Are you standing in front of the mirror, wondering, ‘Should I shave my head?’ You’re not alone.
Millions of guys face this dilemma, especially when the signs of balding become undeniable.
Whether it’s the receding hairline that’s causing you sleepless nights or the fear of how a bald look might change how other people feel about you, it’s never an easy decision.
Having personally navigated these waters in my early 20s, I understand the apprehensions and hopes tied to that decision. This article is designed for men in their prime years, struggling with hair loss, who might be considering a shaved head.
Here, you’ll find honest, practical solutions, and supportive advice to help you make what can be a massive decision.
Let’s explore the pros and cons, the emotional journey of embracing a shaved head, a few potential alternatives, and the practical next steps.
You can read the full article, or use this helpful PDF guide:
Understanding Hair Loss and Thinning
Male Pattern Baldness (or Androgenic Alopecia), is often hereditary and results in a receding hairline and hair loss at the crown. But some men jump to this conclusion at the slightest change in their hairline.
The first step to diagnosing hair loss is to make sure you’re actually balding and not just thinning. You might even be worrying about one of these perfectly normal hair types:
- Uneven hairline: Where the hairline is further back at one side than the other
- Mature hairline: Where the hairline recedes slightly after puberty (it may never recede any further)
- Hair so thin you can see your scalp: This is normal and nothing to panic about
All three cause lots of men to worry unnecessarily about their hair. But if you monitor your hairline over time and find that it really is receding, or notice the hair on your crown becoming gradually thinner, then yes – you’re probably on the journey to baldness.
In this case, depending on your current hairstyle, you might want to go for a more cropped haircut. This will complement thinning or receding hair much better, and allow you to transition naturally to a fully shaved 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. Make sure you’re shaving your head because you’re comfortable and think it’s the right way to go, not because other people think you should.
While identifying the type and progression of hair loss is a practical first step, it’s the emotional and psychological journey that often weighs heavier. Coming to terms with hair loss can be challenging, and can impact men’s confidence and mental health:
Psychological Impact of Hair Loss and Decision-Making
The emotional and psychological impact of hair loss can be significant, even leading to anxiety and depression.
For many men, the gradual thinning or receding of hair can affect their sense of self-worth and knock their confidence. This psychological aspect plays a crucial role in the decision-making process of whether or not to shave your head.
If you don’t feel ready, or you’re not prepared for how your new hairstyle will look, don’t do it.
But it’s worth knowing that embracing baldness often comes with its own set of psychological benefits. Suddenly, the worry over whether your hair is falling out is gone, as well as the anxiety over whether people have noticed.
When I went through hair loss, this step was a massive weight off my shoulders. I could stop worrying, and start enjoying life as a bald man. A newly shaved head is like a new toy, a project to make the most of. Enjoy it!
Deciding to shave your head is a turning point in your personal story. But before you take the plunge, it’s worth weighing up the practical pros and cons of shaving your head, which we’ll explore in the following section:
Pros and Cons of Shaving Your Head
Deciding to shave your head can come with various benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision:
|Pros of Shaving Your Head
|Cons of Shaving Your Head
|✅ Enhanced Confidence: While hair loss creates anxiety, embracing baldness often boosts self-confidence.
|❌ Head Shape Concerns: Some may feel self-conscious if they have a weird-shaped head.
|✅ Simplicity and Convenience: Shaving your head saves time vs. complex hair care routines.
|❌ Skin Vulnerability: The scalp becomes more exposed to sunburn and cold.
|✅ Cooling Effect: A shaved head can be more comfortable in hot weather.
|❌ Initial Adjustment: The new look might take some time to get used to.
|✅ Cost-Effective: Reduces expenses related to products like gel and wax, and hair appointments.
|❌ Maintenance: Regular shaving is needed to maintain the bald look.
|✅ Time-Saving: Less time spent on hair styling and trips to the barber.
|❌ Possible Skin Irritation: Risk of razor burn, shaving cuts, or ingrown hairs.
|✅ Accentuates Facial Features: A shaved head can highlight your face and beard (if you have one).
|❌ Perceptions of Others: Possible negative reactions or stereotypes from others.
|✅ Clean and Hygienic: Easier to keep clean, reducing the risk of hair-related issues.
|❌ Loss of Hair as an Accessory: Inability to change hairstyles for different looks.
|✅ Fashion Statement: Can be a bold and stylish look.
Benefits of shaving your head
The table above outlines the many advantages of shaving your head. Shaving your head offers several advantages that go beyond just a new look.
Many people find that embracing baldness can significantly boost their self-confidence, as it marks a step towards accepting hair loss and owning their appearance. Suddenly they’re not a passive victim of hair loss; instead they’re someone who actively shaves their head.
The simplicity and convenience that comes with a shaved head are a blessing. It eliminates the need for extensive hair care routines, saving both time and money spent on hair products and visits to the barber.
A bald head can also be more comfortable in hot weather, providing a natural cooling effect. Additionally, a shaved head can accentuate your natural facial features, drawing the eye to a strong jaw or manly beard rather than a wispy head of thinning hair.
Of course, there are also some downsides to be aware of:
Disadvantages of shaving your head
Shaving your head also has its downsides.
One of the primary concerns is the uncertainty about how it will look, as not everyone feels confident about the shape of their head. The truth is that it might not suit you (although there are ways to find out what you’d look like bald).
The scalp becomes more vulnerable to environmental factors like sunburn and cold temperatures, requiring extra care and protection.
Getting used to what can be an extreme change in appearance is tough when you’re used to seeing a full head of hair in the mirror. And that goes for other people too – those around you can sometimes react with shock or surprise when you’d really rather it wasn’t such a big deal.
Strangers can sometimes react nervously when they see someone with a shaved head. Unfortunately, some of the stereotypes associated with bald heads can mean people make assumptions about you that you might not be happy with.
While you’re saving time styling your hair every day, there’s still regular maintenance needed to keep a clean-shaven look. If you’re razor-shaving, this comes with a risk of skin irritation, razor burns, and shaving cuts.
If these potential downsides are enough to put you off shaving your head, there are alternatives to consider:
Medical and Non-Medical Alternatives
If you’re balding but you don’t like the idea of shaving your head, your alternative options include trying minoxidil treatments, getting a hair transplant, or considering Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP).
Which one is right for you depends on several factors.
If you really want to keep your hair and you’ve only just started to lose it, then Minoxidil is worth considering. However, you need to make sure you’re aware of the potential side effects, and the fact that it’s a long-term commitment.
If you stop using it, any new hair growth will typically be lost, and the balding process will resume.
If you’re in the early stages of hair loss, Finasteride could also be an option to consider.
This medication, typically taken in pill form, is known for its effectiveness in slowing down hair loss and promoting hair regrowth in many cases. However, make sure you’re fully informed about the potential side effects, including sexual side effects, which some users experience.
Like Minoxidil, Finasteride requires an ongoing commitment. Once you stop using it, you can expect any hair regrowth to be reversed and the hair loss will continue. Always discuss the pros and cons with your healthcare provider to understand its suitability for your specific situation.
If you love having a full head of hair but you’re balding significantly, medication may not be effective and you may have to look into a hair transplant.
The key things to bear in mind here are:
- Hair transplants can be costly
- You may require multiple sessions
- Success rates can vary based on individual factors such as the quality of donor hair and the skill of the surgeon.
SMP treatment can be a long-lasting option if you don’t mind a close-shaved look but don’t want to look bald.
Essentially, it’s a hair tattoo. It’s less invasive than a hair transplant and can be long-lasting, but it’s also worth noting that SMP does not create actual hair, but rather gives the illusion of hair stubble.
Maintenance sessions may be required over time to retain the appearance, as the pigmentation can fade.
Which is the best option for you?
This has to be your decision. Personal choice is important to make sure you don’t regret doing something just because someone told you to.
To help you make up your mind, you can download my handy flowchart and work out which is the best alternative for you:
If you’ve considered all the alternatives and you decide it’s easier just to shave your head, I get it. After all, that’s what I did. At this point, it’s about deciding when to pull the trigger:
When to Shave: Timing and Making the Decision
The Hamilton-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.
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.
Of course, some people 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.
It’s your decision
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 self-confident, 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 the anxiety get the better of you.
Confidence as a bald man
The main thing here is having confidence in yourself that’s based on more than a good haircut.
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 own your baldness, it shouldn’t affect your social life or your success with the opposite sex. Sure, some women just won’t date a bald man, but for most, a full head of hair isn’t a big deal.
But lots of women admire confidence in a man above all else. So 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.
Even if you don’t shave it, just do *something*
When your receding hairline comes with a bald spot, it’s definitely time to take action.
Shave it. Look into a transplant. Get a hairpiece. Start wearing hats. Just don’t do nothing.
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.
Ultimately, the best time to shave your head is whenever you feel comfortable. But generally speaking, it’s better to shave your head than leave your thinning hair in place. Here’s why:
Thinning Hair Looks Better Shaved
For most people, shaving your head will look better than having thinning hair. It’s a deliberate style choice, whereas a thinning head of hair will only ever allow you to have a compromised version of the haircut you were aiming for.
If thinning is creeping towards balding, you’ll look younger by shaving it off. Nothing ages a man like holding onto the remains of what used to be a thick and luscious head of hair.
But while most people will look better with a shaved head, it’s not the same for everyone. It can depend on the shape and size of your head, and the rest of your facial features. I’ve written a guide on the best and worst head shapes for bald men which might help you decide how good you’d look bald.
The good news is that shaving your head isn’t permanent. If you try it, and you don’t like it, you can let your hair grow out again. It might take some time, but at least you can say you’ve tried it. Luckily, there are a few ways to see what you’d look like bald before you shave.
There are ways you can improve your look with a shaved head too. If you try it, and it doesn’t feel quite right, you can:
- Grow a beard, if you can: This helps to make your face look less plain and stops you from looking like an egg. Here’s a closer look at the best beard styles for bald men.
- Get a tan: Or at least make sure you’re getting plenty of sunshine (with the appropriate sunscreen) so that you don’t look ill or pasty. Just make sure you tan your bald head safely.
- Hit the gym: Either to lose weight or just to bulk up a little bit, as skinny bald guys can sometimes look slightly ill.
Once you decide that your thinning hair has to go, the next decision is whether to buzz it down to a shorter style, or go for the full 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.
If you decide to shave your head bald, start by using clippers to get rid of any real length in your hair. Don’t forget to dry your hair first, clean your clippers after use and sharpen them regularly to extend their lifespan.
You can then use an electric head shaver if you don’t mind leaving a small length of hair, or you can wet shave with a razor.
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, because of how thick it is. 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.
Maintaining a Shaved Head
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that low maintenance = no maintenance. You’ll need to look after your scalp to keep your shaved head looking its fabulous best.
Firstly, you’ll need the right tool for the job. Of course, the big debate is around 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.
Finally, a dry scalp is a big problem after a wet shave. Always make sure you have a good post-shave moisturizer on hand for hydration and scalp health.
Here are my recommendations for:
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.
Always exfoliate with a washcloth or specialist 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.
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? Experiment with different looks to find what works for you.
If you’re still unsure about shaving your head, or a little overwhelmed about the maintenance involved, let me share my experience from back when I was a newly bald man:
My Story: Hair Loss and Head Shaving
Lots of guys face the same dilemma every day. Is it time? Should I shave my thinning hair, or can I keep hold of it a little while longer?
I’ve been there. In fact, I even shaved my head in my 20s and then tried to grow it back again, which didn’t go well.
I first shaved my head when I was 19, when our whole football team did it, just for fun. I liked the look, and shaved my head on and off for a couple of years.
Then, I started losing my hair around the temples. At first I kept my hair nice and short because in truth I didn’t want people to know I was receding, so I tried to brush the hair forward to cover it. In hindsight, I wish I’d just shaved it as soon as I noticed my hair was thinning.
There were a few jokes and comments about my receding hairline from friends, but nothing too hurtful. Even so, I spent way too long looking in the mirror, agonizing over how bad it would get and whether the average person in the street could tell I was losing my hair.
Eventually, I realized it was better just to go back to the shaved head. Nothing fancy, just a grade 1 every few days to keep it looking neat. No head washes, no Skull Shavers. Just a basic buzz-cut.
It was only when I tried to go back to the short, spiky style I’d had before that I realized how badly my hair was receding – all I had left was an island of hair at the front!
I started shaving again, this time with a sense of acceptance that this was me for life, now. This came with a sense of relief – no more worry, no more uncertainty. I was taking back control, and it felt good.
From there, I’ve shaved my head ever since. At first I used clippers on the shortest setting, then started using a razor and occasionally a head shaver. Over the years I got more interested in the maintenance side, and stocked up on specialist bald head shampoos, scrubs, and moisturizers.
I experimented with different grooming routines and found a certain excitement in the challenge of keeping my scalp in top condition. I prefer a shiny bald head to the matte look, and enjoy trying out new products and tips that I read online.
If you decide to brave the shave, I hope you get the same joy from maintaining your dome that I have!
When you regrow your hair after shaving it, it won’t grow back any different. People sometimes believe it grows back thicker, but that’s just the initial hair growing in darker before the sun has had a chance to take some of the color out of the hair. Once properly grown out, it will look the same as it did prior to shaving.
There are some people who believe that shaving can cause your hair to come back thicker, but that’s not true, unfortunately.
Shaving your head won’t make you go bald faster. Obviously, it will literally make you bald as you shave your head, but if you decide to regrow your hair, then it will grow back as it was before you shaved, and it won’t accelerate the balding process.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is no single right answer on whether or not you should shave your head. It’s a personal question and it comes down to whether you like the look or not. You might be really attached to your hair, and reluctant to give it up.
And that’s OK. You’re allowed to feel like that. But if you’re losing your hair, it’s important to take some kind of action rather than just letting it get worse, or trying to cover it up.
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 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.
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