The no BS guide to hair-removal myths

Posted by
Lucy Partington
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Does hair really grow back thicker and darker? Does shaving actually make your tan fade more quickly? We asked scientists the all-important questions to find out what’s true and what isn’t

Myths about hair removal have been rife for years, passed down from generation to generation. But with so much misinformation out there, it’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction, so we put the myths we’re constantly hearing to two people who spend their days working on the next best hair-removal innovations. Adam Boulding is scientific communications manager for Gillette Venus and Ben Wilson is an industrial designer for Braun. Here’s what they had to say…

The myth: hair grows back thicker after shaving

The fact: The biggest myth in the land of hair removal and it’s categorically not true. Shaving doesn’t make your hair grow back thicker, darker or faster. That’s something that’s predetermined by your genes. The act of shaving cuts hair at the skin’s surface and has absolutely no effect whatsoever on what’s happening below. But, by essentially slicing the hair in two, it may appear to grow back darker or thicker.

The myth: more blades on a razor can result in more cuts

The fact: Having more blades means shaving is actually more comfortable, so ditch the single blade razors and invest in five-blade technology. The pressure is spread out over a larger surface area, so not only will you have more control but there’s less chance of cuts or nicks.

The myth: shaving with hot water gives a longer-lasting result

The fact: This is semi-true – hair is, surprisingly, as strong as copper wire but it can be softened when it’s hydrated. It absorbs water and swells, making it flexible and more easy to cut. So, for the most effective shave, Boulding recommends letting the warm water from your bath or shower hydrate hair for a couple of minutes. You should also be able to shave in fewer strokes, meaning razor blades will stay sharper for longer. Bonus.

The myth: it hurts to epilate

The fact: Pain is subjective, so what one person says hurts a lot, another person won’t feel at all. But epilating removes hair at the root which, sadly, is never going to be pain-free. You can help reduce discomfort levels though by epilating in hot water (using a waterproof epilator). The more you epilate, the more you’ll get used to it, so eventually it’ll be less painful. We promise.

The myth: shaving makes your tan fade quicker

The fact: Partly true – if you wear fake tan, shaving will make it fade more quickly because you’re effectively getting rid of the top layer of skin. But if your tan is ‘natural’, as a result of sun exposure (make sure you’re always wearing SPF and avoid being in direct sun between 11am-3pm), shaving won’t affect it or make it fade any quicker than usual.

The myth: shower gel is a good substitute for shaving gel or foam

The fact: Not true – the internet has convinced us to use shower gel in place of shaving foam, but don’t do it. It dries out your skin. Shaving gel has lubricating ingredients that help razors glide over skin and moisturising agents that improve its quality and the moisture barrier function. They’re literally designed for the job. Shampoo and shower gel, however, are designed to clean, meaning they remove dirt, oil and grease. If you don’t have a shave gel or foam to hand, use conditioner as a one off – but don’t make it a habit!

The myth: men’s razors are far superior to women’s

The fact: Men’s razors used to be better – all the innovation used to be in men’s technology. But that’s not the case now: as far as Gillette and Venus razors go, male ones are designed for a man’s face, while female razors are designed completely for women. The blades are the only thing that is the same. Female razors have rounded edges, men’s are square, and the handles on women’s razors are longer so you can reach down to your ankles without too much effort. 

The myth: hair grows back thinner after epilating

The fact: This is true. Epilated hairs appear to grow back thinner because they start as ‘new hair’ – ie they’re pointed, thin and sharp so they can push through the upper layer of skin if they need to. 

Images: Getty Images/Instagram