Derm DMs: Does Shaving Really Make Hair Grow Thicker?

October 18, 2019
Genesis Rivas
By: Genesis Rivas | by L'Oréal
Derm DMs: Does Shaving Really Make Hair Grow Thicker?

From the time you first picked up a razor to shave your legs, you might have had someone (ahem, Mom) warn you about the potential dangers or mistakes of shaving. You’ve probably heard things like, shaving causes razor burns, shaving leads to ingrown hairs and perhaps the most notorious, shaving makes your hair grow back thicker. There seems to be this long-standing myth that shaving can make your hair grow back differently. To find out if there’s any truth to it, we consulted with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jason Miller of Schweiger Dermatology Group. Ahead, he’s doing some major myth-busting around how shaving really affects your hair growth. 

Does shaving make your hair grow back thicker?

To set the record straight, shaving does not make your hair grow back thicker. “Shaving only gives the appearance of thicker hair,” Dr. Miller explains. “Normal hair tapers at the end. As this thinner end is shaved off, the thicker base is left behind, making it look thicker.” Shaving also does not make your hair grow back faster. “There may be some relative increase in hair during the growing stage of your hair cycle versus the resting/shedding phases after shaving, but this does not actually result in hairs growing faster,” he adds.

So why do people believe shaving makes your hair grow back differently? 

“There are many urban legends regarding hair growth after shaving,” says Dr. Miller. “These most likely are due to the feeling of coarse hair after the thinner exposed end is shaved off.” He also mentions that “as hair grows back, it begins short, which is more coarse. As the hair continues to grow, it tapers and softens.” 

Are there any hair-removal methods that can help make the hair grow softer?

“No hair-removal methods have been shown to allow hair to regrow softer than what was removed,” says Dr. Miller. That said, while you can’t actually alter the thickness of your body hair, alternative methods to shaving such as waxing offer a more precise removal. As Dr. Miller mentioned, shaving only cuts off the softer, top part of your hair leaving behind the thicker base. Waxing normally pulls the entire hair from the follicle, which might help leave your skin feeling smoother for a longer period of time.

Are there any products or treatments that can help slow the growth of hair and/or make it feel softer? 

“Some studies have found that products containing aloe vera can help hair feel softer when applied topically,” explains Dr. Miller. We recommend trying the Kiehl’s Post Shave Repair Gel. While it’s advertised for men, it works great for anyone who shaves as it helps leave your skin feeling comfortable and refreshed thanks to its formula with aloe vera and squalane. 

What are some shaving tips that will give you a smooth and clean finish? 

If you do decide to stick to shaving as your preferred choice of hair removal, try some of the Dr. Miller’s tips and tricks for a clean finish. “I recommend shaving with the skin wet, ideally with a quality shaving cream or gel,” he says. You can also try shaving in the direction of the hair growth to minimize irritation. Whatever you choose to do, though, you can rest easy knowing that your hair will, in fact, not grow back thicker. 

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