Whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment buzz cut or the natural next step for a receding hairline, there are a few things to know before you shave your head.
Some people reach for the clippers to try something new. In this case, there are only a couple of small things to bear in mind.
However, if you’re planning a wet shave to make your head completely bald, there’s plenty to be aware of.
Proper preparation, where and when to shave, and how to maintain your bald head afterward are all crucial.
What should I know before I shave my head?
Depending whether you’re going to buzz or wet shave your head, there’s 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.
Here are the main things to be aware of.
You might regret it… but that’s OK
Shaving your head for the first time is a massive decision. That first sight of yourself in the mirror with such a dramatically different look can be a shock to a lot of people.
For some, it can make them instantly regret shaving their head. However, it’s better to try it and know than never to take the risk and find out.
If you’re shaving your head just to try it out, you have options. You can let it grow back, even if it means being a hat person for a while. There’s nothing unusual here – plenty of bald men wear hats already just for the look, not only to hide their lack of hair.
If you’ve shaved it because you’re balding, just give it time. Often, it’s usually just the shock of seeing someone so different in the mirror.
Ask people for their opinion. Chances are it’s not as bad as you think, and a little positive feedback can do a lot for your confidence.
Being pale and skinny also doesn’t go well with a bald head. Get a tan, hit the gym, and even work on growing a beard. I guarantee the compliments will soon come your way.
If all else fails, there are always hair transplants or scalp micropigmentation to consider.
Your head might be a weird shape
If you’ve never shaved your hair off before, you might be shocked at what’s under there.
The human skull is made up of several plates of bone, which aren’t quite the same from one person to another.
Some people’s heads look great, but others are shaped slightly like a cone or a bulb. Some people have weird bumps, and others are quite flat-topped.
The worst I have is a bump at the back of my head where my skull stops and my neck starts. It’s had a few comments, but people don’t make a big deal of it.
Have a feel around your skull before you shave to give you a sense of what might be lurking underneath your hair. If you think you might have a weird-shaped head, buzz it down with a relatively high guard.
Then you’ll know what to expect before going fully bald. For more information, check out this guide to the best and worst head shapes for bald men.
Exfoliating is crucial
It may come as a surprise, but anyone with a bald head should be exfoliating their scalp. Exfoliating a bald head is the best way to keep it clean and healthy.
Bald men should exfoliate their heads to remove dead skin and built-up dirt, oil, and sweat. If your scalp isn’t properly maintained, this layer of grime gives an unhealthy, dull appearance and causes friction while shaving.
When using a wet cloth in the shower you can gently exfoliate daily, just as you’d clean the rest of your body every day. If you’re using a specialist scrub or other exfoliating product, reduce the frequency to 2-3 times per week.
Always exfoliate before 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. Bee Bald’s exfoliating pre-shave is probably the best on the market:
You’ll need to decide where your beard starts
If you have a beard, you’ll need to decide what to do with your sideburns.
Shaved heads and beards look great together, but a sudden stop can look odd. Then again, fading your sideburns until they transition to a completely bald head is a tricky skill to learn.
Some people take a weekly trip to the barber to make sure their fade is on point, but the cost of doing this soon adds up. It’s much more cost-effective to practice blending your sideburns into a gradual fade.
To do this, I first shave my whole beard to the length I want. This is usually around a grade 3 as I keep quite a short beard.
I then reduce the setting on my adjustable clippers to a slightly shorter length. This is usually a grade 2, and I shave my cheeks and sideburns. Then I go down to a 1.5 for my upper cheeks and sideburns. Next, a grade 1 for my upper sideburns, and eventually a 0.5 for the very top of my sideburns.
Then I take off the guard completely for the area where my sideburns meet my bald head. This leaves me with a gradual fade from the beard to the scalp. It also leaves no noticeable lines where the length changes.
It does take some practice, but over time you get pretty good at it with the right equipment.
It’s also much more difficult to make this look good with a longer beard. If you’re more of a wizard/Viking type, it might be better to let the professionals take care of it.
Make sure you have moisturizer on hand
If you wet shave your head without moisturizing after, you’re likely to end up with a dry, itchy scalp. Always apply a good moisturizer or bald head lotion to reduce dry skin and keep your scalp healthy.
Moisturizers are one of the most important products for bald heads. They increase the moisture content of the stratum corneum of the skin, which acts as a barrier to trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). This is the process of water vapor evaporating from the skin.
Using moisturizer on a bald head adds additional moisture to the scalp. This helps the stratum corneum to reduce the horrible feeling of dryness after shaving.
My personal favorite is Bee Bald’s Smooth Plus Daily Moisturizer With SPF30. In my opinion, this is the best lotion for bald heads:
Bee Bald Smooth Plus Daily Moisturizer
- Protects from harmful UVA/UVB Rays
- Tones, hydrates, and moisturizes skin
- Smooths fine lines, wrinkles and dry patches
- Helps reduce shine and control oily secretions
If you’re looking for a natural alternative to moisturizer, here’s a list of the best oils for a bald head.
Be prepared for shaving cuts
Shaving your head with a razor is another skill that takes practice to master. Wet-shaving the back of your own head is especially hard, and you need to bleed a few times to get it right.
You may have a partner who is happy to do it for you, but it’s also best to shave in the shower. While I’m not against showering together, it’s not the most practical when you’re in there to shave!
I often compare shaving the back of your head to one of those driving games where you have to reverse. Suddenly left becomes right and right becomes left, and before you know it you’ve gone side-to-side and cut your scalp.
The good news is that practice makes perfect. Once you’ve rinsed under the shower with a few cuts and nicks, the sharp pain is enough to make you want to do better next time!
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.
One other thing to be aware of is how much your scalp bleeds. You won’t have any gushing wounds, but it can be hard to stop the trickle of blood from a shaving cut on your head.
I usually apply some pressure with a towel when I get out and throw it in the laundry afterward. I always moisturize my freshly-shaved head, which seems to stop any remaining bleeding and isn’t painful at all.
It’s worth making sure you have the right tool for the job, so here is my recommendation for the best razor for shaving your head bald.
Your ears get in the way
I’m currently using a razor with an edging blade on the back. If I’m not super careful this can cut my ears when I’m shaving around that area.
Even a regular one-sided razor is a tricky thing to maneuver around those weird-shaped things stuck to the side of your head. One false move and you’ve accidentally moved the blade sideways across your skin. This leaves a small cut that will be painful when you get back under the shower!
If you’re struggling to master this, shave as close to your ears as you dare, then stop. Use your clippers with no guard to finish off any stray hairs. It might leave the odd bit of stubble but that’s preferable to tiny scabs around the sides of your head.
Closer shave = more even skin tone
The main reason I wet shave is because I hate how my hair looks when it grows out even slightly. If I had a buzz-cut instead, my Male Pattern Baldness would be very noticeable.
This is because I’m around a 6 on the Norwood scale:
Because my hair is naturally dark and my skin is light, this creates a contract between hair and head. It leaves a dark shadow in the shape of a horseshoe, which contrasts with the tone of the bald areas of my head.
It’s not a flattering look unless you want to look like a monk. If you’re in the same boat, or even if you’re at an earlier stage of MPB, shaving as closely as possible helps minimize this contrast in color.
It’s not strictly the color of the skin that’s being evened out, but there are a number of other ways to get a more even skin tone on your bald head.
It won’t end your love life
While everyone has their own ‘type’, the good news for baldies is that there is lots of evidence that women find bald men attractive. Interestingly, the majority of women seem to think bald guys are also more masculine than those with hair.
Of course, women have different tastes. Some will run a mile if they get hit on by a bald guy. On the other hand, some women are more attracted to bald men – and for some, it’s practically a fetish!
If you’re worried about baldness affecting your dating or sex life, the first thing to know is that some women find bald men unattractive. However, most women find balding men unattractive. If you’re trying to cling to your hair when it’s clearly receding, reach for the shaver right away.
Don’t throw away the shampoo
It’s easy to assume when you go bald that there’s no need to worry about shampoo anymore. After all, shampoo is for your hair, right?
When people ask why bald people use shampoo, they’re assuming that shampoo is for cleaning hair.
Actually this is a mistake. Shampoo’s main job is to look after the scalp rather than to clean the hair. This is why bald people need to keep using it after braving the shave.
Without shampoo, the amount of oil produced by the scalp can build up to unhealthy levels. Simply using soap isn’t a good solution as it causes dryness by stripping away natural oils.
Here’s my write-up of the best shampoos for bald men, which includes my recommendations for general use, as well as for those with scalps that are dry/flaky, oily, or sensitive/itchy.
You can still get dandruff
Bald people can still get dandruff, in the sense that the scalp gets flaky if it’s not properly looked after. Technically, it’s not strictly dandruff, but using soap can lead to flaky skin as it dries the scalp and causes irritation.
For a bald person, the skin dries and flakes off. This triggers a reaction in something called the sebaceous glands, which secrete a compound of natural oils called sebum. This is designed to lubricate and protect the skin, especially when dry.
If you decide to shave your head and keep it shaved, you’ll need a proper scalp care routine. This will help avoid the dryness that leads to flaky skin. This includes regular cleaning, exfoliation, and moisturizing to keep your scalp healthy.
Buzzing is good, shaving is great, waxing is a bad idea!
If you’re balding and don’t want the contrast of the stubble that grows around the back and sides against the true bald areas on top, waxing is a better option than buzzing your hair.
However, waxing your head can be painful because there are lots of nerve endings in your scalp. This means it is sensitive to the process of ripping out hundreds of hairs at once.
Everyone’s pain threshold is different, but it’s likely to hurt more than say, waxing your legs. For this reason, I prefer wet shaving and I won’t be trying a head wax any time soon!
You might get some weird questions…
Some people will be weirdly fascinated with your new life as a bald guy.
Some of the more light-hearted questions I’ve had include ‘how do you know where your forehead ends?’ and ‘do you still go to the barber?’
Researching articles for this site brings up some funny questions too, like ‘what do bald people put for hair color on their driver’s license?‘
If you get questions like these, understand that most people mean no harm or offense. If anything, it shows they’re comfortable asking you about your new look, so they must think you’re confident enough to talk about it, too.
Educate them when they’re asking genuine questions and most importantly, don’t be afraid to laugh along and poke a little fun at yourself every now and then.
Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what to expect the first time you shave your head. Anyone can get a buzz-cut and the worst thing that will happen is you’ll be surprised at the shape of your head.
If you’re just not sure whether shaving your head will suit you, this might help: How to see what I’d look like bald
Knowing what to expect before you wet-shave your head is more important. Proper preparation and aftercare are crucial to avoid any nasty mishaps or reactions.