The age-old hair removal method of eyebrow threading has become increasingly popular at beauty salons in recent years, with clients favouring the fact that threading is less invasive than waxing, but can provide the same results in terms of sculpting the eyebrows and the area around the eyes for cosmetic effect. However, while eyebrow threading appears to be safer than eyebrow waxing, it can be harmful if carried out by an inexperienced or incompetent beauty stylist, because threading the delicate and loose skin around the eyes involves a considerable amount of professional skill and training.
During an eyebrow threading procedure, twisted cotton thread is used to trap individual hair strands and remove them from the hair follicle, a process requiring both finesse and attention to detail. Typical errors include when individual hairs break as they are being pulled out, and when they are removed too forcefully or using poor technique, leaving tiny cuts and abrasions on the surface of the skin and uneven eyebrows. A poorly performed treatment may also leave the skin around the eyebrows swollen and red, while there is the further possibility of an allergic reaction to substances and any chemicals used during the threading process.
While eyebrow threading is generally considered to be a much safer procedure than eyebrow waxing, it is not without inherent risks, which mostly relate to hygiene standards at beauty salons. Eyebrow threading routinely causes small nicks in the skin when the thread pulls out unwanted hairs from the follicle, through which bacteria and viruses can enter the body, potentially causing bacterial skin infections and conditions including herpes, staph infections and folliculitis (see below).
Sanitation is key to preventing infections of this kind from being transmitted. Beauty salons must ensure that the cotton threads are clean and never reused on multiple clients. Therapists should wash their hands prior to an eyebrow threading treatment and wear a new set of disposable gloves during each procedure. Many practitioners keep one end of the thread in their mouth to stabilise it while threading the eyebrows, making it perfectly possible that an infection will be orally transmitted from the mouth to the thread and subsequently come into contact with a customer’s skin. Strict hygiene standards are therefore essential, and therapists should ideally not hold the thread between the teeth while carrying out a threading treatment.
Folliculitis is a common bacterial infection of the hair follicles which may result from unhygienic eyebrow threading. Symptoms of folliculitis include inflammation and swelling of the skin on one or both eyebrows, and itchy, red, pus-filled bumps (pustules) developing. While mild cases of folliculitis can be treated and cured within a week or two through a course of antibiotics, more serious cases that are left untreated can cause scarring and permanent hair loss. The potential severity of conditions like folliculitis highlight the importance of beauty salons maintaining strict hygiene standards in all aspects of the treatments they offer clients. Our solicitors have experience of compensation claims for infections caused by eyebrow threading and can advise on the legal consequences when poor hygiene at a salon has resulted in a client developing a bacterial infection.
Part of ensuring that an eyebrow threading treatment does not cause an injury or unpleasant after-effects is the right preparation and taking good care of the skin after the procedure. Eyebrow threading can cause skin irritation and rashes, leaving red itchy bumps in the eyebrow region. Poor technique can also leave minute cuts in the skin, which may later become infected if not properly treated. There are certain steps that a competent beauty therapist should take to minimise the risk of skin damage:
1) Ensure the skin on and around the eyebrows is properly prepared by bathing it in warm water using a hot towel or flannel for a few minutes. This will help soften the skin and make it less prone to irritation after the treatment.
2) After threading it is a good idea to wash the face in cold water to reduce redness and cool the skin down. If the treatment has left a rash, a cold compress (normally ice wrapped in a towel or flannel) can be applied to the eyebrow area to reduce pain and swelling. Ice should never be applied directly to irritated skin.
3) Aloe vera gel should also be used to soothe any skin irritation. Aloe vera softens the skin, boosts the circulation, and is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, meaning it serves a range of purposes when used to treat irritated or damaged skin.
These simple steps can help reduce the possibility of disfiguring skin damage following an eyebrow threading procedure. Beauty salons should provide professional pre-treatment preparation and aftercare to make sure that the risk of clients suffering skin damage is minimised. Injuries may be partly the result of poor preparation or aftercare, and this is an area in which a beauty therapist can be found to have acted incompetently and negligently.
Ms T booked an appointment for an eyebrow threading treatment at a new beauty salon in her local town, that a friend had recommended. She was attended to by a young beautician, who it later turned out, had very limited knowledge of eyebrow threading techniques. Ms T was left with mismatched, uneven eyebrows following the treatment, and also suffered five separate scratches and cuts, where the sharp thread had pierced her skin.
Ms T was deeply upset and humiliated by the incident, and the lack of response from the beauty salon after she had complained. She had booked the appointment as a treat in advance of her cousin’s wedding, which she was ultimately forced to miss due to self-consciousness over her appearance.
We agreed to represent Ms T on a no win no fee basis in a claim against the beauty salon, and contacted them, stating that Ms T’s injuries were a direct result of their failure to use reasonable care and skill when carrying out her eyebrow threading procedure. The lacerations and damage to Ms T’s skin were either caused by the beautician threading the hair too quickly, or applying to much pressure to the delicate skin in the process. The salon was at fault for allowing the beautician to carry out a procedure for which she lacked the necessary qualifications and experience. After a few weeks of correspondence, the beauty salon’s insurers accepted liability for Ms T’s injuries, and she later received £2,700 in compensation.