We consider ourselves experts in all things shaving, and it brings a tear to our eye that we can’t give you an exact answer, but it’s true. Everyone’s situation is different, so the answer will be different for everyone.
Below, we’ll take a look at each of the factors that come into play, and figure out how often you, personally, should shave your dome—and then we’ll provide some “best practices” to keep the skin on your head feeling healthy and looking good.
Factors That Affect Your Decision
Chances are that if you ask 10 guys, you’ll get 10 different answers on what your schedule should be. Here’s a list of things to consider.
Preferences: This, perhaps, is the most important factor: how much do you want a perfectly shaved head? How important is it to you?
If just a little stubble drives you nuts, you may want to be an everyday-shaver, and if your skin can handle daily shaves, there’s your answer.
If you like the little-bit-of-stubble look—and some guys look great with that—or if you simply don’t mind it, shaving every couple of days will be fine.
Hair color is another factor. Blonde or light red hair isn’t as noticeable when it first starts sprouting. If your hair is darker, you’ll see it quicker, and you may want to shave more often.
Skin Toughness: This is another very strong determinant on how often you can shave. If you’ve got sensitive skin, you may not be able to handle scraping at your skull every day.
To figure out what you can take, start shaving every couple of days—say, every four days. See how you do, and if your skin is holding up—if it doesn’t feel raw or fragile—then start shaving every three days, and see how you do. If all’s well, see how you fare shaving every two days, and then every day.
If your skin can handle daily shaving and you want a perfectly shaved head every day, then there you go! You’re an every-day shaver.
Convenience: For many guys, your head-shaving schedule will be the same as your face-shaving schedule. If you pick up a razor every day, you may find it convenient to take care of your head at the same time.
After all, you’ve got all your supplies all laid out in the bathroom. You have your razor in hand. Why postpone it?
Genetics: Your own DNA is another variable. Some men find that the hair on their heads grows in very quickly—and that they need to shave every day—while other men see that their hair grows in very, very slowly, and they can skip a couple of days between shaves.
This is another factor you’ll have to observe, because it’s difficult to predict how the hair on your head will grow. You might imagine that it would be related to how fast your beard grows, but that’s not the case—the hair on your face and the hair on your head grow at different rates.
So you’ll need to figure out what your hair growth schedule looks like. Take a couple of weeks and observe.
Schedule. Lastly—how much time do you have? Are you rushed in the morning, and tight on time? Shaving your head adds a few minutes onto your daily routine, and you may not have time for daily shaves.
If you’re rushed for time but you think it’s essential that you get a daily head-shave in, take a look at your morning grooming habits and see if you can trim any time off. Or—and this would obviously be a last-case resort—wake up a little bit earlier.
Putting All that Together…
So, how often should I shave my head?
Those are the factors that go into your decision, and here’s what we’d recommend.
Shave Every Day. If you skin can handle it—and we’ve got some guidance below on how to go easy on your skin—there’s no reason why you can’t shave every day and feel your best. Add a head shave to your daily routine and you’re good to go.
Shave as Often as You Can. If your skin can’t take it—or your schedule can’t take it—shave on the schedule we mentioned above (every four days, and if your skin is OK, every three, etc.). Find what works for you.
Actually Shaving Your Head: Steps
If you’ve never shaved your head before, you might be surprised to find that it actually takes a little forethought, and it’s best to take things in stages.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Step 1: Hack Away at the Dense Brush. If you have a mop of hair, you’ll need to trim it before you can take a razor to it. It’ll make it easier to get to the skin, and you’ll be less likely to get nicks or set yourself up for razor burn.
The easiest way to hack away at those locks is to…
Step 2: Get a Clipper. A hair clipper with multiple-level combs will get your hair as short as possible.
It may take several passes, and you may need to adjust the settings a few times, but clippers are pretty much the only way for you to get all that hair off your head (and you can read our reviews of the best balding clippers and dedicated head shavers here, if it helps).
Getting the back of your head can be a little tricky, but you can use your fingers to feel your way around, and make sure you’ve removed everything. If you’re having a hard time, it can be helpful to use a mirror that extends from your cabinet or wall to see what’s going on back there.
Or, you can always get a romantic partner to clip your hair away. It’s fun and playful and intimate, and it can become a really powerful bonding routine. Worth considering!
Step 3: Prepare your Skin. The process isn’t unlike that which you use on your face. You can use products to make it easier on your skin and to prevent razor burn.
We’d suggest sticking with shaving creams and gels meant for sensitive skin. Pay close attention to how your skin reacts—if you get a rash or experience bumps, that usually means that shaving cream isn’t agreeing with your skin (or the razor you’re using isn’t sharp enough).
Step 4: Shave that Stubble. Once you get your hair down to a buzz, it’s time to reach for the razor.
Shaving your head is different from your face, and you may find that it’s a little more delicate. You may also find that when you get a nick, it bleeds a lot. That happens.
Your head has an odd topography, including bumps and lumps that you can’t see and probably don’t even know about, so your first head-shave may be something of an exploratory mission. Pay attention as you go along, and you’ll get a clear idea of the lay of the land.
If you do get nicks, don’t worry too much about it—think of the first time you shaved your face, and how well that went!
Take it slow and go easy—especially the first couple times.
Step 5: Moisturize Your Skin. We know that a lot of guys don’t bother with moisturizer, and we get it. It’s a hassle.
When it comes to the skin on your head, though, it’s important. That skin is pretty fragile, and it needs a little TLC.
So, after you’re done, moisturize your skin to protect it and reduce the effects of the inevitable irritation and redness.
You needn’t buy new products for your head. You can use the same ones you use on your face as long as they don’t bother it.
Head-Shaving Tips to Keep in Mind
As you go along, you’ll figure out your own personal “shaving rules,” but here are some things to help you on your way:
It’s Best to Shave in the Shower. We actually suggest you shave your face in front of the mirror after your shower, but suggest that you shave your head while you’re in the shower.
The warm water is an excellent way to prepare your skin for shaving, and washing your head first will cut down on the bacteria and sebum that can cause acne or skin infections.
Plus, whatever whiskers and bits of hair you shave off will get whisked down the train, instead of getting stuck to your skin and driving you crazy.
Make Sure You’ve Gotten Everything. You can get a fogless shower mirror—those things are fantastic—but chances are you still won’t be able to see the back of your head, so you’ll need to “see with your fingers” and make sure you haven’t missed any spots. Go against the grain with your fingers, and you’ll be able to feel any hairs that are still there.
Use Your Razor Right. It doesn’t matter if you have the toughest skin in the world—if you’re using a lousy razor, you’re going to experience some irritation.
Just like when you shave your face, you’ll need a VERY sharp razor. Rinse it well between swipes to keep the blade clean, and make sure you don’t keep the blade in the shower because it’ll get dull, and that’s a sure-fire way to give yourself razor bumps and irritation.
Protect Ya Neck. You’ve made sure that you’ve gotten all the areas on your head, but don’t forget to shave the back of your neck, as well. Totally hairless on top with neck hairs bulging out everywhere is… not a great look.
Take a Cool Rinse. After you’ve finished shaving and finished your shower, rinse your head and face off with cool water. It closes your pores, and tightens your skin a little bit.
You can do that in the shower, or if you hate the feeling of cold water after a nice warm shower, you can do it at the sink after you step out.
Take It Easy and Be Gentle. Your skin may be very tender after you shave, and you don’t want to agitate it too much. Find a very soft towel and pat it dry, and try not to use too much pressure or rub it too much.
Also bear in mind that the first few days—or even weeks—are going to be the toughest until your skin gets used to the routine. Be gentle with yourself!
Your Shaved Head: An Owner’s Manual
Now that you’ve got your head shaved, here are some tips on taking care of it.
Tip #1: Get Rid of That Shine. This is something you don’t consider when you’ve got hair, but a perfectly bald head can be prone to shininess. Sometimes that’s OK, but most of the time it looks odd.
So begin your morning routine with a quick wipe of a washcloth over your head to remove oil and sebum if you don’t shave every day. When you’re out and about during the day, check it every once in a while to see if it’s got that reflective glare, and give it a quick wipe with a sensitive skin handwipe to reduce the shine. That usually does the trick.
Tip #2: Realize Your Head May Stink. It may sound odd, but it’s a good idea to continue using shampoo, even if you’re totally hairless up top. Here’s why:
The skin on your head produces an oil called sebum, and when you go without washing your hair for a few days, that sebum builds up in your hair, making it oily and flat-looking—and stinky. Sebum that sits around starts to smell. Shampoo strips the sebum from your hair, and makes your hair shiny and soft and nice, and washes that smell away.
And here’s the thing: even though you don’t have any hair on your head, the skin on your head continues to make sebum, which sits on your skull and starts to smell—and that’s why shampoo is necessary.
Some guys take a bar of soap and wash their heads, but we’d advise against that—it can dry your skin out, and your skin can crack—leaving the door open for infections.
Tip #3: You’re Going to Freeze. The first winter you spend without hair will likely shock you, and if you step outside without a hat, you’re in for a surprise. It’ll be freezing.
It’s easy to take for granted how warm a head of hair makes you feel. So make sure you have a nice warm hat that feels good on your skin—fleece-lined usually feels very nice.
Trust us on this one—it’s going to be cold. If you’re going to shave your head and you live in a place where the temperatures dive every year, invest in a hat.
Tip #4: You’re Going to Burn. When you shave your head, you’re exposing more of your skin to the sun and those UV rays, and it burns just as quickly there as it does on your arms and back—maybe even quicker, because it’s directly exposed.
Sunscreen is a must-have even on days when it’s partly cloudy. Make sure it’s strong enough—SPF 30 or higher usually does it—and remember to apply it generously and often to ensure adequate protection.
If you’ve ever experienced a sunburned skull, you know it is not fun, and it means you can’t shave your head again until it heals.
Trust on us this one, too. Use suntan lotion.
Tip #5: Make Care a Routine. A lot of guys imagine that having no hair will make their grooming routines easier—after all, if you don’t have any hair, you don’t have to take care of it, right? Less grooming time—woo-hoo!
Sadly, though, that’s not the case. Having a shaved head actually introduces a whole new routine, and it’s important to follow that routine.
Stay on top of it until it becomes a habit. Over time, it’ll become part of your everyday groove, and it’ll be much easier.
If You’re Shaving Your Head for the First Time…
Enjoy it! It’s a great look, and it’s pretty satisfying to do. Now that you have a little bit of knowledge about how to do it and how to maintain things, make the most of it!
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.