Does shaving make hair grow back thicker? Here's the lowdown

Let's break down what the science says about shaving and hair growing.

Written by
Stephanie Anderson
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 22, 2024
min read
Does shaving make hair grow back thicker? Here's the lowdown
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Have you ever casually mentioned to your family, friends or partner that you're concerned about noticeable hair loss? If so, it's likely that at some point you've heard the following: "Just shave it off! Shaving makes hair grow back thicker!"

But is that true? When you shave your hair, does it promote hair regrowth? Is it like a reset button that can stop your hair from thinning or balding? Well, let's talk about it. In this article, we'll break down what the science says about shaving and hair growing.

Does shaving make hair grow back thicker or faster?

Unfortunately, no. Shaving your facial or body hair does not make your hair grow thicker or faster [1]. It's a common misconception, but there's no truth to it. When you shave, you're cutting the hair off at the surface of the skin, which has no effect on the hair follicle or the rate of hair growth.

So where does the rumour come from, then? Well, the idea that hair grows back thicker or faster after shaving most likely comes from the fact that newly shaved hair has a blunt tip [2]. This can make your hair feel coarser and appear darker than the finer, tapered ends of unshaved hair, but sadly, it's essentially an optical illusion.

In reality, the thickness and rate of hair growth are determined by genetics and hormonal factors, and shaving has no impact on these underlying factors. If you notice that shaved hair appears darker or coarser, it's simply because you are seeing the cut, blunt end of the hair shaft, and that hair hasn't been lightened by sun exposure or chemicals yet. Over time, as the hair grows and tapers, it will regain its natural texture.

Is shaving your head good for hair growth?

Shaving hair is neither good nor bad when it comes to getting your hair to grow — it just is what it is, and it has no direct impact on hair growth [5].

The act of shaving with a razor only removes the hairs at the surface level, so it doesn't affect the hair follicles at the root or the rate at which hair grows.

If you're looking at your 5 o'clock shadow and wondering why it wouldn't work on your head, again, it's all about the optical illusion from the blunt tip of new hair growth. It may look thicker and darker, but science says that it's not an actual change in the hair's thickness or growth rate [3].

Hair growth is primarily influenced by genetics, age, hormones, and overall health [4]. If you're experiencing noticeable hair loss or are concerned about the condition of your hair, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional like the team at Pilot. They can help identify any underlying issues and provide guidance on potential treatments or strategies for restoring and maintaining healthy hair.

Are there any benefits to shaving your hair?

While shaving your hair may not help it grow back thicker or faster, there are still a few benefits that may make it something you'd like to pursue.

For example, there's no denying that maintaining a shaved head is convenient. With no styling or upkeep to worry about, it can save you time, money, and effort. Even better, it can eliminate anxieties around thinning, receding or balding hair and give you a sense of control over the situation.

It's also got the benefit of being cooler in the summer months (although you will have to remember the cardinal rule of "No hat, no play" that we all grew up with). And while we're talking about cool, a shaved head is a bold, classic look that many people would deem cool.

Admittedly, a lot of these benefits are quite subjective and a matter of personal preference. So, it's important to note that while shaving the head has its advantages, it's not going to be the right choice for everyone.

If shaving your head isn't something you want to embrace, then Pilot's affordable hair loss treatments might be for you.

Why does hair grow back faster in some areas after shaving?

We've established that shaving doesn't make your hair grow back thicker and darker, so why does it seem as though hair regrowth appears at different rates? Does the rate of hair regrowth change depending on the body part? Does body hair grow at a different rate than facial hair and the hair on your head? Why does it seem like unwanted body hair grows faster than the hair you actually want to grow?

Aside from the blunt ends of freshly shaved hair, which we've already established can change the texture and colour perception of hair regrowth, there are a few reasons it may appear that shaving makes hair grow back faster in certain areas.

Some reasons it may seem like shaving makes hair grow at different rates could be:

  1. Hair growth cycle: Hair grows in cycles, which means that not all follicles are in the same phase at the same time [6][8]. When you shave, you're cutting the hair at the skin's surface, and as different follicles enter the growth phase, it may appear as though shaving is making the hair grow back quickly in specific areas.
  2. Individual variation: Hair growth rates can vary between individuals and even in different areas of the body. Some areas may naturally have faster hair growth than others, but it's not specific to the shave, it's just the natural rate your hair grows on that part of your body [7].
  3. Hormonal factors: Hormones can influence hair growth patterns and hormonal changes can affect the rate and thickness of hair growth.

However, it's essential to recognise that shaving does not alter the actual growth rate of hair; it only affects the visible portion of the hair above the skin's surface. If you notice differences in hair growth rates in certain areas, it's most likely due to the factors mentioned above, rather than a direct effect of shaving.

What other factors affect hair growth?

If shaving has no impact on making hair grow back thicker or faster, what does? Well, there are several key factors that play a role in how your hair grows [9] and they'll vary from person to person. These include:

  • Genetics: Perhaps unfortunately, the most significant factor when it comes to hair growth is genetics. The rate and pattern of hair growth are largely determined by your family history.
  • Hormones: Hormones play a crucial role in hair growth, and changes to hormone levels, like when you hit puberty or if you have underlying medical conditions, can affect the way your hair grows.
  • Nutrition: A balanced diet that includes essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E, and biotin, is important for healthy hair growth. On the flip side, nutrient deficiencies can have a negative impact on hair, and contribute to hair loss and slower growth [6].
  • Stress: Physical or emotional stress can lead to telogen effluvium, where a higher percentage of hair follicles enter the resting phase and hair shedding increases [6].
  • Age: Hair growth tends to slow down with age, which can impact the rate at which your hair grows, as well as the thickness and texture of hair.
  • Medical conditions: Conditions like alopecia areata, thyroid disorders, and autoimmune diseases can affect hair growth. In this case, you'll need to treat the underlying condition first in order to help your hair grow back.
  • Medications: It's no secret that certain cancer treatments can cause hair loss, but some blood pressure medications and hormonal therapies can also cause hair loss, and/or changes to hair growth patterns.
  • Hair care practices: Heat styling, chemical treatments, and tight hairstyles can damage the hair shaft and contribute to breakage. Gentle hair care practices can help maintain healthier hair.
  • Environmental factors: Harsh environmental conditions like extreme heat, cold, or pollution, can impact the health of the hair and scalp.
  • Lifestyle factors: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption may negatively affect hair growth. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and adequate sleep, can positively influence overall health, including the health of the hair [6].

While some factors like genetics are beyond individual control, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and addressing underlying health issues can contribute to optimal hair growth and overall well-being.

However, if you're experiencing hair loss or noticing changes to your hair growth, there are options out there that can help your hair grow thicker and restore your confidence and peace of mind.

Recover your hair growth with Pilot

If hair loss, thinning hair or a receding hairline is getting you down, Pilot is here to help. Our clinical hair loss treatment was designed by some of the world's leading hair loss experts.

With all the proven ingredients to help your hair grow back thicker, and with the support of our licensed practitioners, you'll get the personalised treatment that's most effective for you.

How does it work? Well, your first step is to fill out our online quiz. Then, we’ll work with your information to get to the root cause of your hair loss, after which one of our doctors will match you with the best treatment option for you.

Then, Pilot’s hair loss treatment and Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner will support your hair regrowth goals. Developed with Aussie hair care experts, our thickening shampoo contains active ingredients to target thinning hair, minimise breakage and give your follicles the best chance to thrive.

With affordable prices and free and discreet delivery, what are you waiting for? Start your hair growth journey with Pilot today.

Image credit: Getty Images

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