An Ounce of Preparation
Before you actually shave your head down to the skin (or close to it) you’ll want to do a few things to prepare your hair and scalp for the process. If you have any sort of scalp condition, sores, infected follicles, or anything else that affects your scalp’s health and surface, it’s a good idea to get treatment for that first before you start applying any sort of cutting mechanism to your head. You may also find that once you’ve shaved your head your scalp will have fewer issues that stem from sweat buildup or hair follicle infections.
Once you are ready to get rid of all your hair there are two ways we can go about it – manual or electric. We’ll go over both, but no prizes for which I think is the better option.
Traditionally, shaving one’s head was done with a straight edge razor, preferably by a professional. Since the scalp has a completely different texture and shave than the face, it’s not a straight transition from one to the other. Doing this sort of shave yourself is pretty hard, since you have to shave parts of your head that you can’t see, and judging depth and angle using a second mirror takes practice. There are many nicks and cuts that lay between the beginner and the veteran when going the straight edge route.
These days I would not recommend you use any manual razor other than a safety razor, but even then the odd cut is inevitable. If you think a facial cut hurts, wait until you do it to your scalp. I speak from experience when I say it’s a real pain in the behind. Well, behind the head that is.
Anyway, before you shave with a razor you need to cut your hair down to stubble using an electric clipper.
The cut doesn’t have to be even or precise – you’re shaving it all anyway – it just needs to be as short as you can make it.
Once you’ve got it all trimmed down you need to get your scalp as wet as possible and rubbed in with the lubricant of your choice. You can use any shaving lubricant you’d like, but I’d recommend a shaving lubricant specifically meant for head shaving. I’ve reviewed a few here. If that’s not appealing to you, have a look at my reviews of regular shaving creams here.
It’s a good idea to have a hot shower or splash your scalp with hot water before the shave so that all the pores open up nicely.
Once you’ve rubbed the lubricant in well you can start shaving. It’s always a good idea to start with the softer hair first, to let the coarser hair soak a bit in the lubricant. Whether you shave with or against the grain is really up to you. The former is less irritating to the skin and the latter gives a closer shave, so that would depend on your individual tolerance to skin irritation.
When you’ve shaved it all be sure to treat any nicks or cuts if you were unfortunate enough to get some. If you feel bumps or other irritation you may benefit from an aftershave balm for sensitive skin. Be sure to rinse the scalp before applying the balm.
Using balding clippers is my recommended way to shave the head. You can check out my reviews of balding clippers here.
The difference between regular old hair clippers and balding clippers is that the blades are sharper and the cut is much closer to the skin.
The advantages include not having to trim your hair first. You also don’t absolutely have to shave with a lubricant, although I’d still recommend it. Furthermore, there’s little risk of cutting yourself, although you should still be careful, given how sharp balding clippers are.
Unlike the manual razor, you can take multiple passes with the balding clippers without worrying about additional irritation. You can also usually get away with not needing a balm afterwards.
Simply shave every part of your head with the balding clippers until the desired smoothness is reached. It couldn’t be easier.
While the truth is that nothing matches the manual razor for closeness, there’s no comparison to how easy the clippers are and they also make daily maintenance of your shave a possibility, never letting your hair grow past a one or two day stubble.
If all this shaving malarky makes you a bit nervous you may be thinking it’s a good idea to use a hair removal chemical instead of risking an altercation with a sharp object.
Honestly, I’d think twice before doing that. I have found the scalp to be a much more finicky bit of skin than the legs or back where you would usually use hair removal cream. Try this method at your own peril. You’d have to trim down to stubble in any case with a clipper, so why not just do the whole job with balding clippers to begin with?
If you’ve never done the shaved head thing before, you’ll want to make sure not to get caught out with inadequate aftercare. The scalp is usually covered with hair, which protects it from the sun and element. Even your balding patch had a thin layer of hair that gave some protection to the skin underneath.
You’ll want to seriously consider getting a hat and making use of sunscreen or a lotion that includes a little bit of sun protection if you are only outdoors for small amounts of time, such as when walking to a car.
With a little care you’ll keep that head of yours in healthy shape and paint a much more attractive picture. Bald is beautiful, baby!