The beauty world is full of amazing advances and swoon-worthy products, but it’s also filled with a lot of confusing things. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate what’s a fact compared to what’s a myth. Sometimes myths are talked about so much that they wind up getting treated as facts. We’re here to straighten things out and make things easier. This week, we’re setting the record straight on one of the most talked about beauty questions: Does shaving really make your hair grow back thicker?
The myth: To cut to the chase, (pun intended) the answer is no. It’s in fact a myth. Frederick Holmes, Barber at NYC's Otis & Finn, explains, “This question stems from a myth that if you shave light hair, or ‘corn silk’ hair, the hair that grows back will be thicker and darker. The answer is no.”
How hair grows: To understand things fully, we need to think about the way hair naturally grows. Holmes states, “When hair grows, the hair grows out tapered and soft on the end of the hair shaft.”
The reason this myth persists has to do with the way hair gets cut when we shave. Holmes elaborates, “When the end of the hair shaft gets cut off, it blunts the hair, making it appear thicker, but really neither the diameter of the shaft nor the density of the hair has changed.”
Dr. Karyn Grossman, celebrity dermatologist and creator of the KARYNG Skincare line agrees. She writes, “Shaving your hair results in the end of the hair being cut. It does not affect the base of the hair follicle which is where the hair grows.”
What stubble really is: If you’re scratching your head about how thick and prickly your stubble feels after shaving, that rougher effect has to do with the way the hair is cut. Dr. Grossman states, “When people shave their hair it can feel stubblier, which then makes people think it is growing back more ‘thick.’ Naturally hair grows in a tapered point. When the hair is cut, or shaven, the end of the hair becomes squared off, making it seem coarser and more noticeable.”
How to avoid stubble: If stubble gets on your nerves as much as the actual hair, Holmes says that you can avoid stubble with waxing, tweezing, threading, or laser removal. He points out, “These methods have a tendency to damage the follicle roots and can cause the hair to not grow back.”
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