Once it becomes obvious that you’re balding, it can be a difficult decision to shave your head.
It’s extremely difficult to accept the harsh realities of Male Pattern Baldness. It’s potentially life-changing, and very few of us contemplate what we’ll do if it happens to us.
But the truth is that millions of men around the world are dealing with a receding hairline and/or an emerging bald spot.
If you’re in this situation, eventually you have to contemplate whether to shave your balding head. You can cover a bald spot when it first appears, but the chances are it will spread and force you to decide how to handle hair loss in the long term.
This is a personal decision, but it never hurts to get some advice. Especially on a decision that so many men delay because they’re not ready to accept the truth – that they’re losing their hair.
But hair loss doesn’t have to be the disaster many people think it will be. There are ways of growing bald gracefully, and it all starts with a simple decision.
Here is my advice on whether you should shave your balding head, and when is the right time to take the plunge. You can read the full article, or get a helpful PDF guide at the link below:
Should I shave my head if I have a receding hairline or if I’m balding?
If you’re balding or have a receding hairline, my advice is always to take action rather than ignore it. You don’t have to shave it all off right away, but it’s better in the long run if you accept the inevitable and get a shorter haircut.
The first step is to make sure you’re actually balding and not just thinning. You might even be worrying about a perfectly normal but uneven hairline, but if it develops over time you could be on the way to baldness.
Then, depending on your current hairstyle, you might want to go for a more cropped haircut. This will prepare you for the next step.
This is a good way to set the groundwork for when you buzz and eventually shave your head. Some people decide against this and simply leave it short. That’s a personal decision and you shouldn’t brave the shave before you’re ready.
The main thing to remember is that while some people don’t like a bald head, it’s pretty much universally agreed that balding is a terrible look.
If you can see your scalp through your hair, there’s a good chance your hair is thinning. This happens to a lot of people as they age, and not everyone loses their hair completely.
Should I shave my head if my hair is thinning?
Thinning hair alone isn’t a reason to shave it all off. Very few elderly people have full heads of thick hair, and most people’s hair thins out as they age.
This isn’t necessarily the first step to baldness. However, if you have long hair, it might be time for a change.
Long hair can show more scalp. This is due to the extra weight pulling the hairs away from each other at the parting. However, short hair can also be an issue as it stands on end rather than bending to cover more of the scalp.
You might not want to go the same route as balding rock star Bret Michaels, who combines his remaining natural hair with what he calls ‘the best hair extensions money can buy’.
Instead, mid-length hair is best to conceal an exposed scalp. Allowing the hair to bend in order to hide the scalp is a better bet than growing it too long. This causes the weight to pull the hair away from the scalp, which makes it more likely that people will notice your thin hair.
However, if your thinning hair comes with a receding hairline, I’d recommend a more decisive approach.
Should I shave my head if my hairline is receding?
Depending on how badly you’re receding, it’s probably best to take action. You can try to style your hair to cover the receding area, but in time it will become quite obvious to other people. If it bothers you that others notice your balding head, it’s best to shave.
When your receding hairline comes with a bald spot, it’s definitely time to take action. If you’re still holding onto your hair by the time the two start to meet at the top of your head, it’s high time you buzzed or shaved it off.
At what stage of the Norwood scale should I shave my head?
The sooner you decide to cut your hair short or shave it off, the less you’ll have to worry about when to do it. Ideally, by the time your hair reaches stage 4, you’ll have taken the plunge and cut your hair short or buzzed it off.
The Norwood scale is used to measure stages of Male Pattern Baldness. If you’re at stage 2 or 3 you’ll have probably noticed your hair starting to recede at the temples (check out these Norwood 2 hairline examples if you’re unsure).
By the time a bald spot starts to appear, you can bet others have noticed, too.
Of course, there are people who struggle to accept that they are balding. These people often cling on at stage 4, 5 and beyond. There’s no shame here, as losing your hair can be a traumatic experience.
Some people are cool with balding and just carry on regardless. This is an enviable level of self-confidence. While I wish I was this at ease, I like to look as good as my bald head will let me.
I’m now around stage 6 and wet-shave my head 2-3 times a week. However, everyone should make their own decision based on what makes them comfortable.
That said, my advice is always to take the plunge sooner rather than later. Take control and own your baldness, instead of letting it affect your confidence.
What should I know before I shave my head?
Depending on whether you’re going to buzz or wet shave your head, there are a few things to be aware of. These include how you’ll blend it with your facial hair, what your head might look like, and how to do it safely and painlessly.
Get to know the shape of your head. It might be a weird shape, so be aware of what it might look like if you shave it bald. Here’s a full guide to the best and worst head shapes for bald guys that might be helpful.
You might want to go for a short haircut or a longer buzz-cut, rather than a fully bald wet shave. If you’re not sure whether it will suit you, this might help: What would I look like bald?
What about facial hair? If you have a beard, where will your sideburns start? Will you try to fade them into your bald head like a professional barber or have your beard suddenly stop? Maybe you could pull off an angled finish to your sideburns at the ear?
You’ll need a good set of clippers if you buzz your head. Cheap options tend to pull at the hair. Battery life is also important, as the shave won’t be as good when it starts to slow down. To maximise their lifespan, learn how to properly clean your clippers, too.
If this is the option you go for, you’ll need the right tool for the job. Here is my recommendation for the best electric shaver for head shaving.
Of course, the big debate is electric shavers vs razors and which is best for shaving your head. For convenience, it’s electric every time. For closeness, nothing compares to the full wet shave experience as long as you know how to shave your head with a razor the right way.
When wet shaving, I find doing it in the shower is automatically a better option. The warm water softens up the hair, which makes for a much easier shave.
Pores don’t open up with warmer temperatures and close with colder ones, that’s a myth. But warm water is a good way to encourage healing as it makes the skin loosen up so it’s easier to clean out the buildup of dirt.
Always exfoliate with a washcloth or specliast bald head scrub before wet shaving to remove dead skin and reduce friction. This will soften the hair, and the clean surface will allow the blade to cut closer to the scalp.
Razor choice is also a consideration when you start to wet shave. I’m currently using a razor with an edging blade on the back, but if I’m not super careful this can cut my ears when I’m shaving in that area.
Some razor manufacturers advise against using their blades to shave your head bald. In reality, most are fine to use and I feel like they’re covering themselves in case someone cuts their scalp.
This doesn’t seem like something they’d get into legal trouble for, but you can understand their warning against using a razor not specifically designed for head shaving.
Be careful if you find that you get razor bumps on the back of your head. It can be due to ingrown hairs, but it can be a sign of a more serious condition known as folliculitis.
At this point, I’d highly recommend finding the right razor for you by reading my recommendation for the best razor for shaving your head bald.
Finally, a dry scalp is a big problem after a wet shave. Always make sure you have a good moisturizer for your bald head. Similarly, when you first start to wet shave you’re bound to end up with a few cuts and nicks. For this reason, don’t shave right before a fancy night out!
(I’ve written in more detail about what you should know before you shave your head, so click the link for the full lowdown.)
Of course, not everyone goes for a wet shave. Let’s look at the pros and cons of a buzz-cut vs a fully bald wet shave.
Should I shave or buzz my balding head?
Most people buzz their hair first because it’s a less drastic transition from having hair to going fully bald. One option is to get used to the buzzed look first and then decide if you want to wet shave later once you’ve got used to your new look.
You don’t need to decide right away whether to shave your balding head with a razor or clippers. The gradual transition from long hair to buzzed, and eventually to a wet shave, is the best approach.
Here are the steps I’d take:
- Get your hair cropped nice and short
A shorter haircut is less drastic than a full shave. That can take some getting used to if you’ve never done it before. You don’t want to shave your head and instantly regret it because you’re shocked at the person you see in the mirror.
A sensible, short-cropped haircut is much more suitable for someone whose hair is receding. It doesn’t look like you’re trying to hide your baldness or that you’re in denial. Cling onto long hair isn’t a great look.
The main thing here is confidence. You might have had great hair once, but if that’s what defines you as a person, it’s probably time to work on yourself in other areas.
If you can be confident in who you are and brush off the fact that your hair is thinning or receding, that’s a great start.
If you own your baldness, it shouldn’t affect your social life or your success with the opposite sex. Sure, there are some women who just won’t date a bald man, and this is one of the main disadvantages of shaving your head.
Some men worry about whether women like bald men. The truth is that being confident in who you are matters far more than good hair.
- Buzz your hair down using clippers
Once you and everyone around you get used to your new, shorter hair, you can take the next step by buzzing your hair down closer using clippers.
Timing is everything here. You might want a few months to let the memory of your long hair fade away, both for yourself and those close to you.
Alternatively, your hair might be receding faster than you’d like, or maybe you didn’t cut it short soon enough. If you feel like your short hair is unflattering to your receding hairline, then by all means buzz it off sooner.
- The wet shave
Eventually, you might decide to try a wet shave. This allows you to shave your head completely bald, which helps achieve a more even skin tone if you have Male Pattern Baldness.
The first time you shave your head, you might be surprised at how your bald scalp feels to the touch.
The scalp feels different from the rest of your skin. This is how bald people can tell where their forehead ends, for those who love to ask that question…
If you’ve ever held a snake, might sound weird but it’s not too dissimilar, oddly!
This is because the scalp is quite thick compared to normal skin. It’s an odd sensation suddenly having no hair on your head for the first time. Be prepared for the fact you might not be able to stop touching it!
Before we go too deep into life after the wet shave, here are a few common questions about buzzing your hair:
What guard should I use to shave my head?
The lower the guard number you choose on your clippers, the shorter your hair will be. You can gradually go shorter as and when you’re comfortable choosing a lower grade, or even go to no guard at all if you like how it looks.
Personally, I went straight to a grade 1 when I buzzed my hair. Any longer and you get that fuzzy look that I don’t personally enjoy.
Plus my hair grew quickly. The longer it was when I shaved it, the more often I had to do it. I don’t have the time or patience for that kind of maintenance, so from the start, it was a case of ‘the shorter, the better’ for me.
How often should I shave my head with clippers?
If your hair is thinning or receding, you might want to shave your head twice a week to keep it nice and short. Maintaining a neat, close-cropped look is usually best, as the more your hair grows out, the more obvious your Male Pattern Baldness will be.
Bear in mind that some people’s hair grows faster than others. If your hair only grows slowly, you might be fine buzzing once a week. If your hair loss is at a very early stage you might even be happy cutting it once a fortnight. Plenty of people can leave it this long and still look good.
The main thing here is not to worry about balding quicker as a result of buzzing your hair. Shaving your hair with clippers has no effect at all on how quickly your baldness will advance.
MPB is a result of what happens to your hair follicle below the surface of the scalp. Once your hair emerges above your head, it’s essentially dead. Cutting it at or above the surface has no bearing on what’s going on underneath the scalp.
Eventually, you might consider moving on to a wet shave. It’s a big step going fully bald, even for those who have a very short buzz-cut with no guard.
However, it has its advantages. A fully smooth head hides the contrast between what hair is left around the back and sides, and the complete bald areas on top.
Here are some questions I often get asked:
Should I shave my head against the grain?
Shaving your head hair against the grain gives a closer shave and a smoother finish. There’s a higher chance of razor burn, but this is easy to manage with the right routine. Exfoliating before shaving, shave in a hot shower and moisturize afterward for the best results.
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 down towards your head, while shaving against the grain means you’re cutting into each hair at a much more effective angle.
When deciding which direction to shave your head, think of your blade chopping into a hair while it’s standing straight up vs when it’s laid against your scalp.
This way it’s easy to visualize which will be easier for the clippers. Shaving against the grain gives a neater, more even result.
Should I shave my head before or after a shower?
Some people wonder whether to shave their head before or after a shower. The truth is, you’ll get the best results from shaving in the shower because the hot water opens the pores and softens the skin, making shaving less painful.
Shaving before a shower may seem like a good idea because it allows you to wash off any shaving foam and/or hair shavings. However, this means shaving your head in a colder environment. Your scalp and hair follicles haven’t been prepared for the trauma of shaving.
Likewise, shaving after a shower means your scalp and hair have had time to cool down after being softened up by the hot water.
If you shave in the shower, the hot water and steam prepare your scalp and hair follicles for the best shaving experience. This lowers the risk of razor burn.
You can clean your head in preparation for the closest shave possible and you’re also in the perfect place to clean up afterward.
Top tip: buy a stick-on mirror for your shower screen or wall. This will allow you to see what you’re doing and is a big help if you’re not used to shaving your own head. This would make an ideal gift for a bald man:
Should I go to a barber to shave my head?
Going to a professional barber for a wet head shave is an absolute treat, but the cost can add up if you’re shaving regularly. It’s also more time-consuming than simply shaving your own head in the comfort of your own shower.
I like to treat myself to the occasional head shave at my local Turkish barber. Not only do I get a great shave with a cut-throat razor, but the hot towel and head massage afterward is heavenly. Be ready for this part though. The towel is soaked in very hot water which is a shock the first time!
Letting your barber shave your head is great if you’re attending a social event like a wedding, or if you simply want to look your best for a big night out. If you’re not used to shaving your own head, it’s best to leave it to the professionals!
What should I put on my head after I shave it?
After shaving your head, you’ll need to moisturize to reduce dry skin and keep your scalp healthy. A good moisturizer will stop your newly-shaven head feeling dry and getting sore. It also stops unsightly blemishes from appearing on your scalp.
Look for a moisturizer that:
- Is fast-absorbing
- Is non-sticky
- Contains SPF
- Ideally contains organic ingredients
My recommendation is Bee Bald Smooth Plus Daily Moisturizer With SPF30:
In my opinion, this is easily the best lotion for bald heads. I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in the appearance of my scalp since I started taking my bald head care routine more seriously and applying this on a daily basis.
I’ve tried lots of others, but this offers great protection against sun damage for your bald head. It’s also quick-absorbing and non-greasy, and you’ll love the subtle, manly scent, too.
How often should I shave my head bald?
If you want a smooth, even appearance, shave your head bald every three days. This will give your scalp time to recover but won’t allow your hair to grow enough to show a stark contrast between the hair and your bald areas on top.
Shaving your head every day isn’t a great idea. Constant wet-shaving will cause irritation on your scalp just as it does on any other area of your body. Your head will be sensitive after a shave and you’ll notice that it’s more painful if you shave two days in a row.
Shaving every three days avoids this, but is still frequent enough to keep your scalp smooth and hide the areas affected by your Male Pattern Baldness as well as can be expected.
If your forehead is unusually big, shaving your head is a good way to hide this. Having a shaved head makes it harder to immediately see where your hairline starts, which can be an advantage if it’s higher than most people’s.
Shaving your head while rocking a beard is a great idea as lots of people look great with a shaved head and beard. The challenge will be blending your thick sideburns into the shorter hair around the ears, or fading into bald if you go for a wet shave.
One of the best ways to make a bald head look good is to grow a badass beard. Having no hair at all above the neck can make you look ill, especially if you have a pale complexion. A thick beard is a great accessory for a bald head.
If you have a scar on your head, shaving your hair will obviously make it more noticeable. However, if you’re comfortable with people seeing it, scars often look cool anyway. Just be sure the scar has fully healed before you decide to take a razor to the area.
If you have a widow’s peak, a shaved head can be a great option, especially if you still have thick hair and you’re going bald by choice. If your widow’s peak advances into a receding hairline at the temples, shaving or buzzing your head is always a good idea rather than clinging onto your remaining hair for too long.
Shaving your head won’t make you go bald, and it won’t make the hair grow back thicker either. Both of these are myths as old as time, but the truth is that shaving your head won’t make your hair grow back any different.
If you have a receding hairline, a bald patch, or both, I’d definitely recommend shaving your head.
Nobody hopes they’ll get Male Pattern Baldness, but if it happens to you it’s best to come to terms with it. As I always repeat, some people think bald is ugly, but most people think balding is ugly.
If you don’t care what others think, more power to you. You might want to keep your balding hair longer, or you might decide to shave it because you like it.
That level of confidence is admirable, but if you’re more self-conscious then my advice is to cut your hair gradually shorter.
If you spend too long overthinking about what it will look like when you shave your head, you’re only spending time worrying unnecessarily.
Lots of people feel a sense of freedom when they shave their head for the first time and wish they’d done it sooner.
Yes, some people shave their heads and regret it, but this is usually the result of a haircut that’s too drastic, too soon.
Go for a short haircut and transition to a buzz-cut, and eventually a wet shave if you feel like it. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable, and you approach the process with confidence.
If you’re still on the fence, here is my list of benefits of shaving your head that might help you take the plunge.
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