If you are taking the plunge to shave your head completely bald for the first time – here’s my unsolicited opinion – do it!
As a quick personal story, I am 31 year old guy and started to lose my hair at the age of 20.
It was by and far the most disheartening moment ever when it came to my appearance.
I mean I couldn’t even buy a beer – and here I was starting to lose my hair!
I would have have rather of been overweight than bald – because the weight thing I know I could fix with hard work and dedication.
So needless to say, as a 20 year old I tried out minoxidil (aka Rogaine). Sure it might have spurred on some growth for hair which is a good thing – but I know it wasn’t a long term solution.
Because the kicker with minoxidil is this:
As soon as you stop using it, the growth of the hair follicle stops and will eventually fall out again.
I personally wasn’t interested in spreading minoxidil on my head for the rest of my life. Granted it does work for some men, and they also use it to fill in a patchy beard – more power to them!
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Shaving My Head – Was It Really The Best Grooming Decision?
Needless to say, after several years of having my hair at varying lengths, I gradually worked up the courage to shave my head.
I would by lying if I said I woke up one day and wanted to try it.
Personally I was a bit scared.
Sure people always say – ‘Hey it will grow back anyways’. But still, as a 20 something guy at the time – its a tough pill to swallow that you are losing your hair, and fast too!
Instead when I was going to the barbershop, I would have my hair cut at a size #3 on the clippers. Then as weeks went on I would go a half size closer (2.5, 2, etc)
Finally once I was down to the metal portion of the clippers – I knew I was ready to take the plunge.
Needless to say, I was at sitting home at my apartment on a weekend, looking in the mirror and was ready to do it – shaving cream in one hand and my razor in the other.
After carefully taking each stroke across my head and then rinsing of the residue shaving cream – I went and put my glasses back on and sat there for a moment.
It took a minute to sink in, initially it was a bit of a shock and a cold breezy feeling – but then afterwards, I don’t know what it was, but something about it made me feel like a badass (even though I am just a nerdy guy that likes video games, programming, and writing)!
Long story short – it was simply the best grooming decision I have ever done in my life.
I felt like I was no longer carrying the weight of feeling that I looked like my dad at such a young age and just generally feel like it was an awesome boost of confidence.
So while people may say that it will easily grow back, and its only temporary, physically thats true. However, from my personal experience it was worth taking the leap of faith and trying out the bald look.
If you are on the fence still deciding whether or not to take the plunge – I personally couldn’t vouch more for it. It’s awesome and honestly it will save you a lot of money and awkward conversations with your barber every other week about the weather, sports, and god knows what else!
Understanding the Right Type of Razor
Now if you are shaving your head for the first time, you might have a few different types of razors to consider.
First off you have an electric shaver. They do indeed make some that are specifically made for men with bald heads. I haven’t personally used one, however with electric shavers though sometimes ingrown hairs can occur.
When they occur, they are a pain in the neck to maintain and to ultimately pull out.
So while an electric shaver for your head might seem like a great idea I personally wouldn’t vouch for it.
It’s not to say electric shavers don’t have their place in the bathroom, they do, but for your head you are going to want to check out the alternative.
The best way that you can shave your head will be with a cartridge based razor.
There are a few reasons for this:
Yes cartridge razors can be a bit pricey. However, if you compare this to going to the barbershop, you will be saving quite a bit of money. If you are looking for a really cheap cartridge razor you could check out something like Dollar Shave Club where you can have new razors sent to you on a monthly basis for rock bottom prices.
The one cartridge razor that I really recommend and what I use myself is a Gillette Pro Fusion. Sure these blades get a lot of flack from the wet shaving community, and are incredibly expensive, but hear me out:
Your head isn’t your face. Sure you have some contours around your chin and jaw line, but all things relative your face is a pretty flat surface that you can see the entire time when shaving.
Your head on the other hand is one giant curve – making it incredibly susceptible to nicks.
This is why I recommend the Gillette razor since it has the ‘FlexBall’ which makes it incredibly easy to go around your head and lessening your chances of being nicked.
In all the time I have shaved my head, I have yet to nick myself once (::knock on wood::)!
Now for the wet shavers, you have a double edge safety razor (or simply known as DE Razors). Don’t let the word ‘safety’ fool you. You see, DE razors are just an incredibly sharp single blade that is used to cut your hair. Shaving creams or soaps can have a huge impact, which I will touch on in a second, but these can be pretty dangerous to use on your head.
If its your first time ever shaving your head I would not recommend using one at all until you are VERY comfortable with the motion and positioning of your hand (i.e. you can shave with your eyes closed).
DE razors are incredibly cheap and provide a great shave – however, for first timers its just simply better to error on the side of caution.
Shaving Cream (or Soap) To Use When Shaving Your Head
Shaving cream can have a huge impact on blade performance. First rule of thumb – don’t use a shaving cream that comes in a can.
They are typically made of pretty cheap ingredients and are loaded with harsh chemicals that aren’t the best for your skin.
Instead what you will want to use is something along the lines of Taylor of Old Bond Street (or comparable shaving creams). These shaving creams, especially when used in combination with a high quality badger brush will work wonders on your shave.
First off, when you are using a badger hair shave brush, when you apply the shaving cream it actually provides a light exfoliation of your scalp, which not only feels good, but will do a ‘pre-rinse’ if you will of the oils and dirt that might be in the pores (this is important on reducing razor burn).
Secondly, shaving brushes are incredibly good at retaining moisture and heat. This is critical for when the high quality shaving cream is applied to your head, the follicles will both stand up and be a lot more softer. A softer follicle means that the blade will cut through it even more easy than before.
Shaving soaps can also provide great cushioning and lubrication when it comes to a quality shave. However, for the most part, shaving soaps are reserved for the experts and are commonly used by the single edge wet shavers. Its not to say novices and intermediates can’t use it, they absolutely can, but generally speaking its best to start off with a cream.
If you are ready to take the leap to a shaving soap, I would recommend checking out a triple milled shave soap. This will likely give you the highest quality and performance for your shave.
Proper Technique To Shave Your Head
When it comes to shaving your head its actually pretty straight forward of a process.
First off you want to make sure your hair is pretty short, so if its already a bit longer on the sides (more than a couple millimeters) you will want to shave it down with either a body groomer or a pair of clippers.
Then I recommend taking a hop in the shower – this will help moisten the remaining hairs so the blade can cut through them easily.
Once you are out of the shower, you will want to lather up your entire head with a high quality shaving cream to further soften the hairs and create a good cushion.
After you are all lathered up and are ready for the shave, you will want to simply start from the front and work your way to the back.
So personally I start at my right side, and bring the razor back around behind my ears and to about the middle of the back of my head.
I go across the entire front of my head this way.
Once done on the front, I move to the back part of my head – first starting out at my neck area, and then working my way up.
Being that I am naturally right handed working the left-backside of my head is by and far the trickiest part of my shave.
This all comes to muscle memory and not looking in the mirror so I don’t get tempted to shave in the wrong direction.
A good tip that I have learned is that with each stroke I follow my left hand behind the blade to make sure that I cut off all the hair. The last thing you want to do is leave a hair patch behind your ears or lower neck!
When first starting out, I found that I had to apply lotion twice on my head and do the complete shave twice – with time I have gotten it down to only one pass.
In addition, you are naturally going to miss a few hairs likely around your ears or in the back left or right corners of your head. To prevent this, dry off your head after your first pass and feel around so you get a good idea of the areas that need attention.
Editors Note: Another option to using a razor would be by using a cordless balding clipper. These provide a close cut without the reliance on shave cream or soap.
Lather Some Lotion or Pre Shave Oil On Afterwards
One of the most important long term things you can do for your head after you have fully shaved it is to make sure you apply sunblock – everyday.
While I am definitely guilty of not following this daily, you really need to be careful not to scorch your head whether its the frigid winter days or in the midst of the dog days of summer.
UVB rays happen every day, even when cloudy (in fact research suggest UVB might be even worse on cloudy days!).
According to BadgerBalm – the following sunscreen SPF levels block the following percentage of UVB rays:
- SPF 15 blocks 93%
- SPF 30 blocks 97%
- SPF 50 blocks 98%
Personally I would go with the SPF 50 – this is your noggin after all and why would you put at risk the most exposed part of your skin?
In addition to sunscreen, I also highly recommend lathering on some lotion.
Even more so if you are using low quality shaving cream (i.e. out of the can). Sure if you use a high quality one like Taylor of Old Bond Street, it does provide a ton of moisture and will reduce any dryness post shave, but the fact remains – you just dragged a multi-blade cartridge razor across your head and took a lot of skin with it.
When shaving, your skin will likely dry out and feel itchy. A good lotion to try out is cocoa butter because it both smells awesome and works really well.
Enjoy The Added Confidence And Freedom
Like I said earlier, shaving my head was one of the best grooming decisions I had ever made in my life. It was a total break away from having to go to the barbershop every couple of weeks (saved me a ton of money), and more importantly taught me to appreciate myself a bit more and not be ashamed of my hairline.
So I want to hear from you guys – what’s your biggest hesitation with taking the plunge?
Or perhaps you did your first shave already! How did it make you feel?
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