How To Shave Your Head
By Matt Forney
With the exception of a two-month stint I spent in North Dakota last year, I’ve cut my own hair once a week for the past five years, and I haven’t regretted a minute of it. If you want to change up your look and/or avoid having to waste an hour every other week at the barbershop, going cueball is a great way to do it. Here are some of the many benefits of shaving your head…
It saves you money.
Good quality haircuts aren’t cheap; the last time I had my hair professionally done, I was shelling out $15 every other week. A quality electric razor will cost you $40-50 up-front, but it pays for itself many times over; I’ve been using the same razor for four years and the same $4 bottle of clipper oil for nearly as long. The razor even survived a cross-country hitchhiking trip (yes, I really am that vain). All I’ve had to do to keep it working is replace the blade every so often and wrap electrical tape around a frayed part of the cord.
It’s low maintenance.
I spend exactly half-an-hour on my hair every week. Depending on how quickly your hair grows and what color it is, you may not even have to do that much. Additionally, you can skip shampooing every night; with no hair, the need to constantly scrub your scalp is lessened.
It makes you look younger and/or more masculine.
There is not a single man on Earth who looks good with male pattern baldness. Women and men both look at guys with monk’s rings—even young guys—and instinctively write them off as ugly old farts. Depending on how old you are, going completely bald will shave years off your appearance and make you look more masculine. For example, I turned 25 recently, but girls I meet in real life usually mistake me for a college undergrad. Not only that, if you already put a minimum of care into your appearance, it’s impossible to look like a pussy when you have a shaved head. The only guy I know who’s managed to pull that off is that loser from R.E.M.
That said, there are a number of downsides to the skinhead look…
It exposes you to UV damage.
Without anything to shield your scalp from the sun’s rays, you’re looking at some pretty painful sunburns—and possible skin cancer—if you’re fair-skinned and spend a lot of time outdoors. In fact, you can even get sunburned in the winter unless you live in a northerly location like Canada or Scandinavia; I once got a mild scalp burn during a biathlon in upstate New York. Get used to either wearing hats or rubbing sunscreen into your skull when you head out the door.
You become much more sensitive to the surrounding temperature.
The vast majority of your body heat is lost through your head, which is why it’s paramount to wear a hat if it’s cold out. Your hair does a decent job at keeping you warm; not having any will make it seem like your surroundings are five degrees colder than they actually are. This is an advantage when it’s hot out because you’ll be sweating less than your friends, but a huge disadvantage in autumn and winter. In my last year of college, I lived in an apartment with poor insulation; even with the heat cranked up all the way, I had to wear a wool cap indoors during the winter to keep from freezing.
Depending on your skin color, you may have to grow a beard to balance out your facial features.
A good rule of thumb is that the lighter your skin, the greater likelihood you’ll need facial hair to pair with your bald head. Black guys generally can get away with being bald and clean-shaven; many white guys who try to pull that off will look like cancer patients. If you can’t grow a good beard, you might as well forget about going cueball.
If this all sounds good, here’s my quick and dirty guide to shaving your head. Note that before you drop any money on expensive razors or other equipment, you should have your barber or hairstylist shave your head so you know what it looks like.
Get the equipment you need.
At the bare minimum, you need an electric razor, a bottle of clipper oil and razor brushes (which are usually included with the razor). My personal recommendation is the Wahl Professional 8110 5-Star Balding Clipper; as I said already, this clipper has lasted me four years without any issues. It cuts cleanly, doesn’t get clogged easily and is small enough to take with you on trips. Note that the Wahl clipper is wall-powered; if you don’t have any outlets in your bathroom, you’ll need to get a battery-powered clipper. Regardless of whatever razor you buy, it has to be a balding razor; regular razors will only cut your hair down to an eighth of an inch, not take it off entirely.
Most razors include a little sample of clipper oil, but it won’t last you more than a couple of uses. You need oil to keep the razor functioning properly and avoid cutting yourself, so make sure to pick up a $4 bottle of the stuff.
While it is possible to shave your head with a hand razor, I don’t recommend it because it takes too long—I’ve never been able to do it in less than an hour-and-a-half—and because the risk of cutting yourself is much higher. Additionally, you also run the risk of creating ingrown hairs with a hand razor.
Before you begin shaving, take your shirt off.
Hair on your clothes is a real bitch to get out, so it’s best to shave half-naked. Additionally, depending on your bathroom layout and/or hair length, you may want to lay some newspapers down beforehand to minimize the mess. You may also want to take a shower afterwards to wash off any stray clumps of hair that get stuck to your chest and shoulders.
Dab some clipper oil on your razor before you start cutting.
After you’ve applied the oil, switch the razor on to ensure that the oil gets spread evenly over the blades. This will pay huge dividends later.
Shave one side of your head at a time.
You want to concentrate on getting all the hair on one portion off your head all at once. For example, I usually start with the right side of my head, move to the back, the left side, and finally the top for last. You can vary it up if you want—because I’m right-handed, I find it easier to start with the right side—but in my experience, the left and right sides are the most time-consuming to shave because your ears make certain portions of your hair difficult to access. If necessary, use your free hand to fold your ear back so you don’t miss anything. When you’ve fully shaved part of your head, run your fingers against the grain to ensure you haven’t missed any spots.
Be careful you don’t cut yourself.
Nicks and cuts are inevitable when you’re starting out, but you don’t need to make them worse. When shaving, move the razor in smooth, even strokes, and press it lightly against your skin so that it’s just barely touching. Also, be careful around bumps and moles, as the razor will all but shred them if you aren’t careful. I’ve actually had to have a dermatologist surgically remove several moles from my head because they were getting in the way of my shaving.
Clean out the blades regularly.
Hair will get stuck in the razor with repeated use, making it less effective. Use your brushes to keep the blades clear. Razors typically come with two, a large one for getting out huge clumps and a smaller, finer one for cleaning out individual nooks and crannies.
Remember to clean up afterwards.
A small but important detail. Fortunately, the clipper oil will cause your hair to come off in tiny little clumps, which will make sweeping them up a lot easier.
The skinhead look isn’t for every man, but if you’ve got the right stuff, shaving your head will make you considerably more attractive. Good luck!
Read More: How To Shave Like A Barber