I’d heard about threading for years. I knew that threading is a centuries-old technique for removing unwanted hair that hails from India and the Middle East. The basic idea involves an aesthetician rapidly twisting thread across a client’s eyebrows and upper lip, pulling hair out efficiently from the roots in neat little lines. I’d even seen videos of it being done.
But I’d never actually had anything threaded. Because: ow? Wouldn’t pulling out little rows of hair be more painful than the one-motion-right-off! waxing technique? But lots of my friends get their brows threaded and swear by it. “I sometimes fall asleep during it,” said my friend Marie, who goes for threading sessions regularly. “It’s way cheaper than waxing, and safer, too—no burns,” claimed another friend, Christine.
Cheaper? Safer than waxing? And so painless you can fall asleep during it? SOLD. My office is two blocks from an all-threading salon, even! When I called to make an appointment, they just laughed and said it was so quick, I could just walk in! Even better!
So, last week after work, I strolled into the salon. It turned out to be a very small storefront space, with a single main room filled with cushy chairs, all set in a permanent deep recline. There were several women getting threaded, and, as I sat in the waiting area, I watched. It was silent. Everyone was laying back in their chairs, eyes shut, as aestheticians quickly ran white thread over their faces. The process looked relaxing.
My turn. I sat down in the chair and told the woman about to thread me that I was a first-timer. “Ah,” she said, nodding. “It’s not so bad, okay? Tell me what you want.”
“Great eyebrows!” I chirped. “Nothing crazy-thin, just cleaned up with a definite arch and a taper at the end. A good clean-up job—they look terrible right now.”
She pulled the thread taut between her fingers. “Ok, so: normal brows,” she said. She pushed my shoulders gently. “Lean back,” she said, “and hold your eyebrow please.” ’Scuse me? It turns out that you have to hold the skin around your brow taut during the session, with your own hands. Waxing, apparently, is for lazies. Threading is interactive, y’all. I pulled my right brow up with my fingers. She put the thread between her lips, using her mouth to make a tight line of string down to my eyebrow, and began.
And you know what? Ow. OUCH. From the very first swipe of the thread, when I felt about five hairs get yanked out simultaneously, I knew my friends had lied to me. THEY LIED. Threading hurts LIKE HELL. Trying not to be a baby about having someone come at my eyes and extract multiple hairs in a white-hot line of pain only to go over the same area multiple times, I gripped the armrests and tried not to shriek. No one else in the salon seemed to even be flinching, much less making noises like they were dying. My aesthetician did my right lower brow, then moved on to the upper brow as my eyes watered crazily and I felt like I was going to sneeze. I fought the urge to leap up and run into the streets. “Just relax, Krista,” I told myself. “Marie falls asleep during this.” Just when I thought I absolutely could not take one more second of work on my right brow, my threader moved my hands to the left brow and started in. “You okay, honey?” she asked me. “Yes,” I whimpered. I wasn’t. It felt like she was ripping out the skin over and under my eyebrows in microscopic lines. Please stop please stop please stop, I chanted in my head.
And then she did. And I sat up, brushed the tiny hairs away from my eyes, and looked in the mirror handed to me. Wow. WOW. My brows looked GREAT. So precise! So...perfect! These were the brows I was meant to have! “Ok?” she asked me. “OMG so good!” I squealed, immediately forgetting about all the pain. And it was—get this—only $7. Threading ruled! I was hooked on it!
“Want me to do the upper lip?” she asked. “Why the hell not?” I answered, cocky with the rush of released adrenaline. (BECAUSE IT HURTS, that’s why!)
But it’s over in a minute, and then you forget. Threading is painful but fast and accurate and super-cheap. You might never see me at a waxing salon ever again! (Note: for the most part, threading is exclusively used on brows and facial hair, so it’s not an option for bikini lines, underarms, etc.)