Skin Care Myths: Plucking Hairs Makes Them Grow Back Thicker

Before Plucking

Before

After Plucking

After

You can’t catch a cold from going outside without a jacket, and hairs don’t grow back thicker after you pluck them. I swear.

In fact, repeatedly plucking hairs can scar the follicle, which over time can lead to permanent loss of that hair. It is actually a very inexpensive way to remove unwanted hairs.

Waxing, threading, and plucking hairs are essentially the same thing; the hairs usually will grow back (unless you perform this repeatedly over a long period of time).

Electrolysis and laser hair removal, in contrast, destroy the hair follicle. Most of these hairs will not grow back and repeated treatment will lead to permanent hair removal.

If you pluck your hairs:

  1. Start with good, clean slanted or straight tweezers. Be sure the edges are sharp, not damaged.
  2. Pluck in the direction that the hair grows.
  3. Grab and pull the hair out in one quick motion.
  4. Pluck only one hair at a time.
  5. Repeat.
  6. Repeat again.

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57 thoughts on “Skin Care Myths: Plucking Hairs Makes Them Grow Back Thicker

  1. P.S. I respectfully disagree with this post.

    My experience is anything waxed comes back in soft and anything tweezed comes in hard and then continually grows back that way. AND never stops.

    You are the 3rd doctor that I know of that has said that.

    • That means you aren’t pulling out the root of the hair. The root has to come out or it’ll grow back the same way as when you shave.

    • Waxing does the same thing as tweezing. With waxing you are pulling out more than one hair at a time by the root. With tweezing you are pulling out one hair at a time by the root.

  2. I know for a FACT that the hair does grow back thicker. I did an experiment on the right side of my chest. I tweezed all hairs on my right, but on the left side I left the hairs alone. I did this for months… The right side is MUCH thicker and darker. It looked so strange, I am in the middle of laser treatments. (which hurt like hell).

    This article is LIE! Blatant LIE!

  3. Seaspray and Joe-

    I am sure your experiences are real, but there is no universal truth to it.

    Plucking hairs damages the hair follicles. This leads to less hair (a well documented condition called traction alopecia) never more hair. Never thicker hair.

    When hairs first regrow they appear thicker because the tip is thicker than the base. This corrects over time and the plucked/regrown hairs will be the same thickness of all your other hair.

    If you waited long enough, the hairs on the plucked side of your chest would have been the same as on the untouched side, except there would be fewer of them.

    • I always knew this. I even hear pros say it grows thicker hairs when plucked. Just ignorant people who don’t do proper research.

  4. This is NOT TRUE!! I have this one hair on my leg which I plucked all the time and guess what? it is much darker than the rest of my hairs. I left it alone after a year of plucking that one hair. For years now…it still had been the one thick Black thick on my leg..compared to the rest are just fine. I regret plucking that one hair.

  5. There are always going to be individual differences (i.e. people who consume caffeine actually become MORE tired)among people. So each person is welcome to their opinion based on their own unique experiences. I do however take issue with people who are more on the “unusual” side (i.e. plucking makes hair thicker) making big fusses when they are clearly in the minority. Why so much emotion over plucked hairs? Sorry it’s getting thicker for you but please be kind, rewind and acknowledge that your case is unusual. All of my hairs have gotten finer and thinner or non-existent while plucking/waxing (eyebrows, legs, underarms, brazilian area)and the follicles are clearly getting damaged (getting smaller) with the exception of a couple of hairs above my lip. For some reason, I developed one thick dark one (years ago)and while plucking it I accidently plucked 1-2 more and those soft blonde hairs have now become dark too. It’s been like this for years. I am aware that this is unusual and focus more on the rule not the exception. I’ve been LOVING my hairs coming in soft, blonde or not at all! :) I’m happy. Are you?

  6. Here is what is happening, people:

    A hair is like a very thin triangle. Cut off the top of the triangle (i.e., tweeze the hair incompletely–the hair likely broke just beneath the surface). The triangle continues to grow at the same rate as the “triangles” that did not have their tops cut off.

    The triangle with no top *appears* thicker than the intact triangles:
    /\
    / \
    / \
    ——

    Once the hair (triangle-with-no-top) has completed it’s life cycle, it falls out. A new hair (intact triangle) grows in it’s place.

    The “thicker” hair is only temporary.

  7. i really do not understand how anyone could be so convinced waxing, tweezing and those forms of physical hair removal make hair grow back thicker, darker and more coarse. It’s a crock. when removing the entire hair, it grows back smoother as opposed to shaving; in that case you are cutting the hair right in the center THE THICKEST PART mind you, creating that rough feeling no one loves. Hair removal does not make the hair grow back darker; if you experience that then it’s your hormones. Its the same thing some women experience at a later age with dark facial hair. Terminal hairs, its hormones….Lastly, it has been said already but i will repeat it. When removing the entire hair you are damaging the follicle itself which over time can cause an inability to produce hair.

  8. i plucked ma head hair..whn i was 12 years old…n nw im 17.im slightly bald infrnt..exactly above my eye brow..a lil nie! but ma hair was dropping soo much 4 da past few yrs…..isit bald bcos i plucked o bcos ma hair was dropping.anyway hw m i supposed to grow it back…im reali looking 4ward 4 sum positive answerz:)tq

  9. The way a hair reacts to plucking or tweezing depends on the area it is being removed from. Hair on the legs, underarms, brows, get less hair with age therefore, waxing or plucking these areas will result in less hair overtime. Hair on the upper lip, chins (of females) ears (of men) increase with age. If hair is removed by waxing or plucking these areas the blood supply to the hair, which is the food for the hair, will increase and grow even thicker. Each area is different and influenced by hormones and whatever is going on systemically.

  10. I have to say That as someone who began waxing a mild mustache over upper lip in early 30s and still doing so at 54… I have NOT been so fortunate to have it come in less and less. The tweezed black ones …and ONLY the tweezed black ones are coming in white now and I’m not sure which is worse.

    The hundreds of soft blond waxed ones still come in soft and blond.

    I am my own proof to the contrary. Perhaps someone should study me. :)

    And only this past year did I get impatient and tweezed by the corners of my mouth and they are absolutely harder and thicker and black and now tougher to wax off because they are more resistant. I guess because tweezing must break it off and damage whereas waxing.. maybe the heat ..softens and is a better removal..less damage.

    but now I have to do chin and I even extend because I have decided I just don’t want hair anywhere.. not even downy soft.

    I could not possibly pay to have it done because too expensive and I stress at thinking I could ever not be able to maintain it. (sick or elderly or without wax) the only thing that works and is economical is that hard zipwax and I melt it in sm crock pot and reuse til doesn’t work anymore.

    i have more hair than ever and I know that is peri-menopause. I began waxing in early 30s because I believed the woman who said it would eventually stop growing.

    I am Scottish/German descent. I always had a lot of body hair..even as a little girl.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way because I don’t want to leave with an awful image.. but I *maintain* the stupid hair.

    *I present well and get nice compliments. I am very feminine.*

    You can see that just the fact I feel I need to say that…that I am very insecure about this issue.

    My female cousins and my mother are the same way.

  11. .
    .
    This ARTICLE is a MYTH!! As embarrassing as this is to say, my nose hairs are SOOO thick and SOOO long and grow SOOOO fast because I pluck them. I can hardly believe the rate at which they grow. I cannot say this is true for everyone but it is for me.

    It makes me want to pluck my eyelashes so that they will grow back thicker and longer but I imagine the pain would be extraordinary…

    What is true for one may not be true for another. Doctors!

  12. Thanks for all the great comments. I’m sure some of you fervently believe that plucking (er, tweezing) hair made your hair grow back thicker. It didn’t. Plucking any hair anywhere on your body will not make the hair grow back thicker.

    Nope, not even if your special.

    • I plucked some of my blonde upper lip hair and some of the hairs broke off and weren’t pulled from the root. Will they grow back in blonde the same color they were? I’m so worried and i just want my upper lip hair to grow back the way it was and i’m not going to mess with it again. Pleasr give me some advice and hopefully good news!

  13. Dr. Benabio
    I was once told that eyebrow hair that has been tweezed has a big enough root that it could re-root and grow in unwanted places.
    I think it’s a disgusting habit to just tweeze where ever… and leave your unwanted hair laying about. Grooming should be done in the privacy of a bathroom or salon. But is there a danger of someones eyebrow hair sticking to and adhereing to my skin? or for that matter, any other unhygenic things adhereing to me?
    I am mortified and disgusted.
    Please advise…

  14. When i said any other… I meant specifically a persons hair follicle. root intact.

  15. thicker hair is TEMPORARY gosh get a life. and its not hard to pluck everyday if it grows back so fast. i plucked one side of my nose and still no hair and its been 4 months. if you tweeze it right it will come off if you tweeze incorrectly it will look thicker cause hairs are triangle shaped and when it grows back it will look thinner.

  16. I have been plucking the hairs at the top of my penis for years now, they mostly come back, but are getting fewer and fewer; however, not uniformly so. They only seem thicker at first when the ends are the same thickness as the base, after some time the ends wear a bit they look identical to the others. Color has remained the same as well.

    –Bill

  17. haha, some of the myths in the comments section are hilarious – especially from Hoolahuney. I think a lot of silly old wives have been spreading their tales around.

    I have seen that certain places grow hair less after plucking, and others not so much.
    The arms and chest seem to grow back hair exactly as before, even after 20+ plucks. The thighs seem similar as before after about 10 waxes, while the lower legs grew back noticeably left after only 1 session.

    The upper lip grows back much finer – but this is after probably 200+ plucking sessions. The eyebrows also, I plucked them about 5 times and some of the hairs have just disappeared (not gotten thinner but don’t grow at all).
    The biggest problem I see with plucking is getting ingrown hairs.

  18. I understand the idea of maybe plucking a hair incompletely and leaving a blunt end that appears darker BUT I have tested this a number of times where I am sure I’ve removed the whole hair – bulb and all. I am very very fair and the next, newer hair is ALWAYS darker and thicker and tougher to pull out.
    Why isn’t it possible that maybe tweezing – which isn’t as quick as waxing – stresses the follicle and so it “puts more effort” (so to speak) into growing a better hair next time that won’t get pulled out? It happens with most everything else in the body – muscles, bone etc. You stress something and it retaliates by building up the parts.

    Just a thought.

  19. I’ve noticed some unusually thick hairs tweezed out of my face after shaving for ~10 years now. It appears sometimes that the hairs have been fused together under the surface out of a single hair follicle – is that possible? These suckers are WAY thicker than normal facial hairs – probably 2-3 times thicker, with a huge, thick root when they’re pulled out.

    Also, out of concern for the health of my skin, I’ve stopped shaving with a blade and now shave with an electric, and I’ve noticed this problem significantly less since then (over the last two months). Does the blade cause the skin to overgrow some of the follicles? I also get many fewer ingrown hairs… (I’m male, btw…)

  20. Be outside in the cold can give you a cold. The immune system is weakened in cold weather and it can make you 10 times more likely to catch a cold.

    • Cold weather makes you more likely to catch a cold, but it doesn’t/can’t MAKE you sick. You could stand outside forever in cold weather, but if you are not exposed to the virus, you would never get a cold.

  21. I have 3-4 hairs on each ear that stand out from the others just a little bit and i always pluck them out

    Havent seen more of them growing and if i were to choose i would say the have become weaker or have remained the same. They are definitely not stronger though

  22. hi,
    nice article. it makes sense. /IF/ hair were to regrow thicker after plucking… i would conclude that we have found the cure for baldness, and thinning hair.

    just pluck the hair in the thinning area and poof! thicker more luxuriant growth!

    much like individuals who say that they “eat so little” yet “put on weight” if that were the case, starvation in the world will have been stopped by now.

  23. It will not make them come back thicker. It may look thicker if you did not pull it all the way out. plus if you continue to pluck them right then you will remove the hair follicle and the hair will not come back.

  24. Why do they say that plucking eyebrow hair causes cancer? Is this true? I know the question sounds silly but I really would like to know since this person keeps bugging me saying it does…

    Thanks

  25. Last time I checked, he was the dermatologist. Now let me think, who am I going to trust when i read these comments? Oh yeah! THE DERMATOLOGIST.

    You people really need to get a hobby rather than trying to argue and tell your silly stories, do you think he cares? No. Because he’s a dermatologist and he’s rolling in the big bucks while all of you probably have no jobs (and no life).

    :)

  26. So what happens if you use an epicare? I just brought one but I’m nervous because I don’t want to end up with a full blown mo!! It’s one of those new things that you roll between your fingers and it’s suppose to remove facial hair just like ‘threading’ … I’ve never had hair above my lip it’s only just starting to come through, I’m 30 and I’ve had a few comments about it so I want to get rid of it. A friend of mine suggested waxing because it worked for her but I don’t want to end up with ingrown hairs and … like I said… a full blown mo. HELP!!!! What do I dooo…??? I’ve been researching over and over and I wish I could afford laser surgery. I considered bleaching, waxing, hair removal cream and looked into laser treatment (which sounds like the best idea but waaaaaaaay too costly) I don’t want to tweeze because who the HELL has the time to stand there tweezing everything!!?? Doing my eyebrows is time consuming enough! Bleaching and hair removal creams scare me because I don’t want to end up with some kind of bad reaction or pigmentation so I decided I’d settle for this solution instead. Any advice or has anyone had any experience with one of these epicare things?

  27. the hair looks thicker is just because the skin gets darker due to sunburn since the skin has less protection after shaving.thats all.

  28. maybe you just have to keep on plucking it and aggravating it until it’s fed up and stops growing.

  29. Dr. Benabio,
    Could you please confirm whether this statement is true:

    “Plucking can work very well for some women whose hair growth is NOT hormonally-driven. The hair may well come back a bit finer. However, where the hair growth is hormonally-driven, plucking can have the opposite effect as blood rushes to the site of the plucked hair in an attempt to repair the follicle. The blood carries with it an increased amount of androgens which affect the surrounding follicles also, stimulating male-type hair growth.”

    Thank you!

    • It is false. Repeated plucking eventually leads to less and less hair, never more hair and never thicker hair. When hairs first start to regrow they can appear thicker (but then thin out). This is why this myth lives on — people often make up theories to explain what they see.

  30. In my experience, the first time my upper lip hair began growing back, it had the APPEARANCE of growing back thicker because I had gotten used to it not being there. Now, the few hairs that have come back are basically invisible (thank God, because I have black hair and very, very pale skin) and the only times I’ve thought they’ve become darker is when I was not able to pull out the root and I essentially just snapped the hair off.

  31. This article is bs, especially if you’re a woman with PCOS. There is no quick fix. Don’t tweeze, pluck, or wax. Don’t remove roots. Just bleach or shave if you want to keep the majority of your vellus hairs from becoming terminal during hormonal imbalances and changes we wonen with PCOS face everyday. I wish I’d never waxed, tweezed, or plucked: they’re all the same thing and lead to the same unwanted result. Trust me and not this quack writing this bs, unsubstantiated article looking for website ad track revenue. He’s probably not even a doctor, and, even If he is, there are no conclusive studies to back up his claim. I live it every day, so I know better.

    • I’m sorry you’ve had such a difficult time. Hair growth in women can be incredibly frustrating. Please talk about it with you doctor. He or she might have other ways to help you.

  32. My experience is tha the hair will eventually grow out thicker, darker, and coarser. That tells me that the root is now very damaged and you are near the end of that follicular life. Keep pulling.

  33. god it amazes me how stupid people are…why would hair ever grow back thicker after having been ripped out at the root? do plants grow back thicker after they have been weeded? idiots not only can’t understand this simple concept but actually call the doctor a liar? wow your stupidity is astounding
    of course pros would tell you that waxing yields thinner hair and plucking means thicker hair…so you don’t pluck yourself and fork over cash to have it waxed by the pros.
    y’all are so dumb

  34. People are neglecting one small detail: androgens. If you are one of the “lucky” ones to have androgen-sensitive follicles, then the free testosterone in your blood will go straight to the “injured” follicle and YES, in this case plucking will make it thicker and darker. Otherwise, the hairs should get lighter. The androgen-sensitive follicles are usually in the face, but you can see it anywhere. Look it up, it’s true. That’s why many people take spironolactone to try and stop the growth. (helps prevent new growth a lot better than stopping the old growth) — just get electrolysis from a GOOD electrologist.

  35. The person above with PCOS is right. Her problem is the androgens, with are outrageous with PCOS. She’ll need electrolysis and meds to control this condition.

  36. How long does it take for the hair follicle to be completely destroyed or to where it stops growing?

  37. I have trichotillomania. I have pulled out my hair from certain areas of my scalp for forty years. The areas where I habitually pull grow back gray, curly and much MUCH coarser than the rest of the hair. Anyone who doubts this can happen has their information from a text book and not from clinical observation. Go to a trich specialist. Examine some actual cases. You will be forced to appreciate your error.

  38. Dr. Benabio is right after all he’s the real expert. Most of the drones who are throwing rocks at the article are electrologists, or other snake oil salesmen who don’t want the average Joe to know over plucking will in fact kill the follicle. I’m tired of reading dishonest comments and articles from electrologists and other beauty saloon “experts” claiming the only way to kill hair is to give them money, I know of people who are doing electrolysis and laser treatments, and every year have to come back for more, they would be better off plucking, at least it would be cheaper and not so damaging for the skin.

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