I’ve heard the rumor, and I’m sure you have too, that shaving unwanted body hair will make it grow back thicker, darker and/or coarser. If you’ve ever avoided shaving because you were afraid of making things worse, you’ve been mislead. The experts say that this is a medical myth, and that shaving has nothing to do with the growth patterns of hair.

Science Says

The debunking of this medical myth lies just beneath the skin, where actual hair production takes place. All of the decisions about what kind of hair will be growing takes place in the follicle, which lies completely out of sight. The portion of the hair shaft that you see is pushed above the skin, and shaving it off has no affect whatsoever on the hair follicle. Shaving doesn’t increase the number of follicles present, and doesn’t change the type of hair being produced. In other words, you can’t change the kind of hair that the follicle is pushing to the surface by simply shaving it off.

But it Really Looks Darker!

It’s true that when you first shave off hair, the hair that grows in its place sometimes looks darker, or feels more coarse to the touch. There are a couple of reasons why this happens:

  • Sun Bleaching: Hair that is exposed to the sun often, such as the hair on your arms, will become lighter as sunlight fades the pigment. When you shave this hair off, the hair that grows back hasn’t been bleached by the sun yet, and it will appear darker until it does.

  • A Blunt Tip: As the hair shaft grows out, the end becomes tapered, feeling softer and more fine. When you shave this end off, the shaft that is pushed through has a blunt tip where you cut it off. The hair will eventually be worn back to a tapered shape, but it may look and feel different until it does.

Where shaving can really make a difference is in the texture of your skin. Shaving can really irritate the skin for some people, and can cause a rash when the hair starts to grow back. Other options like waxing, bleaching, or laser hair removal treatments are great alternative options for those with sensitive skin.

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