Whether you’re considering a bold new look or aim to take control of that thinning hairline, shaving your head is both a drastic, yet understandable course of action.
There’s absolutely no shame in baldness, but some guys won’t allow genetics to dictate how they present to the world, and fair enough.
The two options are to look into the treatments for hair loss, or shave it all off and start saving money on shampoo and barber's bills.
But is it safe to shave your own head? And can you really achieve the same effect in front of the bathroom mirror as you can at your local barber?
Turns out: yes.
We went straight to the source and got the rundown from Sophia Perry, manager of Razor Gang Barbershop on the South Coast of NSW, and seriously experienced dab hand when it comes to men's hair, who happily revealed her best insights and recommended gear required for achieving that ideal shave.
Tools of the trade
Sophia says the most common shaving mistakes are the result of not having the right tools for the job.
“I’ve seen guys come into my shop with skin irritations, uneven hairlines and having missed sections of hair all because they didn’t use a sharp razor or a secondary mirror,” she says.
“They’re common mistakes.”
You might be lucky and already own everything required for a superior shave. If not, you shouldn’t have any trouble sourcing the gear locally and without breaking the bank.
There are four things you're going to need to get the best results at home.
1. A decent set of clippers
First off, you’re going to need a set of reliable hair clippers. Sophia uses a pair of Wahl clippers in her barbershop, but most brands will have a suitable option or two that’s within your price range.
You’re looking at anywhere from AUD$50 for a basic set to AUD$300 for professional-grade, and you can pick them up at any department store.
Most hair clippers include several guard sizes for different length cuts and oil for keeping the blades sharp and rust-free—be sure to clean and oil the blades after each use.
2. A quality razor
A safety razor is the best option for shaving your head. They look pretty similar to your standard cartridge or disposable razors, although they’re sharper and feature just one blade which reduces the risk of skin irritation.
Do not use a cutthroat razor. We can all agree that they’re awesome while accepting the emergency room is nowhere you want to be—ever.
“The things I’ve seen people attempt with cutthroat razors just blows my mind,” says Sophia.
3. A mirror
A hand mirror comes in useful for scoping out the progress at the back, so make sure to source one before, not during.
“I’ve always used a second mirror,” says Sophie.
“Whether it’s shaving, cutting or colouring your hair, using a second mirror will take extra time, but having that visual aid will help save you from missing spots.”
Some barbers will argue that shaving in the shower is the best way to go because the hot water opens your pores and softens the skin. But you can’t see what’s happening and it’s bound to waste loads of hot water.
A better idea would be to shower THEN shave in front of the mirror. This way, you won’t risk using all the hot water and pissing off your flatmates, and you'll be able to see better too.
4. A splash of moisture
When it comes to creams and balms, Sophia recommends using a pre-shave cream, followed by the shave gel, then an aftershave and moisturiser if you suffer from dry skin.
There are loads of options, so choose whichever brands you like, but be sure to moisturise after a shave.
Sophia uses a traditional bay rum aftershave, but any aftershave will get the job done, so shop to your preferences.
Start with a buzz cut
Short and simple styles and a completely smooth scalp all start with a buzz cut.
The term "buzz cut" describes any number of short hairstyles that are typically achieved with electric clippers. It’s an easy cut to achieve and incredibly easy to maintain.
Make sure your hair is dry. Attach one of the short length guards to the clippers, switch them on and then move the clippers in straight, deliberate motions following the contours of your head. It’s near impossible to mess this up.
Just be sure to use a guard, even if you’re planning to shave with a razor afterwards.
You’ll be tempted to go without, but clippers are sharp, and you will end up with small cuts that make applying aftershave more painful than it needs to be.
Shaving your own head
Begin with a hot shower or by wrapping your head in a hot towel for several minutes—just like a barber does. The hot water opens the pores and softens the hair, which helps the razor glide over the skin.
The same goes for the pre-shave cream. Massage some into your scalp to soften the hair and provide a protective layer of lube.
Then it’s time to lather up with shaving cream or gel. A little cream goes a long way, and it can dry out quick-smart, so you will likely need to reapply partway through.
Shave with the grain, not against it. “Going against the grain pulls the skin and causes razor rash,” says Sophia.
“There are very few skin types that suit shaving against the grain.”
A simple way to determine which direction your hair grows is to take a credit card and gently drag the edge along the scalp in one direction, then the other.
When moving the card with the grain, the motion feels smooth and is relatively quiet.
When going against, you will feel some resistance, and the noise will be louder. If your head is still rough in spots after the shave, try shaving across the grain or diagonally.
First off, spend several minutes draped in a cold, wet towel. This will help close the pores and soothe the skin. Then, apply the aftershave sparingly.
It will likely sting, but also plays an important role—more than just proving your tolerance to pain, tough guy.
“A traditional aftershave will give that initial burn, but actually takes the itch out of the shave, and kills off any bacteria on the skin that could cause problems down the line.”
Anyone who suffers from sensitive skin, psoriasis, or doesn’t like the burn can opt for a post-shave balm or moisturiser instead.
…and you’re done!
Congratulations, you’ve just shaved your head. Michael Klim would be proud.
And yes, before you ask: to keep that awesome smoothness, you will need to shave every single day. Nobody said grooming was easy.
It's also important to note (if you're new to the chrome dome) that without hair, you’re also far more prone to sunburn. Your head may be in desperate need of a tan, but you definitely don't want to cop a melanoma on the bonce.
As such, you may want to start carrying some sunscreen come summer.
Shaving your own head is a bold step to take, and if it's because your hair has become too thin to pull off with a snazzy hairstyle anymore, it can be a tough pill to swallow.
But with the right equipment, a keen eye, and a steady hand, you can achieve great results from the comfort of your own home, and embrace your baldness once and for all.
Author: Michael Vane
Michael Vane is a freelance writer for Co-pilot.
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Amelia Hanigan