Trans Guys: You’re “Mythtaken” About Shaving
By Jude Samson
There is something unquestionably masculine about facial hair. In fact for some of us, having facial hair could mean people immediately identify us as male while being clean-shaven means being misgendered. It’s also the one thing that has caused some of the most outrageous arguments on various trans forums because it’s one of the most common myths that we just can’t seem to let go of… Shaving.
“SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE HELD ON TO THIS BELIEF WITH SUCH DIE-HARD EXPECTATION THAT TO TELL THEM OTHERWISE SEEMS TO SHAKE THEIR WORLD UPSIDE-DOWN.”
As trans guys we want to hold on to the belief that there is some easy way to help us grow this magical manly feature, and if we just keep shaving our faces it will make it grow faster, thicker and longer. The unfortunate fact is, it’s simply not true. So many people have held on to this belief with such die-hard expectation that to tell them otherwise seems to shake their world upside-down. So, here’s the deal…
When hair first comes in as new hair it’s very fine and tapered, which makes it appear light and thin. When it is shaved it blunts the hair, which makes it appear thicker and darker, but it’s not really thickening or darkening the hair exactly. Of course there’s some variations to be expected depending on your ethnicity and genetic coding. Certain people from certain regions have lighter or darker, thicker or thinner hair naturally. Overall, though, any new “peach fuzz” is typically thin and light because it’s tapered off, as it hasn’t been touched yet.
“WHEN IT COMES TO FACIAL HAIR, WHETHER YOU’RE CIS OR TRANS, THERE’S NO TIMELINE, NO GUIDELINES AND NO DIRECTIONS.”
When it comes to facial hair, whether you’re cis or trans, there’s no timeline, no guidelines and no directions. It is absolutely impossible to say “a 30 year old trans male on such-and-such a dose of HRT for such-and-such time will grow this much hair.” Any place that does offer you this is just selling snake oil and setting you up for a major let down. First, this is really a genetic issue and your genes are what will determine how much or how little body/facial hair you will get. If your family is fairly predisposed to being pretty smooth and hairless, odds are you will be as well. If you’re from a line of men that are particularly grizzly – well, odds are you will be a pretty hairy fella as well. Though a word of caution, just because your dad or your grandfather may be a specific way doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to be that way. Remember, your genetics are just half of each of your parents that are blended together in a very specific way to make you into your own genetic sample.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t shave at all. A shave here or there to help get those new hairs blunted will help in development. Shaving every once in a while to make sure that peach fuzz gets blunted, or if you look raggedy while it’s growing in, will help but don’t expect it to create magic.
There is something called Biotin, which is an over the counter (OTC) supplement. When you’re taking testosterone (and combined with your genetics) a concern is male pattern baldness. Along with trying to get the hair to grow on your face you’re likely going to want to keep the hair that’s on your head there for as long as you can. Biotin could help with both issues.
DISCLAIMER: You should never start anything, even supplements, without first consulting your doctor. Even a seemingly harmless supplement could still interact with medications or medical conditions.
BEFORE TAKING BIOTIN you are going to want to start a regimen of drinking a minimum of 8 glasses (64 ounces) of water a day. No, seriously, you need to drink a lot of water if you’re going to take this otherwise you will break out.
If you’re considering Biotin take the 1000 mcg rather than the 5000 because my research indicates the 5000 is excessively high, at least as a starting dose (after consulting your doctor). Many of the bottles come with extremely high doses that you don’t need, nor will they increase or speed up progress. In fact, while you’re on testosterone, you’re now far more likely to get acne break-outs since you are, essentially, going through puberty. That combined with the biotin and not enough water intake will definitely increase your chances of wide spread acne.
Beyond that, however, there’s little else you can do to promote fuller, darker, thicker growth. Some folks who are steadfast in their belief that it does promote more growth have become very aggressive and even out-right nasty. Scientific American presented an article along with the Mayo Clinic discussing how shaving does not create the “more” effect. Even shaving razor companies like Gillett and Schick offer information on their pages that explain shaving does not increase growth. While it may be disheartening to hear this news the crux of the matter is that there’s really no shortcut in anything that’s truly worth it. It may be that you will never wind up with more than a few sprouts of hair or it could be you become a grizzly man that can braid your beard. Either way, it will occur naturally and in its due course.