1. Determine if a Shaved Head is Right for You
A shaved head can be a great look for many men and styles. It is a great solution for those with thinning hair, especially those with advanced balding in which other hairstyles for balding men no longer apply. A shaved head can make you look dominant, confident, and younger, but before you whip out the razor blade, you first need to assess whether the shaved head style will work for you as this is dependent upon the size and shape of your head and face. Before you take any action, I highly recommend you visit your local barber and inquire whether you have the correct head and face shape for such a look or you will be regrettably wearing beanies and hats for the next month as you wait for your hair to regrow. Be sure to also check out the benefits of shaving your head infographic to help assist you in your decision. Once you’ve determined the shaved head is the right look for you, it’s time to get down to business. I would recommend for your first time to shave your head at the beginning of the weekend or the start of a vacation to allow yourself some time to get used to your new style and for your scalp to recover and adjust. Refer to my instructions and tips below and you will get your head shaving regiment down pat.
2. Obtain the Appropriate Supplies
The first step to shaving your head is getting the appropriate supplies. It is essential to have the following items:
1. Electric Clippers: Electric clippers are necessary as you need to buzz your head to the shortest length possible as this will allow you to achieve a great close shave with the razor while preventing irritation, razor bumps, and ingrown hairs throughout the process. We have done the testing and research of the best body hair trimmers for you in case your interested which can also be very useful for other grooming routines. If you decide you don’t want to invest in a pair of electric clippers and you plan to closely maintain your shaved head going forward as to not require the clippers in the future, you can simply go to a local barber and get him/her to buzz your head for you.
2. Razor: There are a variety of razor types you can choose to use to shave your head. Ranging from the razor with the least experience required to the most: electric razor (article on the best electric razors for shaving your head), traditional cartridge razor, safety razor, and lastly the straight razor. As the latter razors require more experience they also do have the potential to provide a better closer shave. If you are just starting out, I recommend that you begin using a traditional three blade cartridge razor (Mach 3 or Fusion) and then graduate to a quality safety razor once you’ve got some practice under your belt. I would leave the straight razor to the professionals as these are much harder to use when attempting to shave your own head. There are a variety of razors specifically designed for shaving heads, I recommend you check out my article on the best razors for shaving your head to help you find which razor is the best for you.
3. Pre-shave Oil/Shaving Cream: A good pre-shave oil and shaving cream is essential in obtaining that close shave with ease and avoiding irritation and razor bumps. Both the pre-shave oil and shaving cream will help soften up the hair and skin and prep it for shaving. As a general guideline, I recommend you avoid any shaving cream that contains menthol as this ingredient will close one’s pores and result in a rougher shave. Check out best pre shave oil and best shaving cream articles for a full breakdown of the best ones on the market today. If the skin on your head is particularly sensitive you may want to consider using a shaving gel or a quality shaving cream for sensitive skin.
4. Aftershave/Moisturizer/Sunscreen: It is also essential to have a quality aftershave and moisturizer as these products will soothe the skin and prevent irritation or drying. Some after shaves have a moisturizing complex already in them such as aftershave balms. For more information on these types of products check out our articles on the best aftershaves and best aftershave balms. As the top of your head will now be exposed to the sun on a consistent basis you will also want to have a good sunscreen as well. Depending on your desired look I’d say to either acquire a traditional sunscreen or one with a matte finish if you do not desire a shiny cue ball finish. For someone who’s just starting to shave their head, another consideration when selecting a moisturizer and sunscreen is you may want to think about purchasing a tinted product as this will give you a more bronzed look right off the bat. This will hold you over until the sun darkens your scalp naturally.
3. Prep Head for Shaving
Before you prepare your head for shaving you need to set up a spot to perform the procedure. I recommend that you set up a chair in front of a mirror as I believe it is easier to shave your head sitting down. Once you become more experienced, you can ditch the chair and simply shave your head while standing. Once you’re all set up you can then begin to buzz your hair. If you are starting with longer hair (i.e. more than an inch), I recommend that you begin by buzzing your head at a quarter inch length first, then remove the guard and buzz your head the rest of the way. After you have completed buzzing your head, wash your hair thoroughly. This will clean off all the excess hair that you have cut off as well soften the hair and scalp and open the pores which will allow for a smoother and closer shave. Next, apply preshave oil over the entire head. You can either use your bare hands or use a washcloth, but be sure to rub your head against the grain of your hair as to help it stick up and make for an easier shave. Then apply the shaving cream and let it sit for a minute or two as this will allow the cream to further soften the hair and skin.
4. Shave Head
Finally the moment has come! It’s time to learn how to shave your head. Whichever razor you decide to use, begin to shave the hair with the grain (i.e. the direction the hair grows). Start from the back of the top of your head and move the blade towards the front applying very minimal pressure. After you finish the top, do the sides and back from the top down. I would recommend using a hand mirror so you can easily see the back and the side of your head as you shave. Once you finish, reapply more shaving cream as you feel around your head for spots that you may have missed and go over those spots again. As you perform your second round of shaving, shave across the grain, or if you think the scalp can handle it, you can shave against the grain for an even closer shave. You may want to hold off on this for a couple of weeks to allow your scalp to adapt to the shaving process.
5. Finish Up
After you have completed shaving your head, wash off the remaining residue of shaving cream, pre-shave oil, and/or blood with cold water or a cold washcloth. This will also help close the pores to prevent any dirt or oils getting into the scalp. Then apply the aftershave oil and moisturizer to soothe and tone the skin.
Depending on how you clean and smooth you want to maintain your shaved head, I would recommend you shave your head every day or every other day, but I do know people who simply shave it every week. It is really up to you and your personal preference as well as how well your scalp initially adapts. Subsequent shaves will be much easier and less time-consuming as significant preparatory work will no longer be required and you will have become a samurai master with the blade! Additionally, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you apply sunscreen on top of your head on a daily basis for the benefit of both aesthetics and health.
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Ben Rose is the founder and senior editor at Prim&Prep, the definitive guide to male grooming. He is a wet shaving expert and body grooming aficionado. His work has been featured on many other prominent publications including Good Men Project, Addicted to Success, Steven Aitchison, and Sharpologist.