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should this be a Q on General Ignorance?
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Total Votes : 3

606214.  Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:58 pm Reply with quote

it is a common misconception that shaving or cutting of hair on the body causes an increase in the rate of growth/makes hair grow thicker. this is in fact completely untrue with cutting hair actually having no affect on the rate of growth.

the main reasons for the idea that hair growth rate increases are:

when hair is cut very short, growth in hair is easily observed. e.g. if a man has a large beard and then shaves it, within a couple of days, clear growth will be visible in the form of stubble; however, if the man leaves his large beard without shaving it, growth over a couple of days is much harder to detect.

also, when hair is cut short the hair is held more erect by the follicle. this means that the hair appears denser as the (thick) end of the hair is clearly visible

another reason is that when hair is shaved, the angle of cut is perpendicular to one's line of sight, meaning a larger area of the end of the hair is visible to the eye, giving the impression that the hair is growing thicker.

DETAILS of this can be found on many websites, here is a fairly comprehensive, concise summary:

a final reason is that as people age through adolescence, hair grows thicker naturally and it is at this time that people generally start shaving. faster hair growth may be attributed to shaving despite not being at all related to it.

All hair have a finite life cycle and eventually fall out; this is why hair does not grow to an infinite length over life but tends to reach a constant level after a number of years.

Surely this would be a good question for General Ignorance???

606232.  Tue Sep 01, 2009 2:01 am Reply with quote

Always thought the strongest rope (1800's) was made from hair. Can't imagine why = can't find anything on google.

Ian Dunn
606260.  Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:25 am Reply with quote

I remember this old myth being the subject of a scene in Seinfeld.

606293.  Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:34 am Reply with quote

Qi's most recent column* in the Daily Telegraph's "Weekend" section mentions nothing that's here, so I vote yes :)

That's some very interesting stuff you've put up, george1 - by the way, welcome to QI! - so I feel it ought to be in the show. :D

*Is it sad that I've started collecting them?

606720.  Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:54 pm Reply with quote

Welcome George :-)

606723.  Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:58 pm Reply with quote

I can't quote a source but I recall reading an article about facial hair growth rates being linked to the prospect of sexual excitement.

The essential details were that the regular shavings of isolated men (on North Sea Oil Platforms and/or lighthouses iirc) were measured and a noticeable change in the growth rate was observed in the period immediately preceeding shore leave.

Ion Zone
606946.  Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:02 am Reply with quote

The substance that causes greasy hair is called sebum, it is not absorbed by the hair but instead extends up it from the root. Adding lemon to shampoo is said to increase the amount of time the clean period lasts for. Washing your hair with cold water, brushing too frequently, and having short hair all make the problem worse.

Many people experience problems with the level of grease on their hair (Which is why I'm researching this, I have terrible problems, greasy and lank the next day :P ).

607320.  Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:36 pm Reply with quote

Ion - if you can bear it, I'm told (by somebody who did it herself) that the best 'cure' is to stop shampooing your hair and just clean it with water in the shower. It looks really grotty for about six weeks (I suppose you could cut it very short to minimise that) but after that gets to be in beautiful condition.

607322.  Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:50 pm Reply with quote

Oooh - that reminds me of a question raised in New Scientist that a friend of mine responded to concerning personal hygiene.

The essence of the question was "what happens if you don't wash". The response sent in by my friend (who along with me had lived at a Peace Camp) was - you reach an equilibrium. This was borne out by testimony from other people who had found themselves in similar circumstances where the usual norms of ablutions had been constricted (polar explorers is one I remember who responded).

Basically, the body takes care of it's own hygiene. I can only recall one phrase from the original correspondence which was that "visitors (to the Peace Camp) would tell us that we smelt different but that the smell was not offensive".

608647.  Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:17 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Ion - if you can bear it, I'm told (by somebody who did it herself) that the best 'cure' is to stop shampooing your hair and just clean it with water in the shower. It looks really grotty for about six weeks (I suppose you could cut it very short to minimise that) but after that gets to be in beautiful condition.

I can vouch for that. I haven't washed my hair "properly" since 1993. As Jenny's post mentioned, I just use water.

It doesn't exactly look like a shampoo commercial, but it doesn't look like you could wring it out and fry chips in it either.

Peregrine Arkwright
608651.  Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:41 am Reply with quote


I think our bodies, like our instincts and reflexes, are still those of highly developed hunter-gatherers.

Just look at the timeline. Few of us can claim to be more than about fifth generation humans of the Industrial Age. So forget that for shaping us significantly. As children of the Agricultural Age, we probably go back, at most, 1500 generations.

But our true ancestors, in the Hunter-Gatherer Age, had at least 15,000 generations in which Darwinian selection pick'n'mixed the human beings we are today.

Peregrine Arkwright

608675.  Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:50 pm Reply with quote

Only took a few years for those moths to change colour.

In another 50 years we'll all be monstrous couch potatoes - if we don't change our ways...

Mark my words.

Ion Zone
608751.  Sat Sep 05, 2009 5:35 pm Reply with quote

No thanks Jenny, it's staying the way it is, shaving it off defies the point. Though if anyone can suggest a shampoo I would like to hear about it.


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