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An earlier Skeptics Stack Exchange question asks: If you shave or wax, will the hair grow back stronger or thicker?

However, I am interesting in a more specific claim: that shaving the head of an infant will lead to thicker and stronger hair later. For example, this is discussed at babycenter.com.

Does shaving of hairs of an infant really promote hair growth and better quality new hair?

The BMJ web-site reports an answer for adults, but I have been unable to follow the references to see if they are applicable to infants.

Many of the comments give reasons that the hair is dead and, hence, it does not matter whether you cut it or not, but I see there are many confounding variables e.g. the weight of hair may have some effect on the follicle. The weight reduction is more prominent in infants. Also, the pulling action affects the delicate hair follicle of infants.

  • I think this is a good question but you will fare better here if you demonstrate where the claim is being made by finding an example of where someone makes the claim and linking to it. – matt_black May 10 '14 at 10:23
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    Although not providing references is a "Taboo" here on skeptics, some claims are widespread enough to not require a reference, IMHO. Such as this one. Skeptics is about checking claims people believe in, people DO believe that cutting hair makes it thicker. – Hello World May 10 '14 at 10:31
  • One possible explanation of "Ever since cutting it, he's always had a beautiful head..." is the fact that the hair will look better after being trimmed. See my answer. – Hello World May 10 '14 at 10:53
  • Putting the question on hold while we decide if it is a duplicate. – Oddthinking May 10 '14 at 12:17
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    @Articuno: Ali seems to be speculating that there may be some, as yet identified, factor that makes the general case unable to be applied to this specific case, and therefore the general case should be treated with suspicion. Hence my conclusion that it would require an (IMO unlikely) specific study. – Oddthinking May 11 '14 at 7:48
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According to common sense, the hair is a dead cell with no nerves. The brain / body couldn't possibly know whether the hair is there or not. Therefore, the body cannot respond to trimming because it can never know it occured. That is unless you pull the root of the hair, which isn't what happens when shaving. So the answer is no, hair growth cannot be possibly affected by trimming.

However, your hair will look thicker, because like any other tissue, the tip of the hair gets weaker as it gets older. Weak hair tends to thin out, split, and generally looks unhealthy. By cutting the "old" tip of your hair you leave the healthier, younger portion, giving the impression that your hair has grown thicker.

That is an answer which based on common sense. But just in case, let us look at some references. It never hurts to get a second opinion. you will find hundreds of more sources supporting my claim by making a Google Search.

tojilife.com:

So, what it boils down to is that trimming your hair won't really make it grow back thicker. Instead, trimming your hair will just be making it appear to be a lot healthier.

lifehacker.com:

You might remember that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry decides to shave his chest despite warnings that it will grow back twice as thick. Although the myth proves to be true on television, it's very much false in the real world. If shaving caused hair to grow in much thicker, balding men would be shaving their heads for hair loss prevention. Children's health researcher Rachel C. Vreeman and assistant professor of pediatrics Aaron E. Carrol put this myth to rest: "Strong scientific evidence disproves these claims. As early as 1928, a clinical trial showed that shaving had no effect on hair growth. More recent studies confirm that shaving does not affect the thickness or rate of hair regrowth. In addition, shaving removes the dead portion of hair, not the living section lying below the skin's surface, so it is unlikely to affect the rate or type of growth. Shaved hair lacks the finer taper seen at the ends of unshaven hair, giving an impression of coarseness. Similarly, the new hair has not yet been lightened by the sun or other chemical exposures, resulting in an appearance that seems darker than existing hair."

MensHealth.uk:

In a word, no. It’s a myth that shaving makes hair grow back thicker, and it does not increase overall hair growth so that you get hairier – imagine how furry your face would be if it did. So where does this misconception come from? Well, the truth is that when you shave your chest the hair does tend to look thicker when it grows back. This is because shaving slices off the tips of the hair, leaving the ends blunt and more noticeable once re-growth occurs. You get an initial stubbly look, too, until the hairs are a few millimetres long.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • Even you have quoted only claims and not verified research study, actually measuring hair thickness in a longitudinal research study – skept101 May 10 '14 at 10:38
  • My lifehacker.com quote is based on research. Also, the matter is generic and doesn't seem to be different for infants/adults. – Hello World May 10 '14 at 10:41
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    @Ali Do you have a reference for the weight of the hair possibly having an effect on the follicle? – user5582 May 11 '14 at 5:52
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    @Ali: I don't like this idea of proving a negative. "There is no study regarding pianos on pluto, hence there's no answer whether that's true." – Hello World May 11 '14 at 6:54
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    Your answer must be supported by reputable references. We actually consider these sites sources of claims, certainly not sources of evidence. – Sklivvz Sep 2 '14 at 21:10

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