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Does hair removal change how your hair grows? — Beauty myths busted!


We’ve all got unwanted hairs we want to get rid of, but what are the consequences of hair removal? Can plucking or shaving a hair make it grow back thicker or darker? We look at the truth behind these common beauty myths to explain what different hair removal methods really do to your body.

How to get rid of gray hairs safely

woman checks gray hair in mirror

Turning gray is a common sign of aging, but one that lots of people would rather delay! Let’s explore what causes gray hair, what happens if you pluck gray hair, and how to get rid of gray hair safely.

What makes hair turn gray?

Your hair turns gray when the pigment cells in our follicles die. These cells contain melanin, and that’s what gives our hair, eyes, and skin its color. Some people have more melanin than others. That might give them brown skin and eyes, and delay graying hair.

The rate at which we turn gray is decided by our genes. Some people don’t start to go gray until they’re in their 40s or 50s, while other people are completely gray by the time they leave high school. Occasionally, premature graying can be caused by another disease.

Vitiligo is a common medical condition that makes people lose melanin and changes the color of their hair and skin. B12 deficiency and some pituitary and thyroid complaints can also cause hair to turn gray. Some lifestyle factors might also play a part. Smoking is linked with premature graying, and exposure to UV light or some pollutants in the environment. But for most people, graying early is just the result of genetics.

What happens if you pluck gray hair

If you just have a few gray hairs, plucking them is the easiest way of making them disappear. But they will come back. Hair turns gray because the pigment cells in the follicle died, and nothing is going to revive them. That means the hair will regrow, and it will still be gray.

Plucking a gray hair won’t make the surrounding hairs turn gray. That can only happen when the pigment cells in those hair follicles also die. That could be soon after you notice the first gray hair, or it could be years down the line. So if you pluck one gray hair then a week later spot a dozen, it isn’t plucking to blame, but your genetics.

The only damage that plucking your gray hair can do is to the hair follicle itself. In some cases, the follicle can be so badly damaged that it doesn’t grow hair anymore. Win, right?! Except if you pluck lots of gray hairs to this point, you might suddenly notice your hair looks too thin. Once a follicle has been damaged so badly it stops growing hair, it’s almost impossible to fix it. Sometimes the follicle will heal, but it can take years. If the follicle has completely closed or scarred over, the damage is permanent.

How to remove gray hair safely

The safest way to get rid of gray hairs is to dye them. Using the right dyes can restore color while protecting your hair, giving you the look you want without causing long-term damage.

How to get rid of dark facial hair safely

woman uses home facial waxing strips

Unwanted facial hair is a problem that many women deal with. However there are ways to control and manage excess facial hair, without making the problem worse. Read on to learn more!

What causes dark facial hair?

Hirsutism, or having excessive hair, affects 5-10% of women. It’s usually caused by a hormone imbalance. Conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and adrenal gland disorders are common causes. Some medications can also cause hirsutism. The most common locations for this hair are around the chin and upper lip, but dark or thick hairs can appear almost anywhere.

There are treatments available to help manage hirsutism. Hormone blockers and birth control pills are common solutions. Doctors may also suggest losing weight, if necessary, as being overweight can change the way your body responds to hormones.

What happens if you pluck or shave dark facial hairs? 

Depending on the extent of unwanted hair growth, some people choose to pluck or shave their faces. Just like plucking gray hairs, taking the tweezers to a stray chin hair won’t increase their number. They may occasionally develop a condition known as pili multigemini, where multiple hairs grow from the same follicle. It's most often seen in beard hairs. Replucking a multi-hair follicle sometimes resolves the problem.

You might have heard that shaving facial hair makes it grow back thicker and darker. This isn’t true, although it may sometimes appear that way. When you shave hairs, you cut them very close to the skin. As they grow out, that cut edge becomes the tip of the new hair. Because it’s thicker and darker than a natural hair tip, it looks like the whole hair has thickened and darkened. Because of this, shaving might not be the best option if you want to remove lots of unwanted hair.

Waxing and sugaring are ways of removing large quantities of hair at the root. This reduces the appearance of darkening and thickening that can come with shaving. However many people find the process painful, and it can cause redness and rashes. Areas that are waxed are also more sensitive to UV light, so waxing your face can increase the risk of sunburn and skin cancer. Some people experience allergic reactions to waxing, so it’s important to test a small area first.

Whatever method you use to remove facial hair, it won’t cause additional hairs to grow, and it won’t make the hairs that are three any darker or thicker. However it can cause damage that makes the hair split, producing more strands from each follicle. This can make hairs more noticeable.

How to remove unwanted facial hair safely

The best way to remove facial hair so that it doesn’t come back is through electrolysis. This is the only method that can permanently remove hair. It does this by passing an electrical current through the follicle, destroying it. Electrolysis can take many sessions to completely remove hair, depending on its extent and thickness.

A semi-permanent alternative to electrolysis is laser hair removal. This is cheaper and less painful than electrolysis, but the removed hair will eventually grow back. Most laser treatments are completed in 2-4 months, and hair removal lasts 2 years or more.

Final thoughts

attractive smiling older woman

Whether it’s dark hairs on your face, or gray hairs on your head, we’ve all experienced unwanted hair growth from time to time. There are many ways to remove or cover the hair, depending on its extent, thickness, and your personal preferences.

Whatever method you use, you can forget some of the beauty myths you’ve been told. Plucking, shaving, or waxing hairs won’t turn more hair gray, and it won’t make more hair grow. So find the method of hair removal that works best for you, and say goodbye to unwanted hair (and beauty myths) for good!

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