Though eyebrow threading has been popular in India and the Middle East for thousands of years, it has only been commonplace stateside for the past few years.
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 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.)
Why It’s So Popular
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.
The Risks of Eyebrow Threading
According to a 2008 review in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, complications of eyebrow threading may include verrucae (warts), erythema (redness), folliculitis, pseudofolliculitis, hyperpigmentation, and depigmentation. It has been suggested in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology that these complications are the result of impaired epidermal-barrier function to the skin. As such, patients need to be aware of these potential risks and seek out experienced practitioners to conduct the procedure.
Is It Safer than Tweezing or Waxing?
Still, despite these concerns, tweezing and waxing may not be better. Waxing involves chemicals that may be irritating to some patients, and redness and irritation are common. Tweezing has been also associated with a form of swelling around the eyes known as periorbital cellulitis, as reported by The American Journal of Ophthamology, though these cases are very rare.
However, tweezing and waxing have never been associated with depigmentation of the skin, as threading has.
Tweezing and waxing are better options if you have a family history of vitiligo or other skin-depigmentation conditions. It seems certain populations may be predisposed towards getting side effects from threading.
On the other hand, if you have no family or personal history of pigmentation disorders, you may benefit from threading, which lasts longer, forms a cleaner line for the brows in less time, and removes the risk of allergy from chemicals.
It’s all a matter of personal predisposition – and preference! Which do you prefer?