Brow Threading: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know

In the quest for It Girl brows, people search far and wide to find the technique that works best for them. Lately, we've been hearing a lot about brow threading — you probably have, too — so what exactly is it?
Though it may seem new to some of us, threading has been popular in Europe for quite some time and has been practiced for thousands of years in South Asia and the Middle East. Umbreen Sheikh, founder of Wink Brow Bar in New York City, explains that threading is a technique used to remove hair from the eyebrow and other small areas of the body like the upper lip and bikini line with, you guessed it, thread.  People love it because of its precision — the thread is able to get very, very close to the skin and create a specific shape. "The thread is created from cotton twisted on itself and pulls hair from the root," Sheikh explains. "You can actually get within a millimeter and pull one tiny hair from your brow."  
As for the pain, Sheikh says that good threading shouldn't hurt too much. "There's definitely a sensation, but it isn't necessarily a painful one," she explains. Her mention of "good threading" brings up a whole different issue. She is wary of the mall kiosks and salons that have cropped up lately — especially because they aren’t necessarily using 100% cotton anti-bacterial thread. "My philosophy is that you need to go to a professional, and a lot of people aren't professionals,” she explains. “Ask where they get their thread from, ask if they have a license. That doesn't mean that it creates knowledge of the brows, but it means that they will perform the procedure safely."
When it comes to that brow knowledge, shape is one of the most important things. Sheikh says she and her team of technicians can create any shape to meet each client's specifications. But, some people find threaded brows often end up looking the same. William Scott, a makeup artist and brow specialist whose preferred brow-shaping method is good old tweezing, thinks the arches that roll out of the threading chair are pretty similar. "The brows that come out are more angular," he says. "It's a very pointed tip, and the front is very square. Softer brows aren't typically threaded brows." Another issue Scott has with threading is the amount of hair taken off. “Certain clients of mine have fine, fuzzy hairs around their brows,” he explains. “When you tweeze them, you risk a chance of breaking out afterward. Threaders will get in there and remove everything. Tweezing is more precise."

But, it all comes down to the technician. Sheikh ensures that Wink is staffed with trained pros who use thread in a unique way, so you can get softer brows. But, we know not everyone lives in New York, so she suggests talking to your technician to ensure you walk out with the brow shape you're looking for. With some research and the right salon, you'll get the brows of your dreams.

More from Hair

R29 Original Series