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Does Shaved Hair Grow Back Coarser?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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It is often said that if someone shaves hair, it will grow back coarser, darker, thicker and/or faster. This is not true, although it has persisted as an urban legend. Shaving the hair will never result in coarser hair. Many people, however, insist that as the hair starts to grow back, it feels more coarse or stubbly, which might be the source of this myth.

After a person has shaved hair and it has begun to grow back, it usually does feel prickly. This is because it is relatively short; the longer the hair grows, the softer it tends to become. Shaved hair also has a blunt tip, which makes it feel coarser or thicker, even though it is the same diameter that is was before it was shaved.

Women might recount how the hair on their legs before they shaved it was relatively soft, and that after shaving it regularly, it seemed to become hard and spiky. This is generally because once a woman begins shaving her legs, she doesn’t allow for the hair to get to the length where it would naturally soften. Instead, she continues to shave her legs on a regular basis, so the short hairs that are growing in do seem to be coarser.

The same is true for men when they first begin to shave their faces. After having shaved their facial hair, men notice that the new growth is stubble. If they keep shaving it each day, they'll likely notice that the hair that grows in tends to feel itchy. On the other hand, a man who decides to give up shaving to grow a beard or mustache usually finds that the hair gets past the stubbly phase and becomes smoother and softer the longer it is allowed to grow.

Some people contend that shaved hair comes back darker, and there might actually be a little truth to this, although it isn't because of shaving. As men and women age, their hair tends to darken. When they start shaving, the hair that grows in might actually be darker, especially after a long period of time. This is not caused by shaving, however, but by aging.

Also, if the hair typically is exposed, such as the hair on top of the head, sun exposure will lighten it somewhat. When new growth appears, it might seem darker than what had been there before. It actually could be darker, not because it is shaved hair, but because it hasn't had time to be exposed to the lightening effects of the sun.

Some people have the opposite concern about shaving or plucking hairs — they worry that removing gray hairs might result in more gray hairs. There are various adages about how "killing one gray hair means that others will come to its funeral," but these also are myths — the hair's aging process will not be affected by plucking gray hairs or by having shaved hair. If hair has begun graying, then having more gray hairs gradually show up is likely, no matter what is done to them.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Antome — On Jul 24, 2013

@rachelsjulia: I'd like shaving to really reinforce head hair. Does Reloxe really work? Even for male pattern baldness?

By rachelsjulia — On Jul 22, 2013

I've heard of that. Shaving your head can help to grow back coarser and can makes your hair thicker! I used Reloxe hair growth and it has worked for me!

By Antome — On May 31, 2013

@Post 30: Cool, so punky. But I think it's in line with the fact that shorter hair is by nature, stiffer and coarser. In fact, you said, "It was a number of years until I noticed it was more like the rest of the hair." Obviously at first it was harder to comb, as it was just more straight and less flexible. So it was just coarser when it was growing back. Even the second time you trimmed it.

@Post 31: This is curious, and it also happened to me. One time, out of vanity, I shaved the hair off my big toes and off the bridge of my feet. The hair grew back scraggly, but it also was that at that time I was an adolescent and only recently started to have that much hair on my feet, so I attribute it to "crazy androgens."

How long ago did you shave that toe? Are you sure all the hairs have been replaced and that those growing back scraggly aren't still the shaved ones? I mean, the new hair should grow back with a direction.

But this time you might be right and there might be some empirical truth to this myth, depending on your answer.

About your pubic hair, that you say have been curly and grew back smooth ever since the time you shaved, it still makes me wonder how long ago you shaved it off? But this time it's important more as to how old were you at that time, since you know hair changes in texture throughout life, especially during adolescence, and coincidentally, it is also the time when we accept ourselves less, or just are curious about our changing bodies, so that we often mess up with shaving.

An observation: why would a straight pube be less pleasing than curly? I mean it's just a different hair texture, plus it's just pubic hair. I don't think a girl would be specifically turned off by pubic hair and even less because of it being straight?

@Post 32: It's no wonder you thought your hair growth was strange. Even as a preteen or maybe because of that, that strange hair you didn't like and shaved off was probably already foreshadowing your naturally high hair potential. You saw this crazy yet soft hair in your preteens, out of the blue, but that was just the beginning. That is why you felt like shaving and that was also why your arm went so much hairier *after* you shaved, but probably not because you shaved. There is a subtle difference. Your 1 inch long black, curly hair sounds like nothing but the result of "crazy" hormones and androgens as a result of you growing up.

This quote says a lot: "I kept shaving and now it is on my shoulders too." As you were shaving the arms, what did the shoulder hair growth have to do with it?

By anon323607 — On Mar 06, 2013

I made the mistake of thinking the hair growth on my arms was strange as a pre-teen, so I shaved it. Now I have inch-long, black, curly hair. I kept shaving and now it is on my shoulders too.

I have worn long sleeve shirts for a very long time now, and am embarrassed to show my arms. Anyone who says that shaving doesn't affect hair color, length or thickness is wrong.

This has destroyed my life, and I would like to warn others that yes, shaving your arms will make you look like a gorilla later on in life. I now have hairy forearms with bald elbows and hairy shoulders.

Do not shave unless required by a doctor or tattoo artist.

By anon290545 — On Sep 10, 2012

Shaving does make it more coarse, but not more thick, if that makes any sense. For example, I once had the hair shaved from one of my big toes in an operation. The only difference between the hair on both is that the shaved one is more scraggly, i.e. goes in all directions, whereas the unshaven one moves mostly in one direction.

Further, I shaved my pubes region once (I'm a guy), and ever since, my natural curl disappeared. They used to curl considerably, but now they grow out straight, which is much less pleasing to the eye.

By anon289392 — On Sep 04, 2012

I do not agree. I shaved the sides of my head years ago and it was soft and easy to comb. It was long, and I kept it long on the top, then the sides grew back. They were more coarse.

I grew it long to catch up more with the top, and it was harder to comb through even after months. It was a number of years until I noticed it was more like the rest of the hair. Also, when I shaved my head with a bic razor later on, it came out darker.

By anon261018 — On Apr 13, 2012

@Post 1: The thicker, blunt hair will only grow so much for the remainder of the growth cycle hair spanned so far. Then it falls out and a brand new soft and tapered hair will grow back.

@Post2: How old was your brother? Hair texture changes slightly throughout entire life, depending on the race. "Mixed" races like the caucasian one, tend to change more, on average, especially those with in-between and mixed hair. I didn't shave my hair, but mine was curly until I was three years old, then smooth, then wavy, then mixed wavy-curly, now back to wavy and now starting to thin (I'm trying to address the issue, though but, I don't base my self esteem on it).

@Post 5: I also made the "patch test” on my left arms around two moles as reference points, after the stubbly phase, the patch is pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the hair and much like that of my right arm. I also did a patch test just above my navel zone with still dense but soft pre-terminal fuzz, taking into account there already were some coarser hairs similar to those on my lower abdomen, and in that location, the hair grew back pretty much the same.

You say you waited only "a few days later" to jump to the conclusion they got thicker and how old were you? Then, from how I read it, you started to trim them regularly from then on, so you practically messed up the criteria of your experiment, which should have involved waiting a few months to get over the irrelevant stubble phase. I shaved the patches frequently and for at least three weeks, instead.

@Post 6: Plucking may actually trigger a mechanism, depending on the person, of hair strengthening, but you have equal odds of damaging the hair matrix. It is possible, sine you are a male (and you say a young one) that hair there was under the effect of androgens and getting thicker, and you may have accelerated the process by plucking.

The same might have happened with the shaving of your legs. Are you sure your hair was still in the stubble phase? Mind that some male leg hair might have nearly a one-year cycle. But depending on your answer, I want to give you credit.

@Post 8: You are (were at the time) 13? Obviously it went from soft to thicker after, *but not because*, you shaved it. If you think about it, you felt the need to shave it because it was soft, yes, but longer and more visible than it was the year before. For the same reason, it is now thicker, but not because you shaved.

@Post 9: I will. Someone I know regrew his hair with a nettle infusion lotion. Sadly, a razor can't do it.

@Post 11: If we are not Asian or African, so our hair texture changes throughout our lives.

@Posts 14 and 15: Sun exposure is just one of the many factors in determining the hair color and texture. Before you shave, the tapered end is more keen to blur the hair location and also reflects the light, making them look lighter.

@Post 16: You did not only have to let the hair grow out, but also wait until it gets replaced, didn't you? Did the new hair also grow back thicker, faster, blacker as a whole, complete with a tapered end?

@Post 17: So say you trimmed your pubic hair outside the bikini borders (that sticks out) and you now grow longer hair at the borders of you pubic area than the center? It sounds strange to me that shaving can go as far as altering the hair growth phase, like minoxidil does? Why on the earth doesn't this work on the hair?

@Post 18: How old were you when you shaved those thighs, and did you ever let all the hair get replaced? Probably not, as girls, on average, shave at least one time a month, even in winter. I don't think many people are wrong, just misled.

@Post 19: How come you hair was blond, unless you have a blond complexion or were particularly young? Are you a male or female? There are too few details to prove this myth true, based on what you call experience.

@Post 24: Yes, old "virgin" hair getting kicked by hormones goes through a fast evolution and before you shave it you can see a good deal of his vellus, to light blond peach fuzz, to the last bits of pre-terminal stage. Once you shave, only the most mature part of evolving hair will show up.

@Post 25: How old were you? Do you shave regularly? I'm male, I never shaved my legs and they went from blonde at age 11 to dark and soft. From dark and soft when I was 13 to coarser, blacker and longer nonetheless, when I was 18. And I'm not overly hairy; even now at 25, I'm quite the opposite.

@Post 27: It will probably get back to normal once the hair gets replaced.

By anon256094 — On Mar 20, 2012

I cut and plucked my ear hair and it is much thicker now.

By anon235728 — On Dec 19, 2011

I had the side of my hand shaved for surgery and I thought I was imagining it, but the skin felt really stubbly after the cast came off. To my horror, I have very heavy, coarse hair on parts of my hand!

I plan to leave it alone, hoping it will naturally thin out, as I do have unusually fine body hair anyway.

Otherwise, it is very very noticeable and is going to make me self-conscious until I see a change in the growth pattern. Good health, all!

By anon209213 — On Aug 25, 2011

Hair does not grow back thicker. "...if it did, those going bald would be shaving afflicted areas to encourage regrowth of what they're losing."

In reality, new hair is sharp, blunt and obvious. I can't shave day after day or I rip my skin out and I don't need another staph infection scar getting in the razor's way. Over time it wears down. It's what hair does. It can't regenerate, after all (regrowing is not regenerating.)

On one of my legs, right? All my hair fell out because -- hell if I know -- but it is basically soft stubble on a whole side. It keeps growing but like a fifth the normal size. Everywhere else on my leg is normal. I shave my legs. This is the *exact* opposite of the effect I should be getting, if shaving made it thicker.

Shaving does make it more painful though. It's probably why you associate it.

By anon207542 — On Aug 20, 2011

It's stupid to say it's an urban legend! I had very fine, soft golden body hair on my legs and arms, and I shaved it off because I wanted to be smooth. Now I regret it more than anything I've ever done! It came back black and thick and so extremely long!

My dad and brother have the same coloured hair but they never shaved, so theirs is soft like mine was before shaving! It's no mere legend! Maybe it varies by person. You can't carry out one study and claim this while thousands of people have experiences to the contrary!

By anon195392 — On Jul 11, 2011

You are all comparing hair that has had 13-plus years to grow, to hair that has only been growing for a few weeks.

Obviously, after the very first time you shave your hair, it will come back different; it's common sense. The urban legend is that every time you shave your hair, it will come back thicker and darker, which is just a stupid thought.

I'm a guy and I shaved my legs when I was 14 years old, and when they grew back, the hairs were short dark and stubbly, but after 10 years of leaving them alone, and exposing them to sunlight, they aren't as dark, and are as soft as they have ever been.

By anon177680 — On May 19, 2011

Forget about shaving. Burning it off with chemicals is definitely the way to go.

By anon158989 — On Mar 09, 2011

According to a Mayo clinic doctor - it does not grow back thicker.

By anon157435 — On Mar 02, 2011

I'm so sick of people saying this is an urban legend. This is not an urban legend.

I use to have very fine, short, blonde hair on my arms and then I stupidly shaved it all off. The hair grew back ten times thicker, 10 times longer, and black.

Explain to me how I went from having fine, blonde hairs on my arms to having thick, black ones?

The only reason why I shaved them was because people kept saying it was an urban legend. Now I have to go through the rest of my life with ugly, hairy arms because I foolishly believed this.

By anon150198 — On Feb 07, 2011

I wish it wasn't true, but hair definitely will grow back darker and thicker, look at all the posts from real life experience to back it up. The same is true for me. i shaved an area that was all blonde hairs forever on my thighs, now it comes in much darker and thicker. How can all the people be wrong?

By anon150102 — On Feb 06, 2011

Yep, I have to agree with everything said below

As in this is not an urban legend. My pubic hair grew back much longer in areas which used to be shorter in relation to other areas, so now it looks disproportionate! I really want to somehow make it go back to its natural look. What can I do? I want the original length back.

By anon130018 — On Nov 26, 2010

I keep hearing this is an urban legend, but it can't be. I shaved a patch of hair as a test, and while my previous hair was nearly invisible and thin, this hair is much thicker, coarser, and dark black.

I let the hair grow out so it wasn't just an optical illusion. placing the two hairs next to each other, the second is very thick, sharp, black, and shiny/coarse. the previous hair is thin and soft, nearly transparent. the new black hair always grows black, it doesn't go back to thin. it does happen -- just not to everyone.

By anon128184 — On Nov 18, 2010

I'm guessing everyone shaving their belly got darker hair because your belly doesn't see as much light as your arm our leg hair. The only time you would have it in the sun would be in a bathing suit of skimpy shirt or something. Just my analysis.

By anon107225 — On Aug 29, 2010

The hair on your legs won't have exposure to the sun in winter time, therefore, it won't get lighter in color. the hair on my legs only grows about an inch long in a month or so, and I've been shaving for three years.

By anon94426 — On Jul 08, 2010

why did this happen to me? i used to have straight, long hair when i was a child, then i think they shaved it. now my hair's been spiky looking and i did grow it for 1 month or two but it's long, but afro spiky looking.

By anon88545 — On Jun 05, 2010

Hair does not grow back thicker, but when you have your first leg hair, pubic hair etc., the hair has been worn down by clothing. This makes it softer to the touch, so when you shave it, it's kind of like grass. the tip is blunt, and flat. it hasn't had a chance to be worn down by clothing, especially if you keep cutting it. Exactly what annon5115 said.

By anon73705 — On Mar 29, 2010

my age is 25 years old. I'm suffering very much about my hair loss. my friend told me to shave the head and then to check the growth. i shaved two times within five months, but still I'm losing my hair. there are no changes.

i don't want to go for any medical treatment.

tell me some advice about to grow my hair naturally.

By anon72348 — On Mar 22, 2010

i shaved the hair on my arms and legs. first what happens is that on your arms it is really soft before it grows back and on your legs it is kind of soft and kind of rough because it is growing back and it takes a couple of years for the hair on your arms to grow back. My friend did it and it grew back about six years later.

She is 13 and so am i but i don't know about the legs because i keep on shaving it so there is never any hair there. --Kallan

P.S. Never shave the hair on your belly.

By anon68508 — On Mar 02, 2010

There is not one rule for everyone. Darker hair - caused by aging would not be noticed due to the long color change time. My hair grew back much thicker after my first big beard; noticeably.

By anon60146 — On Jan 12, 2010

it's not an urban legend, it's a fact, at least in my case, that when you shave (body) hair it comes back thicker, darker and longer!

I also plucked some brown soft hairs on my belly to see them growing back: completely black, thicker and longer.

The hairs on my legs, after shaving in the summer, I just leave it alone during the winter, so they have time enough to become lighter and softer, but they don't.

The author of this article is just making hypotheses, based on unproven facts. The proof is in my own experience!

By anon58607 — On Jan 03, 2010

My short answer for this is 'Yes'.

The longer answer is more scientific:

Years ago (more than five), just for the heck of it i tried this experiment: i shaved off a patch of hair on my right arm (about 3" x 2"). A few days later and still up to this day, the once-shaved patch of hair on my right arm has hair strands thicker and curlier. I only shaved them once, but the change is still in effect.

I place my arms side by side right now and see the difference.

Since then I've kept it trimmed using scissors, actually I also trim my left arm (where that same patch of hair would have been if it was on the left); this suggests to me that the shaving effect is different from the scissor cutting effect.

Thanks for listening all, hope this helps (or starts people experimenting). -Jon from Ph

By anon55441 — On Dec 07, 2009

I shaved my head. I've had long hair all my life, like asian style curly hair, naturally. My older bro, when he was little shaved no zero. Then his hair grew back afro permanently, so how's that an urban legend?

i only did my shave and it's growing back very differently. I've always loved my hair all my life. Now i hate it! It's not the long soft type. It's been one month since i shaved it. Should i wait four months or so to see the original curly hair comes back?

I hate this hair because it doesn't suit me. I only shaved it for the summer tan (i'm in nz). please help! thanks.

By anon52036 — On Nov 11, 2009

Meyou1crew, you fail to realize that there is probably some connection between you first noticing the white hairs and it coming back thicker. It's likely that as the hairs began coming through, you shaved them, and they proceeded to grow out as they would have regardless of you shaving them. Hair doesn't have nerves. Any notion that they do is preposterous.

By Meyou1crew — On May 05, 2009

I must say as a young woman very self conscious about my body that *yes!* it does grow back much thicker. I used to have unnoticeable blonde hair on my stomach and only I noticed it because I analyze everything. My sister told me to shave it. So now guess what? Because I listened to her it is not only black but it is longer *and* thick. I really know for a fact that it's not a legend. This is true. Science out proves science all the time. So you are better off asking a woman who has shaven that unwanted hair on her body than some person who is going off some unproven facts.

By anon5115 — On Nov 13, 2007

What about the fact that virgin hair grows to a thin point and is therefore softer? Hair that is cut is actually "thicker" because it is not "pointy". The only way hair will naturally grow back pointy is to pluck it first.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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