Know your medical facts from myths? There are a lot of old wives' tales out there. But where do they come from and what is the truth? This week, will that hair grow back thick if I shave it off?

What's the truth?

There are a few variations on this myth, with some people saying shaving also makes hair grow back darker, faster or coarser.

For the hirsute among us, who long to be smooth, but fear making matters worse, relax. It's all totally untrue. Multiple scientific studies have shown that shaving hair—anywhere on your body—has no effect on the way it grows back.

Medical myths: Shaving hair off
Illustration by David Humphries

 

Where did the myth come from?

It probably comes from the fact that when shaved hair begins to grow back, it lacks the natural fine taper at the end of the hair shaft that unshaved hair has, giving the impression of coarseness or thickness.

As for it making hair grow back darker, as the new hair has not yet been lightened by the sun it looks as though it's darker, but given time, it will lighten up slightly.

 

So there's nothing to worry about?

Not really. Shaving is an effective short-term solution to hairiness. Of course, it only provides smooth skin for a day or so before the regrowth begins to appear, so many people opt for waxing, although this is quite painful.

There are some new products on the market, such as Inhibitif, that can be bought over the counter. They are applied to newly shaved skin over several months and make the hair grow back even thinner and sparser than normal, to reduce shaving.

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