I'll be honest. I used to totally believe that shaving makes hair grow back thicker. I remember mentally preparing myself before shaving for the first time because I thought if I started I could never stop because the hair on my legs would only be that much more obvious. And even now that I "know" that this is just a beauty myth, I still catch myself from time to time wondering if my hair really was that thick before I started shaving. To do away with the doubt once and for all, I decided to talk to a professional.
Spruce & Bond specialist Ashley Taylor told Bustle in an interview why exactly this myth might have come about: "Shaving does not make hair grow back thicker, it only appears that way. When shaving with a razor, the hair is cut at a blunt angle (whereas it grows naturally to a fine point), so it can look like it's thicker when growing back in." In other words, our eyes aren't really deceiving us. It's just that when hair grows back in, it lacks the illusion provided us by the tapered tip that was naturally there before we cut it off. So if we were to allow hair to grow back in (instead of constantly chopping off stubble), it shouldn't appear thicker than it did prior to shaving.
But what about darker? Even though hair doesn't actually grow back thicker after being shaved, it still grows back darker right? Taylor explains, "Similar to the misconception that shaving makes hair grow back thicker, the same answer can be said for whether it causes hair to grow back darker. It appears that way because...the hair is cut at a blunt angle as opposed to a fine point, so it can look like it's darker when growing back in."
OK, so if hair looks darker and thicker after shaving (even though it's not), what about after other forms of hair removal?
Taylor clarified that as long as the root of each hair is not affected by the removal process, hair will continue to grow back in the same way as shaving. So, for example, a depilatory cream will have the same effect as a razor on how hair appears as it grows back. If you want your hair to take longer to grow back, and potentially grow back thinner or lighter, longer-term options like waxing or laser hair-removal are key.
Taylor says, "Laser hair removal works by weakening and deadening the hair follicle, so that hair grows back finer and slower." So even though no sort of hair removal will actually make your hair grow back thicker or darker, if you do want it to grow back thinner, there are other options besides shaving to explore.
Images: Bianca Consunji/Bustle