The act raises a few eyebrows.
It also shapes them.
It’s eyebrow threading, an ancient method of facial hair removal widely used in India and the Middle East that has gained popularity in the U.S.
You might have seen threading done at the kiosks at malls. It looks a bit like a fusion of flossing and a cat’s cradle string game.
One woman holds a long thread between her teeth, and uses rapid, rhythmic, almost-hypnotic movements of twisting the looped string over the face of another woman reclining in a chair.
“The first time it feels like, ‘Oh, my gosh, what’s she doing?’” said Manisha Thakker, a threader at the Brow Arc kiosk at the Alderwood mall. “She’s putting the thread in her mouth and it’s going on people’s face.”
Thakker used her hands to illustrate the twisting motion threaders use. First getting the hair stuck in the twist, then pulling the thread to remove the hair.
In about 10 minutes, the unwanted hairs are gone without the redness or rawness of waxing. Unlike tweezing, where single hairs are pulled out one at a time, threading also removes short rows of hair.
Thakker learned to thread in India, where she had a salon with a full range of cosmetology services before moving to the U.S. about 20 years ago. Here, her focus is threading.
She threads between 30 and 50 people a day at the mall kiosk. It costs about $15, with membership discounts and plans. A growing number of Washington salons do threading.
“In India, women like the threading better than anything else on their face,” she said. “It’s very clean, very precise. You can tell the difference between waxing shape and threading shape.”
Those who try it seem to like it.
“It looked interesting,” said Yah’leanah Lapham, 14. “I saw people who walked away with really nice looking eyebrows.”
The teen goes to the Alderwood Mall kiosk for threading every six to eight weeks.
“They do a really nice clean job,” she said. “They make it look really sharp. It’s nice and smooth. It feels like little tiny plucks. It’s cool. It doesn’t leave your skin all red or with bumps.”
Another threading convert, Precious Moreno, 20, added, “It’s not as prickly.”
The ease allows Blanca Martinez to have her kids with her at the mall when she gets her brows threaded. They often watch, fascinated. “I’ve been doing it for two years. It leaves a better shape than waxing,” she said.
Threaders use various techniques.
Thakker uses heavy-duty quilting thread that gets a mighty workout during each threading session. “It breaks about two or three times,” she said.
Threading is mainly used on small facial areas. Women are the mainstays, though guys occasionally get in her chair.
“Mostly for a cleaning on a wide eyebrow or beard line,” Thakker said.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; email@example.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.