Thinking of shaving your head? Here are five tips for a smoother finish

Thinking of shaving your head? Here are five tips for rash-free shaving
(Image credit: Skull Shaver)

Shaving your head is a big style decision to make, so before you dive straight into lopping off all of your hair, there are a few things to keep in mind and some simple tips to follow to help you achieve a smooth finish. We recommend using one of the best electric head shavers to keep razor-rash at bay, but we'll look at those versus using a manual razor a little further into this article.

When it comes to shaving your head, the first decision you need to make is whether you 100% want to do it. David Beckham, who recently shaved off his hair during lockdown, is an outlier in that pretty much any hair cut suits him. Yes there are apps that can give you a loose idea of what you might look like with a shaved hair, but don't take them as gospel, as the finished look will always be different.

If you aren't sure whether you want to shave your head just yet but do want to keep your hair short and neat, consider buying one of the best hair clippers instead. Clippers cut hair to a longer length than a head shaver, and some can be used to trim facial hair too.

1. Choose either a manual or electric head shaver

When shaving your head, the type of device you use makes a big difference to the finished look. Electric head shavers are especially designed to shave hair quickly and smoothly. You also don’t have to worry about using any type of shaving cream or gel with an electric razor, which makes it less messy and cheaper in the long-run, as you won't need to keep spending on razors and gels.

That said, depending on the growth rate of your hair you may find that you have to use an electric head shaver more often than a manual razor, as they don’t cut hair quite as closely as manual razors do. Additionally, if you plan on shaving your head in the shower to save some time each morning, you'll need a manual razor as electric head shavers shouldn't be exposed to that much water.

2. Cut your hair before shaving your head

Before you grab the razor of your choice and start shaving your head, you'll need to cut your hair so that it's no more than 1/4-inch long. That's because if your hair is too long, the razor can snag your hair, which will hurt you.

Use a pair of hair clippers to cut your hair, or ask someone in you household to do it for you, especially if you can't see the back of your head properly. The beauty of this step is that your hair cut doesn’t need to look neat since it will be all gone in a few moments anyway.

Shaving your head at home_ a man washes his hair in the shower before shaving his hair

(Image credit: Getty)

3. Exfoliate your scalp before shaving

Wash and mositurize your hair in the shower before shaving your head to ensure your scalp is protected before you shave, and to soften the hairs so that you create a much closer finish regardless of whether you're using a manual razor or electric. Hair stylists recommend massaging your scalp with your fingers while washing to help lift hair follicles from the scalp to prevent ingrown hairs.

Gently massaging your scalp while shampooing also removes dead skin. This type of natural exfoliation is one of the first and most important steps to prevent razor burn and scalp irritation, so don't skip it.

4. Shave in the direction of your hair growth

Stand in front of a mirror to shave your head. Whether you're using an electric head shaver or a manual razor, shave with the grain of your hair (the direction your hair is growing in). If you go against the grain you'll irritate your skin, which could result in razor burn and a red scalp.

When using a manual razor, shave with the grain of your hair the first time, shaving down at the front, sides and back. If you shave against the grain on your first pass with a manual razor you'll create nicks and bumps in your scalp. Ouch! In his video on head shaving, men's hair stylist Danny Kerr recommends shaving against the grain on the second pass to achieve a very smooth bald look. Obviously this doesn't apply to you if you just want a very closely-cut, but not bald, shaved look.

It may sound obvious, but always use a razor with sharp blades to shave your head. Some electric head shavers have self-sharpening blades, so you won't ever have to worry about whether it, but it's something to keep in mind when using a manual razor.

Run your fingers over your head to feel for any patches you may have missed. When using a head shaver, work it around in a circular motion to ensure you cover any rogue patches of unshaved hair.

5. Moisturize your head after shaving

After shaving your head it's time for a little scalp TLC. Use a scalp-friendly soothing balm or aftershave lotion to prevent dry and damaged skin, and to add moisture back in to repair any damage you may have caused during shaving. 

A quality post-shave lotion or balm for your scalp reduces redness, but make sure you choose an unscented balm or lotion if you have sensitive skin, and one that's non-comedogenic (non-pore blocking) to prevent potential breakouts.

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