These days, there are a lot more guys rocking the shaved head look. This hasn’t always been the case though. In fact, I’m pretty sure that even if I was blind I’d be able to guess someone’s age based exclusively on how they talk to me about my shaved head. Things like, “Goin’ for that Kojack look, eh?” or “I like the Bruce Willis hairdo” used to be common comments that I heard. Fortunately, with the abundance of A-list stars embracing the look these days, people are beginning to have more of a context for the choice to go razor bald instead of rocking the donut ‘do and shaving your head has become a respectable and dignified way to manage the follicular recession that is genetically inevitable for so many.

So if you’ve been spending more time shopping for hats lately or have considered trying out some volumizing shampoo, perhaps it’s time to face the facts and consider embracing the inevitable with style.

Admittedly, the idea of taking a blade to your scalp for the first time can be a bit daunting, so I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you get started. With a little care, you’ll be looking sharp and feeling clean in no time.

A note about the sun:

Hair makes for an incredibly effective sunscreen. There are two reasons why this is important:

  1.  Once you go bald, you need to consider how much exposure your head gets. It can burn easily and nobody wants to see your glowing red, peeling bald head; to say nothing of the health risks. Use sunscreen, wear a hat to the lake or ballgame, take care of yourself….
  2.  For the fair-skinned, any amount of hair on your head will block sun and once removed, will reveal a bright white scalp that screams, HEY, LOOK AT MY HEAD!!! This is not what you want. For this reason, I like to either shave very consistently (every 3 days or so), or make sure that I always shave my head the day before I have plans that will keep me outdoors for any length of time.

Buy the Right Tools

My uncle Jim once told me when I balked at the idea of learning to weld, that “any job is easy if you’ve got the right tool.” This has proved to be one of the most sage pieces of advice that I have ever received and it has been invaluable to me on a number of fronts. Get the right tools, and learn how to use them. End of story.

  1. Buy Good Razors: There are a lot of options and even more opinions, but for my money (and the sake of my scalp) I exclusively use Harry’s razors. They are high quality, extremely affordable, and most importantly, a class above all other disposable razors.
  2. Find a Good Shaving Soap/Cream: By this, I do not mean “go buy something from the Walmart clearance rack.” I love the routine of an actual shave soap and Herban Cowboy Dusk Shave Soap is a nice smelling, natural option that I’m fond of. Over the years though, I’ve moved to almost exclusively using an actual shave cream. They do a great job of helping to prevent nicks, they travel well, and they don’t dry my scalp out as much as standard shave soap. I recommend getting a cleaner option like Counterman Shave Cream from Beautycounter – I’ve used it exclusively since it came out and it’s become my go-to.
  3. Use a Shave Brush: It goes without saying that you will need this if you opt to use shave soap, but it’s a good idea even when using shave cream from a tube. Application is smooth and consistent and minimizes waste. However, please note that not all shave brushes are created equal. Until I graduated to using a high quality, boar hair brush (badger is good too), I literally threw away a dozen cheap brushes per year because the bristles kept falling out. Trust me on this one, just invest now.
  4. Use Aftershave: There are an unimaginable amount of options when it comes to aftershave; creams, gels, tonics etc, etc. I’ve tried a lot of things and for my money, there is no better option than a good old fashioned, astringent aftershave. And because I prefer to keep my regimen free of unnatural ingredients, I like to use Counterman Cooling Aftershave Tonic. It does the job admirably and smells like bergamot and vetiver.
  5. Don’t Forget to Moisturize: Shaving scrapes a layer of skin off of your head. Aftershave closes up the pores but dries your scalp out. You have to put a little love back into your scalp by using a good lotion to hydrate that gleaming pate. Because my head can be a little tender after shaving, I like to use a more gentle facial moisturizer, which makes Counterman Oil-Free Face Lotion the perfect solution.

Respect the Routine

 For the most part, shaving your head follows the same basic rules and principals of shaving your face, of which there is an endless supply of online advice to be found. For that reason, I’ll just zero in on a handful of the most salient points and you can take it from there.

  1. Buzz Your Head: Not unlike sanding a table, you have to start with coarse grit and work down to fine or you’ll wear out your tools before you get the job done. Unless you shave every couple days while your growth is still very short (less than 1/8”), you’ll need to use some hair clippers (without a guard) to mow down the overgrowth first. Otherwise, you’ll spend most of your time trying to rinse hair out of your razor instead of removing it from your head.
  2. Start With Heat: Whether you shower first (best), douse your head with hot water from the sink (acceptable) or employ a whole hot towel regimen (effective but a tad bit pretentious), it is essential that you start with heat to relax your hair follicles and prepare your scalp. Otherwise you’ll be swimming upstream for the whole rest of the process.
  3. Use Warm Soap/Cream: This isn’t just because it feels nice. Cold shaving cream can shock your scalp causing pores to close up and hair follicles to become rigid. Using a shave brush that has soaked in hot water for a few minutes ensures that you’re not giving your head a cold shower just before a big date.
  4. Use a Fresh Razor: Some guys are hell bent on economy, but I’ve found that shaving my head with a fresh razor produces infinitely better results than trying to reuse them. Enough so that I’ve fully converted over to single use only. That’s why Harry’s is such a great way to go.
  5. Make Two Passes: Your scalp isn’t the same as your face. Follicles are closer together and it requires a little more work to get a good smooth shave. On the upside, shaving against the grain isn’t quite the no-no that it is when shaving your face. I like to make one pass over my whole head, always with the grain; and then reapply soap and do a second, this time against the grain, working particularly on the crown to make sure all cowlicks are covered.
  6. Don’t Forget Your Neck: It’s easy to forget, but nothing looks quite so bad as a cleanly shaved head with a distinct line of untrimmed neck hair creeping up. Make a quick pass and clean that area up.
  7. Transition Your Beard: If you are planning to rock the beard/shaved head combo, nothing screams, “I JUST SHAVED MY HEAD” so much as a hard stop where your beard meets your scalp. Use your clippers to gradually fade your beard out, starting at the bottom of your ears and fading to nothing by the top of them. Trust me.
  8. Rinse Twice: Once you’re done, rinse your head first with room temperature water. Then repeat with very cold water. This helps you clear out any leftover soap and skin before closing up those pores.
  9. Pat your head dry, never rub.
  10. Apply aftershave liberally.
  11. Moisturize: Once your head has fully dried but before you feel your skin getting taut, this is when you want to apply your moisturizer. Omitting this step will cause your skin to work overtime to replace the natural oils and can lead to a dry and/or overly oily scalp.

Going razor bald can be a bit of a leap, but if done correctly it can also be a completely liberating way take back the reins of your personal appearance and refuse to have your “look” be defined exclusively by your genes.

So why not take the plunge? It’s not like it won’t grow back in a few days anyway……

Considering shaving your head? What other questions do you have?

37 Thoughts to “18 Tips for Shaving Your Head (and Living to Tell About It)”

  1. Not that this is all that relevant, but just thought I’d clarify that skinhead =/= nazi or racist, it started apolitical, and for the most part still is, it’s just that the nazi “skinheads” are more interesting to do a news story on.

  2. My father, after he got to the point of 45 years, started to shave his head, but I always thought he just wants to hide his gray hair. Will send him this article for sure! Thanks

  3. im a female who shaves her head.. for the liberation and freedom to be someone i envisioned. now i know why i didnt get a smooth finish… i had no idea what i was doing and didnt know there was so many steps to the process.. i got stubble and alot now on the third day. this was something i always wanted to do and now i can say I DID IT ! i might try again in the future using these tips. i do however want to know if you have any guidance for me to fins a solution for acne on my scalp.. thats another reason i was hesitant to shave my head but hey.. another day probably ill get it just perfect.

    1. Using alcohol, or an alcohol based after-shave, right after you do the job will prevent breakouts and acne. I used to break out on my face when i shaved until someone taught me this. Now it never ever happens.

      1. An alum block can be great to calm the skin, heal any ‘weepers’ and is great on spots and acne. Witch-hazel is also brilliant.

  4. My husband almost shaves his head. He uses his clippers with no attachment. The problem is afterward his scalp breaks out with many pimples. I wonder why?

    1. It’s hard to say – since you use clippers with a dry scalp it’s possible that his scalp is getting irritated in the process. Also, clippers can carry bacteria which, in combination with the irritation, could be causing the issues. Perhaps he could try doing a post-shave regimen similar to what you’d do when using an actual razor, to help clean the scalp and seal the pores? Hope that helps….

    1. RGI – Sorry for the huge delay responding. This is an excellent point that I think I need cover better in the future. I’m a big fan of having a signature scent, whatever that may be, and as a result, I look for mostly unscented or very lightly scent products in every other area so as to not obscure my intentional signature scent. So it’s kind of a balancing act in general, but there are a lot of great unscented skin care products out there if you look for them. Hope that helps.

  5. I appreciate this. Your experiences growing up were very interesting to me.
    I am 21 and just shaved last week. My thick black hair started to thin a year ago and hats simply can’t cover up how I feel about that. Being bald used to be a nightmare, (literally,) and now I could not have made a better decision. It looks good, feels great, and I am better off because I have no worries. Hat shopping is more enjoyable too.
    The response has been supportive and I have recieved plenty of compliments from friends and family. Mom isn’t too keen on it though. I told her that I plan on staying bald for life; I wasn’t expecting that news to give her so much grief. She’ll get used to it!
    This article is what I have been looking for Ben. From covering your shaving method to informing me about the sun. You helped me with everything I need to know!
    I am getting Harry’s razors as well. Thank you for the suggestion.

    1. Hey man I’m 21 as well, I’ve got alopecia at the back of my head which is getting hard to cover up and I’m considering taking the plunge and shave it all off. Just wondered how you managed with people’s reactions of seeing you bald for the first time, I just can’t bare thinking about seeing friends for the first time completely bald after having almost normal hair now?!

      1. I’m with you, Adam. I’m two weeks into shaving my head, and responses to my look have been good. I have to shave often, because the alopecia spots are apparent from the get-go. But I feel it beats the anxiety of trying to hide bald spots back there. Good luck, man.

      2. Adam – sorry for the delay in getting back to you: holidays, work, etc. It didn’t come as much of a surprise to most in my circles, but I do think that the stark brightness of my scalp was probably my least favorite component of that experience. For that reason, I always try to shave my head before I’m going to spend any length of time outside or a couple days in advance of any event where I want to look especially sharp. This serves the purpose of getting some color balance between the newly shaved areas and my face before I have to “go public.” Hope that helps.

      3. Alopecia Aereata sucks. I had it when I was in my late 20’s and I just got it again a few weeks back. The good thing is that it goes away by itself in a few months. As for people’s reactions. I suggest just telling your friends and family about your plans in a joking thinking-out-loud kindda way. Just keep saying every now and then for a few weeks and they’ll get used to the idea. Good luck!

    2. Lol my mom freaked out too. She kept going on about how I was born with such a beautiful head of hair haha, she’ll get used to it though.

  6. I ordered the starter pack/trial pack from Harry’s and after reading through their included literature, it said that it’s not to be used for shaving your head and to call them and they’d take care of me. So I dialed them up and talked to a customer service rep who said they don’t do any head shaving products but are “working on it actively.” and I asked them to cancel my monthly subscription I had just signed up for. My question: is it okay to go ahead and use their razor to shave my head? I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be.

    1. Greg – Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’ve heard this a couple times now, so clearly Harry’s has felt the need to take a position on this since my last interaction with their marketing guys. That being said, I use their razors regularly and have nothing but good things to say. Have I nicked or sliced myself? Sure…but it was always when I got impatient or distracted and not at all the fault of the equipment. Hope that helps.

  7. Hello! Thank you for the article! I shaved my head last night. Prior to shaving it, I had some issues with a itchy scalp. After shaving, my scalp bled in a few spots and now has lots of small red spots. What can I do to help with that? I tried aloe vera gel already.
    I do love the shaved look, though! (Aside from the red spots)

    1. Roy – it’s liberating, isn’t it? There are a couple things to consider here:

      1. Your scalp probably isn’t used to being shaved with a razor, or being exposed to the elements, which means that some level of adjustment is to be expected. The red bumps will probably go down and the more that your scalp gets fresh air and sunlight, the less issue you’ll have with dry scalp and likely as a result, the less bleeding you’ll have when shaving.
      2. I would highly recommend you try Thayer’s Original Witch Hazel for your immediate, post shave treatment. The Witch Hazel is an astringent to close the pores and tighten skin, but this particular brand has just enough additional stuff in it to also soothe and condition irritated skin. I discovered it well after writing this article but it has become an irreplaceable part of my regimen.
      3. Make sure the moisturizer you use is good quality and clean. Heavy fragrance and/or cheap moisturizer can sometimes be worse than not using a moisturizer at all. Also, I suggest using a facial moisturizer for your whole head – I mentioned this in the post, but if your scalp is sensitive at all, you need something lighter than the standard hand or body moisturizer you’ll find.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Roy, you could try using an alum block after shaving, something which will take away any irritation or razor burn and heal any slight nicks/cuts/weepers you may have. They are available on Amazon and eBay and very cheap, and can also be used as a natural (and very effective) deodorant.

  8. I’m 27 and I started shaving when I was 24 I was already losing enough hair where it was a lost cause. When I first started shaving I would wear a hat but when I moved to a new a city I thought I would have to get use to the look so I started when I would stop wearing now I’m use to it. I do the routine every 2-3 days after a shower I do it similer to the guy in the video.

  9. I’ve tried various foams and gels and the best one I’ve come across is Head Slick. It might seem expensive, but the 8 oz (250 mL) bottle I bought in the middle of September has just run out, and that’s with daily shaves! Not only does it last for long time, but I don’t suffer from shave rash or cuts when using it and a good safety razor (I like the Wilkinson Sword Quattro). I have started using their Head Lube as a post-shave treatment and my scalp has never been better.

    1. Since writing this I’ve switched to a safety razor and the products have also changed. The routine I’ve settled into his:
      1. Apply a very warm wash cloth for a few minutes
      2. Rub in some Proraso pre-shave balm
      3. Using a Benny’s silvertip synthetic brush, apply a good layer of shave cream (I’m alternating between Taylor of Old Bond Street, Proraso white, and Proraso blue
      4. Shave against the grain, something which is usually not recommended but seems okay when there’s only one day’s growth. If it’s been a couple of days or more, I’ll shave with, across, then against the grain for that BBS feeling
      5. Wipe over with the new now cool cloth
      6. Rub over the whole head with an alum block and then apply witch-hazel, leaving to air dry
      7. Moisturiser, usually a good vitamin E one, but I’m planning on trying one of the Proraso aftershave lotions

      I feel better using less plastic in my shaving routine as the blades are wrapped in paper and cardboard boxes, and the razor will last a lifetime. Proraso shave cream also comes in metal tubes, so that’s even less plastic waste – it’s great value for money as well. Also, everything I use is vegan and cruelty free.

  10. I went from having VERY long hair (used to grow it out till I could donate 20″ each time) to reverting back to the buzzcut from my Military and Police days. Past couple years, the grey has been sneaking in, so I took the plunge and shaved it smooth. Did get questions/comments from those who knew me (“but you weren’t balding”, “but you have grey in your long beard”, etc), but a month in, and everyone has seemed to adjust.
    Been shaving every 2 days using Barbasol and splashing on Old Spice, but definitely going to be following these tips. Great article, off to check out Harry’s!

  11. I must recommend you for this post…i fall to the category shaving every 2-3 days as my hair grow faster. I use Gillet shaving stick with a double blade fresh & new also with bathing soap, But i dont use any after shave rather i use a raw Aleo Vera leaf apply it all over my head and leave to dry after some hours i wash it off then apply olive oil to get it smooth and shinne..🙂 I repeat this for process at least 2days, whats your take on this proceedure for me i think it’s safer i get scared using shaving creams to avoid anything called cancer of the skin as they all are chemical base. but i noticed sometimes when i dont shave withing the space of 3-4day i beging to have irritations all over my head. What may be the cause of that? Please enlighten me on this. I cant do without shaving i will say i dint like to see hair on my head for real!

  12. I’m brown guy curious to shave head. My face is much tanned than my scalp. So If I shave head, it will look awkward with lighter scalp and darker face. How to alleviate this? Can this be hidden by a three day hair growth?

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