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Is Shaving All That Bad?

Is Shaving All That Bad?

Whether you’re using a $1 razor or a $100 razor the results seem to be congruent.

While shaving might seem convenient for those that have been shaving for years, and not without injury, the long-term effects of chronic shaving are a bit frightening.

Dr. Howard I. Maibach and Muhammad Hamza - researchers at University of California, San Francisco - conducted research in Cutaneous & Ocular Toxicology and in the process reviewed more than 500 research articles on the effects of shaving and the results were astounding.

While many of us may be familiar with some of the side effects of shaving like; ingrown hairs, stubbles, strawberry legs, and other irritation reactions, we may not be fully aware of damage that begins to happen at a microscopic level and escalates over time.

Just to recap some of the undisputed findings from their study, here are some of the highlights:

“Shaving destroys the barrier integrity of the stratum corneum [skin]” ~ This happens in a couple of different ways. 

The first and most immediate way is by scratching and friction of the surface of the skin and non-uniformally removing a layer of the skin. According to HR Elden in his study of “Advances in understanding mechanisms of shaving”: 

“20% of the material removed during the shaving process is actually skin.”

The second way that shaving destroys your skin’s barrier integrity is “increased epidermal hyperpro­liferation” [thickening of the skin]. When the skin loses so much of its barrier, it reacts by overproduction of skin cells. This is why areas that have been shaved chronically tend to get rough and uneven.

Our skin’s barrier function is our first and most important line of defence against bacteria, disease and other intruders. According to the study;

“Shaving increased entry of irritant molecules.” 

Which explains why the majority of chronic shavers experience some form of irritation or other, particularly in areas like the face, chest, back, buttocks, and legs where the follicles are more vulnerable.

The study also found that toxic chemicals and dyes permeated shaved skin far more readily than non-shaved skin, which has further implications about your health.

While inflammation and damage of the follicle is yet another reason to reconsider picking up that razor, this particular study didn’t explore it in depth. Although there have been numerous studies that explain this widely common phenomenon.

In conclusion; there is plenty of data to discourage you from shaving regularly. But until you master sugaring yourself you may reach for that razor every so often. If you do; just be super careful with what you expose that skin to in the days that follow as it will be very vulnerable.


1. M Hamza and HI Maibach, Shaving effects on percutaneous penetration: Clinical implications (2015)

2. HR Elden, Advances in understanding mechanisms of shaving, Cosm & Toil 100 (1985)

3. M Lucova, J Hojerova, S Pazourekova and Z Klimova, Absorption of tripheny­lmethane dyes Brilliant Blue and Patent Blue through intact skin, shaven skin and lingual mucosa from daily life products, Food and Chemical Toxicology 52 19–27 (2013)





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