What are the differences between waxing vs threading and which is better?
In this article:
What is waxing?
Waxing is the removal of hair using a resin or a wax to grab the hairs and pull them out entirely, from the root.
There are 2 kinds of wax – soft wax and hard wax. They both have different consistencies. Soft wax is more gooey, so you apply it and then remove it using wax strips. Hard wax, also called stripless wax is less gooey. With hard wax, you apply the wax, let it cool slightly and then remove it by gripping the edge of the wax and pulling away from the skin to remove the hair from the root.
Waxing is the most popular form of semi permanent hair removal in the world. Sugaring, epilating, and threading are all less popular but growing in demand and equally effective methods for removing hair semi permanently, from the root but without killing the follicle like laser hair removal.
Want to learn about waxing at home? Get started with our guide to at home waxing that covers the features of wax kits, how to pick a wax, and the top waxing kits available for anyone who wants to save money by waxing at home.
What is threading?
Threading uses a doubled up cotton or polyester thread to quickly tweeze and remove hair from the root. A tweezer removes a hair at a time, but threading can remove sections of hair with each pass of the thread. The doubled up thread is rolled over your skin, catches the hair, and pulls the hair out entirely.
The practice of threading originated in India and today is used all over the world primarily to remove facial hair or to shape eyebrows. People with sensitive skin prefer threading hair removal over waxing. Threading also allows for more precision with eyebrow shaping, especially you are looking for a more natural looking final result.
You can get your hair threaded by a professional at a salon. There are hair removal salons that are specialize in threading, and many brow shaping businesses offer at least one professional trained in threading.
You can also learn how to thread at home. There are two ways to threading – the traditional method of using a doubled up thread or via a threading machine that helps hold the the thread in the proper position. The machine is easier to use as a beginner, but the traditional method can also be learned easily.
Compare – Which lasts longer: waxing or threading?
Both waxing and threading are known as “semi permanent” hair removal. So what does that mean? Basically, it means it last longer than shaving but is not permanent like laser hair removal. Because each method removes hair from the root but does not kill the root, the hair will grow back.
So how long does waxing or threading last? On average, either method will last 2 weeks but it really depends on how fast your hair grows in general. Some people don’t see results for longer than 1 week, while others can go up to 3 weeks.
Another thing to remember that is that both waxing and threading need hairs to be a certain length before you can do a second hair removal session. So perhaps, you would know how long before you have to wax or thread again. Again it depends on how fast your hair
grows back in. But we can also look at the required lengths needed to wax or thread again:
To get good results with waxing, new hair should be about 1/ 4 of an inch. With threading, you need hairs to be between 1/ 8” and 1/ 4” before you can thread them successfully.
So theoretically, you could thread new hairs faster than you could wax them. But in reality, it’s hard to determine when your hair is only 1/ 8 instead of 1/ 4. However, if you were pressed for time and maybe needed to get your eyebrows cleaned up before an event or photographs, threading could be a better way to remove very short hairs.
Winner: No clear winner
Both threading and waxing remove hair from the root but use different methods. New hairs will grow back at your normal hair growth rate in a similar manner after removing with either method. Both will last the same amount of time before you have to do it again – about 2 weeks.
Compare – Cost
So is threading cheaper than waxing?
First, let’s take a look at the costs if you were getting a wax or threading at a professional salon.
For example, in California, it costs an average of $30 for an eyebrow wax. This can be a little more depending on your tip which is normally expected, but for this comparison we will just use this average.
To thread the same eyebrows, it would cost an average of $25 with an expected tip. So threading is a little cheaper than waxing when it comes to paying someone else to do for you.
Now let’s compare how much it would cost if you were going to do it yourself at home.
If you were using an 8oz container of Gigi wax which costs about $8 and can be used for up to 6-10 full body waxes, you might be spending pennies instead of dollars per eyebrow wax. Let’s average the number of full body waxes per container of Gigi wax to 8 total. So that is $1 per total body wax, and about $0.10 per eyebrow wax.
There is certainly no doubt waxing at home is cheaper than waxing at a salon. What about threading?
If you choose to thread at home using a spool of cotton thread which costs $5, you’ll be using maybe 2 feet of thread total. A spool of thread has 400 yards which equals 1200 feet. So doing the math, that means you could get 600 threadings sessions out of a spool and each threading at home would cost you $0.0083. Wow!
Alright, so maybe you have trouble holding the string properly for threading and need to use a threading machine. A threading machine will have a 1 time cost of about $20-30 and that is it! When you run out of thread, you can get a new spool like you would if you just used thread in our example above. So that is a 1 time cost of about $20, followed by $5 spool of thread that will last 600 uses! The per use cost would still end up being less than a penny!
Threading is definitely even cheaper than waxing, both if you got it done by a professional and if you did it at home. Threading at home will cost less than a penny per threading session!
Compare – Pain
When you remove hair with wax, you can apply wax in an area several inches wide and remove it in all at once with a wax removing strip or by using the hard wax method of gripping the edge of the wax to remove the wax and the hair.
This means, you experience whatever pain there is of removing many hairs, up to 30-40 hairs all at one time. You apply wax, and remove. It hurts but it hurts only once.
With threading, you are still removing more hairs than tweezing. Compared to waxing that removes hairs in patches, threading removes hairs in rows. Because threading removes hairs by trapping them in the twists of a thread and removing them, and because the direction of the thread determines which hairs are removed, the process lends itself to removing hairs in rows or lines. The lines are back and forth direction of how the thread is moved on the skin.
Threading still is a fairly quick process, but because the process involves removing hairs in rows instead of large patches, you’ll feel more hairs being pulling.
Waxing removes more hair with each pass of wax than threading removes with each pass of the thread. You feel more hairs being pulled with threading, so waxing can feel less painful than threading.
Compare – How long each takes
So does threading take longer than waxing? Yes, it can.
Because threading removes hair in rows or lines instead of large rectangular patches like waxing, threading a larger area can take longer than waxing. For example, a full face threading will take 15-20 minutes longer than a full face wax.
On the other hand, you can look at how long each method takes in a smaller area. For example, we can compare how long it might take to thread your eyebrows with how long it will take to wax your eyebrows. In a smaller area where you have to be careful about only removing certain hairs to create an eyebrow shape, threading and waxing can take very close to the same amount of time.
Now if we were thread vs wax a larger like your legs, waxing would clearly be faster than threading. A full leg is simply too large of an area to thread quickly to remove hair. You are definitely better off waxing your leg than attempting to thread the hair off.
Side note: We disregarded any prep that you might need for threading or waxing, like cleaning your skin of lotions and makeup or warming up your wax.
In a smaller area, waxing and threading will take the same amount of time, but as you get into larger areas, waxing is a much faster hair removal option than threading.
Compare – Skill needed
Is threading harder to learn? Is there a big learning curve to waxing? These are common questions.
Both waxing and threading remove hair in very different ways but with a similar end result – both get rid of the hair from the root.
There is certainly some practice needed to learn how to wax properly and actually pull the hair out instead of pulling halfway and breaking it. When you first learn how to wax, your first try or two might be awkward and you may end up breaking some hairs instead of pulling them out.
Threading also requires some practice to do well but there are less risks for mistakes because you are targeting less hairs with each pass of the thread than with wax. Wax is also somewhat difficult to get off if you apply it on the wrong place. Especially if you are threading in the traditional method with just a thread (instead of a threading machine), it takes some practice to learn how to hold the thread.
A threading machine can take some of the guesswork out of the learning process because it stretches out the thread so that you only have to pass it over your skin to the catch the hairs. You don’t have to worry about getting the angle and twists on the threads right.
Winner: No clear winner
Both threading and waxing take some practice to get right, and each have their pros and cons.
Compare – Convenience
Waxing involves a bit more prep and cleanup work than threading.
Because wax won’t grab your hair if your skin has makeup or lotions, you may need to clean your skin before you wax. You can do the same for threading but you do not have to. It is a good idea, though, to clean your skin before you thread because some people note that they break out if they do not remove makeup or skincare before they thread off hair.
You also will need to use a post wax treatment, from professionally formulated wax residue removers to a simple oil like jojoba to remove wax residue. With threading, you do not have this issue and once you have removed hair, you can carry on with your life.
Threading has less prep and post hair removal work than waxing and so may be a more convenient way to remove hair.
Summary – Waxing or threading?
There is no clear winner between waxing or threading, as they each can work better for you depending on your lifestyle or skincare needs and wants.
Threading is certainly a simpler process but requires some detail, skill, and practice to do well.
Waxing can remove more hair at a time and so is a faster process for larger areas. You may also find waxing easier to learn than threading.
Both are great options to pick from or you can use different methods for different parts of your body.