A question I sometimes get from patients is about shaving and the risks associated with shaving. One of the first questions I get asked is “Does shaving cause your hair to grow thicker?” and “Is shaving bad for your skin?”
Shaving is an effective and relatively cost-effective form of hair removal that removes hair temporarily just below the skins surface.
Does shaving cause your hair to grow thicker and and darker?
I was told growing up that shaving causes hair to grow back thicker (old wives tale). However – contrary to popular beliefs, this is NOT the case! Shaving and the effects on hair colour and thickness has been studied in the medical literature. Multiple studies have shown that shaving does not cause hair to grow back thicker.
Shaving gives the illusion of hair being thicker as when hair grows back, hair is thicker closer to the root.
Is shaving bad for the skin?
I typically recommend avoiding shaving if possible as shaving can produce skin irritation for some people. The skin can become irritated due to the cutting process of the blade, or the gels/creams that are used during the shaving process. Shaving may also lead to abrasions in the skin that may increase the risk of skin infections. It may also contribute to the spread of viral warts and a specific wart called Molluscum contagiosum.
So I often recommend to patients to try to avoid shaving, or reduce shaving, if possible – especially in sensitive areas!