Shaving promotes hair growth

Does hair grow faster after shaving?

Researchers have been investigating the question of whether shaving leads to increased hair growth for many decades. As early as 1928, four male test subjects took part in a study initiated by the anthropologist Mildred Trotter at Washington University, which was supposed to provide a definitive answer: Under strictly scientifically controlled wet shaving conditions (same movements, shaving soaps, blade marks and water temperature) they depilate Participants meticulously collected stubble in order to measure and compare 100 of them exactly after each shaving process [1]. In the end, the result was what always comes out in similar experiments: no indication that the beard grows stronger with each shave.

Thicker hair after shaving?

Not that the matter was shelved: Until recently, hair growth experts continued to test and test tirelessly. A study from 1970 is cited as just another example, for which five test persons "over a period of several months" regularly shaved only one of their legs (the other served as a negative control) [2]. With the usual result, of course: Shaved hair grows like unshaven hair.

Amy McMichael, the head of the dermatology department at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in the USA, thinks this shouldn't come as a surprise either. In addition to obvious biological reasons - the dead, back end of the hair is always cut - everyday experience also speaks against the idea. After all, none of the millions of women who have shaved their legs since puberty suffers from increasingly dense, regrowing body fur over the years. And no baldness has yet been stopped by shaving it preventively to strengthen it.

So the answer is so clear (in a nutshell: no!) That another question becomes the real one: Why do we so persistently believe that frequent shaving promotes hair growth?

On the one hand, this is due to a perception problem: "We're not really good observers," says McMichael. Perhaps the myth is occasionally reinforced by the meeting of desire, reality and hormones, which occurs in a group particularly affected: young men with a great longing for their first beard. With them, too, hair does not grow as a result of shaving, but over time. The increasingly dense fluff in the course of the hormonal changes caused by puberty could, however, be perceived as if the razor blade were helping here.

Otherwise, adds the dermatologist, the regrowing stubble of freshly shaved hair can actually appear a little thicker. This is because human hair ends up like pencils in a tip - if this is cut, we often see more of the thicker, darker cross-section of hair underneath. In addition, the short stubble protrudes straight out of its follicle and protrudes more strongly. Hair is also usually lighter with age and then less noticeable: the sun and chemicals bleach it a little. In any case, the hair does not grow faster or thicker after shaving, and individual hairs do not become thicker either.