Still, the myth lives on, even almost 100 years later. This may be due to the fact that hair regrowth after shaving often has a different appearance.
Learn why this is, how you can get a better shave, and what the real side effects of shaving can be.
Does shaving make hair grow faster or thicker?
Shaving your hair — no matter what part of your body — doesn’t mean the hair will grow back faster or thicker.
The roots of this myth may be tied to the fact that hair regrowth can look different at first.
Unshaven hair has a finer, blunter tip. When you experience hair regrowth, you’ll see the coarser base and not the softer, thinner part that will eventually grow back (if you let it get that far).
New hair may also look darker. This is partly due to its thickness, but it may also be because the new hair hasn’t yet been exposed to natural elements. Sun exposure, soaps, and other chemicals can all lighten your hair.
The dark shade of hair regrowth may also be more noticeable than you’re accustomed to. If you have lighter skin, you may notice new hairs even more. This all has to do with the color contrast. It isn’t attributed to the shaving process whatsoever.
However, shaving can still lead to side effects. These are most likely attributed to improper shaving techniques. Possible side effects include:
The hair growth cycle
To more effectively debunk this myth, it’s important to learn the stages of hair growth. It takes about 1 month for body hair to reach its full length. This is why body hair is so much shorter than the hair on your head.
Hair gets its start in hair follicles, which are located beneath the skin. Roots of your hairs are formed with the help of proteins and blood.
As hair forms from its roots, it passes through the follicles as well as sebaceous glands. Sebum (oil) produced in the glands help keep your hair lubricated as it grows longer. Once your hair exits the skin’s surface, its cells are no longer alive.
When you shave, you’re slicing off dead hair at the surface of the skin. Since shaving doesn’t remove hair under the skin like other hair removal methods do, it’s impossible for you to affect its color, thickness, or rate of growth.
How to shave properly
To set yourself up for a safe and proper shave, follow these steps:
- Wet your skin first.
- Apply a shaving gel or lotion to help protect your skin from nicks and cuts.
- Shave withthe direction of natural hair growth, not against.
- Avoid shaving too quickly or pressing the razor too hard against your skin.
- Use disposable razors or fresh blades. Dull razors can lead to irritation and cuts.
- Rinse your skin with cool water to reduce inflammation and irritation.
- Apply a moisturizer or aftershave lotion.
Whether you’re shaving your face, legs, or other parts of your body, there are tips to consider for each area to help you get the best results possible with fewer side effects.
When shaving your face, wash it first before applying shaving gel or cream. You can also use soap. Be sure to gently glide the razor against the skin in the direction that your hair grows.
Arms and legs
Your arms and legs are larger spaces that can have more curves, which may be prone to nicks and cuts.
When shaving your arms and legs, you can prevent ingrown hairs and pimples by exfoliating beforehand. You can use a light exfoliating shower gel, a loofah, or even a washcloth.
Armpit hair removal via shaving may require multiple passes because of the different directions that hair can grow in this part of the body.
For best results, shave both with and against the direction of hair growth. You can also glide the razor from side to side.
Shaving the groin area also takes special care to prevent ingrown hairs, cuts, and other signs of irritation. It’s best to use a new razor each time you shave this part of your body.
Also rinse off your razor with each stroke. Pubic hair is coarser. It may clog the blades more quickly.
Despite what you may have heard or read, shaving does not affect hair growth. Don’t let this age-old misconception stop you from your preferred grooming habits.
If shaving isn’t giving you the results you’re looking for, consider talking to a dermatologist about other hair removal options. They might recommend more permanent options, such as waxing or laser removal, depending on skin type, body part, and more.
Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN on December 4, 2019 New — Written by Kristeen Cherney, PhD "shaving does not affect the thickness or rate of hairgrowth" Healthline.com
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