For a long time, women have avoided shaving their facial and body hair, fearing the growth of thicker, denser hair. If we go by that logic, hair shaving should be considered a breakthrough treatment for androgenetic alopecia.
That begs the question, does shaving increase hair growth for real? It just sounds too good to be true. However, we need to find out if there’s even a smidgen of truth in it.
All those people who are losing their hair permanently would be all too happy to try out this “treatment.” To encourage thicker, denser hair growth, many men with pattern baldness shave their scalps. Now, we just have to find out whether all these efforts are going to go down the drain or end up successful.
You’d think that with so many people still confused about “does shaving increase hair growth?” they wouldn’t be shaving as much, right? That’s certainly not the case from the figures below.
How Often Do People Shave?
Well, how often people shave varies depending on the area of the body they’re grooming and the way they want to groom it.
Shaving Trends Among Women
In 2015, a survey by the British Association of Beauty Therapists and Cosmetology (BABTAC) of 2,061 women above the age of 18 showed that the armpit was the most shaven area of the body.
Women shaved their armpits three times a week on average, their legs twice a month and their bikini line after almost a month. While over half the women in the survey said that they didn’t care about body hair, 39% of them hated it.
A survey of 540 women by American Laser Centers also had some interesting insights, which are as follows:
- Almost two months of a woman’s life are spent on hair removal.
- Women shave 12 times per month on average.
- Shaving costs her $15.87 per month, but it adds up to $10,207 throughout her lifetime.
- 52% of the women leave the water running when shaving, and it takes them almost 11 minutes to shave. So, in her lifetime, she’ll end up using 420,652 gallons of water for hair shaving.
- Most women prefer shaving over waxing and depilatory hair removal creams.
So, needless to say, even if there’s a lot of pondering over the question, “does shaving increase hair growth?” many women are already doing it.
Shaving Trends Among Men
It’s not just the women, though. Mintel’s research showed that 46% of the males in the UK removed all their body hair. 57% of those between ages 16-24 said that they removed their pubic hair.
At the end of the day, how much you shave depends entirely on you.
Men who prefer a clean-shaven face may shave daily or every first or second day. If they want to grow stubble, they usually shave after every three days.
Hair does not grow at the same rate for every person. Moreover, your genetics can also play a part in determining how fast your hair grows back.
If the answer to “does shaving increase hair growth?” was yes, then the time duration between the two shaves would keep shrinking, so much so that men and women would be shaving their hair by the hour.
If we go by all the myths, some fundamental change in the anatomy of the hair follicle takes place when you shave. After all, they grow back ‘thicker and darker’. And yet, there’s nothing fundamentally/biologically transformative about shaving.
What Is Shaving?
Shaving involves the use of razors (disposable, electric, safety, cartridge, and straight razor) to remove the hair shafts visible above the surface of the skin. Using the right razor in the right way will ensure a smooth, close and safe shave for you.
Keep in mind that when you’re shaving your hair, you’re only removing the hair grown above the surface of the skin. So, the root remains intact, which is not the case in waxing. Therefore, shaving does not change the rate of growth, texture or colour of your hair.
Shaving The Right Way
Everyone’s skin is unique. Still, there are a few tips that can help you get a better shave. Also, so you don’t end up with ingrown hair, nicks, cuts or bumps.
Before shaving, make sure to wet your skin with warm water. Shaving right after a bath is also a good idea as your skin will be soft then. Make sure that your razor has a sharp, clean blade. This can cause nicks and cuts otherwise.
Apply the shaving lotion/gel/cream on your face and use short, gentle strokes to remove the hair in the direction in which it is growing. Once you’re done, wash your face with cool water and apply moisturizer.
Does Shaving Increase Hair Thickness?
In other hair removal methods, you will notice that the hair grows back differently. Take waxing, for instance; the hair grows back fine and sparse if you do it regularly and for a long time.
Now, you might say, ‘but my hair does grow back differently when I shave!’
The main reason why the hair appears different after shaving is because of the way they’re cut. It makes it look like it affected the thickness of the hair when nothing like that actually happens.
A closer look at a hair follicle might reveal a few things to you:
- it is thin, fine at the top &
- gradually increases in thickness as we go down the shaft.
What happens is that when you slice the shaft midway (above the skin), the thicker, coarser part comes at the top. The once tapered tip turns into a blunt tip.
It looks darker due to the exposure of the thicker area of the shaft. It may also look darker because it hasn’t yet been exposed to the sun, pollutants or other chemicals in body hygiene products.
When you shave, the hairs grow back faster while looking thicker and darker. However, as it continues to grow, it becomes tapered at the end, yet again due to wear.
There are different reasons why people end up believing these myths. A person with a lighter skin tone might notice the darker blunt end of the hair more after shaving. Moreover, the time a person begins shaving may coincide with puberty, which naturally makes hair thicker.
Does Shaving Increase Hair Growth?
The answer to “does shaving increase hair growth?” is no. Whether it is your head, body or facial hair, using a razor to shave will not impact its growth rate. Also, the hair will not grow back thicker.
Because you’re only removing the surface hair, shaving makes it grow back faster. You’re not plucking it out from the root, as happens in waxing.
In waxing, first, the hair is growing out of your sight, below the surface of the skin. It’s not visible to you for some time, making you think that it takes longer for hair to grow when it’s waxed.
Since none of these things happens when you shave, you will see the hair grow on your face soon after.
It doesn’t matter if you are shaving the hair on your head or other areas of the body. Hair removal with shaving works the same way.
Two significant studies have been made to dismiss these myths. Way back in 1928, a study published in Anatomical Record by Mildred Trotter showed that shaving did not make the hair grow faster, nor did it change its texture or colour.
Another research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology in 1970 showed that shaving did not affect the width of hair or rate of growth.
When you’re shaving your hair, you’re removing that part of the hair that’s already dead. So, their removal should not make them grow back faster or thicker.
Factors Affecting Hair Growth
Keep in mind that hair growth may differ in different areas of the body. Your armpit hair grows much more quickly than the hair on your legs. So, if you notice your armpit hair growing more quickly after shaving, don’t get alarmed.
In a similar vein, the hair on the scalp grows faster than the hair on the body. So, even if you shave them on the same day, your scalp will grow hair more quickly.
Other than that, males grow hair faster than women.
Your age also affects the hair growth rate. It grows fastest between the ages of 15-30 and is the slowest in newborns and older people.
Seasons also affect the rate of hair growth. You’ll probably grow hair faster in summer than in the winter season. So, the answer to “does shaving increase hair growth” is not that simple since many factors affect the hair growth cycle itself.
However, in and of itself, shaving has nothing to do with the hair growth cycle. It cannot accelerate or decelerate the process.
In A Nutshell
So, does shaving increase hair growth? No. There’s absolutely no scientific evidence backing up this myth. Research exposed the truth behind the myth almost a century ago.
If you have hair loss problems, you cannot expect your hair to grow back thicker, denser if you shave.
It even sounds counterintuitive; why would you shave something that you want to grow?
Shaving is no substitute for a beard or hair transplant as it can’t implant hair grafts in bald regions. If you have patchy facial hair or can’t grow any due to genetics or other reasons, you should consider getting a beard or moustache transplant.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.