The Answer Once And For All: Does Shaving Really Make Hair Come Back Thicker?

Let's face it — shaving is a tedious task for everyone. Whether you have a set shaving routine or banish your body hair on a whim, it tends to be a chore. The one saving grace may be our hair cycles. Naturally Curly reports that the average cycle for your body hair is between 30 to 45 days, meaning it stops growing at a certain point. This is why our body hair tends to stay relatively short. The process can be longer for your scalp hair, with a cycle of two to six years, which is why head hair can get so much longer.

Still, if you're someone who prefers removing your body hair, it needs a certain amount of attention and maintenance. And like any chore, there's a set of hacks, tips, and tricks that have popped up around shaving. One theory that always seems to hang around is that shaving your hair makes it come back thicker, whether on your body or your scalp. But is this true? Whether you're a minimal shaver or like everything baby-smooth, here's the real scoop on shaving and hair thickness.

Can shaving make your hair thicker?

While many rumors promise that shaving makes your hair grow back thicker, whether you want it to or not, the truth is a different story. According to Gillette Venus, this theory is false. The company explains that while shaving off your hair, you are not getting rid of the entire hair. The hair root and strand still exist underneath your skin. So when the strand grows out again, it's the same hair that you shaved previously.

Nair explains that you may think your regrown hair looks darker and thicker because it's growing from the root. When you shave, you cut close to the root, which is the thickest part of the hair. And when it starts to grow out, you first see this wide part of the hair emerging. In short, it's a temporary illusion. Your hair thickness is defined by the size of your natural hair follicles, which is decided by factors like hormones, genetics, and age (via 23andMe). But there's no science to back the belief that shaving affects the regrowth of your hair.

Dealing with unwanted body hair

Now that we know that shaving isn't to blame when it comes to thick, dark hair, it's time to deal with the hair we're given. If you have naturally thicker body hair, it can make you feel uncomfortable. But you can shave it without fear of regrowth coming back even darker or heavier. And when shaving isn't an option, there are other ways you can hide unwanted hair.

L'Oréal Paris recommends using a trusted self-tanner to help hide growing hair. Like with blemishes, self-tanner can conceal hair on your body in one quick sitting. The plus side to this option is that you are not only hiding hair but giving yourself a nice glow. Another option is blurring body lotion. Although less common, blurring body lotions can act in the same capacity as a blurring moisturizer. These lotions can help conceal or minimize the appearance of hair and can be a lifesaver if you find yourself with stubble and no way to shave.

If you are done with shaving and want a different long-lasting way of getting rid of hair, there are also other solutions. Philips recommends epilating as a mess-free alternative to shaving. While more expensive, epilating can give you two to three weeks of smooth skin. However, this alternative is also more uncomfortable as it entails an electric device with tiny discs that pull the hair follicle from its root. If you choose to epilate, you will want to take proper precautions before the procedure to avoid any ingrown hairs.