebrows?
- Getting the Perfect Eyebrow Threading Shape
- Does Eyebrow Threading Hurt?
- How Long Does Brow Threading Last?
- How Much Does Eyebrow Threading Cost?
Threading is a hair removal technique that relies on a twisted piece of cotton thread to pull out errant hairs. As the twist of thread moves over the skin, hairs get caught in it and are then swiftly pulled out. Threading is especially popular for facial hair removal, with eyebrow threading being the most popular of all.
It is not clear exactly when or how eyebrow threading originated, but it has been historically used for hair removal in Iran, India, and China, and other countries in between or nearby. According to Vanita Parti, the founder of BBB London, threading may have traveled to the Middle East and India from the Far East, with many sources citing China as the birthland of threading.
Many of the aestheticians and brow shapers practicing eyebrow threading in Europe and North America come from cultures that practiced threading historically, and they learned to perform the artful procedure from relatives or friends. In that sense, threading goes beyond being a simple cosmetic procedure since it also has cultural significance.
However, as brow threading becomes more popular, more and more aestheticians of all backgrounds are learning how to perform it.
There are so many options for facial hair removal out there, so to know if threading is right for you, it’s important to understand the differences between eyebrow threading, waxing, and tweezing.
Tweezing (or colloquially, plucking) is the method of using tweezers to pull out one hair at a time. “[With threading] you can remove full lines of hair at a time instead of only individual hairs,” explains aesthetician Loren Armstrong of Elina Organics Spa in Chicago. “This makes threading much faster than plucking or tweezing when you want to do hair removal on areas such as lips or cheeks while keeping the accuracy when shaping brows.”
However, tweezing is very easy to do, since it requires less skill, practice, and dexterity than threading, so it is much more popular with people who maintain their eyebrows at home.
Then there is waxing (and its close companion practice, sugaring), which is a method in which hot wax or sugar paste is smoothed over the skin, and then pulled off once it has cooled, removing with it a whole lot of hair and sometimes a bit of skin. This makes waxing a faster process that is better suited for removing a lot of hair at once, for example, from the legs and arms, but it also makes it potentially more damaging to the skin.
Eyebrow threading is the most natural, precise and safest method of shaping your brows since you don’t use any waxes or chemicals while also have a great control of the hairs you want to remove. It is said not to cause ingrown hairs, unlike waxing or tweezing.
While threading your eyebrows, the thread moves in numerous different directions, thus reaching even the tiniest hairs. Also, it’s less irritating, being a perfect choice for those with sensitive skin, too.
According to Armstrong, the benefit of threading here is primarily when it comes to facial hair removal. “You don’t have to wait for hairs to grow in as much between appointments as with waxing or sugaring. Threading can also remove really fine hairs that are difficult to get with wax and sugar.”
Eyebrow threading has some unique benefits that can make it the best hair removal method for many! Read about them to figure out if it’s the best choice for you.
• Less Trauma to the Skin
While brow threading is not totally pain-free, it is much kinder to the skin than waxing, since it doesn’t pull as much on the skin. Because of this, those who need frequent hair removals or have sensitive skin will especially benefit from this gentle brow shaping process.
• Beautiful Shape
One of the most incredible things about threading is just how precise of a shape it can give to the brows. Eyebrow threading shapes are some of the most beautiful that we’ve seen. This is because the thread moves across the skin in a very straight line, the lines of the brow can end up looking very crisp. It’s especially fantastic for people who have dense eyebrows since the result can be pristine.
• Doesn’t Cause Much Waste
Tweezing is by far the most waste-free hair removal method, but threading comes as a close second! Waxing relies on a lot of wax, strips, sticks and often other hygiene-related equipment, and after it’s used, it all goes in the garbage. With threading, the only thing that ends up in the trash is the tiny, skinny thread that was used.
• Appropriate for Those Who Use Retinoids
“Like plucking and tweezing, threading can be performed even while on skin thinning or acne medication,” Armstrong says. When the skin is thinner because of prescriptions like Isotretinoin, waxing can pull off a lot of skin, leaving the face irritated, but this is never an issue with eyebrow threading.
As much as we love it, eyebrow threading also comes with a few small drawbacks. Here are all of the potential disadvantages, along with some advice on how to avoid them.
• Still Painful
We get into more details further along, but as Parti explains, “Some do not like the sensation of having every hair removed at speed and may find the first time a little painful, especially if it is the first time you are removing hair by the roots.” In other words, though levels of pain depend on a few factors, brow threading still hurts a bit.
• Can Cause Damage or Infection If Done in an Unsanitary Environment
When done at a professional, well-reviewed salon, you can usually feel safe knowing that the environment is hygienic. However, when done at home or at an independent salon, there are slightly higher chances of cross-contamination.
If you are threading at home, make sure to keep everything clean, while when choosing a salon, have a good look around to make sure the space looks clean (including the container where the thread is kept), and ensure that the aesthetician washes their hands or wears disposable gloves.
• You Might Not Like the Eyebrow Threading Shape
Whether you have it done in a professional salon or do it by yourself, you always run the risk of not liking the final eyebrow threading shape. You also might not be immune to losing control and over-threading. This is why it is very important to follow our shaping guide when threading at home.
When it comes to a professional service, Parti has the following advice: “Ensure that your provider is an expert in eyebrows and has been fully versed in the right brow for your face.” How to make sure of that? It’s simple, they should offer you a full consultation before they even touch your eyebrows, in which you can make sure you are on the same page.
• Not Appropriate During Breakouts
“Threading can aggravate acne,” Armstrong cautions. “If you have active acne, threading can rupture the breakouts and further spread the infection,” so make sure the skin around your brows is fully clear before sitting in the brow threading chair. We suggest a gentle spot treatment like The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil to speed things along without thinning the skin.
As with many other beauty procedures, eyebrow threading is best done by an expert, since it takes skill to do it quickly, painless, and cleanly, not to mention that shaping eyebrows beautifully is its own type of art. With that said, since eyebrow threading requires such few tools, you can try and learn how to do it at home for yourself.
Step 1: Test
We recommend that before you start threading your eyebrows, practice threading other parts of your body, like your upper lip or even upper thigh, where the hair is quite fine. This will allow you to learn how to manipulate the thread and pull out the hair. Starting with the eyebrows before you learn to control the thread can lead to disaster.
Step 2: Prepare
To start, make sure to clean the skin that you plan to thread. If you are wearing makeup, you can use a cotton pad saturated with a bit of makeup remover or micellar water to get the area free of makeup. Then, swab the skin with alcohol in order to further remove any contaminants. You also want to wash your hands thoroughly to get rid of any germs or bacteria.
Then prepare your thread. It’s important to use a durable cotton thread that is well-woven and doesn’t have any bits of fluff sticking out. You will need about a foot and a half of thread (45 centimeters or so), which you should then tie off into a big loop by tying the two ends together in a simple knot.
While an aesthetician might hold to one end of the thread in between her teeth, this doesn’t work when you are trying to thread your own face. Instead, after tying the thread into a loop, place the loop in between both hands, kind of like at the start of a Cat’s Cradle game.
Then rotate one of your wrists three or four times in order to form a twist in the center of the loop. The loop will now have the shape of a figure-eight.
Step 3: Practice
Next, inch the thread forward a bit, so it sits on top of your fingers just above the knuckles and towards the nails of the thumb and pointer finger. Then, pull your thumb and pointer finger apart, alternating the right hand and the left hand. This will create a sort of scissoring effect, and each side of the “eight” will get smaller and bigger.
Practice manipulating the thread in different ways and using different fingers, since threading is all about being versatile. This is the motion that moves the twist around, allowing it to grab onto hairs. If this motion doesn’t happen fluidly, it means the thread you are using is too frayed or weak.
Step 4: Thread!
Now you can start actually threading! Line the thread over the skin, and remember that the thread should go in a direction opposite of the hair growth. The lower edge of the thread can act as a guide for the line that the twist will go in, and the hair it will pull out. This is especially important to get the hang of before threading the brows.
Once you’ve practiced on other parts of your face enough times, you can try threading the brows. Start with the area above the brows, where you will have more room to work and are less likely to make mistakes. Remove the hairs that are clearly outside the outline of your brows and that only look messy, and avoid getting too close to the shape unless you are fully certain of your ability to control the thread.
As you’re more comfortable with your control of the thread, you can get closer and start shaping the brows from above, being careful not to remove your arch or any of the hairs that make up the bulk of your brows. It is usually recommended to only have a professional shape from below since it is very difficult to control a thread on your own to shape the very tight space below the brows.
For the following 24 hours, avoid swimming pools, direct sunlight, saunas, and spray tans in order to avoid any skin irritation.
Learning how to actually use the thread is one part of the equation, but shaping eyebrows is the real art form. “Shaping comes with practice but it is crucial in order to ensure your brows balance your face,” Parti stresses.
She recommends the pencil trick, which is a method of shaping brows with the help of a long, thin object as a guide – it doesn’t have to be a pencil since a thin makeup brush or wooden stick could work just as well.
“Place the pencil at the bridge of your nose and slant past your eye. Where it hits the brow is where they should start. Then slant the pencil so that it goes through your eyeball and it should hit where the arch should be. Then slant to end of the eye for a guide to where the brow should finish,” Parti explains.
We recommend actually filling in the brows a little bit, based on the pencil trick, so that when the time comes to thread the brows, you can be assured that you won’t over-thread.
As with all other hair removal methods that rely on pulling the hair out from the root, eyebrow threading does indeed hurt. How much, however, really changes from person to person. Since threading removes just a few hairs at a time, you end up feeling the small sting over and over again, while when waxing, all of the hair comes out at once.
Some people find eyebrow threading to be less comfortable than waxing, while for others, the opposite is true since the type of pain is different. In general, an experienced eyebrow threader is probably going to hurt you less. “However the right service provider should ensure that it is as painless as it can be by using the thread as close to the skin as possible, rather than pulling up,” says Parti.
Some people find that eyebrow threading is more painful when done during their period, so you can try to schedule appointments based on your personal cycle. If you are extra sensitive to pain, smoothing on a bit of a topical pain reliever like Uber Numb from Amazon can numb your skin a bit to make the process more tolerable.
Brow threading will last a different amount of time from person to person. Some might find that their hair grows back very quickly and that they need to thread their eyebrows once a week, while for others, hair growth is very slow so they can wait up to 5 or 6 weeks.
On average, however, most people will need to have their eyebrows threaded every two or three weeks. This is about the same amount of time as other hair removal procedures that grab the hair from the root, like waxing or tweezing, which isn’t bad for a procedure that only takes 10 or 15 minutes to complete.
As with many other beauty services, the cost of eyebrow threading heavily depends on the location as well as the type of salon where you get it done. On the low end, it can cost as little as $6, while the cost at boutique salons can go up to $40.
Price isn’t always an indicator of quality, but you should still be a little skeptical when seeing a very low price since that might be a sign that the salon is cutting corners or that the service provider isn’t very experienced.
Photos via @brankamakeup, @wow_brow, @blinkbrowbar, @ibrowbar_nl, @nikki_makeup