Threading 101: Your Need-to-Know Guide

Want to remove unsightly facial hair or tame those wild brows? Threading is quite possibly the least painful, least irritating hair removal technique... if you get a threader who knows what they're doing.

Rhamba Singh, an aesthetician at Ragtops Day Spa, learned threading as a hobby growing up in India and has turned it into a career: earning a degree in aesthetics, opening her own salon in 1987 and moving to the states in 2002.

Singh, who has earned herself the nickname "magic hands" for her eyebrow threading, shares here more than 20 years of experience with us.

Click through to learn the what, why, how and who of threading -- plus a video demo from Singh. Trust us, you'll want to know before you go.

What is threading?

Using a 100 percent cotton thread twisted into a double strand, threaders catch your unwanted hairs in a coil of thread and pull them quickly from the follicle. Threading dates back to pre-wax times in South Asia and the Middle East and can be used to remove any facial hair.

Threading is like an art, Singh says. It takes good judgment to know how to shape the brows and total control of your hands to achieve the desired effect.

"I look at my client just like an artist and see what are your features and how to make your bone line look better," Singh says.

Why choose threading?

Threading is quick, precise, clean and long lasting. Singh says since it pulls all the hair in the path of the thread, it's much quicker than tweezing and also grabs all the baby hairs you can't get a hold of singularly.

"Threading pulls hair from the root, much deeper than tweezing or waxing," Singh says. It can last up to three to four weeks, but she recommends returning every two to three for the best results.

"No chemical is involved, so there are no side effects or chances of skin peeling, skin damage or burns as may happen with waxing," Singh says. "And it's perhaps the only option for people who use Retin-A, Accutane or other similar products."

Threading also prevents irritation and wrinkles, as it doesn't inflame the pores or destroy superficial skin, according to Singh.

How is threading done?

First Singh pulls a client's hair away from her face with a headband to avoid catching flyaways in her thread.

Next, Singh preps the area to be threaded, smoothing the area with talcum powder, brushing the eyebrows in the right direction and trimming any long hairs.

Singh then grabs her cotton thread and makes a u-shape, holding the thread in one hand, looping it around the other and holding the free end in her mouth. With her hand in the loop, she twists the string to form the coil that will entwine the hairs.

Once she's examined your face and determined the best shape for your brows, she lines up the thread to catch the hairs in the coil in the opposite direction of the hair growth, then she yanks on the thread by turning her head, closing the twist on the unwanted hair and pulling it out by the root.

Holding the string in her mouth, Singh says, gives her balance, control and precision.

Watch our video demo with Singh below.

"This hurts a lot less [than waxing]," says Priya Parikh, a college student who's been coming to Singh for eyebrow threading since eighth grade.

When she's done, Singh applies some moisturizer to the area, just because the pores are open and the weather's so dry. Parikh's brows are clean and only the slightest bit pink.

Who to go to for threading?

Do your homework. Any board certified aesthetician in the state of Arizona is technically licensed to practice threading, according to the Arizona Board of Cosmetology, no special certification is required; however, not one of the fifteen board licensed schools we called offered any instruction in threading.

"Since this is such a precision procedure, years of experience and skill is important to get it right," says Singh. "Inexperience can result in uneven brows, hair breakage, ingrown hairs, facial cuts or unnecessary pain."

Ouch! Make sure to ask your threader how many years (not days) of experience they have. You don't want them practicing on your face.

Ragtops Day Spa is located at 1730 East Elliot Road in Tempe. To schedule an appointment with Singh, call her at 480.394.0769.

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Hannah E Williams