Threading, known as the 'ancient art of hair removal', is probably the oldest technique used to get rid of unwanted body hair. It's been used for many centuries in Eastern countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan and India. Like most Middle Eastern and Asian beauty and well-being practises (Yoga, massage, aromatherapy etc.), threading has proved a massive hit in the Western world and is now widely available in many beauty salons across the UK.
The Arabic terms 'khite' and 'fatlah' tend to be used instead of 'threading' in some traditional salons.
Threading is mostly used as a technique for neatening and shaping the eyebrows but it can also be used to remove unwanted body hair on the jaw, cheeks, upper lip, neck, stomach and toes.
On this page
- How does threading work?
- Where can threading be used?
- 1. Eyebrow threading
- 2. Threading facial hair
- 3. Threading fine body hair
How does threading work?
Threading is a simple technique involving two pieces of cotton thread twisted together like a lasso. Although threading may not seem as glamorous or hi-tech as electrolysis or laser hair removal, it is still one of the safest, quickest, most precise and thorough forms of hair removal on the market.
Step by step threading instructions
Unless you've been trained in threading techniques, it can be difficult to understand exactly how threading works. To make the process a little more relaxing for you, we'll explain exactly how threading works in three simple steps:
Step 1 - Your beauty professional will take around 24 inches of strong, high-quality thread (the same type used for sewing). Both ends of the thread will be tied together to create a loop (or the stylist might hold the ends together in their mouth).
Step 2 - Your beauty professional will then wind the thread around their hands about 10 times so a twist appears in the middle. The twisted threads will then be held in two hands to form an 'X' shape like so:
Step 3 - They will then make a scissor motion with their fingers to control the twists and roll the threads over the brow area. The threads work by lassoing individual hairs, tightening and then pulling them out straight from the follicles.
Where can threading be used?
Threading is great for removing small 'trouble' hairs from places like the brow, chin, stomach and toes. Threading is not generally used on larger areas such as the legs or the bikini line because it can only pull out rows of hairs at a time. You are advised to try electrolysis or waxing for a more effective leg hair and bikini line removal.
Effective threading areas include:
Many of us wake up some mornings on an 'ugly', or 'fat' day and vow to have a major image overhaul. Some of us might head for the salon for a new haircut, some of us might splash out on a couple of new outfits and some of us might don the tracksuit for a gym session. Very few of us would make an immediate beeline for the brow bar. However, paying your eyebrows a little more attention could make a big difference to how you look and even how you feel.
To find out more about how eyebrows can add facial structure and neaten up the appearance of your face, please visit our page on Eyes and Brows.
Eyebrow threading is particularly quick and easy, making it a great lunch-break appointment or a pre-party impulse treat.
Many people opt for eyebrow threading over eyebrow waxing because it allows for greater precision and more accurate shaping. Whereas waxing requires the application of chemicals to the skin, threading is 100% natural - all it requires is two pieces of thread. Waxing is also thought to remove a thin top-layer of skin, whereas threading simply wraps around each individual hair and pulls from the root.
Female facial hair: the ultimate taboo. We're taught that it's a total turn-off, an indication of masculinity, a rejection of our womanhood and something to get rid of the second it surfaces. But we all have facial hair, whether it's fine and downy, or thick, dark and abundant. Facial hair is most commonly found on the upper lip and chin.
According to a survey of 1,000 women, 30% of women who had unwanted facial hair suffered from clinical depression. 25% believed their facial hair held them back in their careers and over 40% said it stopped them from forming romantic relationships1.
There are two options for women who have excessive facial hair: embrace it, or remove it. Many women do accept their facial hair and get on perfectly happily in life. Others choose to remove it either by plucking, waxing, electrolysis, laser removal or threading.
The great thing about threading is that it can target even the softest, downiest of hairs. Unlike tweezing, which can often break the hair before it's been removed completely from the follicle, threading doesn't usually cause the facial hairs to grow back any thicker or faster than usual. Women are generally advised to avoid shaving their facial hair as this will form a rough stubble. Threading will not produce stubble.
Are you a man thinking about threading your facial hair? Skip to Threading for men now.
As much as the media would like us to believe that all women are naturally silky smooth and free from body hair, it's really all a carefully constructed myth. All women normally have body hair. That includes chest hair, neck hair, tummy hair and even toe hair. Even if the hair is fine and fair, it is still there.
Some women do have more body hair than others. Excessive body hair is known as hirsutism and can occur for a number of reasons, including:
- excessive production of male hormone androgen
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- side-effect of certain medicines.
If you think your hair growth is abnormal, you are advised to consult your GP. Many hirsute women choose to remove their coverings of hair with threading. Threading can be used effectively on the following body parts:
- around the nipples (areola)
- 'snail trail' of hair between the pubic bone and navel
- neck hair
- nose hair
- toe and foot hair.
Understandably, many women find the idea of asking a beauty professional to thread their nipple hair a little daunting. If you do feel embarrassed, just remember two things:
- Just because we don't see beautiful models and celebrities flaunting their body hair, doesn't mean they never had any. Having a little extra body hair does not make you abnormal.
- Beauty professionals aren't there to judge - for them a bit of excess toe hair is just another day at the office.
Risks of threading
There are very few risks involved with threading. It's a tried and tested technique, having been used on women for thousands of years across many cultures and countries. However, as with every situation in which you entrust your welfare to another individual, threading does come with a slight risk:
- Threading pulls hair from the follicles, which can sometimes be painful.
- Any form of plucking can lead to folliculitis, a bacterial infection affecting the hair follicles.
- Threading may lead to changes in the skin pigment.
- Skin can become pink and puffy straight after treatment.
- Threading is only effective on flat parts of the body.
- Threading is not suitable on skin affected by acne. This is because the twisting of the thread can cause the acne to rupture, resulting in complications.
Benefits of threading
With all the hair removal options out there, how do you know which one to choose? Of course, the most logical way to discover the hair removal treatment most suited to you is to try all of them. After all - hair will always grow back eventually. If you've never tried threading before and wonder why you should try it if your other methods are successful, it's worth considering the following benefits:
- Unlike waxing, electrolysis and laser hair removal, threading is 100% eco-friendly. There'll be no toxic chemicals and no electricity, just two simple pieces of thread.
- Threading is inexpensive.
- The results of threading are long-lasting because hairs are pulled from the root rather than snapped.
- Threading causes minimal trauma to delicate facial tissue.
- The treatment process is quick and can be administered in just a few minutes.
- It is quicker than tweezing because it pulls multiple hairs at a time.
- Embraces and maintains ancient cultural tradition.
- Threading is very precise, allowing control for perfect shaping.
For many years the razor has been man's best friend. Now, that's all about to change as men shun the blade for regular trips to the beauty salon. A recent news report revealed a massive 66% increase in the number of male clients visiting UK beauty salons2, suggesting that the taboo around men's grooming is finally lifting.
Threading is used by many men to neaten hairlines, pluck nose hairs and remove mono-brows.
1Guardian, 'Women Facial Hair'
2Marie Claire, 'Men are Vainer than Ever'
This is where you can submit feedback about the content of this page.
We review feedback on a monthly basis.
Please note we are unable to provide any personal advice via this feedback form. If you do require further information or advice, please visit the homepage & use the search function to contact a professional directly.