15 min read
Are considering a head shave and wet shaving your entire head with a De safety razor? Does head shaving with a double edges safety razor offer the best shave over a cartridge or an electric shaver? What supplies do you need, how do you get a close shave, and (most importantly) how do I do it so I don’t cut yourself?
Wet shaving your head is a skill and an art form. Keep in mind the art of the head shave has a learning curve. Don’t expect a perfect shave the first time. With the right approach and technique, you can get a great shave to that beautiful dome to shine!
If your hair is thinning, you must be blessed with a perfect head. I’ve always heard the saying that there are only so many perfect heads in the world, the rest are covered up with hair. So, if your hair is thinning, do the world a favor and share that perfect head!
There are many benefits of using a safety razors or a De razor vs a cartridge razor for head shaving such as:
It's environmentally friendly—Double edge safety razor blades are made of steel and should be recycled at the proper facilities. One thing to keep in mind though is that the blades cannot be tossed into your normal recycling bin as they are considered sharps. Use a blade bank to dispose of safety razor blades properly.
It’s greener and cheaper than a cartridge razor—If we look at the blades themselves, safety razor blades are significantly cheaper than cartridge blades and prices vary. On average, a pack of 100 blades can be purchased for around $25.00 to $30.00. If you look at the average cost of cartridge blades a pack of four blades will run you about $9.00. In order to get 100 cartridge blades, you’re looking at spending about $225.00! That alone made me switch to using double edge safety razors over cartridge razors.
Another thing to consider is using a safety razor instead of a cartridge is that DE blades can be recycled when a cartridge razor just goes to the landfill. If you change cartridge blades every four or so shaves, as they recommend, that’s a lot of waste going in the garbage.
It's just so damn sexy—you will look bad-to-the-bone (if done right) with a shaved dome. Head shaving done wrong, you may end up looking like Homer Simpson.
Being bald can be more attractive and there are studies to prove it. Physical appearance matters in society. Our gentlemanly appearances can, to an extent, determine the trajectory of our career, our associations, and how we thrive socially- broadly speaking. Traditionally, baldness and the lack of a full head of hair on men is perceived as weakness, impotence, or less manly associated with traits like poor self-esteem, the perception of being old. Whereas a thick mane like a lion has been tied to traits like vigor, strength, and masculinity.
This couldn't be farther from the truth. Think back to The Rock's glory days in professional wrestling when he had a full head of hair. Now think about him now as a highly successful actor. Doesn’t he look so much better bald?
Here's the thing: a lot of men shave their heads bald simply because they are going bald. Research suggests that about half of all men will experience some kind of male pattern baldness by the time they are 50. It’s not surprising that worldwide, men spend nearly $3.5 billion trying to either suppress or reverse their natural hair loss.
Most men without hair would agree that being bald is sexy and has a number of benefits, for example...
A freshly polished head is badass—Have you ever sat in a meeting with a chrome dome and thought how awesome they looked when the light was shining off that freshly polished head? No, well I dare you not to notice the next time you see a polished head. Do you think The Rock or Vin Diesel would look as tough with a matte finish in their head? Absolutely not!
An impossibly close shave—Nothing gives you a better BBS and a DFS than a safety razor. Now, a slight word of caution: there is a slight learning curve when first using a DE razor for a head shave. That is something that will be discussed a little later on.
BBS= Baby butt smooth shave
DFS=Damn fine shave
This may come as a surprise, but there are a few different types of safety razors. Each has its pros and cons, of course.
Open Comb Safety Razor
Pros -Really great with longer hair, meaning you don’t have to shave as often if you don’t want to. They provide excellent audio feedback. That means you can hear when the blade is cutting the hair.
Cons -There can be a lot more blade feel. Some think blade feel is a bad thing and can cause irritation. An open comb can be seen as a little on the aggressive side (see below for definition)
Closed Comb Safety Razor
Pros - Very user-friendly. A lot of modern production razors come in a closed comb set up. The closed comb can limit the amount of blade one feels during the shave. It’s also more difficult to nick or cut yourself with a closed comb. They don’t clog as easily, especially if you have slightly longer hair.
Con - The audio feedback can be less with a closed comb razor. There is also a potential to have less blade feel or less efficiency. They can clog a little easier if not rinsed often.
Aggressiveness--The aggressiveness of the razor usually refers to how much blade edge can be felt during the shave. An aggressive razor usually has a more blade feel, but it is also easier to cut yourself with an aggressive razor.
Blade gap—Some people think this affects aggressiveness, or how smooth a razor is. This is not true, I have a few razors with a large blade gap that are as smooth and comfortable as razors with a smaller gap.
Handle length—This is a matter of personal preference. For a head shave, I find a longer handled safety to be easier to use, especially if you are new DE shaving with traditional safety razors.
Straight bar—A straight bar razor, either open comb or with a safety bar, is kind of the standard safety razor these days and is easier to find from a variety of makers.
Slanted bar—A slant bar razor uses the philosophy that you get a closer shave if the blade acts as a guillotine rather than having the blade be straight all the way across.
Knurling—This is the texture on the handle of the razor. The amount of knurling is a matter of personal preference. There are some handles out there that are a little uncomfortable to use due to the aggressive knurling. On the flip side, some razors feel extra slippery due to the knurling not being aggressive enough.
The age-old question of which double edge razor blade should I use in my safety razor has as many answers as there are possible combinations. Everyone seems to have their favorite blade and razor paring. There are many quality DE blades available, but not every blade pairs well with every razor. Everyone's skin is different. The best thing to do, if you are looking for that ideal pair with a razor you already have, is to order a sampler pack of double edge blades and try each blade in the razor.
When it comes to wet shaving both products have their pluses and minuses for the perfect lather and offer a good shave.
Shave cream-Shaving cream is usually softer and comes in a tube similar to toothpaste (though some are available in a tub similar to a shave soap). Shaving cream from a tube can be applied directly to the face in small dabs or applied directly to a damp brush for building the lather on your head or in a bowl before you shave your head. Since shaving creams tend to be softer than shave soaps, they tend to be easier to use to build a usable lather.
A downside of shaving creams is they tend to be softer than most shaving soaps, and it’s easy to overload, or use too much product per shave. By doing so, the product won’t last as long and will need to be replaced more frequently.
Shave soaps-Shaving soaps tend to be more firm and come in tubs and pucks. Since soaps are more firm than shaving creams, it can be more difficult to get the right amount of soap in the bowl or in the brush (again, depending on how the lather is built). Tubs have a larger footprint for storage than creams, assuming the creams used can stand on end. However, since soaps tend to be more firm, they tend to last longer than shaving creams. Most soaps also come in larger quantities than creams, and thus a bigger bang for your buck.
There are many options available for shaving brushes and the various types. I won’t go into much detail here for more information here is an excellent guide on shaving brushes that does go into more in-depth on the subject.
Setting the stage to shave your head…
You are going to need a safety razor with a razor head on the mild side , a hot towel, fresh double edge blades, running water if you got it, a handled mirror for getting getting a nick free head shave and your fancy new shaving bowl or mug for some good lather. Now that you're ready to go it's time for that head shave…
If this is the first time your attempting to shave your head and your hair's a little longer, it is best to start with a clean palette for a smooth shave and give yourself a buzz cut first with electric clippers.
Don’t get me wrong, de razors blades are exceptionally sharp and will do the job every time. The reason behind shaving your head with an electric clippers is so the safety razor does not get clogged with hair clippings when you shave your head. Having a freshly buzzed head for the first shave also increases the comfort level of the shave.
Now rinse your head with lukewarm water to relax the skin, open pores just the same as your normal pre-shave routine.
The hot water of the shower will help moisten, and therefore soften the hair follicles, making the hair easier to cut allowing for the smoothest shave possible. Wash your hair if you got it. Wash your hair/scalp about as often as you would if you were not shaving your head. The main reason behind that is the head gets dirty due to sweat, and it’s just a good idea to wash your body and skin every so often.
Any shave oil, in my opinion, is something that isn't necessary when it comes to a head shave. The reason behind that is that pre-shave oil can hinder the lather building process and integrity of the lather because it creates a barrier between the skin and soap. In addition, modern shave soaps like omnibus or excelsior and Keizen two or vr1(vegan-based) are super slick and make a pre-shave oil obsolete. Simply a shave oil really doesn’t add anything to the shaving experience or make it better, so skip this step at this point.
For the smoothest head shave this step is critical so pay attention!
The right tool for the job here is a high-quality shaving soap. You must lather up and lather up well! If your lather is too dry, your safety razor will get clogged making it harder to rinse and you won't cut as close as desired. Too wet and there is no protection between the blade and your skin causing razor burn, bumps, and irritation.
Pro tip: While creating the lather either in the bowl or directly on the dome, if the knot (the fibers of the shaving brush coming out of the handle) suction cups to your head, or bowl, it's a sign that your lather is too dry.
The two most popular techniques for lathering are directly on your head, or in a bowl. Both have pros and cons. If you want to build a lather directly on your head, it is recommended to load your shaving brush directly from the shave soap puck.
Then take the shaving brush and start to build your lather on your head. Add water slowly to get to the perfect level of hydration. What your looking for is small bubbles and a nice shiny sheen this is a good sign that your lather is ready and well hydrated.
Head shaving is very similar to wet shaving your face with any safety razor. Pay attention to how your head hair grows. With practice, you will find the consistency of lather that performs best for you.
Take the lather you have built in the bowl and apply it evenly to your head. You want the lather to fully cover the area you intend to shave.
The key here is balance. You don’t want to be able to see your skin, but you also don’t want a super thick lather (think canned foam when initially sprayed into your hand)and keep your head warm and moisturized throughout your shave to minimize the risk for irritation.
The best way to shave your head with a safety razor is to be extremely careful! DO NOT use too much pressure when putting the razor to your head. Too much pressure is the easiest way to cut yourself. Next, follow the traditional guidelines as if you were shaving your head: gradual hair removal.
Use steady, short strokes, while keeping that light pressure.
Don’t forget to rinse the blade every few strokes to keep the blade clean. It can be helpful to stretch your skin to keep it taut with your free hand. When you get to the bottom of your head, close to your neck/shoulders, a helpful hint is to look down putting your chin to your chest this will naturally help keep the skin tight. Having loose skin is an easy way to get cut.
As your comfort level grows as well as your skill level slowly transition to the rear of the head while holding your ear down with your fingers when shaving the sides of your head and pull forward for shaving behind your ear.
To get the back of your head, a handheld mirror will be a very useful tool. After a while, you will be able to shave by feel and intuition and will no longer need the mirror. However, I highly recommend using one at the beginning.
Rinse your head with warm water between passes. This helps keep the head hydrated and supports soap hydration during the shave.
In order to do so, you have to know which way your hair grows. This is commonly called mapping your growth. If the hair grows front to back, traditional wisdom states to start shaving the hair front to back. This is referred to as shaving with the grain.
When wet shaving your head, which direction do you shave? After the first pass with the grain has been completed, it is then recommended to shave across the grain (if possible on the head as the growth pattern is usually not all the same direction on the head and the grain pattern usually changes based on the area of the head, for example by the ears).
A lot of people who shave their heads tend to do a single pass with the grain. If a second or third pass is desired, the second pass is generally done across the grain. This means, if we use the previous example of front to back growth, the hair would be shaved either left to right, or right to left.
Then the third and final pass would be against the grain. This would be done by shaving from back to front. It is critical for the grain pass to pay attention to how the blade feels while cutting. If there is a hint of tugging at the hair, rather than a smooth shave, it’s time to change the blade for a new one after the shave.
The post shaving routine plays a big part in fighting razor burn in the shaving process.
Just like your face, your scalp skin needs to be calmed down after a shave. There are many great post-shaving products available, but in a pinch, witch hazel can be used and will be your best friend as well as cold water. If you prefer an artisanal post shave product go with post shave balm and a similar scent profile with an aftershave splash or balm it is just a personal preference.
Pro tip: If it is a really hot day in the summer months, I highly recommend a super mentholated aftershave balm, like Terror from Barrister and Mann. That really helps keep the heat off the dome.
If all of this sounds like far too much work, why bother? pull out the old electric razor and run that across your head. Keep in mind that the electric razors do not get as close a shave as a DE razor and can cause in-grown hairs and irritation.
If all else fails, do a Google search and indulge in some personal care. Find a local barber and get the trained professionals to shave your head for you. They will be more than happy to do it.
It is critical while using safety razors to shave your head is to use a light touch and the right angle. By that, I mean very little pressure on the double edged razor while shaving. Basically, the weight of the razor and the sharpness of the blade should do the work. Simply place the razor on the head, and go for a 30 degree angle (this will vary slightly by razor used) and maintain a strict 30 degree angle every time. Using too much pressure and a sloppy blade angle while shaving could result in irritation, or nicks and cuts. I can’t stress the importance of this enough.
That is a matter of personal preference. There are those who shave daily with and against the grain, and there are those who shave every few days with the grain only. Of course, there are many different options on how often to shave the dome and if one or multiple passes are required.
Personally, I tend to shave my head every other day and do one with the grain pass, one against the grain pass, and some clean-up around my ears. I have found that it provides a comfortable, irritation-free shave that still looks professional and well kept. Again, this may not work for you, I would try shaving every day, every other day, or every few days and experiment with how many passes are done with each shave to find that optimal head shaving experience that is best for you. Keep in mind the more passes you do the more irritation you might experience.
If coming from the world of using cartridge razors and new to safety razors, razor bumps and irritation may have been a very common occurrence. The best way to avoid razor bumps and irritation is by following a few easy steps. The first step is to use proper equipment as listed above. The second step is to have a properly hydrated lather. Next, be sure not to overuse a blade. As a general rule of thumb, a good quality DE blade can provide three to four comfortable shaves before the shave quality diminishes. This may vary based on the blade used as well as how much hair and hair thickness. The key is to not overuse a blade.
No, no it does not affect hair growth. I wish! If that were the case, I’d have a full head of hair after shaving my head for more than a decade.
Shaving your head with a safety razor is a wonderful, enjoyable experience that is unlike anything else when it comes to shaving. The double edge razor aka the safety razor is a timeless classic that will give you a smoother shave for both your head and your face.
While there are some things to keep in mind when your first starting to shave your head, once mastered, there is nothing like it. I’ve shaved my head for over a decade and have used electric clippers, cartridge razors, safety razors (both double edge and single edge), shavettes, and straight razors. I get the best, most comfortable shave while using a safety razor and a beautiful dome there is no better time than right now to give it a try!
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