Smooth Moves for Shaving Your Head

From the WebMD Archives

Men with shaved heads are seen as more dominant, stronger, and taller, some studies show. That's good news if you're thinking of shaving your head. But before you dive in head-first, here are some things to consider.

When to Shave Your Head

You may be considering shaving your head because it makes balding less obvious. If you've still got some hair to work with, you may not want to rush into it. "Talk to your barber or stylist and get an honest opinion of what you'll look like, because you'll look like a completely different person," says Anthony Susino, a stylist at Louis Licari Salon in New York. He's worked with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Al Pacino. Your barber can help you decide if the shape of your head and scalp are right for a shaved head.

On the other hand, if half or more of your hair is already gone and you want to shave off the rest, go for it, Susino says. "You already know what you're going to look like."

How to Shave Your Head

“If you’ve never done it yourself, go to your local barber and get it done there,” says Carolyn Goh, MD. She's an assistant clinical professor in dermatology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. “It’s much easier to maintain after it’s already been shaved.”

If you want to do it yourself, Goh says, buy a set of hair clippers and cut your hair really short first. Then bring in a razor to remove the last bit of stubble.

Be sure to do that razor work in the shower, says Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “You want to shave toward the end of your shower, when your scalp is at its softest and most pliable,” Day says.

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Smooth Shaving

Try these tips for a better shave:

  • Use a new, multi-blade razor. It will give a closer shave and require fewer passes over sensitive scalp skin. (Make sure your barber uses a new blade, too, if you have it done professionally.)
  • You can use the same kind of shaving cream or gel that you use to shave your face. To avoid irritation, though, it should be one made for sensitive skin. “You want something gentle, without a lot of additives or fragrance,” Goh says.
  • Work with a mirror, especially if you're a novice. “Start in an area you can see and that you have better control over, like the front or sides, as you get the feel of the razor,” Day says. “Your scalp will have curves and bumps that may not conform exactly to the razor, and you’re doing it blind in some areas, so you really have to get comfortable."
  • Don't rush.

Some men never seem to get the hang of head shaving. If you don't, don't sweat it. “If you’re always getting nicks and cuts, head shaving with a razor may not be for you,” Day says. “That’s one situation where an electric razor would really be good."

After-Care

Now that your hair is gone, you may be tempted to get rid of your hair care products. Don't. Shampoo your scalp daily to get rid of oils and keep it clean.

These tips will also keep your scalp healthy:

  • Moisturize right after shaving and as needed between shaves. It will help soothe any irritation you might have.
  • If you break out right after shaving your head, relieve the redness and any discomfort with a benzoyl peroxide cleanser. (Breaking out is normal, especially if you have thick, curly hair.) Day recommends using it once a day, either right before you shave or in the evenings between shaves.
  • Protect your bare scalp from the sun. Smooth on a sun block with at least a 30 SPF every day, or wear a hat in the sun.

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Keeping the Look

How often should you shave your head? See how quickly it grows. “It depends on how much of a 5 o’clock shadow you’re willing to deal with,” Goh says, “but I know some men who do it every day to keep it smooth.”

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on October 30, 2013

Sources

SOURCES:

Doris Day, MD, dermatologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY.

Carolyn Goh, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA.

Mannes, A. Social Psychological and Personality Science, July 16, 2012.

Anthony Susino, hairstylist, Louis Licari Salon, New York, NY.

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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