OK, so I probably can’t out-thread your neighborhood brow technician in a speed contest, but I’ve been pretty pleased with my eyebrow shape and upper lip smoothness ever since I learned how to thread from a shadowy YouTube clip one year ago.
I don’t mean to be a braggart, and far be it for me to tell a person that they ought to rip out their own eyebrow, lip or chin hair, or for my advice to take business away from that fabulous threading place that everyone’s jazzed about; but I noticed that beauty writers sing the many praises of threading but strictly recommend professional services.
I have been threading for the past year or so and it’s really, really easy once you are able to manipulate your non dominant hand while looking in a mirror, which is disorienting at first.
I prefer the convenience of threading my own eyebrows and lip fuzz, because 1) it's free, and no parking, etc. 2) it's easy 3) it's non-irritating to my skin 4) it's more hygienic than tweezing 5) slow, awkward threading is still, for me, way faster than plucking and superior to at-home waxing and 6) threading gets those little hairs that waxing and tweezing can’t always grip.
You can thread soon after a shower with wet hair and skin, or in your car with makeup on (I’ve done it--it still works). Except for the area between my eyes, it has not caused redness, bumpy skin or ingrown bumps--a problem for me with waxing.
The threading hair removal technique can even get splinters out! I’ve done it with those annoying little plant thorns that are hard to see. You can’t use this method to grab a splinter if it’s on one of your hands though, as you need both of them to thread, but you can thread someone else’s splinter, or show someone else how to do it.
Basically, my glamour tips double as cool back-country skills to have.
SO HERE'S HOW TO DO IT
First, it’s best to trim long eyebrow hairs. It’s what many professional makeup artists do because, like a good haircut, brow grooming has the effect of subtly refining facial features.
Tools you will want:
- Spoolie OR clean lash comb OR fine toothed hair comb
- Grooming scissors OR hair shears OR small scissors that come in sewing kits. I don't like shaping with those popular eyebrow razors that are hot right now because they nick and scrape the skin, and are hard to clean. Also, daily stubble.
- Piece of high-cotton sewing thread about as long as your own forearm, plus three inches.
With a spoolie, lash comb or fine toothed comb, sweep eyebrow hair straight upward and pin it in place one section at a time. Trim a practically invisible amount (we’re talking fractions of a millimeter here) off of the several “tall poppy” hairs.
Then sweep brows downward with a spoolie or comb and snip the one or two long, standout hairs.
Comb hair back into place. Already your brows will have a groomed appearance--that is, if you didn’t snip more than the recommended length of hair; otherwise your brows will be looking “groomed” like Vanilla Ice.
If you did snip a bit too much hair, you’re probably enraged at me right about now, like that time Hobbes gave Calvin a patchy buzzcut, or when Woody Boyd did the same to Sam Malone after he dropped his Big League Chew in Sam’s glorious hair. (Like Hobbes, we will be coloring in the bald patches later, good as new.)
THE ACTUAL THREADING PART
- Take a piece of high-cotton sewing thread about as long as your forearm and tie it to form a loop. Snip off loose ends.
- Hold one section of the loop motionless while twisting it 12 to 15 times with the other hand.
- Manipulate the loop’s center twist back and forth by increasing and decreasing the distance between your thumbs and forefingers.
The corners on each end of the twisted thread will be grabbing your hairs almost like scissors, but rather than shearing, the twisted thread will fold hair into itself, plucking individual hairs at your own pace, depending on how fast you open and close your fingers.
Easily corrected problems: if the string seems too long or too short to wield, simply cut a different length and experiment with that loop. It’s fast and easy to make a new loop.
Also, if you notice that some hairs snap off instead of being plucked out, several things could be going on:
- Your thread may have too high of a synthetic fiber percentage. I thread with the same spool I started with, but I hear that a high-cotton thread grips hair better than a high-polyester one. My thread happens to be mostly polyester, but my hair is thin and fine. I suspect that coarser hair is prone to snapping off.
- You may be hesitating and maneuvering the thread too slowly or in a jerky fashion. If you are committed to self–threading, your movements will be eventually brisk and confident and hair breakage may happen less and less, as was the case with me.
When you're done, fill in eyebrows with a cosmetic pencil or brow powder.
Gonna try it? Have you already?