When I think of Indian beauty, the first thing that often comes to mind is beautiful, long, thick hair. A tradition across India is to shave a child’s hair so that it comes back thicker. While some people do it for religious reasons, there’s definitely an aesthetic purpose behind it as well. I always thought that this was a cultural thing unique to Indians, but after shaving my daughter’s head, I learned that it’s a tradition among the Chinese and even some Italians! This tradition has one belief in common, that if you shave your child’s head, their hair will come back thicker. With a saying such as, “your hair is 90% of your selfie”, no wonder there’s so much fuss about hair! But the real question is, does shaving your baby’s hair make it thicker?
If you do some research, there’s no clinical proof that actually proves that shaving your baby’s hair makes it thicker. In fact, as per modern science, this claim is totally bogus, as the texture of your hair is hereditary and the thickness is based on the size of your hair follicle. The bigger the follicle, the thicker the hair strand, the more follicles, the more strands of hair. Babies come out of the womb possessing all the hair follicles they will ever have. As hair follicles lie beneath the scalp, shaving the surface doesn’t alter or impact the hair follicle in any way.
So despite all this proof AGAINST shaving your child’s head, how come I still went ahead and did it? While most decisions I make are very analytical and reliant on clinical studies, however, when it comes to shaving your hair for thicker hair, I’m a firm believer. Over the years, I’ve relied on my own primary research to assess the validity of this claim and to arrive at the answer to the highly controversial question, does shaving your baby’s hair make it thicker?
My primary research begins with my own hair. My parents shaved my head 3 times as a kid. So yes, I was pretty much bald during my baby and toddler years. My hair first came in super curly and wild, so they shaved it.
It came back in crazy ringlets again, so they shaved it again. After the third time, my hair grew in silky and straight. It has a unique consistency where it can be styled very sleek straight but it also holds style very well. My parents only shaved my eldest sister’s hair once and my middle sister’s hair twice and mine a total of three times. If you compare thickness of hair between all three of us, it’s commensurate to the number of times our head was shaved. Mine is the thickest, while my eldest sister, whose head was shaved only once is the thinnest.
In my 20s, I met a girl who has fabulous hair and it was even thicker than mine. She then explained to me that her parents shaved her head 4 times. She’s the only person who I’ve met to date whose head has been shaved more times than mine and YES, she has fabulous hair!
My other source of primary research is my nieces. My eldest sister has three daughters. She shaved both her eldest and middle girls head and they both have beautiful, thick hair. She however didn’t want to do it to her youngest. She was convinced that this old age beauty secret was a bunch of BS and well, let’s be honest, little girls in bows, clips and pony tails is just too cute. Now that my niece is over 3 years old, it’s apparent her hair isn’t as thick as her other two sisters, and my sister…well, put it this way, is wondering if this old age secret really is in fact a bunch of BS.
We ended up shaving my daughter’s hair shortly after her 1st birthday. As her birthday falls on December 12th, we decided to do it in the new year, right after her birthday party and the holidays. My daughter’s hair is still growing and getting longer by the day, but not quite yet at the cute ponytails and clips stage. I really do miss her hair, but I can already tell the hair growing back has a different consistency. Although the amount of her hair on her head remains unchanged, I feel as if the actual hair growing back’s texture is different now and it appears thicker.
What are your thoughts on shaving a baby’s head? Do you do it in your culture too? Do you think it’s a load of BS? Does shaving your baby’s hair make it thicker – have you done it to your child and seen a difference? Would love to hear your thoughts!