The first time I tried 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 of me circulating around the internet, 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. 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—Really
This is the biggest factor that holds many back from threading, says Sabah Feroz, brow expert at blinkbrowbar in NYC. “Our clients tend to describe threading to be an unusual sensation but not painful,” she adds. 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 the brows, she says.
You Get Defined Brows
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, the method of threading allows for total control over which hairs are removed and which aren’t. “You can get really precise with shaping,” explains 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.”
Maintenance Is Way Easier
Threading is so precise that it can tackle even the tiniest hairs. This means that unlike tweezing, which can’t always grab onto shorter, partly-grown follicles, threading can remove all of your unwanted hairs at once, explained Umbreen Sheikh, owner of NYC’s Wink Brow Bar and the woman who oversaw my own brow shaping. And 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 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 the skin,” says Feroz. Threading is so easy on sensitive or irritable (a.k.a. acne-prone) skin types, actually, that blogger and author Aimee Song swears by it.
…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.
Save It for Facial Hair Only
“Threading is the perfect temporary solution for hair removal of any facial hairs, like the brows,” says Feroz. Because of its precision, though, it’s not a good option for anywhere else on the 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 hair removal is much faster and definitely preferred for larger areas,” she notes. Full body laser hair removal treatment has grown in popularity lately due in part to its painlessness and long-lasting effects. Those who undergo this treatment are unlikely to spot a wayward hair anytime soon.