As men, we don’t have much guidance when it comes to grooming, and that’s especially true for losing hair and going fully bald. In a lot of ways, once we start losing our hair, it’s on us to figure out what to do next. And… that’s a shame, really! It can be a little bit tricky to learn everything we need to learn, and even with all the content online, it’s a lot to sort through. This is especially true when it comes to skin care for a bald head.
Let’s be real – many guys aren’t really up to speed on skin-care in general, and maybe when we invest in that first pair of balding clippers it’s the first time we started thinking about skin care seriously.
Many of us who are new to the hair-free life have no idea what to do when it comes skincare. Heck—most of us have no idea what to do with the rest of our skin on our bodies, never mind the skin on our heads, and a lot of us get stuck in habits that can make our skin itchy, rashy, and poorly-groomed.
With that in mind, here are a few skincare tips to help you take care of your bald head (and maybe the fantastic bald-and-bearded look you’ve got going on). We’ve split them into three main categories: sunscreen, practical tips, and grooming. Hopefully they’ll get you started, and if there are any tips you’d like to add, jump over to our “Contact” page and drop us a line—we’d be happy to incorporate things you’ve learned.
Alrighty, let’s jump in, head first (ha):
You Know This One: Use Sunscreen
Yes, you’ve heard this one before. One thousand times before. And it’s irritating to hear again. Buuuuuuuuuut the reason why we’re including it here is because it is SO very important.
When you really stop to think about it, you can see how serious it is: the delicate skin on your head, exposed—all day long—to the hot sun and the cancer-causing UV rays the sun hurls at us. Melanoma is for real, and you do not want it—and decades of baking your dome in the sun is a great way to get it.
If you’re bashful about applying it, you needn’t be—we have one friend who was a bit shy about lotioning his head, but he starting asking others to do it for him, and it’s become something of a game. At the beach he’ll have friends / girlfriends / strangers (after a few drinks!) do it, and people get surprisingly into it. That’s not for everyone, but he has fun with it.
Use Sunscreen Even if You’ve Just Got a Bald Spot
For whatever reason, it was far easier to shave off all our hair than it was to admit we had that first little bald spot. Maybe because it was new and a portent of things to come, but getting our minds around that first loss was harder than coming to terms with getting rid of all of it.
And if you’ve got that little crop circle on the top of your head, you’ve got to cover it in suntan lotion. Trust us, when that little area gets burned, you’ll feel it, and just like with a full-shaved head, it soaks up a lot of bad juju from the sun. Best to cover it up with sunscreen and get on with your day.
Reapply, Reapply, Reapply
Sunscreens have come a long way in the last decade or two, and if you remember when we were kids, they were pretty awful—they were goopy and sticky and runny, and somehow they didn’t always work.
Luckily, they are MUCH better today—but they still flake out after a while, and if you’ve ever gone to the beach, applied sunscreen to your head, and then felt burnt that night, you’re probably aware of this tip: reapply sunscreen throughout the day. Until Big Sunscreen figures out a way to make a long-lasting formula, it’s reapply, reapply, reapply.
Use That Sunscreen in Winter, Too
OK, last sunscreen tip: use it during the non-summer months.
That same friend of ours who has others apply his suntan lotion actually got a sunburn on the top of his head on New Year’s Day at a Polar Bear Plunge… and then again a week later on a ski trip. He’s an active and he’s living his best life, but he’s learning the hard way to take care of his scalp.
So… the sun may be hottest in the summer months, but for us, it’s dangerous all year-round, so protect yourself like it’s out to get you.
OK! That’s it for the for sunscreen rants. Now let’s move on to some practical tips:
Keep a Hat Around
This one sounds odd, but on those occasions where you either can’t apply sunscreen or can’t follow your hair removal routine and you look—let’s say, not your best—it can help to have a hat someplace near.
Also—this is something that not-bald guys never realize—it is COLD without hair on your head! Anything that’s not a hot summer day feels like the dead of winter!
So keep a hat lying around—maybe in a backpack or the trunk of your car, something like that—because it can definitely come in handy.
Plan Ahead and Figure Out What You’ll Need
This is another one of those surprising aspects of going through life without hair, that you don’t realize until you’re doing it: it helps to get ahead of things, in order for you to look your best and keep your skin safe.
In other words, if you’re going to be away from home for a few days, make sure you’ve got your clippers / trimmers / razors / etc. so that you can get your look just right. That’s true for vacations, but it’s especially true for business trips, where your time is not your own—and if you don’t bring everything you need, you’re unlikley to find it in the hotel’s lobby.
After a while, all that planning will be second nature, but at first, it helps to take a mental account of what you’ll need.
Figure Out Your Preferred Method of Head-Hair Removal
If you’re going for the fully-shaved look, there are a few different ways to get that look. You can:
> Use a pair of balding clippers, and get a very close-cropped look;
> Use a hand-held head shaver or skull shaver, to get an absolutely-no-hair-at-all look; or
> Use a traditional razor or a headblade, which can also give you a totally haire-free look (but may result in some nicks and cuts until you get the hang of it).
Any one of these tools can give you the look you want, but they each take some getting used to, and most guys ending up liking one more than the other.
We’d urge you to give each a shot, and see what works for you. Some guys like the reliability of a pair of clippers, while others guys love the right-to-the-skin look that a hand-held shaver can give, while others like to roll the dice on old-school steel. Whatever works! Find what you like and go with it.
Have Somebody Look at Your Heard Every Once in a While
We don’t want to get too heavy, but… as we mentioned earlier, having your skin exposed to the sun for long periods of time puts you in a high-risk group for melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, and plenty of other skin disorders, and those are no joke. They can range from unpleasant, to painful, to deadly.
We’re not saying “Don’t live your life,” but we are saying that it makes sense to 1) protect yourself, and 2) have someone—a roommate, friend, partner, etc.—give your dome a look every once in a while. If you’re not comfortable with that, get a three-way mirror and check it out yourself. It takes no time at all, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Alright! That’s that. Serious stuff over. Now let’s move on to GROOMING:
Cleanse Your Bald Head with Face Wash
If you’re like us—and somehow, every other bald man on planet earth—you started losing your hair, and then for some reason… you kept shampooing your bald head. It’s the strangest thing, and we did it for years.
When you consider that shampoo is designed specifically for hair, and not for skin, you realize shampooing your bald head is a pretty silly thing to do. There’s really no reason to do it, and yet so many of us bald guys do.
So, this one is easy! Whatever facial cleanser you’re using, use it on your head. The skin on your head is actually a lot like the skin on your face, and it secretes an oil named sebum (which is what can make your head so shiny), and your facial soap is designed to get sebum off your skin. Easy peasy!
Develop a Bald-Head Skincare Routine
We know: “Develop a skincare routine” is another bit of advice that most guys groan at. But—well, it’s important! If you don’t take care of your skin, it can develop a lot of problems, and that’s especially true as you get older.
If it helps, think of it like this: you didn’t lose your hair, you just gained a lot of skin… and now you need to take care of it. 🙂
Our best advice? If you’re going to dive into a skincare routine, make it enjoyable. Indulge yourself and get high-end cleansers that smell great. Buy luxurious soaps and creams that feel like satin. Massage your scalp and give yourself a massage. Better yet—get a romantic interest or partner and make that person part of the routine.
In other words, turn a chore into something to look forward to. If you’ve got to do it, you might as well enjoy it.
Exfoliate Your Head Every Once in a While
We’re listing this one as separate from “Keep a Skincare Routine,” because you don’t need to do it as often.
Many guys are a little weirded out by exfoliation, but it’s pretty simple—it’s just scraping the dead skin cells off the surface of your skin, in order to keep it healthy. Exfoliating removes all that gunk—dead skin cells, oils, dirt, etc.—and makes your skin feel supple and rejuvinated.
There are plenty of scalp scrubs out there, and they range from “get ‘er done” to “very posh.” You don’t need to spend a bunch on exfoliating, but some of the more deluxe options feel (and smell) really nice.
Don’t “Overshave” Your Head
This is one of those unfortunate truths that a lot of bald and balding guys learn when embracing the fully-shaved life: sometimes when you decide to go fully shaven, your skin doesn’t agree with your decision, and it can get rashy and bumpy and red. It STINKS and it stings and it’s really frustrating, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
So, as we mentioned above, figure out your preferred method of hair removal, and then figure out how often you can do it. For most guys, the question of “how often can I shave my head” has a fantastic answer, and that answer is “every day.” Other guys aren’t so lucky, and they need to shave every other day or every other other day.
Figure out how often your skin and scalp can handle hair removal, and then stick to your schedule.
Take Care of Yourself and Take Care of Your Scalp!
As men, we don’t really talk about grooming too much, and that’s a shame. We should. It would help us all tremendously, and it would be especially helpful for those of us who are bald—many of us come into baldness without having any idea of how to make it work for us.
So, hopefully there’s something here that helps you. Good luck, have fun, and take care of yourself!
Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.