If you’ve decided not to shave this November, or it’s quarantine and you have no reason to shave or keep yourself presentable. Doesn’t really matter, we don’t judge. It’s a somewhat common sentiment that shaving makes your hair grow back thicker or coarser. So if you’re planning on shaving your face, legs, or anything else in the near-distant future; does shaving make your hair grow back thicker?
Further Reading: What Is No-Shave November and What is Movember?
Growing Back Faster
There’s also the idea that shaving makes your hair grow back faster than it did before. Which, if you think about it for a hot second, doesn’t make a huge amount of sense.
Perhaps an easy explanation is when people start shaving. Simply put, shaving normally doesn’t enter one’s routine until they’ve hit puberty. While a lot of other changes to the body are going on under the hood, we’re looking mostly at growing for this post. While there are a lot of factors to growth spurts, the long short is that we typically grow a lot really quickly during our pubescent years. That’s where growing pains come from and all that. Here’s a fun fact, it seems that growth spurts are unique to humans among primates.
Same thing happens with hair. Not only do you start growing body hair during puberty, the speed at which it grows also accelerates over the course of puberty. Which means when you first start shaving, your hair is growing faster and faster each day. So, your hair probably, at some point in your life, did grow back faster after you shaved it. But not because you shaved it.
Correlation is not causation and all that.
Growing Back Thicker
The hair you grow during puberty also gets thicker over time. So there you go, you can apply similar logic to faster hair growth to the thickness of your hair.
Some of it may be due to color as well. New hairs are normally a bit darker than their pre-shaven counterparts, which can give the appearance of being thicker. You can thank the Sun for that, largely. Hair gets bleached over time when exposed to the elements, and hair that’s just started to grow out hasn’t been affected by the environment. Simple as that.
Not all hairs are made equally too. Some are thicker, some grow faster, etc. Generally speaking, hairs are thinner at their ends than they are at their roots too. When you shave your hair with a razor, you’re essentially equalizing everything. So you’ve effectively cut off the thinner part of the hairs you’ve shaved. On the topic of roots, waxing doesn’t seem to have any marked effect on hair growth either.
We’ve sort of tested this before. In 1970, 5 white dudes volunteered to only shave one leg once per week for several months. No statistically significant differences in hair width, coarseness, or growth speed were observed.
Why Do We Have to Change Razors so Often?
If you shave you have most definitely used a razor before. Given how it’s quite easy to cut through hairs, you may be curious as to why you have to change your razors more often than you might feel is right.
Turns out razors don’t just dull because the hair wears them out. There was a whole study from MIT on it. Obviously this kind of attrition would wear a blade out over time, but your hair is actually able to crack the blade. Once you get one small crack, it just keeps getting worse and these micro-cracks just accelerate the dulling process far faster than just losing an edge.
What’s more, the chips were more likely to occur if the blade and hair were not perpendicular. If the hair was bending around, the blade was more likely to be chipped.
Oh, also the less uniform in composition the razor blade was, the more likely it was to crack. Which is why people like to brag about that.
So now you know more about your hair. But what about hair on TV? Test yourself here.