Having spent at least the past 15 years of my life plucking my eyebrows, you can imagine how excited I was to hear that eyebrow threading is an alternative form of brow maintenance, which subsequently made me pretty intrigued about the experience of getting your eyebrows threaded for the first time. I mean, the technique is not only rumored to be equally effective as tweezing, but also quicker, and possibly less painful.
While being a longstanding tradition in Indian grooming culture, threading's exact origin story seems to be a tricky one to pinpoint, with ties to India, the Middle East, and China. However, when it comes to most things beauty related, I tend to be reassured by decades old practices, not deterred by them. So, despite the anti-threading stance that some brow experts take, I decided it was time I gave this threading thing a try. And in case you're on the fence about giving it a go yourself (or if you'd like to giggle at my pain), I'll share with you the mini emotional roller coaster the experience put me through.
With tweezing, I've worked pretty diligently to achieve some semblance of brow maintenance. But to say my eyebrows have ever been on point or on fleek would be a long shot. I straight abused these suckers back in the late '90s when I first began sculpting my brows. I was unlucky enough to embark upon my brow grooming journey during a decade when ultra-thin eyebrows were in style, and I followed in the footsteps of Drew Barrymore and Pamela Anderson circa 1997 when it came to shaping. In a handful of quick, Cosmo guided tweezing sessions, my early teen brows morphed from their wildly unwieldy natural state to some version of thin for the win.
At the time, I thought I was phat like Cindy Crawford (thanks, Blessid Union of Souls), who ironically had some of the most naturally full and luxurious brows around, so in hindsight, I don't really know what I was thinking. Looking back, of course, I long for my sweet, bushy brows. But life goes on and you learn to love what you've got. Thus, here we are today, with me about to take the plunge into a new form of hair maintenance.
1. Supreme Confidence
Upon reading about threading, and having heard a few friends' personal stories, I'm generally inclined to think, "Hey, I've been grooming my brows for one and a half decades. I should try this threading thing. Hell, maybe I should even do it myself. Hmmm... yeah, that's a great idea... I've got this. To the YouTube!"
2. Reality Check
After about 30 minutes of watching various instructional videos and reading a few photo-based how-to guides, it becomes increasingly clear that although I value my ingenuity and independent spirit, perhaps I'd prefer to experience threading in a less hands-on atmosphere. You know, like performed by a licensed aesthetician, or someone who actually has a solid idea of what they're doing to my face.
So I've decided to go for it, and luckily, I already know of a reputable salon just a few minutes away from my apartment. Okay, this is good... we're doing this. I'm convinced it's going to be a grand new adventure, and much like a lady-Bilbo, I stumble out into the blustery wind that's currently harassing the Chicago area, filled with slight trepidation, but kind of excited, and prepared to embark nonetheless.
4. Wait, This Feels Like Second Guessing
As I arrive at the salon, 15 years worth of personal control over my eyebrows' appearance (precise control, painstakingly shaped, one hair follicle at a time) rears its head. Do I really want to relinquish control of the condition of arguably one of my most expressive features? What if she botches it? What if this is her first day on the job, nerves take over, her hands shake, and she rips a thick, clean line right through my left eyebrow. Better yet, four thick, clean, vertical lines through my left eyebrow. I don't want to look like Vanilla Ice... or do I? The man is undeniably fly.
Enough, Jen, enough. After taking one last glance at my ragged, somewhat overgrown brows in my visor mirror, I lock up my car and head in, mostly ready to face whatever I might be walking into. (Wow, look at that dry skin! I could use some exfoliation, and maybe a nap.) Besides, this is a centuries-old practice, right?
6. So Far, So Good
Walking into the salon, I take a quick visual assessment of my surroundings. Clean environment? Check. Adequate lighting, and from what I can tell, safe equipment? Check. Attentive aesthetician? Check. Great! All systems go. Let's do this.
7. Hmm, Okay...
Falguni, the aesthetician, is kind, and while I explain to her that I'm new to threading, she leads me to her chair and motions for me to lean back as she puts it into a reclined position. She explains that my eyebrows are probably thinner than they need to be (yes, I'm aware), and could stand to be grown in, which she suggests we focus on doing over the course of the next few months. Then she goes on to mention that I'll need to hold my eyelid and my forehead while she works, and that the more tightly I stretch the skin, the less the threading will hurt. Hmm... does that make me nervous? Yeah, I'm thinking it does. But I lie back, keep my skin taut, and wait.
8. A Brief Burst Of Intense Anticipatory Fear
And then, all of the sudden, Falguni gathers her thread in whatever mysterious formation she utilizes and leans over me. Oh, shit! This is gonna sting in that all too familiar way that plucking does, except probably 10 times worse since I'm about to have an entire line of hair strategically ripped from less than an inch above my eye! What am I doing?
9. Pleasant Surprise
15 minutes later, after Falguni danced about my brows with her highly efficient thread, easily removing stray follicles and reshaping, I sat up and looked at the results. My brows were crisp, clean, and somehow, looking slightly more full than when we started. I was impressed by their subtle change in shape (since I didn't have much to begin with, there wasn't a whole lot of room for drastic change), and fond of how soft they now looked.
Although the experience definitely made my eyes water, and involved an expected level of brisk, the overall pain was no worse than plucking, and certainly a lot more forgiving than waxing (plus, I still had the same amount of skin that I had walked in with). There was little redness, and absolutely no puffiness — which didn't surprise me after years of tweezing. Having someone else take the action of removing my hair ended up feeling refreshing, in an odd way, like a small weight had been lifted off of my forehead. I left feeling clean, and generally pretty satisfied with the experience.
For me, threading seems to be the right hair removal option. It's quick, minimally painful, and having someone else doing the work is a welcome change of pace after years of plucking. Besides, I've yet to encounter anyone picky (or rude) enough to comment on my brows in between grooming (at least to my face), and the prospect of being able to wait two-three weeks between threading sessions sounds like a win.