Last night I had my eyebrows threaded.
I’ve had it done quite a few times over the years, and now I prefer it. It’s fast, it’s neat, and it’s natural.
I remember the first time I heard about threading. I was probably in ninth grade, sitting in the living room of my childhood home, milling about the television while dinner was being prepared. The local news was on, and the reporter was interviewing an Indian woman who had recently opened a salon in the city and in addition to cutting and styling hair she was removing it from women’s faces with cotton thread.
The video was similar to this:
I remember thinking… how weird. How can a rolled cotton string, held between your fingers and in your teeth effectively remove eyebrow hair? It wasn’t something I was eager to try.
As a ninth grader I wasn’t old enough to take my eyebrows that seriously anyway. It took me a long time to finally start doing something with them. I first started wearing glasses in seventh grade, and I had always felt protected behind my frames, until high school peer pressure dictated that more had to be done.
So I started to pluck unwieldy hairs here and there—the straggly hairs that grew 2 or 3 millimeters away from the others. I wasn’t really shaping them, just keeping the jungle from migrating.
Then my maternal grandmother decided it was her duty to usher me in to proper womanhood. On a visit to my aunt’s house in New Jersey my grandmother invited me out, and she took me to a salon. She insisted that I wax my eyebrows, and get a manicure and pedicure. I was taken to a small room in the back of the salon where I was asked to lie down. The woman doing the waxing asked if I had done this before—I’m sure she could tell from the monstrous caterpillars on my face that I hadn’t—and told me to relax. She took a flat popsicle stick coated in hot wax and wiped it on my upper eyelid in an arc and then applied a special paper. Two seconds later she asked, “Ready?” and ripped the paper off my eye in one swift motion. Yowzers.
I cringed as she applied the hot wax to my other upper eyelid. The first time I had been blissfully naïve, but now I knew what was coming. After the second pull there were a few smaller pulls to clean up the edges. Then she took out some tweezers to finish shaping, and a small pair of scissors and an eyebrow brush to complete the procedure.
That was the first and last time I ever waxed my eyebrows.
Sure, many of you are probably reading and thinking, “I wax mine all the time, why is C being a baby?” and I admit, I am. I can’t imagine waxing every time (or even part of the time), and I especially can’t imagine waxing more “sensitive” parts of my body. I just don’t like the idea of hot wax being put on my face, nor do I like the idea of ripping out hairs in one giant clump. I have seen others get wax jobs done and it looks like it irritates their skin, and I just didn’t like the idea of it. I was happy to use my original waxing as a guideline for where I should pluck, but I was satisfied tending my eyebrows myself, one hair at a time.
Then in college I was talking to some Kenyan friends who said that they “threaded” their eyebrows, and I remembered the news broadcast I saw in ninth grade. I plied them with questions—Did it hurt? Was it fast? Do you recommend it?—I had forgotten about this option, and stored it in the back of my mind.
Shortly after graduating from college I travelled to my mother’s house in Virginia, and went to the mall to get a haircut. A South Asian woman had a booth in the middle of the mall, and she was threading eyebrows for a few dollars. I decided to give it a try.
I sat in the salon chair, and laid my head back. She asked me to put one hand on the skin above my eyebrow and one on the skin below to pull the skin tight, and then she began. I’m not going to lie… my first threading wasn’t painless, in fact when I opened my eyes afterward I couldn’t see anything as my eyes had involuntarily teared up so much from the tugging.
It was a while before I worked up the nerve to do threading again, but I didn’t have the same definitive “no way” feeling that I had after getting waxed.
Once my younger sister M went to the mall with R and I. A Nepali woman was threading eyebrows and R and I were happy to sit and have ours shaped. My sister watched, and even though she is an occasional waxer, she wasn’t ready to try threading. At least not then.
I still mostly pluck, but if I have a special occasion, or if someone is willing to do a threading, I’ll go that route. For example our friend M-dai’s wife knows how to do it and offered to thread all us ladies when we were hanging out on New Years.
It hurts less now, perhaps because I’m used to it. But mostly I like that it is easy, and quick, and natural. I like not having to put extra guck on my face.
When I was getting my eyebrows done last night a Caucasian woman walked up and asked, “Do you mind if I watch?” As my eyebrows were shaped she asked, “Does it hurt?” and I replied, “Not any more than plucking or waxing. I actually prefer it,” but by the time I opened my eyes she had already walked away.
What do you think about threading?