Does Shaving Affect Hair Color or Growth?
Myth

Shaving hair makes it grow back darker and thicker.

Does Shaving Hair Make it Grow Back Fuller, Thicker, and Darker?

Shaving hair doesn’t affect color, or growth rate. “Live” hair follicles are under the skin; the hair that grows above the skin is dead hair. This is true for the scalp, as well as the rest of your body. This is also true for waxing and most other hair removal methods.[1][2][3][4]

hair and hair follicle

A graphic showing how the live hair follicle is far under your skin.

Hair growth and color are mostly determined by genetics and hair stylists, but general health affects growth rate; hair growth pills and lotions are another factoid for another day.

Trimming hair, and the way new hair grows back after shaving, can give the appearance of “fuller, thicker, darker” hair for a number of reasons. Also, hair grows back at different rates on different parts of your body.

Below we explore below the facts and myths related to shaving and hair growth and/or color.

FACT: Shaving won’t make hair grow back faster, but the right haircut can greatly increase the perception of thicker fuller hair. On the other side of things, laser hair removal treatments kill the hair follicles resulting in less hair growth.

Beauty Fact or Fiction: Does shaving make your hair grow back thicker (or faster?)

What Happens When We Shave?

When we shave we shave or cut off dead hair, not the live hair in the follicle; we do not change the hair’s rate or quality of growth by cutting or shaving it. This is true for all parts of the body that have hair.

If shaving or cutting hair could cause it to grown back thicker or darker, nobody would be bald unless they wanted to be. The only reason that we sometimes think that shaving or cutting hair makes it grow back thicker of darker is because people tend to jump to conclusions based on what they expect to see. People also tend to observe coincidences and assume a causal relationship where there is none.

Beauty Fact or Fiction: Does shaving make your hair grow back thicker (or faster?)

Why Does Hair Appear to Grow Back Differently?

Sometimes shaved hair seems to grow back thicker. As hair grows, it has a tapered tip. When hair is cut or shaved, that taper is cut off and we see the actual diameter of the hair. This may make it look thicker than the tapered ends of uncut hair. Short stubby hair also feels more rigid because short lengths of hair, rope, wire, or anything else feel more rigid than longer lengths.[3] In addition, normal growth, as well as side effects from medication, can cause hair to thicken. New hair growth may appear dark because it has not been subjected to the sun or chemicals such as chlorine in swimming pool water that may have changed the color of the rest of your body hair.

Does Shaving Make Hair Grow Back Thicker, Faster or More Coarse?.

What Happens When Hair Grows Back?

Hair that has been cut or shaved grows back exactly like the hair it replaces writes Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D. of The Mayo Clinic.[1] Side effects from medication, natural aging, or disease can change hair growth, but these causes have nothing to do with cutting or shaving the hair. Adolescents are expected to grow body hair, and older people often notice hair appearing in unexpected places. Again, this has nothing to do with hair being cut. Hair that has been waxed repeatedly or pulled out by the roots with tweezers may not grow back as thickly, but that is a different case.

Scientific Experiment Data

Dina Fine Maron reported in Scientific American that there is no scientific evidence to support the belief that hair grows back thicker or darker. She cited two studies on hair growth. In a 1928 study of four men who shaved a portion of their faces, 100 sample hairs cut from each man were measured after each shave. There was no difference between to old and new hair. She also mentioned a 1970 study in which subjects were asked to shave one leg and not the other. There was no difference in the width or rate of growth of their body hair.[2]

Sharp Ladies Shaving: Does shaving make my hair grow back thicker, darker & faster?.



Conclusion

We shave off dead hair, not the live hair in the follicle, so we do not change the hair’s rate or quality of growth by cutting or shaving it. Science and observation may lead people to different conclusions, but that is only because we are not always very accurate observers.


References

  1. Is it true that shaving unwanted body hair makes it grow back thicker and darker?“. Mayoclinic.org
  2. Fact or Fiction?: If You Shave (or Wax), Your Hair Will Come Back Thicker“. Scientificamerican.com
  3. The Big Shaving-Your-Legs Myth“. Webmd.com
  4. Hair follicle“. Wikipedia.org
  5. Laser hair removal“. Wikipedia.org


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