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5 min read

Does plucking or shaving make hair grow back thicker?

Does plucking or shaving make hair grow back thicker?

We’ve probably all heard someone say, at one point or another, that if you pluck a gray hair more will grow back in its place. But is this true? If you’re battling gray hairs and you pluck one, it certainly does seem like more of them are there the next time you look.

Or maybe you’ve heard that once you shave your legs or your face the hair will grow back thicker and darker. Let’s look into this topic a little more. If you pluck or shave a hair, do more grow back in its place or does it grow back thicker?

Start with the follicles

One of the most interesting facts about hair is that you are born with all of the hair follicles you’ll ever have. There’s nothing you can do to boost the number of follicles you have but, over time some of them may become clogged or damaged and no longer produce hairs. 

This means that you can’t have more follicles crop up just because you shaved or plucked a hair. The scary thing is that if you traumatize an area too much with excessive hair removal, you could damage the follicle and end up with bald patches where hair will not grow.

Look at stubble 

When did you start shaving your legs or face? For many people that grooming habit starts at about puberty. This certainly explains why you remember having fine and light-colored hairs before you started shaving, and now they grow out dark and coarse.

Another reason shaved hair seems to be thicker is the blunt end of a shaved hair is coarse whereas one that as grown out a big loses its rigidity and begins to thin toward the end so it’s less blunt.

One factor that may play into shaved hair appearing thicker is that it might seem just a bit darker. Having just burst through the skin, this infant's hair had not been exposed to chemicals, the air, sunlight and any number of things that can have a lightening effect.

Now that we’ve learned shaving hair doesn’t make it grow back thicker. What about plucking hair. Can plucking your hair make it come back thicker or does it cause more hairs to appear?

Pulling out by the root

First of all, let’s clarify that when you pull a hair out by its “root,” you’re not removing the follicle. This means that as soon as the hair is gone the cycle of hair growth begins again. 

However, constant pulling in some areas may cause permanent hair loss or damage to the follicle.

Does plucking make more hairs grow

Your instinct at this point is probably that this is not the case. And that’s the general consensus. Think about women who pluck their eyebrows or upper lips regularly—if their habitual plucking caused more hair to grow, they’d be waging a pretty fierce battle after a couple of years.

With that said, there was a hair plucking study published in 2015 that claimed that plucking a high density of hairs in a small area prompts more hairs to grow back. The news ran with this story, suggesting that scientists had found a cure for baldness. The problem? The study was done with mice. 

There is hope that this data can be translated to human use and they can isolate the trigger response to stimulate hair regeneration without having to pluck hairs. But this has not yet happened. So, as it stands, plucking hair in mice may cause more hairs to grow back, but in humans, we have not yet seen that response.

Final thoughts

Shaving sometimes makes it look like your hair is growing back thicker and darker, but this isn’t the case. The blunt tip of freshly shaved hair can give it the appearance of a thicker, darker hair. Also, people start to shave around puberty, when natural hormonal changes in your body hairs happen.

Plucking hair can cause more hairs to grow back, but only if you’re a laboratory mouse. This has still not been seen in humans. Although there is hope that what was learned in the mouse studies can be translated to help humans with pattern baldness or illnesses, like alopecia, where hair loss is a symptom.

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    At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

    Join our private Facebook Community for a safe, human-moderated space to share your Hair Journey, discover new natural beauty, and take steps towards becoming “you” with the help of an understanding, supportive community.

    Join now for instant access to livestreams, discussions, and exclusive access to new products!

    JOIN THE GROUP