Anju Treohan is celebrating the fifth anniversary of her eyebrow shaping salon, Anjuthreads, in midtown Philadelphia. The whole of the city flocks to Anju’s eyebrow gurus for celebrity eyebrow looks (hoping for the brows of Selena Gomez, Janelle Monae, Kate Middleton, Miranda Kerr, etc). Why? Because Anju shapes brows with the ancient technique of threading, practiced for thousands of years in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Threading is a temporary hair removal process that removes the hair from the root with a piece of thread, generally a cotton thread. The cotton thread is twisted into a loop and the twist is rolled over the skin and catches the hair in the twist and wound until its lifted from the skin.
Threading has taken the U.S. by storm in recent years but Anju was well ahead of the trend – bringing her passion of threading from India stateside. And everyone is jumping on the threading bandwagon because it really is the best thing you can do for your brows, compared to the painful alternatives of tweezing or waxing. As everyone becomes more infatuated with this ancient-turned-modern technique, we’ve gotten the pleasure to speak with Anju and learn a little about her, Anjuthreads and threading.Fair warning to all you tweezers and waxers: by the end of this interview, you’ll be a threading convert!
I: When and how did you get into threading?
I was first exposed to it when I was a teenager, while visiting India. I saw my cousins, sisters and other women in India getting threaded to remove the hair on their faces. I was like “wow, that’s neat.” Especially because threading wasn’t a big thing in the states at that time.
When I started my professional career, it was as an IT consultant (so not even close to threading salon owner). But I simultaneously began learning to thread on the side – more and more as I would go back to India. So, it wasn’t really a formal education, but it gradually evolved over the years. Then, I noticed that there weren’t really any threading salons in Philly. Add that to the fact that, despite how I liked the pace of the corporate world, I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do in the long term. A small business owner in an industry that I found fresh and interesting sounded like a win-win!
Yes! The salon is in midtown village in Philadelphia – the heart of the city (12th and Wanut) – a beautiful location. Our goal is to make sure that our clients feel that they are in a very clean, professional environment and comfortable enough to entrust us to pamper them and make them feel special. Since threading picked up, kiosks at malls and little pop-up areas in someone’s apartment have popped up. We are going for the exact opposite vibe. We want our clients to be in a spa-like relaxation, feel that they can ask questions about their eyebrows and really get a customized threading experience.
I: How does it compare to its eyebrow maintenance alternatives? Why threading over waxing or tweezing?
As far as the experience, I think it is a step ahead. Waxing can cause a lot of irritation, redness, maybe a burning feeling, and you may break out from it. Particularly if you are someone with sensitive skin, waxing may be a more painful process than you have to endure! (Like I always say, wax your body, thread your face!) And, tweezing can be a long, drawn-out process. Moreover, you can break the follicle of the hair – which will cause it to grow back as three hairs or so in the same spot. So, I’d say threading is the best of both worlds, taking all the pros of tweezing and waxing, without any of the cons.
The results last about the same length by all three processes, since you are pulling hair from the roots. The one big difference is that, with waxing you generally miss the little, fine hairs that you’d later see growing in. Threading, on the other hand, seems to last longer because the thread twist catches those fine little hairs too.
I: Tell us honestly, do most people find that it hurts? When we tried, we were so nervous that it would be painful. But, it was surprisingly painless and over in less time than waxing (without all the redness and leftover wax). How do most people find it?
Honestly, it’s hair removal from the root. So, chances are, you’re going to feel it. There are a lot of people that come in and say it doesn’t hurt. But some people are a little more sensitive. For most, it’s just a different feeling with threading all-together than waxing or tweezing. Either way, our professionals are extremely gentle and take their time.
I: Why threading at all? Where do you think its popularity comes from? Why do you think it hasn’t come up before? Is it today’s fad? Or do you think there’s longevity to it stateside?
I think its twofold. In the past decade, healthy living has become the trend. People are becoming more conscious about what they eat, skincare, natural living and beauty, etc. Even waxing technicians have attempted to utilize more natural products, to some extent. Threading has come along with that natural trend. Also, while eyebrow maintenance was once a relatively subtle affair, designers like Alexander Wang, Prada and Stella McCartney started sending models down the catwalk with big, bold eyebrows so eye-catching that they became as much of a talking point as the clothes themselves.
The technique itself has been around for centuries – once it’s caught on somewhere it’s largely stuck. So, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Hair isn’t going to stop growing and there will always be people that want hair removed but don’t want to deal with hot wax or time consuming tweezing.
I: Is there an ideal eyebrow? Most magazines show how you’re supposed to style your eyebrows by a certain angling? Is that it? Is there an eyebrow template that estheticians start with and base all client requests on?
There isn’t an ideal eyebrow. I think the eyebrow shapes change as you grow into different fazes in your life, or even as the seasons change, due to a certain personality differences or fashion trends. You can always make subtle differences to your look with just a slight change to the eyebrow shape. I personally like to change my eyebrows as the seasons change!
I: What’s next for you and for Anjuthreads?
It would always be wonderful to grow the brand. We are very dedicated to threading and I am always poking at ideas to see whether we can offer complimentary services or if it makes more sense to branch out into more locations across the city of Philadelphia. Everything is a possibility at this point. I don’t have a very clean vision of a concrete plan yet. Now that we’ve settled into our Walnut Street location for three years, and planted our roots here we’re very open to ideas for where to go from here. Any next step will be a big step, that we’d want to take very carefully. But, either way, we’re very passionate about it all.