Threading vs. Waxing Eyebrows: Pros and Cons

Waxing gets a thumbs down if you have sensitive skin.

Eyebrow threading
Tim Whitby for Getty

Eyebrows are having a big beauty moment, and the question is, which method is better to get and maintain the shape you want: threading or waxing

Waxing has been the go-to method of brow maintenance if you want it done by a professional, and many women get their brows waxed at thousands of salons across the country or they do it themselves at home. For some, it works wonderfully. They might get a little pink, but they have no real redness or soreness.

They love that they can get it done at the same salon where they get their hair cut or a pedicure and that someone who's been trained in the art can shape their brows to perfection pretty quickly.

Then there are those who are red and puffy for hours after getting their eyebrows waxed. It might even be painful if they have sensitive skin. It ends up being a fairly bad experience, regardless of the tech or wax that's used.

Threading, an ancient Indian method of hair removal, is growing in popularity. For those with sensitive skin who suffer from side effects of waxing, it might be a better choice. 

What's the Difference?

Waxing and threading both have the aim of removing the entire hair from the follicle, providing about four weeks' worth well-shaped brows with no strays. Threading uses a string to remove hair, while waxing involves placing a resin on the skin and then taking it off to banish strays and shape the brows.

Waxing: Pros and Cons

Waxing is quick and widely available at most hair and many nail salons. It's super quick and if you want a sharp, clean shape, it delivers. If you have bushy brows, waxing is a tried-and-true way to tame them. Waxing is likely to last awhile longer than threading. But waxing tugs at the skin when the hair is removed because it's placed right on it and then ripped off.

This can really irritate sensitive skin, making it turn pink to extremely red and possibly cause pain if the damage is serious enough. If you use any product that contains retinol around your eyes, you should not get your brows waxed. Also, if the brow stylist uses wax that is too hot, your skin can be not just irritated, but be burned, which causes extreme pain and scabbing that can take weeks to heal. Waxes contain resins, preservatives, and artificial fragrances, which can irritate sensitive skin. 

Threading: Pros and Cons

Threading gives you a more natural shape than waxing. This could be a positive or a negative depending on which shape you prefer. Threading has little to no contact with the skin, and if you do get a little pink from threading, it usually goes away within the hour. If you use anti-aging products around your eyes, you are likely to suffer irritation from waxing, which won't occur with threading. There's no chance of getting scorched with threading as there is with waxing. Since threading uses a string to remove strays around your brows, you won't suffer from any chemical or allergic reactions. Threading takes a bit longer than waxing; how much depends on your brows and the stylist.

Pain Quotient

Both threading and waxing cause pain, but which causes more is subjective and depends a lot on the stylist doing your brows. If you dread the pain of either of these methods, try rubbing on a numbing cream before you go to get your brows done.