Photo: Tom Fassbender (flickr)
A commonly held notion is that if you shave the hair on your head or any other part of your body, it will grow back thicker than before. But is there any truth to this idea?
Although to the naked eye a strand of hair appears to be of uniform thickness, under a microscope you’d see that it’s thickest at the base near the follicle and tapers to a fine point at the end. When you shave your hair or cut it very close to the scalp, you’re cutting off the thinnest part of each strand of hair. As the hair grows back, for a time it will look thicker and darker because all you see is the thickest part of each strand.
In other words, as the freshly shaved hair continues to grow, for a while you will literally have a head of thick hair. However, this does not mean that your scalp has suddenly produced more strands of hair — it just means that the strands you already have appear thicker because you are only seeing and feeling the thickest parts of the hairs near the skin. Your hair grows out, and in a few weeks it will appear no thicker than it ever has.
If you’re dying for a thick head of hair but don’t want to shave it off first, there are always hair thickening conditioners and shampoos. Be warned, though: those products don’t create new hair; they just coat hair with chemicals to make it appear temporarily thicker.