We’re willing to try just about anything for shiny, strong hair. Some of us swear by an avocado hair mask, while others still snack on SugarBearHair vitamins (this is what happens when you follow all of Bachelor Nation on Instagram). So when we heard that the key to longer, healthier hair might be shaving it all off, it definitely piqued our interest.
Still, there's no shortage of hair myths out there, and as good journalists, we know never to take anything literally without consulting experts first. That's why we turned to hair industry pros Nick Arrojo and Emily Heser and asked, “Will you get longer, healthier hair if you shave your hair off?”
Meet the Expert
Keep reading to hear what they had to say and learn the truth about what really happens to hair post-shave.
To determine whether hair will grow back differently after shaving, we first have to understand how hair grows. It's actually pretty interesting stuff. You see, each hair on your head—and on your body, for that matter—is comprised of a shaft that extends above the skin's surface and a root that extends below it. At the root's base, a steady flow of blood generates the formation of new cells. These cells aggregate and harden, pushing upward and outward (i.e. grow) to form a strand of hair.
Still with us? Okay, now, when you shave your hair, you are only removing the hair shaft, not its root. “Whatever is done on the outside of the hair follicle as far as cutting or shaving does not affect new-hair growth,” says Heser. The belief that shaving your head will cause your hair to grow back stronger is just not true. “It’s an illusion,” she emphasizes. Arrojo adds that regardless of how you cut hair, it typically grows at the same rate—even if it doesn't seem like it—which, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) is a mere six inches per year (or approximately one centimeter per month). No wonder there are so many hair hacks to speed up the growth process.
So if shaving your head doesn't actually affect hair growth, then where did this idea come from? Arrojo explains, “When people see a person with a shaved head and then two weeks later see them with a non-shaved head, the dramatic difference can lead people into thinking that the hair must be growing faster than it was previously.” Also, after a full shave, hair grows back simultaneously, thereby creating blunt ends. The effect is hair that feels thicker and stronger—even if it's not. Heser adds, “The shorter the hair is, the easier it is to see each millimeter of growth.” Arrojo agrees: “Growing half an inch on a shaved head makes a huge difference; it is eye-catching and makes a genuine difference to one’s appearance.”
Also, if you’re starting from scratch and shaving all your hair off, the new hair that grows in will, of course, be healthier. But that isn’t because of the shaving. “The new hair that grows will be healthy because it’s brand-new. Cutting hair gives the opportunity to be good to it and keep it healthy during the grow-out process,” says Heser.
If there's anything to be learned by debunking this ill-founded theory it's that you should only shave off all your hair if you want that look. However, if healthier tresses are ultimately what you're after, the best solution doesn't have to be so extreme. Simply, keep up a hair routine with products that will treat and protect your hair from future damage. Check out Arrojo and Heser’s picks below.