Threading is an old hair removal service, but is it on the rise? Some of us have never even heard of it or realized how good it can be. While working at a wax boutique in Mississippi for the summer, I noticed that the owner never waxed anyone’s face but rather threaded them. I asked her why, and she told me that she burned a clients’ face with wax when she first opened her business and decided to teach herself threading. She had a booming business on the Gulf Coast and a majority of her clients were there for facial threading. Before we delve in to the technique and benefits of threading, let’s first discuss the history of threading.
History of Threading
The exact origins of threading are somewhat of a mystery. There are several stories about where threading began. Most note that it started in either India or Iran, with some saying it started in East China. According to the latter, the Empress of China was threaded to create a more exposed and broader forehead, believing it showed her power over others. As threading gained popularity in China, it was often wedding tradition that the bride-to-be would not have her face threaded until the day of the wedding by her mother or grandmother to reveal her beauty or flawless complexion. In Persian cultures, threading is also a part of wedding tradition.
It is interesting that even though threading was said to originate in the Middle East, a unibrow was popular during Iran’s Qajar from 1785–1925 for men and women, being seen as a symbol of virility for men and purity for women.1 It was not until the dawn of the 20th century that threading came into popularity for both men and women in the Middle East. Regardless of where it started, threading has made its way to the Western beauty market as a safe and easy form of hair removal.
Facial threading includes:
- Taking a cotton or polyester thread,
- Doubling it so it resembles an X or a technician will sometimes leave one end in their mouth, and
- Twisting and doubling the thread so that the hair removal can begin.
The benefits of threading are that it inflicts little pain, is a quick hair removal method and allows for great precision.
Precision. This is a great technique for precision, as you can achieve a defined look with threading. Threading is, in a way, a combination of tweezing and waxing, in that it allows the technician to pull out either a single hair or a row of hair. Threading is especially popular for the eyebrows, as it gives a clean, defined look.
Pain. Threading is often less painful than waxing or tweezing. Clients with sensitive skin may not be able to be waxed, and this offers them a nice alternative. I specialize in and enjoy performing waxing, but it can be painful. The wax is hot and you then have to use good pressure to make sure that the hair adheres to the wax.
Time. Without a doubt, waxing is the quickest form of hair removal, but threading comes in a close second. A seasoned threader should have a client in and out in about 10–20 minutes.
Threading is definitely a learned technique and requires skill. Threading is hard to do, and it takes a lot of practice to get the technique down. Clients should be confident that anyone who threads their eyebrows has devoted a significant amount of time and hard work to mastering the skill.
Safety and Sanitization
As with all services, there are contraindications for performing threading, such as cold sores, severe acne, sunburns, diabetes, conjunctivitis, psoriasis, boils or moles. Threading near cold sores, boils and acne would actually spread the bacteria, which would move from one area to another on the thread.
With sanitization being an important part of infection control in esthetics and many other fields, it is no surprise that many don’t learn threading or get it done for fear of disease transmission. However, they should rest easy that many instructors teach a method that does not involve holding the thread in the mouth. I used an amazing threading artist from Iraq who employed a technique using both hands to perform the service. I asked her why she did this, and she stated that some clients worried that it was not up to safety standards and could run the risk of catching an infection. This is completely understandable. I was only allowed to have the students taught the technique where both hands and no mouth were used.
As with any other service, there are potential side effects to threading. Clients can experience redness, soreness and possibly ingrown hairs. I personally have not had any clients with ingrown hairs after threading, but it does happen. If one were to experience ingrown hairs, they should exfoliate two to three times a week with a gentle exfoliant, preferably glycolic based.
Think Chin and Lip Too
Although brows are the most popular area to thread, they are not the only part of the face that can be threaded. The whole face can be threaded along with the body. Facial threading is amazing; the same technique as described above is used with very precise and defined results, even for pesky lip and chin hairs. Don’t forget that body threading is available to clients as well.
If one wants to get threading done, they will usually have to go to a threading studio. Not very often will you see it offered in spas or salons, but it is a fantastic service to offer. Especially if you are one of the only providers of it in your area, the income potential is limitless. I would love to be able to see this type of service offered in more spas, salons and boutiques.