My first day of law school, I made an enemy. We were making nervous small talk before our first-ever class, and she starts going off about what a drag it is to be living in Pittsburgh again after her dreamy undergrad experience in New Yahk Citah. “It feels like there’s nothing going on here,” she complained. “Plus I can’t find anyplace to get my eyebrows threaded.”
This person sounded like a snob and a lunatic to me, because I had never heard of eyebrow threading, which I guess is no surprise because I was living in podunk PGH. When I was in undergrad, I joked that going home to New Jersey was “time travel” because trends on the East Coast take a few years to make it inland to PGH. I hope I didn’t sound as obnoxious as this chick.
Fast-forward to 2011, and Pittsburgh has a threading salon at the mall. [Yes, we still have malls here. Believe me about the time travel yet?]
As I recently mentioned, I hate plucking my eyebrows. I’m a pain baby, and as soon as I rip out one hair my eyes water, and doing precision work through a wall of tears is a challenge. Plus it seems like I can never find my good tweezers when I really need them.
So I’ve been thinking about getting my eyebrows threaded for a while, but I was reluctant to spend more than $0 on eyebrow-maintenance. Plus I was terrified they’d over-pluck and I’d have to draw on my eyebrows with a Sharpie like Drew Barrymore circa 1992.
I like my eyebrows in their natural shape. Just, you know, separated into two distinct brows and with clean edges.
But I’d let my eyebrows get really out of control recently, so with a little encouragement from my friend Megan (a New Yorker who is an old pro at having her eyebrows threaded and other cosmopolitan pastimes like Brunch and Being Groped on the Subway) I decided to give it a shot. I figured if even the results were disastrous, I’d have four months to let my brows grow back before our wedding.
Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about the growth rate of eyebrow hairs, because I’m pleased as a peach with the results. The experience, on the other hand, was so profoundly lame my first trip to the threading salon will probably be my last. [Well... until shortly before my wedding. The results really are great.]
When I arrived at the salon, before I could say “do you take walk-ins?” the Threading Technician asked, “First time?”
Do my eyebrows really look that messy? “Um, yeah.”
“Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. Take a seat. Now tilt your head back and pull your eyelid—OH MY GOD, what happened to you?”
“Um… oh, my scar? I just have a little scar through my eyebrow; hair doesn’t grow there. It’s ok, I like it.”
“How did you get it? It must have been gruesome.”
My face is gruesome? “I was two years old, playing ‘ring-around-the-rosie’ with my sister, and I hit the corner of a coffee table at ‘we all fall down.’ I don’t remember it but I still give my sister crap for it.”
“Sheesh, I would too.” Your sister ruined your face.
“No, really, I like it. I think it is distinctive.”
“Oh…kay. Well, I guess I’ll start with the other one.” At this point she started ripping hair out of my face.
When she moved on to my left brow, the scarred one, the Thread Tech piped up with, “You know they make brow makeup, right?”
“Sure, I just don’t feel the need to use it.”
“But with makeup your eyebrows could be even!”
“But I don’t want to cover up my scar.”
“But it wouldn’t take much makeup! Just a few strokes with a pencil. Or even a powder to darken it a bit. It would even out your whole face!”
“I think my face is ok uneven.”
“All right.” It’s your funeral, Scarface.
This backsass was definitely the worst part of the eyebrow threading experience, though. I was pleasantly surprised by how little it hurt. Each yank was about as painful as plucking a single hair, maybe less painful, but getting rid of dozens of hairs at once. Unfortunately, the amount my eyes watered increased in proportion with the amount of hair being removed in each pull. My face was so slippery with tears it was really difficult to hold my skin taut while she worked. But at least once the tears started flowing the brow architecture was someone else’s responsibility.
I don’t have the income to justify regular threading, or the self-esteem to withstand regular interaction with this particular salon employee. But like I said, I’ll probably do this again before the wedding. Even though it will make my already-embarrassing wedding beauty budget bulge a little bit more.
Has anyone else tried eyebrow threading? Anyone else get a tongue-lashing about their beauty failures at the salon?
March 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm
Funny you should mention it today, as I’m about to head out for my approx. quarterly eye-brow threading. I go to a place in the Indian part of town, where lovely ladies who never say more than “hold” and “let go” and “done” thread my eyebrows for $5 and it’s always perfect. Usually one giant tear falls out of each of my eyes when they are done.
Excuse my complete ignorance of Pittsburgh, but if you have any Indian or middle eastern communities, or even just salons, they usually do threading for cheap. One of my best friends who is from Iran can do it herself, which kinda boggles my mind.
March 19, 2011 at 2:12 pm
I have a scar like that too!! I haven’t noticed your scar at all in previous photos you’ve posted. Mine’s pretty small and a little higher up, and also from some kind of childhood accident. It’d be nice to be able to blame my sister for that one.
What Nina said. The history of my eyebrow maintenance is as follows:
- got them waxed professionally once (it wasn’t *that* bad, I thought…but over $20?!??)
- plucked them myself for a few years but got frustrated that I didn’t have enough hair growing the ‘right’ places as indicated in online tutorials
- went to one threading salon in Boston and then found a lady in Boston who did it out of her apartment, and then once I moved back to the NYC area, discovered that threading salons around here are ubiquitous and cheap ($6 for eyebrows, $4 for upper lip)
Mostly the Indian ladies at the salon I go to (free threading after 10 visits!) either don’t say anything except to tell me to hold and then ask me if I want aloe at the end. Once in awhile I’ll get a “hmm, haven’t been here in awhile, eh?” comment but luckily that’s about it. Oh yeah, and my eyes leak the whole time, but I’ve decided the temporary pain and low cost are worth it to get away with less daily primping in the morning.
March 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm
HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA! I am laughing so hard !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!YOU are HYSTERICAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ha!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!HA! I have only had my eyebrows done twice in my life. The last time was for Carries wedding…I was 54 years old. I was NOT going to have them done and the Lady Pluckers at the nail salon where I was having my nails done for Carries wedding ( I have only had my nails done three times in my life) were hysterical laughing at my mess of brows so they totally embarassed me into doing them with HOT WAX!!!!! It made me cry but they did look better!
March 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm
I have an eyebrow scar too, also from the corner of a coffee table when I was quite young. And I also rather like it. Intimidating salon ladies and their impertinent scolding; they are why I go to supercuts.
March 19, 2011 at 6:18 pm
As a natural Yetti who lacked funds to pay someone else to do this as a teen, I have been doing my own eyebrows for years. My technique has really improved, but I do let it go too long between waxing/plucking/trimmings.
March 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm
I’m a new reader of this blog and love it. Keep up the great writing – you are so funny and talented! As for the face hairs, I’ve never had my brows threaded – usually get them waxed or just let them grow kind of crazy and old man-ish. A few years ago I was getting an eyebrow wax and the wax lady and I got to talking. I mentioned I was going to be in a wedding the following weekend and needed to freshen things up. She touches my upper lip and says, “You don’t want anyone to see your whiskers, do you?” Needless to say I went for the lip wax too. Guess there’s no way to avoid salon backsass, but in any case I’m now inspired to try threading sometime!
March 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm
Oh, Robin, you make me laugh. We have an eyebrow threading place at our mall…except it’s in one of those booths in the middle! I don’t know that I would want everyone watching the show as they walked by. I also have a scar through one of my eyebrows…thanks to my brother who totally tripped me during a race through a furniture store and I flew into a chair leg (although he will tell you I tripped on a rug…it’s doubtful) I’ve had my brows waxed a few times and so far no one has mentioned it. I thought you handled it with more grace than she probably deserved.
March 20, 2011 at 3:05 am
Every time I get a manicure (which is every time I forget that I hate manicures because I can’t not touch things for long enough to not mess them up, thus rendering my $15 completely wasted), the lady in my salon says “JUST a manicure? Not any… waxing?” and then looks at my eyebrows like I have sea urchins strapped to my face.
I haven’t tried threading but I’m considering it, mostly because I am too lazy/lopsided to keep my brows in good order and waxing makes me break out. Although your description of flowing tears has not really convinced me.
March 20, 2011 at 9:16 am
I’ve never tried it but I really want to. This may have just decided me. I’m genetically ensured to have loads of extra hair.
(And I need to go get waxed, as well…sigh about moving and losing all the good people!)
I also heart that you like your scar. My one very significant and long-lasting body regret is that I don’t have more scars.
March 20, 2011 at 9:33 am
I’ve never had my eyebrows threaded, but I do receive tongue-lashings at salons fairly often, the worst of which went something like this:
Me: Please wax my legs.
Waxist: Okay. Do you want me to do your mustache also?
…I do not have a mustache. Or, I didn’t think I did until that.
March 20, 2011 at 8:57 pm
Oh dear, that sounds like something obnoxious I would say, ha! Because I’m super picky about my brows, they grow down and are bushy and overall kind of annoying to me.
I’ve been threaded, waxed, and tweezed, and have had many people, in and out of the salon, comment on my face or body. Recently I told my regular waxer that I only want my eyebrows plucked, and she told me they were too difficult to tweeze, so now I’m searching for someone else who will be tormented by my “difficult” brows and can do the threading. The things I go through for two short stretches of hair on my face.
PS: I think it’s awesome you love your scar.
March 21, 2011 at 7:36 am
@Kristen, the same thing happened to my coworker!
Robin, thanks for this post – hilarious and infuriating at the same time I haven’t done threading but have gone a few times to get my eyebrows waxed. I hate that we even care about this – but we do, or at least I do. Stupid society. I remember in high school my dad mentioning off-hand that models all seemed to have the same-shape eyebrows and aren’t genetics funny? And we had to tell him that they plucked/waxed, and he was shocked. People don’t even know this stuff exists! And yet, we (mostly women) spend so much time caring about and dealing with it.
Also, every time I go to the salon I feel self-conscious, especially since I wait so long between waxes. I feel like they MUST be judging me – how could they not? And it sucks to pay money to 1. feel crappy and 2. have someone hurt you.
March 21, 2011 at 9:14 am
I admit that eyebrow threading is pretty much the only girly maintenance I actually do. (Lazy.) Seriously, I’m sorry to hear you got that kinda sass–I’ve never had a bad experience at any of the places I’ve been and my eyebrows are hysterically asymmetrical.
March 25, 2011 at 4:47 am
Let someone play cats cradle on my face? No thanks.
I also have a small scar in my eyebrow from doing a faceplant on a table as a child, and while no salon worker (or make-up artist) has dared comment, I have had co-workers and acquaintances be rather rude in their assessment of my predicament. If it makes you feel any better, I also have a light birthmark on my neck that people always think is either a.) dirt, b.) a hickey or c.) a rash.