By BARBARA THOMAS, For The Avon News

AVON – She has a fifth-degree black belt in karate, but there’s a much softer side to Nahid “Shihan” Farzinzad.

The Avon resident and native of Iran is the owner of Shihan’s Day Spa, whose mission is to improve and maintain skin health. From her relaxing studio at 304 W. Main St. in Avon, Farzinzad helps with that by doing facials and hair threading.

“I recommend that the threading be done before the facial,” she said. “It’s not just facial hair removal, but also exfoliating. You get the benefit of opening up the pores. The make-up foundation will then be more even.”

Threading is a centuries-old technique with origins in Arabia and South Asia that has been commonly practiced in Persia, the former name of Iran, she said. By using a piece of thread, hair can be swiftly removed from the face.

“I learned threading in Iran,” Farzinzad said.

Types of threading include eyebrow, lip, chin and the entire face for unclogging and tightening the pores and rejuvenating the skin.

The technique is a delicate one that can “become sharp,” she said. “You have to know what you’re doing.”

Unlike other methods of hair removal, such as waxing, threading does not remove and expose a layer of skin and is less invasive. Also, it allows more control.

“The skin is not red after, maybe a little pink, and you can feel the difference,” Farzinzad said. “It leaves the skin clean and smooth.”

A tug is felt during the threading, she said, “but clients get used to it, and it’s actually relaxing for some.”

One client, Audrey Byrnes of Canton, speaks highly of the procedure.

“Shihan has such discipline, she’s so calm and serene, that unless she speaks, I’m practically asleep,” she said.

Another customer said in a thank you letter that Shihan’s treatments had changed the texture of her skin and were “life-altering.”

Farzinzad is a professional facial threading expert, make-up artist and certified esthetician, and she has 19 years of experience in skincare. The services she offers include Japanese, European and deep-cleansing facials.

She opened her business in Wethersfield, where she and her family lived at the time, moving it to Avon last October.

“My passion for make-up started when I was young,” Farzinzad said. “I was the oldest of four girls, and my favorite game was putting make-up on my sisters. That game became my life career.”

She has come to be a specialist on sensitive and problem skin types.

“I look at everyone to see how their make up can be as unique as their personality,” Farzinzad said. “If there’s a skin problem, I try to fix it with natural products and threading.”

She recently introduced her own line of skin products that are all natural and cover the entire spectrum of skin types.

“I’ve always looked to have my own products,” she said.

Shihan’s line of products includes serums, creams, gels, ointments, foaming products, masks, cleansers, sun care and specialty skin and body care products.

Her oldest child, son Mohammad, 21, helped develop the products and is the sales manager. He also designed her logo and is working on their website.

Farzinzad and her husband, David, have another son, 14, and a daughter, 11.

He is the owner of Avon Vacuum and also teaches karate classes at Avon Congregational Church.

“We have three family businesses and we all support each other,” she said. “My husband is a very special man. Every day I learn something new from him. His karate experience, the discipline, helped him.”

Through David “Kaicho’s” (his karate title) classes, the Farzinzad family has made many family friends “and we’re very grateful for that,” his wife said.

Byrnes is one such friend who got to know the family by taking his karate classes.

“They have shared their experiences and hardships from living in Iran; that’s what has made them strong,” Byrnes said. “Their love for the U.S. is inspiring for those who take the country for granted.”

They came to the United States knowing no one when Mohammad was 3, Farzinzad said, living first in Manhattan and Queens, then New Jersey, back to Manhattan and eventually, Connecticut.

“My husband is half-Jewish and half-Muslim, so it was hard to stay in the country,” she said. “Here, there is no worry; people make us feel like home.”

Even though the rest of her family is still in Iran, Farzinzad said, “I don’t feel I want to go back.”

It was especially hard in Iran for women, who had to “stay at home and cook for the men and take care of the children,” she said. “Sometimes women were put in jail and were hit.”

Farzinzad was not a woman who was content with a stay-at-home role. She had an interest in karate, and in order to further pursue her black belt degrees, she traveled to Japan to study with Masutatsu (Mas) Oyama, the founder of Kyokushinkai Karate. She is one of only five women in the world to receive a third-degree black belt under his signature, which she earned in 1993, the year before his death.

“I went to Japan not just to show that I could earn the black belt, but also I fought to change the law for women to learn karate in Iran,” Farzinzad said.

She returned to Iran, married David and had her first son, “but it became so oppressive we had to leave.”

“It was hard to start over again here but my husband is more comfortable, and our kids are doing well in school and have other opportunities,” Farzinzad said. “I’ve never been as happy as I am in Avon. People are educated and so understanding.”

She eventually earned her fifth-degree black belt in karate, which gives her the title of Shihan; thus the name she goes by, and the name of her business.

For information on services provided at Shihan’s Day Spa, call (860) 678-0200 or visit her website,www.shihanfarzinzad.com.

Barbara Thomas can be reached by e-mail at bthomas@foothillsmediagroup.com. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/theavonnews and on the Web at www.theavonnewscom.