How To Shave Your Head (And Not Cut Yourself)

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I never wanted this…

I never asked for this…

But here I am – writing you a guide on how to shave your head completely bald.

I would venture to say (with no supporting evidence), that 99% of the men reading this are (and about to be were), in the same boat as I once was…

Struggling over the thought of shaving your head completely bald.

The other 1% are probably those out there who are shaving their head to support their favorite charity despite having luscious locks.

Here’s a quick (2 minute) and very personal story:

Back when I was the ripe age of 20 and still not old enough to drink (legally anyways), I found the harsh realization that my hair was thinning on the crown of my head.

It sucked.

It crushed my confidence.

And needless to say, the lack of a full head of hair left me feeling quite empty on the inside.

So, there I was, making trips to my local Walmart with ballcap on, and discretely loading up on Minoxidil infused products (of course making sure they were stashed under other items in my grocery cart so no one could see it).

Once I got back to my shared apartment with three other college roommates, I would sneak off to the bathroom, lock the door, and begin the process of applying this smelly solution to my scalp, not just once a day, but twice.

Needless to say, it was embarrassing and confidence-busting.

But alas, I tried this for about 6 months and then gave up.

Not only was I seeing very little in the way of results, but I simply just didn’t like putting a solution on the top of my head twice a day…




Between then and a few short years ago, I watched with envy countless late night ads on TV claiming a full head of hair, and read numerous advertorials that exclaimed they could Regrow hair in as little as 3 easy treatments.

But none of these seemed like a financially viable option (at least for a college grad loaded in student loan debt).

As time progressed over the years, I would cut my hair shorter and shorter telling myself I would never fully go completely bald…

But a funny thing happened a few years ago…

One night after watching Breaking Bad (remember Walter White!?), I decided to take the plunge into fully shaving my head.

I mean, at this point in my life, I was visiting the barbershop once every couple of weeks having them cut it down to a size 2.

I figured, what’s the worse that could happen?

After all, what hair I have left will grow back right?

Well of course that’s hindsight 20/20 talking right now.

At the time when I decided to take a razor to my scalp, I was terrified.

I remember thinking to myself a multitude of thoughts:

I am going to look like my grandpa…

My head is going to feel like an egg…

My wife is going to think I look hideous…

I don’t even have a child yet, but I look like I should be collecting Social Security…

This is going to end very badly…

But for some reason, I still had the balls to go through with the very act of shaving my head.

Well needless to say, it took several passes and several learned lessons (described fully below) before I was finished.

And the result…

It was [email protected]*ing awesome!

The best way I could ever describe the feeling was that I felt like a badass.

Like a true Walter White / Heisenberg badass that was ready to take on the world (except for the selling meth part).

It was the best shot of confidence that I have ever given myself in recent memory.

I suspect that any man who is on the fence of shaving their head themselves will feel very similarly once finished.

All the fears of feeling like an egg, old, or sickly will just vanish.

After all, I have been shaving my head for years now and will never go back to worrying about my hairline – and neither will you.

It will be one of the most liberating experiences that you can do for yourself.

So, what’s the secret to shaving your head correctly?

Here is my fool-proof no nonsense guide on how to shave your head completely bald the very first time for the best results:

Trimming The Hair Shaft Down

As we will dive into the razor selection later on in this guide, it’s imperative that you trim down your existing hair with a pair of clippers.

But why?

While there is a wide array of clippers on the market including body trimmers, beard trimmers, balding clippers, and of course barber grade clippers – any one of the following should be more than sufficient to get your hair shaft to a low and, more importantly, a shaveable point.

If you are looking to pick up a pair of clippers, then we would recommend either standard barber style clippers or even balding clippers.

Both of these clippers will have a much wider head that can make for a more comfortable and speedier trimming process.

Why Trimming Your Hair Is Necessary

When it comes to shaving your head, you will be likely be relying on a disposable or cartridge razor.  These razors, while great for shaving your head, do have a downfall of clogging rather easily, making it tough to get a clean cut.

As you clip your hair, the short stubble will be much easier to manage once it has been fully lathered.

Should You Trim Your Hair Every Time?

No, not really.

Unless if you have incredibly thick or coarse hair, most men who shave their head regularly (typically once every 4 days), should be able to manage with just a cartridge razor.

The Secret To Trimming Your Head With A Clipper

When trimming your hair, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be exact.

No, really.

Therefore, if your hair is only 1” to 10” in length currently, the clippers will do their part to get the follicle shaft down to about 1/8”.

As mentioned earlier, this will be key in ensuring that the razor head doesn’t get clogged as you make the pass.

With that being said, we recommend the following technique:

1. For the first pass, simply start with the clippers in hand and go in a smooth backward motion starting from your front hairline. We would recommend going no further back than the crown (top/back) part of your head.

2. Once the front has been cleared, then do the same motion, but this time starting from the back and working your way to the top of the crown. Again, working from one side of your head to the other.

3. Visually inspect your remaining hair and see if you have missed any large patches. Two mirrors can be great for this.

Take A Shower or Hot Towel

Just like shaving your beard, shaving your head requires additional prep work beyond just a simple trim from your favorite pair of clippers.

Therefore, before you ever take the razor to your head, you need to make sure that both the skin and hair follicles are well moistened.

This will not only make the shaft of the hair follicle much easier to cut, but will reduce the occurrence of any irritation post shave.

In addition, the application of hot water will help your skin swell up and become much more moisturized, thus helping to reduce the occurrence of dry skin post shave – which absolutely sucks.

If you have time, go with the shower before hand.

It will be direct hit of hot water on your head and will give you a much more comfortable shave.

For the guys short on time, simply wet a hand towel in steaming hot water and place it upon your head for about 5 minutes to achieve similar results.

Preparation With Pre Shave Oil (Optional)

After your skin has been warmed and the hair follicles dampened, it’s now on to the application of a pre shave oil (also known simply as shaving oil).

This step is largely optional…

But check this out:

Many men have often clamored on the benefits that a quality shaving oil can do for ones scalp in the reduction of both irritation and post-shave dandruff (more on this in a minute).

And who wouldn’t want that…

Pre shave oil acts as an additional lubricating layer that rests between the surface of your skin and the shaving cream.

This additional layer will help to make the razor glide in a much more effortless manner making for a smoother and more comfortable experience.

A key reason for this has to do with the composition of the oil itself.

Many pre shave oils rely on natural ingredients, namely in the way of carrier and essential oils.

While we won’t dive too much into the details as it will go beyond the scope of the article it’s important to know these two facts:

Carrier Oils

Carrier oils make up the majority of any quality artisanal shaving oil.  Carrier oils are derived from nuts or seeds and are found in a variety of beauty products for both men and women.

Their natural state coupled with their moisturizing capabilities allow carrier oils to deliver a multitude of skincare benefits while also being incredibly slick – making it great to double as a pre shave oil as well.

Within most pre shave oils, you will find the leading carrier oil will be Castor oil followed closely by Jojoba oil.

Castor oil has a much lower viscosity than Jojoba oil which makes it terrific for shaving and subsequently less likely to clog your cartridge razor.

Essential Oils

These are largely a secondary oil that is typically added to only evoke a scent.  Many popular pre shave oils on the market will largely rely on sandalwood or citrus based oils to provide either a classic barbershop scent (ahhh) or one that is invigorating.

While the science is somewhat hazy at best, many homeopathic physicians often exclaim extraordinary benefits can be derived from essential oils.

Most notably in pre shave oils you will often see sandalwood or tea tree essential oils are capable of delivering anti-fungal properties to ones face or head.

While we take this largely in a passive manner, it’s more of a nice to have benefit rather than a must have when purchasing a pre shave oil.

Therefore, should you decide on trying out pre shave oil yourself, we would recommend that you don’t purchase one based on essential oil benefits, rather, we would recommend seeking out one that delivers natural carrier oils as opposed to synthetic ingredients.

Lather Generously With A Shaving Cream

When it comes to shaving cream, any trip to the drugstore or grocery store can quickly get dizzying.

You see gels, creams, and even stuff that your grandpa probably used back in the day.

Now when it comes to shaving your head, there is one important fact that you need to keep in mind, and that is the use of a shaving cream that provides moisture.

Unfortunately, many of the cheap shaving creams that are found on store shelves are loaded full of cheap filler ingredients including silicone and alcohol.

The silicone does very little in the way of providing any skin care benefits as it will only be a lubricant.  This is why natural ingredients like carrier oils play such a key role…

…but more on this in a minute.

Beyond the silicone, alcohol is single handedly one of the worse ingredients that you can find in a shaving cream for several reasons.

However, let’s unpack the obvious reason:

It dries out your skin.

If you plan on shaving your head on a regular basis, you need to be sure that you use a shaving cream without any alcohol loaded in the canister.

Shaving cream containing alcohol will lead not only to a dry scalp, but just generally isn’t that great for your skin in the long run.

While you may be able to get away with this if you are shaving your chest or groin, this simply doesn’t cut it for your head, as people will quickly take notice of a dry, and even worse, flaky scalp.

So what is the solution?

You absolutely need to be sure that you get a quality shaving cream.

While we have talked about various shave creams at length in this article, here’s what you need to look out for:

One that delivers plenty of natural ingredients and can come in two forms:

One that needs to be lathered properly with a shave brush, or one that is latherless in nature.

Personally, for shaving your head completely bald, I like to rely on the traditional shave cream for a few reasons:

  1. When making the passes with your razor, you can easily see what you have and haven’t shaved.
  2. Many humectants can be found in traditional shave creams – this provides an additional moisture barrier for your skin.
  3. Shaving with a traditional shave cream and shave brush is just badass 😀
pivot head on cartridge razors

Use A Cartridge Razor

Alright, I know many people will get their cursor or finger on the back arrow at this very moment – cartridge razors.

Love them or loathe them, there is no better way to shave your head than with a traditional cartridge razor.

Here’s why:

While not plugging one company in particular (:cough cough: rhymes with millet :cough cough:), they often will have a flexible mechanism that is built into the neck of the razor blade.

But why should you care?

You see, this little addition to the cartridge razor works wonders for going around the contours of your skull.

I don’t know about you, but last time I checked in the mirror my head wasn’t a rectangle.

With a nearly constant bend of the shaving surface, you need to make sure that you get a cartridge razor that will stick to the surface of your skin and provide a clean and close shave.

In case if you were thinking about using a safety razor or straight razor – check this out:

The other night I was watching some YouTube videos of men shaving their heads (lame I know) with these old-age instruments and were struggling to get a close shave.

In fact, in one video, a man probably the same age as me (mid-30s), literally nicked himself on the top part of his head.

Needless to say, blood started to drip down his head and he continued on with shaving like it was nothing.

My jaw hit the floor!

I don’t know about you, but convincing myself to take the plunge to shave my head was tough enough, the last thing I want is permanent scars on my now shiny dome too!

In short: don’t get fancy guys.

Use a cartridge razor – the skin on your head will thank you later.

Oh and a quick word about electric razors:

Sure, you could use these tools, but if you are looking to get right to the surface of your skin, a cartridge razor will simply perform better.

Besides, some men do often complain that using electric razors on your head (or even ones that have been designed specifically for your head), can lead to razor bumps or general irritation.

While you can’t deny the speed factor, the potential for discomfort can’t be dismissed.

Multiple Passes Are Necessary

Unless you are a NYC barber who has been cutting hair for the past 30 years, you are going to miss some spots on your first go around – don’t sweat it, you are human after all.

So here’s a three-step approach that has worked wonders for me, and I am sure will be great for you, especially during your first time:

1. Just like when you originally clipped your hair with your favorite pair of trimmers, you are going to want to take the razor blade and start from one side of your head and go towards the back of your crown.

2. After the front of the hair style has been cleared away, you are going to want to do the identical motion but from the backside of your head.

Tip: Since this is your first time, you might want to have a finger or two behind the blade to check for areas that you may have missed:

3. Now once most of the hedge has been trimmed so to speak, you are going to want to rinse off and pat dry your head. Here you will want to feel around for patches of hair you will have missed.  You will likely find areas directly behind your ears and in what I like to call the ‘three-quarter panel’ that you some how missed.  Simply lather your entire head back up, and be sure to repeat steps 1 and 2.

Don’t fret if you find yourself making three passes in your first attempt, I was just as inaccurate in my first go-around as well.

You will get better within a couple of weeks and will be able to clear out all the hair with your eyes closed in as little as two passes.

A Necessary Tool Even From A Seasoned Bald Guy Like Myself

There is a two-mirror minimum that you have to have on hand when shaving your head.

It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but just something for you to easily see if you got all the areas.

The reason for this is simple:

Even if you go to feel for patches that you may have missed on the back of your head after the first pass, you may miss them completely due to the hair being incredibly soft (due to the shaving cream and moisture) or if you have really really thin hair.

This is where even a small pocket mirror can be really helpful to visually identify areas where you may have just completely missed.

Apply Aftershave Balm Post Shave (Optional But Highly Recommended)

Depending on how often you shave your head completely bald will really dictate whether an aftershave balm should be in order.

As we touched on just above, a dry scalp can be a very real problem for men – especially those who shave their head on a daily basis.

Here’s why:

When you run that razor over your scalp, you are effectively doing a very deep exfoliating process on your skin and removing some skin cells in the process.

Doing a daily shave is just simply too much for your skin to handle (same goes for your face).

As you essentially destroy that moisture barrier on your skin, it’s absolutely critical that you give your skin the nutrients it needs through some other application:

Enter aftershave balm.

Again, for those men who shave their head on an irregular basis, this probably won’t be a huge issue.

However, for those men who are looking for a close kempt look, you can’t skip out on this stuff, here’s why:

A quality aftershave balm will deliver nutrients that will naturally complement the sebum oil that is being produced by your sebaceous glands.

Aftershave balms are drastically different from a typical aftershave splash or lotion.  Balms don’t contain harsh ingredients like alcohol that will not only sting should you have a cut, but will also dry your skin to a crisp.

A balm will nourish and moisturize your skin naturally without giving your head a very shiny look to it – perfect for bald men.

Now, you could skip aftershave balm and use a body lotion instead, however we feel that you would be missing out on a lot of great benefits that lotions don’t naturally carry.

Therefore, if you are looking to regularly shave your head (or even your face), you would be doing yourself a disservice by skipping out on this product – simply because it works.

Apply Sunscreen (not-zinc) For Subsequent Days Between Shaves

The sun is no laughing matter.

It can cause incredible discomfort in the way of sunburns, or worse, skin cancer.

When wearing the bald look so to speak, you need to make sure that you keep your skin well protected from the sun.

You will not only be thanking your future self, but it will help to increase comfort on those long summer days at the beach.

Within the sunscreen market you will see a large variety of brands.

You need to go with a spray sunscreen, here’s why:

Unlike zinc or other thick paste sunscreens, spray sunscreens won’t get stuck in any stubble hair (especially found on your head after 1 day of growth).

It will be much easier and quicker to apply while still providing adequate coverage.

From our personal experience, Zinc sunscreen paste will get within the short stubbly hair and be incredibly hard to work out of it in order to have an even coverage.

Unless you plan on having swaths of white in your hairline (not cool), do yourself a favor and pick up a regular spray sunscreen instead.

Enjoy A Badass Follicle-Free Lifestyle

After everything is said and done and the weight of worrying about your hairline is lifted from your shoulders, you will instantly love the hair-free lifestyle.

Beyond just the financial and time impact of not having to worry about visiting the barbershop or paying for expensive hair products, there are some real psychological benefits as well!

According to a recent study – women on the whole find bald men to not be only more dominant, stronger, taller, and confident (source).

Of course, ultimately shaving your head is a very personal decision that comes down to the man.  If you are on the fence, we fully recommend that you take the plunge and enjoy the exhilarating experience.

About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

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