Scared of taking the plunge and succumbing to the clipper? I'll help you get the confidence to get up and get it done. Whether you're curious about the style or are losing your hair and are looking for an alternative—you simply can't pass this guide up!
Shaved heads have made a huge comeback. Are you ready to jump on the bandwagon? Shaved head styles—whether they're done with hair clippers (buzz cut style) or down to the skin—are low maintenance, clean, and very easy to get used to.
This guide will cover:
- how to shave your own head.
- how to maintain your new look.
- what kind of clippers to buy.
- a recommendation on what kind of shampoo to buy if you're shaving your head due to hair loss.
- tips once you've taken the plunge.
- alternatives to shaving.
- hair-loss treatment products.
- an explanation of the Hairblade Sport.
How to Shave Your Own Head
Here's a brief overview of how you can clip your own hair at home. In this example, we'll assume you want to do a fade, which is a blended cut using three blades of ascending lengths.
If you want to blend two blade lengths together, it all starts out with the sides and back, using your shortest desired blade first.
- Since we're reviewing the use of three different blades, use your shortest blade for the bottom 1/3rd of your hair, about an inch above your ear.
- Be mindful of the downward slope as you proceed toward the back of your head and never make it perfectly straight across, or it will look off.
- Swap out your current blade (used in step one) with the next-size-up blade from it.
- To give your shaved head a rounded appearance that conforms with the shape of your skull, you'll now have to sweep the electric clipper at a 45-degree angle up and toward the center of your head, starting from where you left off.
- Stop clipping at the line around your head that is the nexus between the side and crown (top) of your head, as seen in the diagram above.
- Be sure to intersect the area you have already clipped with the shorter blade from step one so that you won't have a noticeable line of hair going around your head.
As you may have guessed, it's time to swap out the blade used from step two with the next blade.
- Sweep the hair clippers up and across the crown of your head, starting at your forehead (as if you were combing your hair backward).
- Follow up by sweeping at a 45-degree angle from the sides going upward. Once again, intersect the area you clipped with the previous blade from step two, so that it blends in with the shorter hair left behind.
- Continually check with a hand mirror while looking in your bathroom mirror to make sure everything is even. After making any necessary touch-ups, your hair should be perfectly blended using three lengths of blades.
How to Maintain Your Shaved Head
If you finally decide to get a shaved hairstyle, you'll most likely do what I originally did—go to a local hair salon and have a stylist do it.
After a few days, you'll notice how quickly it grows back and becomes uneven. That's when it strikes you. it makes no sense to go to a hairstylist and pay the same amount of money for a regular haircut for something so simple that you can do on your own.
Cutting Your Own Hair Saves Lots of Money
Going to a barber to get your head shaved is just absurd; it's foolproof and so easy to do on your own. There's absolutely no reason why you should pay someone else to do it for you since it doesn't require a lot of skill. Think of it this way: instead of paying around $15 for a haircut with tip every three weeks, you're saving $260/year. However, when you shave your head, it will need to be maintained every few days (I actually do it every day), especially if you want an all-over five o'clock shadow look.
Decent Clippers are a Must
There are two kinds of clippers you can get: ones that are budget-priced ($50 or less), and ones that are around $130 (barbershop caliber). The budget clippers use plastic guide combs, while the more quality ones use metal. This is one of those cases where cost-saving measures should be put aside for the sake of getting professional-grade hair clippers. Ultimately, it will save you from a lot of buyer's remorse.
Why You Should Splurge on Clippers
Budget hair clippers use plastic guide combs instead of blades. They break constantly. In essence, this makes the whole "cheaper clipper" route more expensive in the long-run.
They're made by inferior brands. Brands like Remington and Philips don't hold a candle to Oster, Wahl, or Andis. Their products are made with plastic parts and low-torque motors that have low lifespans. Elite brand-name clippers were designed for salon and barbershop use. Enough said.
Why I Chose the Oster Classic 76
After doing a lot of research, I noticed that no other brand or model got as much praise as the Oster Classic 76. You can find it in nearly any barbershop or salon, which proves that it's built to last, even when being used constantly on a regular basis.
Using an extremely convenient snap-on blade system, it takes a second to simply remove and re-attach another blade—no screwdriver required, like with some other models. Best yet, you will never cut your scalp with the Oster Classic 76.
Affordable, relatively quiet, durable, and reliable, it has a great line of metallic blade attachments and easy-to-find parts, if you should ever need them. It even feels like one of those good old sturdy products that came out of the 1940s.
How do Hair Clipper Blades Work?
When it comes to getting your head shaved, hair clippers are the tool of the trade. In case you didn't know, they use detachable clipper blades. These blades consist of two parts: the outer metal part with the "comb," and a tinier part on the other side with a jagged blade that moves left and right at a high speed. The clipper itself has a tiny extension that fits into the middle of the clipper blade that moves from side to side when the power is turned on. This is what moves the tiny piece on the backside of the blade.
Attaching and Removing Blades
Different brand names handle this in different ways. For instance, some Andis brand clippers might have screw-down blades, which require the usage of a screwdriver to remove. Oster clippers, by contrast, have clip-on blades that easily snap on and off (I prefer these).
Clipper Blade Sizes
Clippers come in sizes #00000 (extremely short!) to #3.75 (for a half-inch buzz cut). When it comes to getting your head shaved or getting an overall very short hairstyle, you'll typically be using extensions #1 to #3. Clippers can also be used with the zero sizes (#0A - #000000) for a hair "down to the scalp" look.
Cost and Lifespan
Metal blades are priced at just under $30 apiece. They're extremely sturdy, and they never heat up, no matter how long they are used. As for how long they last, I'm actually still using my same blades from 2008 on a daily basis.
Best Shampoo for Shaved Heads
A highly recommended product to use is Nioxin. It's especially effective for thinning hair since it works to strengthen and thicken hair shafts and follicles. Nioxin is formulated to remove toxins from your scalp, too—much like an exfoliator.
This is strictly for guys who are losing hair and are contemplating buzzing or shaving their heads. If you're not losing hair, it's not necessary.
Nioxin comes in eight systems, but you'll only be looking at the following:
- If you have a thin/fine hair consistency, look for system one for fine hair or system two for fine and noticeably thinning hair.
- If you have a coarse hair consistency, look for system five for medium/coarse hair, or system six for medium/coarse thinning hair. I
It costs between $20-$40 in stores, depending on how many bottles you're getting in a kit, but you can probably get it cheaper online.
Keep in mind that with a shaved or close-cut hairstyle, one bottle of shampoo could easily last you nearly one year. All you need to use is a very tiny dollop—just spread it across your scalp and rinse it off. You don't need to do it a second time every time you shower.
Tips for Shaved Heads
- The best compliment to a shaved head is facial hair since it draws attention away from the hair or hairline and toward the face and eyes.
- Shaved hairstyles typically look better on guys who still have their hairline, regardless of how thin it's gotten, overall. If you're not in this crowd, you might want to continue with an even shorter clipper extension until all of the hair on your head is completely even, and at the same length.
- If you shave your head, get ready to have it maintained weekly. It depends on how quickly it grows (unevenly or otherwise). It might be a good idea to consider buying hair clippers for home maintenance.
- Your barber might recommend a shorter shave on the sides and back to counterbalance what's on top if you're losing a lot of hair on the top of your head. This is a good move.
- Overweight or bodybuilder types usually look better with shaved heads or shaved hairstyles. Don't let it discourage you if you're slender or average—a short cut combined with a five o'clock shadow can be a great look!
- People of African descent look best with shaved heads. The lighter your skin tone, the more your scalp will appear lighter than your face and neck.
- Be sure to put sunscreen on your scalp if you shave your head. The skin is extremely sensitive and prone to getting sunburnt!
- The biggest hurdle is wondering how you'll look. Here's one simple tip: Regardless of what you might think (such as, "I'm afraid of looking completely bald on top but having darker stubble on the sides and back"), you should always have the barber start off with a longer clipper extension for the top, a shorter extension for the sides and back, and then adjust accordingly! When there's something to work with, things can be fixed after the deed is done.
- It helps compliment the effect if you have light-colored eyes (hazel, green, or blue).
- It's a complete myth that shaving your head with hair clippers will stunt or affect your hair growth in any way. If you're losing your hair, it's going to happen regardless! Don't believe this old wives' tale.
Alternatives to Shaving
If you're a guy, nothing, and I mean nothing, fosters more insecurity than hair loss. To you, it's mortifying and once your confidence is gone, the rest of your life can tend to be a downward spiral.
The proof is in the present-day market: doctors are advocating their hair restoration services, Rogaine is shilling its solution-in-a-bottle, hair clubs convince you of their quick fixes, but one thing is for certain: there is no magic fix. Here's some information I've compiled to help you formulate your own opinion.
Hair Restoration Surgery
I've gone to consultations and evaluations for this at several practices; two were large national brands, and one was a private practice. I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I'm very qualified to give an opinion on this topic between the visits and the extensive research I've done. One thing's for sure: learning more about restoration surgery will more than likely make you want to just shave your head and get it over with.
Finding the Right Doctor
This alone requires the patience of a saint. Finding a doctor who is skilled with this procedure, has great reviews, and is there for you after the procedure is done will take months of your time in extensive research, visitations, internet forum usage, and reference calls. If you choose the wrong doctor, your life can be ruined with permanent scarring, or worse.
What You Want vs. What You'll Get
If you think that hair restoration surgery will give you your old high-school era hairline back, I've got some really bad news for you. Not only will doctors refuse to even attempt to restore the 3+ inches you've lost off of your hairline, but they'll most likely say that it would be impossible to do so without it looking extremely abnormal. Aside from this, and from all of the heavily Photoshopped television commercials and brochures, actual results of this surgery can range from, That looks alright, I suppose" to, "I don't see a damn difference." It'll be up to you to talk to actual patients who had the procedure done and see the results in person.
You Need "Significant Loss" to Qualify
Any reputable hair restoration clinic will only allow you to even be a candidate if you have significant loss. That means most young men (typically in their 20s) will not qualify unless their crown—the top of their head—has a very significant degree of hair loss and the back of their head is considered to be an ample donor area. The reason why is because the healthy hair that currently exists on the top of your head will become stressed if surgery is attempted and will fall out, making the surgery counterproductive. Doctors would rather wait for those hairs to simply fall out naturally, over time, and then have you consider the surgery again in the future.
About the Strip Procedure and Permanent Scars
A certain unnamed corporation who runs hair restoration clinics across the country (of whom will remain un-named) is infamous for a strip procedure, also known follicular unit transplant (FUT), that involves the removal of an entire strip of skin from the back/center of your head, which is then put under a microscope so that grafts, or individual hair units, can be removed and then replanted into the sparse areas of your crown.
Conclusively, the skin strip is stitched back on. Do a Google image search to see this in action, if you dare. It is not a pretty procedure, and it nearly guarantees some form of permanent scarring. You will never be able to maintain a short style on the back of your head for the rest of your life due to the permanent scars that will remain. This fact alone has lead to a great deal of psychological damage within patients who have not been able to cope with the after-effects.
If you really want to get hair restoration, you'll want to look into clinics specializing in spot procedures like NeoGraft and various others that remove hairs from various areas of your head without having to remove a strip of hair. They are far more expensive than the strip procedure, though. It is also difficult to get accepted for them as a candidate, especially if you've already lost a lot of hair.
Cost of the Procedure
Expect strip procedure grafts to cost around $5-7/graft. Considering a 2,000 graft procedure, that would be 2,000 x $6 (for example) = $12,000. It's a hefty cost for a procedure that may or may not give the results you're imagining.
Recovery From the Surgery
A deal-breaker for many is that you won't want to be in public eye for at least two weeks after the surgery, which is when the top of your head will be pockmarked with scars from hundreds of grafts. Worse yet, the back of your head will have permanent scars extending across the entire back/mid-section of your head, and you will never be able to shave your head back there beyond a certain length without it being very visible to anyone behind you.
Much to candidates' displeasure, it takes quite a long time for results to show. Somewhere between half a year and one full year, the hair will start growing in fully. Around that time, however, you'll most likely have to go again for your second procedure. I hope you're getting good raises at work!
Toupees and the Hair Club
How It Works
The famous "Hair Club for Men" and its competitors specialize in hairpieces. Most people don't know what exactly this involves, though—be sure to search the internet for actual testimonials of the procedure. In short, these clinics shave the top of your head entirely, and glue (yes, glue) a toupee that matches your dimensions and hair color.
Permanent Return Visits
As you've imagined, that hair on the top of the head keeps growing, which means you'll have to return to the clinic, get the hairpiece removed, get the old glue cleaned off, get your scalp re-shaved, have your hair cut by their stylist, and have the entire procedure repeated. This is a permanent fixture in your life, for as long as you want to have the hairpiece. It also has a cost associated with each visit. :)
What Can Go Wrong
There certainly are horror stories about going this route. The most common of all includes getting bouts of unreasonable itching that can never be remedied until the hairpiece is removed. Additionally, if the hairpiece wasn't fastened properly, it will feel off, which can be a scary situation in public.
Perhaps one of the most alternative quick-fixes of them all: the procedure known as cosmetic tattooing involves a trained clinician drawing hundreds of tiny follicle-sized markings directly on to the scalp. The end result makes the patient look as if they have no baldness whatsoever, but it is only for those who plan to have a shaved head for the rest of their life since it creates a top "blend" with the shadowed appearance of the sides of your shaved head.
It typically costs around $4,000-$5,000 depending on how much is needed. The procedure may have to be touched up at some point, as scalp tattoos don't always have the same color depth and lifespan as a conventional tattoo. There's no data on how this procedure lasts in the long run, especially in regard to how it looks when a 20-year-old patient eventually turns 80 and those colored follicles no longer match with gray hair or stretch as the skin ages.
Hair-Loss Treatment Products
Doctors seem to love to recommend one or the other on you (mostly Propecia). Both are self-proclaimed solutions for hair loss that clinically help re-grow hair, which is a complete farce. They help you keep what you've got and that's if you happen to fall within the percentage of patients that they actually work for. Remember: if you've lost hair, the only way to get it back is to go for transplant surgery.
This is an oral pill. It has the same precursor to Rogaine, except it has sexual side effects that many patients discuss in online hair loss forums. I don't know about you, but I think I'll do without that. Propecia is usually heralded for helping the front of your head in regard to hair loss, rather than the back. This is why many doctors recommend taking a combo of both Propecia and Rogaine at the same time. Yet they fail to realize that most, if not all of us, don't make doctor's salaries. A 30-day supply of Propecia is around $65.
Rogaine Foam is exactly like commonplace mousse—it's not greasy at all. If you have a shaved head or a close buzz cut, it's completely invisible after you put it on. You're supposed to put it on twice a day for the rest of your life. Rogaine only works on the spot in the back/top region of your head, not on your hairline. If you stop, hair loss will accelerate from that point on. A three-month supply of Rogaine is around $50; a far more economical alternative to Propecia.
What Is the Headblade Sport?
If you thought about using a razor and shaving cream to get the job done, there's a safer alternative to getting one of those cheap disposable blades, which will make your scalp look like a horror movie.
A newer product called the "Headblade Sport" was created just for men looking to do this. It's got wheels for maneuverability, requires no pressure against your scalp to work, and was designed to be accident-free.
I've honestly never tried it, since I don't use shaving cream and a razor but rather clipper blades.
Hopefully, this has given you something to think about or at least allowed you to see things in a different light. Embrace the possibility of shortening that hairstyle and ditching that old lifestyle you hated so much. It just might be the confidence boost you've been looking for!
Think about it: when you have a shaved head, that means no more hairspray, gel, or mousse. No more hair dryers. No more shampoo. 20-30 more minutes in the morning between the shower and the handheld mirror fiasco you probably go through each day. That's a pretty damn good perk, don't you think?
When your hair is all at equal length, you'll wonder why you never had done this before. You won't have to worry about how you look at different angles (in person and in pictures) or under fluorescent lights or outdoors! Good luck and happy clipping! :)