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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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In Marketplace Commentary

Muniza Rizvi practicing her trade and her art.

In Marketplace Commentary

Hair which falls above the "beard proper" and needs to go.

In Marketplace Commentary

Note the clean line above the beard. Only minimal redness.

Beard threading works for burly guy


I've had a beard for many years and have always found the issue of beard maintenance to be a prickly one (pun intended). Maintaining the beard, for me, has often involved questions of whether and how often to get out the trimmer or the scissors (or the weedwhacker) and, always, what to do about that hair on the cheek?

This hair grows above what I like to call the "beard proper" and I feel it sometimes keeps me out of polite company with folks who find me a bit too woolly.

I had taken to plucking this cheek hair, like so many people do with their unwanted eyebrow hair. But frankly, plucking is a bit tedious. And for me it involves the same questions as trimming the beard proper and I have to pluck with greater frequency than I'd like.

Then a friend suggested hair threading, an ancient form of Indian and Persian hair removal that has recently become quite popular in the United States. I called Exquisite Threading at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa. I was told they do, indeed, thread beards.

Although skeptical about the method, it is just a soft cotton thread and not the usual sharp metal instruments that have always tackled my beard hair, and I admit to asking some tough questions of myself like, "Do burly men 'thread'?" It turns out, my preconceptions of hair threading were truly altered at Exquisite.

I was impressed by the diversity of the clientele. The day I went, I saw two or three white women but was surprised to see a white, teenage boy already in a chair getting his eyebrows threaded. There was another, older, man getting threaded in a chair on the opposite wall. I was told "American Idol" contestant Naima Adedapo had been in the day before, and a 20-something black woman was waiting for my professional hair threader Muniza Rizvi, as Rizvi talked to me about this ancient art.

Most Exquisite employees learned threading in other countries. Rizvi was initially taught in her native Pakistan and she has been threading for nine years and has honed her technique. Threaders place one end of the cotton string in their mouths, create a loop around three fingers in one hand, crossing the string at the end of the loop while holding the remaining string in their other hand.

"It's the same process, with a different angle for each hair location," says Rizvi.

It takes about 3-10 minutes for typical eyebrows, depending on the shaping to be done and the condition of the brow. "If people come in with messed up eyebrows it takes longer," Rizvi says.

"Messed up" brows are usually the result of over-zealous plucking or inaccurate waxing. Rizvi says most cosmetology schools in the U.S. only teach these waxing and plucking methods.

My threading experience lasted all of two minutes for each cheek. I felt a few stronger twinges on one side, where I must have had more hair and also, I was told, in-grown hairs from my own plucking. All in all, I only felt the slightest discomfort. Soothing witch hazel on a cotton swab follows the thread to the face, which I enjoyed.

"The benefit of threading is that it's chemical-free, no burning or swelling, and only some redness," says Murad Hamdan, manager of Exquisite Threading.

Unlike tweezing, threading can take out an entire row of hair at one time, making hair removal less time consuming and also resulting in a straighter line. And at just $11 for eyebrow shaping, it's fairly economical for a procedure that will last three or four weeks.

Anwer Khan opened the Mayfair Mall location in February 2008. He has five other locations, including one in Southridge Mall, Bayshore Town Center, Green Bay, Appleton and St. Louis, Mo.

It turns out my beard experience is not typical, but Exquisite obviously does trim up beards. However, 80-90 men get their eyebrows shaped at Exquisite's Mayfair location every week. With the 1,000 women who – according to Hamdan – stop in weekly for eyebrow shaping and other work, that's a brisk business.

Hair threading is regulated by the State of Wisconsin and Hamdan says all of Exquisite's employees are certified. Hamdan says they also train other licensed cosmetologists in the art of hair threading.

Exquisite provides other facial threading, including chin, forehead and upper lip at prices ranging from $6 to $40. Exquisite Threading offers henna temporary tattooing, eyelash extensions and will soon provide body waxing.


Talkbacks

Angeljames | May 23, 2011 at 8:54 a.m. (report)

This is not certified by the state, it is licensed. There is a big difference. All threaders are licensed barber & cosmetology practitioners. This is a personal service performed in an establishment, which is also licensed by the state, where we follow the laws and rules along with saftey and sanitation guidelines laid out by the state. The thread that is anchored in the mouth does not at any time touch the skin of the client. There are 3 methods of threading, but using the mouth to achor the thread is the most accurate. Waxing is unsanitary. Each time that stick gets dipped into the wax it should be a new stick, and 9 times out of 10 it's not. Imagine how long a pot of wax lasts, multiply that by how many customers get "double-dipped". With threading, the hair gets twisted up by the thread and pulled out from the root.

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Milly | April 30, 2011 at 9:43 a.m. (report)

No needles are used - it's a "tying off" off the tiny hairs. The part that goes in their mouths does not rub against your skin. This is described better in the article.

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mischa | April 30, 2011 at 8:58 a.m. (report)

How does the state certify the process when the thread is put in the technician's mouth before going into your skin? Isn't that like sharing needles? And, how does the thread do the job? Is a needle used? Is that shared between customers?

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