Originally published on RxGirl on Monday, 08 September 2014
These days there are many different hair removal methods available, including tweezing, shaving, depilatories, laser procedures, waxing and threading. Many women opt for one of the last two methods mentioned because they are inexpensive and produce relatively long-lasting results. Both waxing and threading have also become so convenient that it is commonplace to see waxing & threading services at nail salons and in malls. As a matter of fact, the threading place I go to is located in a nearby mall.
What’s the difference between waxing and threading?
Waxing involves the application of wax (usually hot) in the direction of hair growth, after which a strip of cloth is pressed into the treated area then pulled off rapidly. Those of you who have seen The 40-Year Old Virgin might remember the waxing scene, which pretty much captures and amplifies the painful experience. If you are considering waxing, I can assure you that unless you are as hirsute as Steve Carrell’s character is, you won’t experience nearly as much discomfort.
Threading, in contrast, involves thread which is looped around itself and then wound around the technician’s fingers, then rolled over the areas of unwanted hair, plucking the hair rapidly. If you are considering threading solely because you want to escape the discomfort of waxing, you may be in for a surprise, because threading can be a bit intense as well.
Nevertheless, I think it is well worth the discomfort to endure hair removal methods which can last at least a couple of weeks. Let’s look in more detail at the two different methods and how they stack up against each other.
What I love about waxing:
Waxing is great if you have dense, coarse, thick hair which tends to grow quickly, because the results of waxing tend to last longer than any other method. And since the process is so quick, the discomfort is easily forgotten. Another plus with waxing is that it tends to derange the hair follicles, resulting in impeded hair regrowth.
What I don’t like about waxing:
Waxing can be very messy, and because of that, imparting a precise eyebrow shape can be very difficult to achieve. Another negative is that the hair needs to be at least ¼ inch long before it can be waxed, which means plucking or shaving in the interim are general no-no’s. The wax used can be allergenic, triggering acne flare-ups, rashes, burns and abrasions. If you have extremely reactive or sensitive skin, waxing is not a good option. I also am not keen on the idea of the way that the wax tugs at the skin, causing inflammation and redness which can linger.
What I love about threading:
Threading shapes the brows beautifully, making me a fan right out of the gate. I also love the fact that I don’t have to wait for my hair to grow in before I go in for my next threading treatment. There are no gels or substances applied to the skin, so there is almost no risk of skin reactions from threading.
What I don’t like about threading:
Threading can be quite painful in more sensitive areas like the upper lip. Another limitation is the fact that threading is only done on the face, whereas waxing can be performed on just about any body part.
My personal experience:
I used to have my brows waxed regularly for many years, and put up with the swelling and redness which would persist for days at a time. I also developed rashes on my brow line on several occasions, but toughed it out because I didn’t want to give up waxing. Then I went through two particularly distressing incidents involving my upper lip which prompted me to switch to threading, and I haven’t returned to waxing since.
The first incident occurred when I had a sudden breakout on my upper lip after waxing. Normally I will get one acne blemish at a time, but approximately 24 hours after I had my upper lip waxed, one cystic zit and two whiteheads magically appeared, and of course this was just in time for a photo shoot! This did not deter me from having my upper lip waxed again, but I became very wary of the method. About two months later I returned to have my upper lip waxed, and got a nasty and painful abrasion right above the corner of my mouth immediately post-treatment. I was so upset about it that I finally decided to ban waxing from my regimen.
Once I tried threading I was pleased with the complete lack of skin irritation, and I was amazed at how precise these ladies were with the thread. One caveat is that though threading tends to be very precise, one threader overplucked and trimmed my brows and made them nearly pencil thin, and another threader recently plucked a couple of critical hairs and now I have a little bald spot that I am growing out. Just like with any technician, once you find someone whose style you like, you are best off sticking with the same person so you don’t get any surprises. Expert threaders can be very precise and can make the procedure pain-free.
Though threading is usually quite tolerable, it can hurt like mad, especially in more sensitive areas like the upper lip. During one visit, which happened to be right before my monthly visitor, the pain was so unbearable that I had to stop the treatment on my upper lip. I really mean it when I say it was worse than waxing, because the pain was prolonged. Before I send you ladies scurrying away from threading, I think you will be fine if you simply avoid doing threading right before your period. You can also try a numbing cream or spray beforehand to dull the pain. Generally speaking, most women tolerate threading in the brow area with minimal to no discomfort.
Obviously, there are reasons why both waxing and threading are so popular. It’s a good idea to try both methods to see which one works best for you. However, if you have sensitive skin, you might want to opt for threading since it doesn’t involve application of substances which may irritate the skin.