Does shaving make hair grow back thicker?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 01, 2013

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A hairless pursuit has been followed since long to achieve aesthetic appreciation and hygiene. It is also associated with certain religious practices, armed forces certain competitions. Shaving head has also been used to humiliate when used as a form of punishment. Most recently, shaving head has been used to spread awareness and generate funds for cancer patients.

Oldest method of hair removal

Since time immemorial, humans have shaved their hair. Alexander the Great is known to have promoted shaving to his soldiers during his reign to avoid the ‘bear grabbing combat’. Shaving is the most common and probably the oldest method of removing hair.

Razors date back to the Bronze Age. Drawings in caves during prehistoric time have shown the use sharpened clam shells, shark teeth, flint etc as a form of razor to shave.

Studies prove zero hair quality issue upon shaving Despite its popularity, our grandmothers have passed on skepticism on shaving one’s hair. The general myth that shaving makes subsequent hair growth thicker and darker is widely prevalent. Many researchers have proved otherwise, one of the most significant being published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology in 1970. The effect of repeated shaving was observed in five men who shaved only one leg. No significant change in total weight of hair produced or the width and rate of growth could be ascribed to shaving, per se.

Why shaved hair appear thicker and harder?

  • Bluntness of shaved hair gives a thicker and darker appearance.

Hair near the root are thicker and darker, and those near the end are thinner. Shaving removes hair by slicing them down to the surface of the skin through a blade. Therefore, our hair is cut closer to the thicker root end, which creates shorter hair with sharper edge close to the skin’s surface. Similar is the case with other methods whereby the hair is removed from the surface; such as in the case of hair removal creams that give rise to a thicker and darker appearance of hair. Once the hair grows out, it appears softer again. This is in contrast with techniques whereby hair is removed from the root (waxing, threading etc). By virtue of such techniques, the new hair that grows from the root is thinner and appears softer from the beginning.

  • Coarseness of shave can also be attributed to ageing.
  • Newly grown may appear darker due its relative lack of exposure to sun.

Quality of hair depends on our genetic makeup. Internal factors such as the size of the follicle (which lies inside the skin) and melanocytes determine the thickness and colour of one’s hair, respectively. The living part of hair lies inside the skin-follicle; the part of hair that we see is a dead tissue, removal of which from outside cannot affect the basic nature of hair. Therefore, shaving cannot make the hair thicker and coarser.



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