How Does Threading Compare to IPL for Facial Hair Removal?
Threading is a hair removal technique that has been used in Asia for thousands of years. Basically, the practitioner takes a piece of cotton thread and wraps it around each individual hair, yanking it out by the root. It’s usually done on facial hair — like the eyebrows or unsightly upper lip or chin hairs — mainly because doing it over your entire body would take hours and hours.
Threading has gained popularity outside of Asia in recent years, especially for eyebrow shaping. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of this hair removal method and compare it to at-home IPL treatment with devices like the Silk’n Flash&Go Pro or Infinity.
Advantages of threading
Because threading targets each individual hair, it’s super gentle on the skin around it. Compare that with waxing, which yanks out a bunch of hair at once, usually causing irritation to the skin. Threading, therefore, is a much gentler procedure than waxing and it’s considered a better hair removal method for very sensitive skin, like the skin around your eyes.
Threading is a great option for people who have breakouts in reaction to waxing. Because wax often comes packed with unknown ingredients and potential allergens, that’s a real concern for many individuals. It can also be used to clean up any hairs that are missed after a wax.
And speaking of missed hairs, threading is one of the most precise hair removal methods, because the practitioner is able to target each hair individuality. That’s why it’s so great for eyebrows, which usually require precise shaping.
Because threading pulls each hair out at the same time and to the same degree, people find that their hair grows back more evenly than with other hair removal methods. That means you don’t have to go in every single day and pick out strays that have popped up since your last appointment. (Although you’ll probably want to do on all-over shape-up about two weeks after your session.)
When it comes to cost, threading is a pretty affordable hair removal method! Depending on the salon and what they specialize in, you can count on paying between $10 and $40, plus tip, per session. And time-wise, it’s hard to argue with: Each brow-shaping appointment, for example, usually takes only about 15 minutes.
Disadvantages of threading
The same thing that makes threading great for removing facial hair makes it not so great for removing hair on other parts of your body: it’s super precise. While other hair removal methods, like waxing for example, get rid of a bunch of hairs at once, threading is one-by-one kind of deal. So, yeah, you’re probably not going to want to do it on your legs. Or your arms. Or your armpits. Or pretty much anywhere other than your face.
Treading is also not a permanent hair removal method, which means you should plan on scheduling recurring appointments. While it’s not an especially expensive treatment, it can certainly add up over time. And, it’s important to note, it’s not something you can ever do by yourself. You absolutely have to go to an aesthetician in order to get threaded.
Which brings us to the pain factor. While threading is generally considered a gentler treatment than a lot of hair removal methods, it’s certainly not pain-free. Remember: You’re pulling hair out by the root. Even in the hands of the most experience aesthetician, there’s going to be some pain.
And while threading can be done on most skin types, it’s not recommended for people with acne. Because you’re pulling the hair out, it’s possible that you could rupture and further infect your skin condition.
What is IPL & how does it work?
While threading, waxing, and plucking pulls hair out by the root and other methods, like shaving, cut it off at skin level, intense pulse light (IPL) is a revolutionary new hair removal method that aims a strong light at the hair follicle, damaging it and destroying it. Over a series of treatments with an at-home IPL device like the Silk’n Flash&Go PRO or Infinity, you can expect your hair to get thinner and, eventually, stop growing altogether.
The closest thing to at-home IPL treatment is laser hair removal, which most people are familiar with. But while laser hair removal costs hundreds of dollars per session and has to be done by a professional, IPL treatment can be done at home and only costs as much as the price of the device. Also, while both treatments use light, lasers use a narrow spectrum of light, while IPL uses a broader spectrum.
How does threading compare to IPL for facial hair removal?
IPL hair removal with the Silk’n Flash&Go PRO usually takes a few treatments, with a couple of weeks between each one. However, the time between each treatment increases every time you use the device. And after a sufficient number of treatments, you’ll never have to worry about unwanted facial hair again. In comparison, with threading you have to go back every few weeks, with no clear end in sight.
IPL can also be done at home, while threading has to be done in a salon, by an experienced aesthetician. Obviously, that means the costs are very different, as a lifetime of threading appointments will add up to potentially thousands of dollars. In comparison, a Silk’n IPL device is a one-time purchase of only a couple hundred dollars.
When it comes to pain, at-home IPL definitely has threading beat. Many people find that IPL comes with no pain at all, while some report a gentle stinging sensation. Plus, again, the fact that you don’t have to do it for the rest of your life means less pain over time.
And while threading can only be done on a small area — and really, it’s primarily meant for facial hair — IPL can be used on most parts of the body. It even works on fine, light colored body hairs.
But that brings us to the one definite advantage threading has over IPL: You can’t use IPL on your eyebrows. It’s really only meant for use below the cheekbones, because the intense light — if used improperly — could damage your eyes. So never use any light-based hair removal device around your eyes.
How to use an IPL device for facial hair removal
But even though you can’t use it on your eyebrows, you can use it on any other pesky facial hair! We’re talking mustache area. We’re talking chin hair. We’re talking anywhere else it’s bugging you. (Just, again, not eyebrows.)
First things first: Read all of the included instructions and information about your device. We know it’s not the most fun, but this is a serious tool and it’s important that you use it safely and to ensure you fully understand the correct way to use the device. We receive many calls from customers who think the device isn’t working, but when we review how they’ve been using it, it turns out they aren’t using their device correctly. So take the time to review your hair removal instructions.
You’ll also want to do a test before you treat an entire area. Pick an inconspicuous spot on your face and do a test pulse. IPL treatment is more effective at higher intensities than at lower intensities, so try a couple different levels and check on them 24 hours later to see how they look. If your skin is still irritated by that point, you know that intensity is too high for you.
Once you’ve figured out your ideal pulse intensity, shave the treatment area. You might be tempted to pluck instead but if you do, the treatment won’t be affected. That’s because the device uses the difference in color between the hair and the skin to determine where it should zap. When you pluck a hair, you pull the whole thing out. That means there’s nothing left for your Silk’n Flash&Go PRO to detect.
Then, get gliding! The Silk’n Flash&Go Pro has a wide treatment window, which means treating facial hair should only take a few minutes. But your skin will be extra sensitive once you’re done, so follow up with a quality moisturizer like the Silk’n Calm E Post-HPL Soothing Cream. It’ll calm down any redness and its vitamin E will give your newly hairless skin a silky-smooth feel. Also, be sure to use a high SPF sunscreen when you go out and avoid direct sunlight for a couple days after treatment. Your skin is extra sensitive, so treat it extra well!
For the first couple months, you’ll need to do a treatment every other week. After that, you can do it monthly. Most people need between six and eight months of treatment but have noticeably less hair after just two to four treatment sessions. The results are comparable to professionally administered, in-clinic laser procedures.
Try at home IPL facial hair removal today!
If you’re ready to try at-home IPL for facial removal, we recommend the Silk’n Flash&Go PRO. It’s our latest and greatest at-home hair removal device, featuring triggerless technology and our patented Home Pulse Light (HPL™) technology. Or try the Silk’n Infinity, featuring eHPL™ technology which uses pulses of light to permanently remove undesired hair growth without stubble, ingrown hairs, redness or other irritation.
All of our devices are Health Canada and FDA cleared, and our technology has been supported by clinical trials, and approved by dermatologists as a safe, easy, and effective at-home hair removal system.