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A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a new stand at the mall that provided eyebrow threading. Curious, I laid down in the chair. Fifteen enlightened minutes later, I was hooked: never before had the lines of my eyebrows looked so clean, even after waxing and plucking! Intrigued, I waited a full month, and sure enough, it took a full six weeks before I needed to get my eyebrows reshaped. Could it be love? A miracle?
Turns out it’s actually just an ancient technique, originating in India and commonly practiced in the Middle East. According to Wisegeek.com, eyebrow threading is distinct from plucking or waxing because it removes one clean line of hair all at once, making it much quicker and easier to shape the brows. The procedure, described by Essortment.com here, involves little more than a piece of 100% cotton string. The thread is held between the teeth or is anchored around the neck of the beautician, while the other end is held firmly with the left (or non-dominant) hand. The index and middle fingers of the right (or dominant) hand then form a loop in the center of the string, and the thread is rolled over the surface of the skin, collecting the hairs as it moves. For a video, the Eyebrow Threading NBC 10 Special (courtesy YouTube) is excellent.
Eyebrow threading is gaining popularity recently due to increasing concerns of women over use of chemicals in depilatories and waxes. Because threading does not involve the use of chemicals, there are no risks of chemical-based irritation or allergy. However, eyebrow threading is not without risks. According to a 2008 review in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, complications may include verrucae (cited here in a 2009 issue of the Indian Journal of Dermatology), erythema (redness), folliculitis, pseudofolliculitis, hyperpigmentation, and depigmentation, including koebnerization of vitiligo (this case described in more detail in a 2002 issue of Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). It has been suggested in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology that these complications are the result of impaired epidermal-barrier function. As such, patients need to be aware of these potential risks and seek out experienced practitioners to conduct the procedure.
As for me, I learned the technique and (very carefully) now use the at-home Sun Maita Eyebrow Threading Kit ($150.00, SunMaita.com). For $150.00, the kit includes the handheld threader, two lotions (including a numbing lotion and anti-irritating lotion), chalk, 24 sets of organic cotton blended replacement threads, and an instructional booklet. An instructional video of how to perform the procedure is also available online here. While the proper technique admittedly took a few attempts to master, I am really pleased with the overall professional results of this kit. I am also happy to report that my brows still take a few weeks to grow back. Overall, comparing waxing/tweezing with threading, I am going to stick with threading, but I have listed the pros/cons of each below. Let me know your thoughts, and don’t forget to enter the FutureDerm – Sustainable Youth Technologies Giveaway!
(-) Waxing involves chemicals that may be irritating to some patients
(-) Risks of tweezing include periorbital cellulitis, reported by The American Journal of Ophthamology, though very rare
(-) Redness and pain reported
(+)No published reports of hyperpigmentation or depigmentation (at least not that I could find)
(+) Does not involve chemical that may be irritating to some patients
(-) Risks include erythema (redness), folliculitis, pseudofolliculitis, hyperpigmentation, and depigmentation, including koebnerization of vitiligo, as published in a 2008 review in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology
(-) Redness and pain reported
(+) Slightly more aesthetically pleasing results (opinion), with greater definition of the brow line
(+) Some have reported longer times before hair grows back; however, this has yet to be substantiated