Shaving hair from our faces, legs, armpits, and other parts of the skin is a daily routine that millions if not billions of people follow.
However, many shavers around the world believe a pervasive myth about the practice: that hair grows back stronger or thicker after being razored off.
“That’s not been demonstrated to be so,” Kurt Stenn, a biologist who’s studied hair for more than 30 years, told Business Insider.
We asked Stenn about the notion during a video shoot, since he’s a hair follicle scientist who recently dove into the mechanics, evolution, culture, and history of the subject in the book “Hair: A Human History“.
Stenn said it’s easy to see why people believe the myth. When people shave their hair after a while, he said, the hair often feels very thin.
“But then they see the hair comes back thicker,” he added. “In fact the bottom portion of the hair shaft that’s shaved is already thicker.”
This thicker part of a hair follicle’s shaft is the first to emerge from shaved skin, giving the appearance and feel of thicker-growing hair. Yet this thick base naturally wears down into a thinner tip over time as the hair continues to grow.
However, there may be at least one interesting ramification of closely shaving your skin when it comes to hair growth.
“If you roughen it up, the hair will be stimulated to grow back,” he said, adding that it’s just not yet proven the hair grows back thicker.
“Scientists have tried to demonstrate, to test this idea, and some scientists claim that this occurs,” he said. “But usually the science is not very good. I don’t think it’s ever been demonstrated clearly that cutting or roughing your skin causes the hair to come back thicker — it comes back quicker.”
Like the rest of us, Stenn isn’t growing any younger and would love for this to be true.
If it were, he added: “Then balding should go away. It doesn’t.”
Watch the full video debunking the myth below.
Grace Raver contributed to this post.
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