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Does Shaved Hair Grow Back Faster?

Shaving hair off the skin has no impact on the rate of hair growth.
Shaving removes the ends of hair.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 March 2014
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There are a number of myths concerning the shaving or removal of body hair. One popular misconception is that shaved hair grows back faster or thicker afterwards. In reality, hair is little more than a waste material formed from excess protein and keratin, the same substance found in fingernails. It has no nerve endings, and no other way to signal a faster growth rate to the glands that excreted it. Hair grows at a specific and steady rate for each person, although there may be a slight increase during the summer season.

The act of shaving only removes the ends of the hairs at or slightly below skin level. The actual roots of the hair remain in the follicles or pores deeper in the skin. When hair that has been shaved begins to grow back at its normal rate, the first part of the hair to emerge is the former root, not a tapered shaft. Because the hair root is thicker than the hair that was removed, it appears thicker to the human eye. What makes it appear to grow faster is its darker appearance against bare skin.

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Soon after adolescent males begin to develop facial hair, many of them will shave it off quickly, believing the shaved hair will grow back thicker and faster. In some cases, there is actually some measurable growth in facial hair, but shaving is not the root cause. As more and more adult hormones are released into the adolescent's body, there is an increase in the number of active hair follicles. More facial hair appears, but it is not growing at a faster rate than any previous beard or mustache.

The same theory holds true for other body hair growth as well. Some people may have faster hair growth rates than others because of their diets or an inherited genetic factor, but the shaved hair itself has no control over that rate. Women who shave their legs often may experience a stubbly feeling as the coarse root hairs grow out, but they are not forcing more hairs to appear or causing them to grow back faster. Shaving armpit hairs, chest hairs, or pubic hairs also does not affect the actual rate of regrowth, but the skin irritation and itching as the hairs emerge may cause some people to notice those shaved areas a little more than usual.

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Discuss this Article

Antome
Post 16

@Post 7: About the pranked brother whose shaven hair in one hand grown back longer than that of the unshaven one.

And @Post3: About the hair growing faster in zones where it gets shaved more often.

If this is actually true it could be hypothesized that some people's bodies might perceive the hair being cut, especially if so close to the skin and with a blade, as an evolutionary leftover of an ancient defense reaction, where, as our "fur" gets damaged by an external agent, then the body makes up for it, growing up a stronger hair from the same follicles from which the hair is being cut. But only to a very limited extent, I think -- never to the point a girl might grow a beard or something similar by shaving.

The follicles themselves don't really know when they are being cut, because the hairs which are growing back long since they get shaved are unlikely to be the longer ones growing back to their max length. Most of the long body hair, when shaved, only grows for the remainder of the length it was supposed to grow in that cycle. The hairs that grow long are new hairs or hair which was very short at the moment of shaving.

Antome
Post 14

@Post 13: When shaved, the hair loses its tapered end and so it feels rough.

anon333456
Post 13

Everything I read says it doesn't grow back faster. However, I remember that when I first started shaving, my skin would be smooth for a week at a time. Now I have stubble by the end of the day. It certainly seems to me like it's growing a heck of a lot faster than it used to. How do they explain this if it's not actually growing faster?

kylee07drg
Post 11

@Perdido – It probably just seems thinner because the cream dissolves your hair a little bit beneath the skin's surface. This makes it a more effective hair removal than shaving, because you probably won't have to use it again for a week.

I got tired of having to shave my legs every other day to prevent stubble. Even if it wasn't thicker than before, it felt like it. So, I decided to try waxing.

Waxing rips your hair out by the roots, so it can take several weeks to grow back. When it does start to reemerge, it doesn't feel as thick as it does after you've gone a couple of days without shaving.

Perdido
Post 10

I used a hair removal cream, and when my leg hair grew back, it seemed to actually grow back a little thinner. Am I crazy, or is this true?

The cream breaks down my hair structure, so it basically dissolves and can be wiped off with a rag. I just wonder if this has any effect on the way the hair grows back. I know for sure that it doesn't make it grow back thicker, but I just wonder if it might have been the reason that my hair seemed thinner.

lighth0se33
Post 9

@Oceana – Some people get so happy after shaving their head hair and seeing thick stubble coming back in its place. It's not long before they realize that this was just the roots pushing up.

My brother started to go bald in his thirties. He had heard that shaving his head might make his hair thicken up when it grew back, so he tried it.

During the first week, all he saw was stubble, and he really believed it was working. Before long, though, he could see that the hair was just as thin as it had been before.

Oceana
Post 8

I never knew that the old root was actually what was growing after I shaved my legs. I guess this explains all that rough stubble!

I never really thought that my hair was growing thicker because I shaved, though. I just thought that since the hairs were really short, they were sturdier. Now I know that it's because they are actually composed of old hair roots.

anon273667
Post 7

One thing though. As a prank my brother shaved one of my hands when I was asleep. The hair on the back that hand is at least 1 inch longer than the other. If shaving does not stimulate hair growth, then how do you explain that?

anon244850
Post 6

I think it may be that the first time you shave, the hairs are cut and so they grow back a tiny bit thicker, but afterwards they will grow back at the same rate as when you first shaved them. Sorry if this makes barely any sense. It's 3 in the morning for me.

anon163146
Post 5

i am losing hair on my head, so am worried. a thought has come to me as if i use aftershave spice on my head it will open up pores and will increase my hair growth on my head.

this thought came up as i noticed after i shaved i used after shave spice and later discovered it increased the pores and there came more hair on my face to shave.

please tell me whether this is right to do.

anon128269
Post 4

This is kind of off topic but it has got to do with hair. I have been long wondering how the hell does the root know when to stop growing the hair e.g. when the eye brows have reached the average .5 cm it stops growing or lengthening. How does that happen?

anon118725
Post 3

I just thought it would be interesting to add this:

In some individuals, shaving over the course of many years will actually cause the hair to grow back faster. Take a man who has had some particular shape of a beard for 3-4 years (I do not know exactly what the minimum length of time has to be). So for 3-4 years, he has shaved certain areas of his face everyday, while others have been allowed to grow out. When he shaves his beard off after those 3-4 years, he will notice the hair where the beard was will grow substantially slower than where he was shaving everyday. This does not seem to happen with everyone, but I have examined it in 23 out of 26 cases.

Perforations
Post 2

@bigblind - My mom also used to tell me that hair grew back thicker with each full shave. She did however, give me an explanation. She said that when hair gets shaved, the hair follicles are stimulated and get increased blood flow and nutrients. According to her logic, that would then somehow make hair grow thicker. It is funny to think though that if that myth were true, I’d have hair that was impossibly thick. I would probably look like a broccoli.

bigblind
Post 1

This is funny! My mom always used to swear that shaving hair made it grow back thicker. I believed her for a long time about this because she swore it was true and I didn’t really have quite the impetus to investigate whether it was actually true or not. Only once I got to be around 18 did I realize that it didn’t really make any sense. I don’t remember what she told was the reason for shaving to cause thicker hair growth. I wonder if she was just messing with me or something. Either that, or it was literally an Old Wives Tale.

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