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How Do You Know When It's Time To Shave Your Head?

Photo by Jennifer Ryan Jones

Go ahead and take it all off. Bald is beautiful. It really is! So, if you’ve tried all the hair strengthening shampoos and three-step re-growth systems, it’s a look you should consider. Why? Because when you finally hit the buzzer, you immediately go from dude with the desperate patchy dome to a badass bald guy. Much better! We asked cool kid, Rocky Rakovic, (bald) Head of Content for North America, Time Out to share his insights on when you should shave your head, which products to use and how to own your chrome dome.


What made you decide to shave your head? And how old were you?

I certainly was too-bald-for-my-age before I admitted it to myself.

It's not often that a man sees the back of his head, one regular instance is when a barber completes your haircut he will hold up a mirror behind you so you can inspect his work. I clearly remember one of these instances when he was beaming about a job well done but I thought to myself did he hack off too much --no, it was male pattern baldness taking root(s).

In the latter years of high school, a time when a boy looks into a mirror often, I couldn't see what was going on back there but the front tuft of my hair was starting to resemble an island. And not a cool island, like Maui, but like an old person cruise island where they play Jimmy Buffet on repeat and still do the limbo.

My friends noticed. Once during locker room barbs, one told me that my hair "was wavy." Me: "No it's not." Him: "Yeah, your hair is waving goodbye!"

College came. In my first class, I saw a girl walk in wearing pajama bottoms and slides, that was carte blanche to rock a ball cap 24/7. I bet you a few girls I dated around those years couldn’t tell you my hair color. Thank you New Era!

Then it came time for me and my waning follicles to hit the professional world. Luckily for my extensive collection of ball caps, I landed a gig at a hip magazine where the editors dressed to express themselves. There were some in slick Italian suits, there was the punk rock T-shirt girl and one editor whose wardrobe consisted entirely of Hawaiian shirts. One of my assets back then was being the "young guy" who knew what the "kids were doing," my hairline would have ruined that perception, but luckily the ball caps rested atop my head in the fluorescent lights of office life. Every time I got home from work and removed my cap a few more strands would come with it, and though I was fine to rock a hat at work, events were another story. And if my evening went well and I met someone, we'll it's tough to keep a hat on. I do feel for some of the girls who popped my top off to find a balding man under it. My ball caps were not unlike push-up bras.

It was time. I went to my barber and told him to give me a buzzcut. “Are you certain you want to do that?” he politely asked and then complied. I gave him a $50 tip, wished him luck with the rest of his life and went home to finish the job.


Who are you favorite bald celebrities?

My bald heroes are handsome black men-- Michael Jordan, Common, Treach from Naughty by Nature--I am a pasty white man, so pale that when I looked in the mirror, all I saw were two brown eyebrows. I looked like Humpty Dumpty and I felt and looked like Bald Britney Spears.

You were rocking a beard before the hipster lumberjacks. Did it have anything to do with not having hair on your head?

Over the course of a few weeks, I grew a beard to add some color to my face. One buddy called me Wooly Willy, to which I said, I don't get the reference old man. In the end, it also gave me a better jawline, saved my balaclava budget and reduced the amount of shaving cream I purchased.

When is the best time to de-stubble your dome? Do you shave your head every day?

It depends on your routine, could be after coffee, after a morning run, after reading Marmaduke, whatever your morning grind. But I advise you to do it pre-shower (or while showering if you are a Mensa member). Pre-shower is important as some of the cut hairs will stick to your scalp, you undeniably have shaving cream tucked behind your ears, and you don't know if you are truly done until you've run your hands all over your scalp. Seriously one errant hair that was missed by the razor will feel like Mt. Kilimanjaro on a relief globe.

How often to shave: Probably daily. After a while you can be done and gleaming in five-ish minutes--when I started it was a careful half hour ritual. It's all depending on how much of a five o'clock shadow you get on your dome by the next morning. Plus nothing wakes someone up like running a blade over their cranium first thing in the morning. “How was your morning Geoff?” “I hit snooze five times and was running so late that I just re-wore Monday’s shirt, and forgot to pack a lunch, how was yours?” “AMAZING I ran five sharp, metal blades against my skull and was so jacked up that I responded to all of my unread emails and then folded the dishes!”


Tell us about your set up. What kind of products do you use?

Razor choice: whatever you feel comfortable using. You will have to trust your tool as, unlike when shaving your cheeks, for a good portion of the time you can't see the area you are shaving. Also, you will dull a razor quicker than if you were just shaving your face as there is more surface area, contours, and dead skin. The last thing you want is a less-than-sharp razor dragging across your scalp.


Speaking of shaving cream, if you are a first-timer, do not use a menthol formulation! Treat the top of your head like your down-low grooming, if you think it would burn there it's would do the same to your scalp.

Method. Take it slow. Slow, straight strokes will save your skin. There are more contours on your head than on your face, and, again you are shearing yourself blind, be careful man.


Does your head bleed?

Yessir. Your head probably bleeds more than most parts of your body. Use a styptic pencil (yep, it smarts) or wrap a clean towel around your head. Unfortunately, nicks, cuts and even gashes before you get adept with the razor will happen. People are used to seeing men who cut their faces while shaving in the morning but the first time you show up to work with a fresh wound you'll have to tell your coworkers about the slip lest they think you joined a fight club. Actually maybe let them think you joined a blood sport group, “Come at me, Connor in accounting!”


Do you wear sunscreen?  

Your newly exposed scalp is delicate. Parts of it have never seen the light of day, it has a negative base coat tan, so SPF the shit out of it. One bad day at the beach or ball game the amount of peeling is so traumatic that there will never be a second bad day. Remember your shimmering head is the closest part of your body to the sun.

Do you have any parting words of wisdom for guys hoping to transition from balding wonder to wonderfully bald? 

Hats will feel weird, raindrops feel weird, weird people (sometimes the right kind of weird) will want to touch it.

It felt tantalizing to touch parts of my scalp not exposed since I was a few days old. It felt liberating to see that I had found a look that didn't make me look like an AARP subscriber. It felt euphoric to know that I would never have to pay for a haircut again (I can be tight with a dollar).

Do chicks dig bald guys? Firstly, don't call women chicks, females don't like that, and neither do upstanding men. Secondly, maybe. Own your look. Embrace the bald, and you will be embraced. Hey, if you thought going bald was bad, at least you will never go grey….

This article was written and appeared on Grooming Lounge and our Founder, Mike Gilman, were quoted a lot, so we borrowed the article. Giving them credit -- hope it's OK.

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