A beauty consultant and former hairdresser by profession, Jayne has been helping men and women improve their appearance for over 20 years.
Here's a step-by-step guide to properly shaving your head for the first time, plus tips and advice on caring for a shaved head so that it's always beautifully smooth.
Why Shave Your Head?
The greatest luxury of a shaved head is that you don’t have to visit the barber or mess about with a hairdryer and styling products, so it saves time and money.
And it goes without saying that it’s more flattering than a thinning crown or comb-over. But it isn't only for men who are suffering from male pattern hair loss; some are more attractive without hair than with, so it's worth trying out even if you're not balding.
The Best Time to Shave Your Head
There are two things to consider when shaving for the first time: you don’t know how sensitive your scalp will be afterwards, and you don’t know what you’ll look like.
Therefore, plan this somewhat drastic move for a quiet Friday evening, and make sure you don’t have to go anywhere until Monday morning. You’ll at least have some stubble back by then, which is less alarming than a completely bald head if it turns out to be a mistake.
Even if you're certain you'll look good with a bald head, you should still shave in the evening before going to bed in order that your scalp has time to recover. Immediate exposure to blazing sunshine or biting winds would be asking for trouble, and you may be too sensitive for a cap or beanie.
To shave your head, you'll need the following items:
- A hand mirror so you can see the back of your head
- Electric clippers to shorten your hair
- A good quality razor with at least three blades
- A shaving lubricant
A Step-By-Step Guide
Step 1: Reduce Hair Length With Clippers
Using electric clippers without the guard, cut your hair down to stubble, working against the grain—i.e. against the direction of growth.
Your stubble should be no longer than 1/4 inch.
Step 2: Shower to Open Pores and Soften Stubble
To open pores and soften stubble, take a warm shower. Or, if a shower or steamy bath isn't possible, place a hot washcloth on your head for a few minutes.
Step 3: Lubricate Your Scalp
Cover your scalp with a shaving lubricant.
It doesn't matter whether you use shaving cream, foam, gel, or oil. However, oil offers the most advantages.
Because oil is transparent, you'll be able to see exactly what you're doing. Apart from that, its outstanding lubricating qualities make accidental cutting near impossible, and it prevents razor bumps and burns.
You don't have to buy a product labeled "shaving oil." The olive or sunflower oil in your kitchen cupboard will do the same job. If you're worried about blocked pores, use jojoba oil, which is non-comedogenic (will not aggravate acne).
Step 4: Shave
Shave with the grain, starting where your hair is at its softest. That means the front first, then the sides, then the back, working away from the crown. The reason you shave the back last is that the hair is coarser there and takes longer to soften.
Shaving with the grain prevents ingrown hairs, which can be a problem if your hair is very strong or wavy. After you’ve shaved once with the grain, you can go over your head a second time against the grain if you think you need a closer shave.
Keep your head and the razor wet throughout the shave, and add more lubricant as required. You might also have to change your razor blade before finishing, depending on how strong your hair is.
Take your time, and use a hand mirror so you can see what you’re doing at the back.
If you cut yourself, stop the bleeding with a styptic pencil or a piece of tissue placed on the wound. Shaving with a cheap or disposable razor will increase the risk of cutting. For best results, use a quality product with at least three blades.
Step 5: Check for Stubble
When you think you’re finished, run a hand over your head to check for missed stubble. Hair indents and ridges are particularly stubborn, as are cowlicks.
Step 6: Clean Up
When you’re completely stubble-free, rinse your head under a cool shower.
Step 7: Moisturize
Pat your head dry with a towel and apply a light moisturizer. Facial moisturizers designed for men are quickly absorbed and leave a matte finish, which makes them ideal for the scalp, too.
Avoid alcohol-based aftershave products, which will do little more than irritate your sensitive, freshly shaved scalp.
If your scalp is very white, a few hours in the open during daylight hours will give it a bit of color. Or you can apply a self-tanning product—just make sure it blends well with your face and neck.
Shaving Your Head Daily
If you like your shaved head, you’ll probably want to shave it daily.
Dry Shaving Your Head
The most comfortable way of shaving is with an electric shaver, which is especially beneficial if your scalp is sensitive.
For a super smooth dry shave, sprinkle a little body powder or cornstarch over your scalp before you begin. This also helps reduce irritations.
You’ll only get thorough results from dry shaving if your stubble is no more than 1/8 of an inch in length. If it’s longer, you’ll have to wet shave.
Wet Shaving Your Head
If you choose to wet shave daily, you’ll soon be able to do it in a matter of a couple of minutes under the shower without the aid of a mirror—it’s just a question of practice.
Caring for Your Shaved Head
There are many shampoos available for the bald or shaved head, but they’re completely unnecessary. Your usual face and body wash will do the job equally well.
Moisturizer and Sunscreen
The scalp is particularly prone to dryness and burning, but if you want to show off your shaved head, you don’t want to have to cover it up with a cap or beanie. Use a moisturizer with built-in sun protection to shield it from sun and harsh weather.
There’s no need for a product designed especially for the head; a facial moisturizer works just as well. As previously mentioned, products formulated for men absorb quickly and leave a matte finish, which is exactly what you want for your scalp. If you’re prone to irritations, apply a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic day cream.
Always use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 in hot weather, even if you find your head doesn’t usually need extra moisturizing.
If You Don't Like Your Shaved Head...
If you don't like your shaved head, don't worry—your hair will soon grow back!
© 2014 Jayne Lancer
Jayne Lancer (author) from West London, UK on September 18, 2014:
Of course, you're right, Sallybea. Although my hub might be titled 'How to Shave Your Head for Men', it's for absolutely anyone who wants to shave their head, no matter what the reason.
Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on September 18, 2014:
It strikes me that this info would be just as useful for women and children, especially those whose hair is falling out because they are undergoing cancer treatment.
Jayne Lancer (author) from West London, UK on June 05, 2014:
I can't understand any woman who doesn't like it, Divacratus. :)
Kalpana Iyer from India on June 04, 2014:
Interesting! I know a person who loves to shave his head daily. Initially I thought he had that style because of less hair growth. But apparently he loves to keep it that way.. much to his wife's annoyance :) It really suits him and I think it looks real classy on some people.