To millions of women, hair is a big deal. The idea of shaving it off seems unthinkable without knowing exactly what it would look like, and how people would react.
But as scary as it is, an increasing number of women are taking the clippers to their once-flowing locks and choosing the buzz-cut instead.
If you’re considering joining the growing sorority of shaven-headed ladies out there, you may have more than a few questions. Read on to find out everything from how shaving your head will affect the hair itself to the potential impact on your professional life…
What should a woman know before shaving her head?
Before shaving her head every woman should understand the shape of her skull. The biggest potential shock isn’t the lack of hair, it’s the weird bumps and angles you didn’t know your head had all this time, so take some time to get to know your dome!
Once you’ve decided the shaved look is for you, the next decision is whether you visit the salon or go for a DIY cut. If you’re going to shave your own head, there are a couple of things to know.
1. You’ll need to cut before you buzz
Clippers aren’t designed to slice through long hair and as anyone who has tried will tell you, the result is a painful pulling of the hair. It will literally pull your hair out at the root before getting clogged up and leaving you with a botched haircut and a broken buzzer.
Trim down with scissors as short as you can go, then get the clippers out.
2. It’s best to play it safe
Secondly, decide how short you want to go. Longer is better as you can always choose a lower grade if your first cut is too long, but once you go too short the only thing you can do is wait it out.
It’s worth knowing that grade zero (no guard on the clippers, just the blade) doesn’t mean completely bald. Only a wet shave will achieve this but bear in mind that different models of buzzers, trimmers, and head shavers will shave different lengths, so play it safe.
3. You’ll need your own tools
Even if you get your hair cut at the salon you’ll need your own buzzer. Everyone’s hair grows at a different speed but you can bet that yours grows faster than you think. After all, it’s much harder to notice your hair going from 14 to 15 inches in length than it is when it doubles from 2 to 4mm!
Invest in a good quality trimmer so you can maintain your look at home.
4. Shave against the grain
Your hair naturally grows in one direction depending on where on your head you’re working at any one time. Shaving with the grain essentially results in pulling the hair, while shaving against the grain means you’re cutting into each hair at a much more effective angle.
Think of your blade chopping into a hair while it’s standing straight up vs when it’s laid against your scalp and it’s easy to visualize which will be easier for the clippers. Shaving against the grain gives a neater, more even result.
5. A fade is harder than you think!
If you leave your hair slightly longer on top then a tight fade around the back and sides is a great look, but don’t assume you’ll be a pro from day one. Hairdressers are trained for a reason!
Chances are you’ll end up with more of a step than a gradual fade, so be prepared to go shorter all over if you mess up. Your other options are to get the pros to do it for you or simply leave the hair one length all over.
6. It’s better if you have a helping hand
Over time shaving the back of your head will become effortless, but you’re bound to miss a bit the first time. Not only are you learning a new skill but you’re doing it blind!
Even if your mirror game is on point, you have to deal with seeing things backwards. Have a go yourself by all means but while you’re short of practice it’s good to have a helper in place to finish off the bits you miss.
7. Don’t throw away the shampoo
Even when your hair is short, it still needs to be washed. Even bald people use shampoo, because if you shave totally bald, your scalp needs to be looked after.
Shampoo will keep it healthy whereas soap just dries out the scalp and gives you an oily head.
This is because your scalp secretes an oil called sebum which is designed to lubricate the skin. The drying effect of soap makes your head produce more sebum, leading to an oily scalp. Shampoo regulates this.
If you want to go specialist, there are cleaning products specifically designed for bald heads.
When I wrote about the best shampoo for a bald head, C3 Head Wash came out on top. It’s specifically designed to soothe and hydrate after shaving while preventing dry or oily skin:
C3 Head Wash
- Prevents dry, flaky skin and/or oily skin
- Hydrates and restores balance to skin
- Sulfate and paraben-free
- Safe for you and the environment
- Certified cruelty-free, never tested on animals, vegan
- Made in USA
Are there any cons to shaving your head as a woman?
Like anything, there are pros and cons to shaving your head. The main disadvantage is that whatever the occasion, you’re stuck with the same haircut whether it suits your outfit or not, whereas longer hair can be worn up or down, messy or immaculately styled.
Of course, you can learn to match your outfit to your hairstyle for any occasion, but be prepared to invest in one or two new ensembles.
You’ll also need to think about jewelry but rather than seeing this as a disadvantage to shaving your head, think of it as a whole new opportunity to accessorize!
Secondly, people are going to touch your head. That’s no problem for a lot of people but if you don’t like being touched, it’s worth being aware that this will be new and intriguing for a lot of people, and some don’t understand boundaries!
Writing in Allure, Arabelle Sicardi points out that although the feeling of her newly-buzzed hair was ‘soothing’, other people wanted to ‘pet’ her as a result.
Arabelle also felt that people made assumptions, either about her sexuality or her health. Rightly or wrongly, shaved heads have meaning for some that others will be unaware of, so it’s worth understanding the symbolism of a shaved head…
What does it mean when a woman shaves her head?
A shaved head on a woman can have many different meanings or no meaning at all. In modern times a woman with a shaved head can symbolize her religious beliefs, sexuality, or simply be part of her identity as someone who is rebelling against social norms.
Vice describes the shaved head as being ‘associated with control and non-conformity’ during the women’s lib movement, and many women who don’t want to obey the accepted norms of society will still reach for the clippers today.
Some Hasidic Jewish women shave their heads in accordance with strict rules about modesty, which ironically is the opposite of the rebellious, almost punk rock reasons some women decide to shave off their hair.
When it comes to sexuality, it’s true that shaved hair has long been an important part of many gay women’s identity, so people may innocently (but naively) make the mental leap that you’re a lesbian. Hopefully, this doesn’t put you off and you’re OK with the odd person jumping to conclusions and misinterpreting your new style.
How long does it take for hair to grow back after shaving your head?
After shaving your head, the amount of time it takes your hair to grow back depends on how long it was originally. There are factors that make it grow back quicker or slower, but as a rule, hair grows at a rate of 1.5 inches every three months.
According to HairstyleCamp.com, some of the factors that affect the rate of hair growth are age and general health. Hair grows slower the older we get, and illnesses like viruses and more serious, chronic conditions can also slow linear hair growth rate (LHGR).
There is conflicting information online as to whether gender is also a factor but it’s likely that men’s hair seems to grow quicker because on average, men have shorter hair and therefore the growth is more noticeable.
The good news for anyone who has shaved their head and now regrets it is that shaving only cuts the hair, so regrowth will be slightly quicker than with plucking or waxing as you have a tiny head start.
(To be honest, waxing your head isn’t a great option anyway. It really hurts.)
Healthy eating also increases hair growth, so fill your diet with lots of protein, vegetables, and good fats, and make sure you get your omega-3 supplement. Hair vitamins also work, so invest in a good quality option like this one, which is also vegan:
Next, let’s dispel a couple of myths, shall we?
Firstly, there is no evidence that shaving makes your hair grow back thicker or faster and there’s no reason why it would. You’re cutting the hair fractionally above the skin, so you’re not affecting the follicle underneath the skin.
Finally, my personal favorite. Neither climate nor weather affects how quickly your hair grows. Dry climates are bad for hair health, but according to the Limmer Hair Transplant Center dry air will only make your hair brittle, rather than changing how quickly it grows.
Is it healthy for a woman to shave her head?
If a woman shaves her head, there are health benefits in the form of a ‘reset’ for hair that has been over-conditioned, over-styled, and simply overworked. Shaving off the hair is a fresh start and a chance to start again with a healthy new head of hair.
Once the head leaves the scalp it is essentially dead, as the blood vessels that feed it only reach the follicle. The hair on everyone’s head (and the rest of the body) is made up at least in part of dead cells.
Over time we artificially treat this dead hair to make it appear healthy and vibrant, but this is only cosmetic and the longer your hair stays on your head, the worse condition it will be in under the surface.
Shaving your head therefore acts as a do-over, in that even if you decide to grow it back you’re growing a brand new head of hair that’s free from all that previous trauma.
It’s important to note that genuinely hair health is decided by what goes on inside the body, so diet and lifestyle are the most important factors. All you’re doing by shaving is cutting off years of abuse from chemical coloration, heat styling, and harsh weather conditions.
What are the benefits of shaving your head as a woman?
The main benefit of shaving your head is the feeling of liberation and confidence reported by so many women. With no hair to hide behind, they are suddenly exposed to the world. Many say they feel a new sense of confidence as a result.
Speaking to Glamour, lots of women say they felt transformed after shaving their heads. “Immediately after I cut my hair, I felt powerful, like I could accomplish anything,” said Cherí Pinero-Walker. “I fell in love with the woman that was hiding behind all that hair. I feel like a completely different person.”
Of course, you’ll save money. No more trips to the stylist, fewer products, less shampoo (but not none, as mentioned above). Not only will you save cash, but time too. All that time blow-drying, brushing, and styling adds up!
There are also benefits to others if you choose to donate your freshly-removed hair to charity. Locks of Love exists to help financially disadvantaged children with illnesses that cause hair loss.
If your hair is long enough for you to provide 10 inches tip to tip, you can donate as long as it’s bundled in a ponytail or braid at lockoflove.org.
If I shave my head, will it grow back different?
Shaving your head won’t affect the rate or thickness of hair growth, but in theory, the direction of travel can be affected by how you style it as it grows out. You can ‘train’ your hair from the follicle up to grow in a certain direction as it regrows.
However, as we’ve covered above it won’t grow back thicker. It will appear more ‘solid’ as the freshly cut hairs grow back, but this is only the appearance given by the blunt ends. Over time, those ends will be subjected to the same environmental conditions that gave you faded color and split ends.
The best way to make sure your hair grows back different (in a good way) is to take care of it. Avoid excessive color and heat treatments, eat well, and use a hair supplement like the one above to keep your hair looking amazing as it grows.
What should a woman do after shaving her head?
The number one thing a woman should do after shaving her head is to invest in sunscreen. Your freshly-shaved head is exposed to the sun in a way it hasn’t been before and it’s easy to burn, especially in summer. It’s crucial to protect yourself.
As mentioned above, you should also make sure you keep using shampoo. It’s easy to assume you don’t need it anymore but it’s there to keep your scalp healthy as much as your hair, so keep using just a small amount to stop your head from becoming too dry or too greasy.
Other than that, just have fun with it! Find new makeup styles and accessories that suit your new haircut and embrace your new adventure.
Is a shaved head professional for a woman?
A shaved head isn’t unprofessional in itself, it’s about how you style and carry yourself. Shaved heads with smart clothing can give the impression of tidiness and efficiency, but dress badly and bring an attitude and you’re going to give off the wrong impression for the workplace.
When it comes to interviews, very few people in the real world will judge someone negatively for their haircut. It’s not like you’re walking in with a two-foot-high pink mohawk and your shaved head absolutely has a place in a professional office environment.
Let it be the conversation piece that gets you the job rather than the elephant in the room. It’s an interesting haircut so make it memorable in all the right ways by leaning into how confident and empowered you feel since you shaved your hair.
Every employer wants confident, charismatic people in their team so give them what they want. Play this right and you’ll leave them certain that they can’t miss out on this amazing candidate!
Researching this post I was pleasantly surprised at how many women had positive experiences with shaving their heads. Not only were they happy with how they looked, but so many seemed to feel free to be themselves having literally shown the world who they were.
There are no risks to your future hair if you decide to take the plunge, your hair will grow back just fine. So if you’re on the fence, stop worrying and start buzzing!
Note: it’s not only fashion that leads women to shave their heads. Traction alopecia and androgenetic alopecia can cause hair loss in women, which can be extremely stressful.
If you’re interested in reading more about hair loss in women in the public eye, here’s a look at female celebrity hair transplants and hair loss.