One of the most common schools of thought associated with shaving is that it makes your hair grow back thicker and faster. And because of how our hair tends to grow back once we start shaving, it looks as though this thought may be true.
But is it, though? So often quoted by mothers across the globe to their pubescent children who were eager to begin shaving, the notion that taking a razor to your facial or body hair will thicken it is something most of us willingly accepted.
Keen to determine whether this concept was scientifically backed up or merely a myth, we did some research. The article below reveals our findings.
Will Shaving Make Your Hair Grow Back Thicker?
In a word, no. According to the Mayo Clinic, shaving hair on your face or body does not make it grow back darker, faster, or thicker.
Instead, what determines the hair thickness, color, and rate of growth is your genetics and your hormones to a degree, debunking the idea that shaving thickens your hair as one of the world’s greatest shaving myths.
A dermatologist will tell you that the thick hairs you end up with have nothing to do with your razor, trimmer, or clippers. When you shave, you cut the hair strand at the surface of the skin. The hair doesn’t end there, though; it continues past the surface into the dermis and the follicle. Therefore, you are not affecting the hair follicle when you shave, and since the hair grows from the follicle and not the surface of the skin, it remains the same thickness before and after you take a razor to it.
If you were to look under a microscope at a hair before and after shaving it, the diameter would measure the same.
Why Does Your Body and Facial Hair Appear Thicker After Shaving?
Now we have determined that shaving does not make your hair darker or thicker. But, the question is, why does it seem like it does?
When we let our hair grow out, whether it is body hair, pubic hair, or facial hair, the ends soften, become pointed, and often split or fray, making them seem thinner. We then trim down to a part of the hair shaft that is healthier when we shave. Doing this leaves a sharp, blunt end, which gives the impression that the hair is coarser.
You may find yourself wondering what happens when, as a teen, you shave for the first few times, and your peach fuzz ends up coming out thicker. Surely then shaving makes your hair thicker? Again the answer here is no.
As a teen going through puberty, your body begins to produce hormones, specifically Testosterone and Dihydrotestosterone. These hormones stimulate hair growth on both the face and other body parts in men, causing the new hair to grow thicker and darker.
Men typically start shaving when their facial hair begins to grow out thicker to keep it looking neat. It is not the other way around in that they have started shaving thinner, lighter hair and have subsequently ended up with thicker hair.
It is also important to remember that not all men go through puberty at the same age and that genetics will have us all developing at different rates. Many men experience this thicker hair growing in the pubic region, legs, and armpits long before it becomes apparent on the face.
Are There Forms of Hair Removal That Will Make Hair Appear Thinner?
Shaving will leave your hair feeling blunt and sharp. However, you can try a few other hair removal methods that eliminate the hair and the follicle together—removing both the hair and the follicle cause the hair to grow back finer and less dense.
Here are a few of the different methods you can try:
Waxing sees the removal of the hair and the hair follicle. This method makes use of sticky wax that is applied to the hair and skin. Once it has cooled, the wax is quickly removed, pulling the hair and its root from the skin.
Waxing can be used to remove all types of hair, from the soft vellus hair that covers the body and arms to thicker terminal hair that covers the head and pubic region.
Waxing, although painful, offers a few benefits. For example, hair regrowth takes approximately three to four weeks since the hair and its roots were removed. Shaving, on the other hand, will have hair regrowth in a day or so.
It is important to keep in mind that waxing can be painful, and it is not advised for those with sensitive skin. If done incorrectly, waxing can also lead to ingrown hairs. Beauty therapists always recommend that you use moisturizer after your wax to prevent the pores and follicles from clogging and forming rashes and ingrown hairs.
If you visit a dermatology center or beauty therapist, Electrolysis is one method of hair removal you can try. Electrolysis sees the use of a device that places a tiny needle into the follicle of the hair. There are two forms of Electrolysis you can try:
This method sees the needle deliver a chemical into the follicle, killing the hair and follicle.
Here, the needle delivers a small electrical current into the follicle, producing heat. The heat kills both the hair and follicle.
It is always best to get a professional to perform the procedure. Electrolysis is FDA approved and permanently removes your hair. You may experience some pain and tenderness to the skin during and after the process, but this doesn’t last long.
3. Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is a standard procedure done with lasers and is frequently used to remove unwanted hair.
The process sees the emission of light at different wavelengths and pulse lengths. Laser therapists run this laser over the skin, targeting hair at the follicles. This eliminates hair, but it does not prevent it from growing back, making this method more a hair reduction procedure than a permanent hair removal solution.
Laser hair removal requires at least four sessions, spaced between four and six weeks apart, to be effective. It is essential to keep in mind that lasers also target a pigment in the skin known as melanin. The lasers break down this pigment and, as a result, can only be used on fair skin.
Other side effects of laser hair removal include discomfort, redness, and swelling, although these effects usually disappear within a few hours after the treatment.
Suppose you plan on having laser hair removal. In that case, your dermatologist may want you to follow a few instructions, including keeping out of the sun, refraining from using other hair removal methods, and lightening your skin using specific skin care products.
How To Shave Properly
While the other forms of hair removal discussed above sound great when eliminating hair growth, they are somewhat extreme and relatively expensive.
Although a daily task for most men, shaving doesn’t take long and can leave you looking rather dapper when done correctly. And, now that we have ruled out the common misconception that shaving can cause hair to grow back thicker or affect how fast it grows, chances are you may want to opt for this method of hair removal instead.
So, here are a few tips to ensure you get the perfect shave every time:
- Wet your skin with warm (not hot) water first.
- Apply your favorite shaving gel or lotion to your skin for a smooth, even shave.
- Press the razor lightly to the skin. Pressing too hard will result in cuts, nicks, razor burn, and ingrown hairs.
- When shaving, shave first with the grain or natural direction of the hair. Doing this will prevent ingrown hairs and reduce sensitivity.
- Make sure you always use a clean, sharp blade. Rusty or dull blades lead to an uneven cut, nicks, scrapes, breakouts, and razor burn.
- When you’re done, rinse your face with cool water. This helps to close the pores, preventing breakouts, and it soothes any irritation and inflammation.
- Pat your face dry with a clean towel. Rubbing or scrubbing at your face will lead to inflammation, rashes, and ingrown hairs.
- Finally, apply a good-quality moisturizer or after-shave balm to your skin to keep your pores clear and your skin supple and free from dryness.
Practicing wellness and following a good skincare routine will ensure that your facial hair always looks impressive and keeps your hair soft and pliable.
While many men suffer from hair loss, having an excess of thick, dark hair is sometimes a challenge too. Often men with thicker hair tend to want to avoid shaving because of the common shaving myth that it thickens your hair further, opting instead for more extreme hair removal methods.
While laser hair removal and waxing may be fine for some, most of us would rather keep things simple and shave instead. And, now that we know that shaving does not cause hair to thicken, darken, or grow faster, it becomes a part of our grooming routine that we can enjoy even more.