Should I Shave My Head? – All Your Questions Answered
If you're reading this, you've probably been thinking about shaving your head for a while.
This article aims to answer lots of frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision so that, if you do decide to shave your head bald, you are doing it for all the right reasons.
Why Shave your Head?
There are many reasons why you might consider shaving your head, but the most usual one is that your hair is thinning and receding and you don't know what to do.
This is a personal issue which will bother some more than others and there are several hair growth remedies available e.g. lotions (such as Minoxidil), lasercombs and food supplements, each of which offer varying levels of success.
If you have tried them all and found them wanting, then shaving your head bald may be the answer to eliminate the tension and anxiety of constantly examining the progression of your hair loss and take control.
What are the Benefits of Shaving my Head?
There are several benefits to shaving your head bald, especially if you are going thin on top in the first place:
In addition, taking care of a bald head is relatively low maintenance, but definitely not no maintenance, and whether you would agree with this largely depends on how much time and attention you pay to your hair in the first place.
If you are in the lucky position to have a full head of hair, you may well decide to keep it, however the benefits are the same for you too, if you agree that bald is beautiful.
Is Shaving my Head Good for my Hair?
Shaving your head makes no material difference to your hair's health although it will provide you with a "clean sheet", so to speak.
If your hair has been damaged by heat, artificial hair colourants, bleaching or general environmental factors then shaving it all off and starting again could be beneficial.
However if, when it grows back, you then subject it to the same treatment, it will soon be just the same as it ever was.
If I Shave my Head, How Long will it Take to Grow Back?
The rate at which hair grows is largely genetically determined and also varies depending upon which area of the body it is located.
As a rough guide, the hair on your head grows at an average rate of ½" (1.24 cm) per month.
Could Shaving my Head Make my Hair grow Back Thicker?
The short answer is no; each of your hairs are rooted within a cell-lined sac, known as the hair follicle, which is not affected by shaving.
When you shave, you essentially cut the hair off at the skin's surface, which is at the thickest part of the hair shaft but does not affect the root (think of cutting the grass).
Therefore, all that will happen is that the hair that you have cut will carry on growing, which is why you need to shave so often to keep your skin smooth and hairfree.
Initially, it may seem thicker as the hair was chopped at its widest part, but as time and environment takes its toll, the ends will thin and your hair will be exactly the same as usual.
Will Shaving My Head Make my Hair Straighter?
In the same way as shaving will not make your hair thicker, nor will it make your hair any straighter.
Whether you have straight or curly hair is genetically determined and simply shaving it has no effect on this.
It is worth noting that if you have curly hair, you are more prone to ingrown hairs, which are caused when hair grows back in on itself. You therefore need to be even more vigilant with your preventative measures.
Will Shaving my Head Cure Dandruff?
Dandruff is a condition of the skin, causing it to be dry and flaky, so shaving your head is not a cure in itself.
It will, however, make it easier to treat the dandruff and keep the scalp hydrated and moisturized.
Could Shaving my Head Cause Hair Loss?
Shaving your head will not cause you to lose any more hair than you have lost naturally.
As explained previously, it has no effect on the hair follicles and so the root of the hair that has been cut is still active and will continue to grow.
If you are looking at it from the perspective of having a full head of hair before you start shaving, then you can reliably expect to revert to the same state if you decide the bald look is not for you after all.
What are the Downsides of Shaving my Head?
There are a few less positive things to think about before shaving your head.
The main side-effects are the same as that of shaving your face i.e. the risk of irritation, razor burn and ingrown hairs.
Here are a few things you can do to minimise these risks:
There are a couple of other things to bear in mind i.e. maintenance and head protection.
To maintain a smooth, bald head you will need to shave it regularly, probably every 3 - 4 days, depending on your individual hair growth cycle.
Although you don't have hair to wash, you should maintain the same cleanliness regime for your scalp, using a small amount of shampoo and then a conditioner to keep it soft.
Don't be tempted to use your regular shower gel or soap for this as it will make your scalp dry and flaky - not a great look.
Regular moisturizing is a must, as your scalp will no longer have hair to protect it. I would recommend argan oil or tea tree oil or the like, massaged gently into the head.
Massaging helps to stimulate the blood flow to the scalp and feels wonderful and relaxing.
You need to think about your bald head and the elements, as it no longer has the cosy protection of your hair.
So, in the summer this means regular use of a good, high factor sunscreen and a cap or hat on sunny days and a hat and scarf on cold, winter days.
When applying sunscreen, don't be sparing and don't forget the back of your neck and your ears.
What's the Best Way to Shave my Head?
If you are shaving your head for the first time, the first thing you need to do is to trim your hair to a very short stubble.
Your can use scissors for this, or even easier, use hair clippers on their shortest setting.
Ideally have a hot shower to soften the hair, which will reduce the risk of irritation and ingrowns. Alternatively, simply wet your hair with water, as hot as you are comfortable with.
Use a pre-shave oil, particularly if you have sensitive skin, and a good shaving cream, which you should use generously and leave on for a few moments before shaving.
Make sure that you have a good razor with new, sharp blades.
Start at the sides, with the finer hair and work towards the top, gliding evenly, in the direction of hair growth, without using pressure.
Keep rinsing the razor every 2 or 3 strokes to remove build up of hair and cream and re-apply cream where necessary.
Try to avoid going over the same area initially, and only shave in the direction of hair growth until your scalp becomes accustomed to being shaved.
When you have finished, use cold water on your scalp to clean off any surplus cream and close your pores, then pat dry gently.
Use a mild aftershave lotion, avoiding any alcohol based products as the last thing you want to do is dry the scalp out.
As an alternative, there are a number of electric razors for shaving the head, which may be easier at least to begin with but, as a rule, will not achieve the closeness of a wet shave.
If you would like more information we have published a separate roundup review of best bald care products.
Head Shaving - Summary of Pros and Cons
Pros of Head Shaving
- Taking Control
- Increased Self Esteem
- DIY - can be done at home
- Cost - no more barber
- Convenience - no more hair care
- Relief - no more worrying about hair loss
Cons of Head Shaving
- Regular Shaving - probably every 3 - 4 days
- Head Care - regular moisturizing and sunscreen
- Hats/Scarves - protection from summer heat and winter cold needed
- Irritation - risk of razor burn and ingrown hairs