He’s the CEO of Amazon and the man whose personal wealth has just exceeded $140bn.
You may or may not have noticed, he’s bald.
He’s already braved the shave. And here, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about shaving your own head.
- Is it the right move for you?
- What are the benefits?
- When and why should you do it?
- How do you do it?
- What might people think?
- Will having no hair make you look vulnerable, past your best, or in some way inferior?
Well, Jeff’s $140bn bank balance would suggest it won’t.
Why Do Some Men Go Bald?
Honestly? Luck. Or a lack of it, depending on how you look at it:
Roughly two-thirds of men show the early signs of baldness before they hit 35. So when Jeff Bezos launched that small, unheard of, online bookstore back in 1993, he would have already had a few clues that he’d be rocking the Jean-Luc Picard look later in life.
There are a few scientific angles we should mention though when looking at possible causes for male-pattern baldness.
They undoubtedly play a huge part. The condition is heritable, although identifying exactly what gene is carried on what chromosome through what hereditary line is proving almost impossible to pin down.
Search for ‘genetics of baldness’ (as I have for this article) and you’ll basically just find lots of papers, reports, and studies that all manage to contradict each other.
The correct name of male pattern baldness is androgenetic alopecia. The androgen receptor (AR) gene is on the X chromosome, which you receive from your mother.
However, MYTH; male pattern baldness comes from your mother’s side of the family. Whilst it seems the AR gene is a factor, it certainly isn’t the reason. So many other genes and so many other conditions have an impact that, at this time at least, it’s impossible to identify any genuine genetic cause.
So if the scientists can’t highlight who in your family you should blame, I suggest you don’t either.
Although, if it is genes, does it really matter which gene is the problem and who in your family might have given it to you? I doubt you have the ability to rewire your DNA then travel back in time to before your baldness kicked in – so why dwell on it?
Here’s the good news. Testosterone doesn’t cause baldness. Here’s the less good news. A bi-product of testosterone, called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), does contribute to baldness.
It restricts the ability of hair follicles to grow by blocking the access of the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy, strong hair.
So, whilst testosterone can be incredibly helpful in so many things (metabolism, sexual function, energy levels, attention span), it could indirectly be causing, or adding to, male pattern baldness.
BUT, there is a massive upside to this potential downside. Which will be discussed very soon.\
Why you shouldn’t worry about going male pattern baldness.
That’s not an easy concept if thinning hair and baldness have caused you mental anguish for years.
But there are so many reasons for it to be a good thing.
Firstly, remember this – everybody has got something they would change. Literally, everybody.
Big nipples, small balls, no pecs, a bent nose, bad skin, being too short, being too tall, being too sweaty, etc, etc, etc.
And even the men you might think are ‘perfect’, they’ll have something going on too that they would change in a heartbeat.
So please, if baldness is a problem for you, do your best to consider it less of an affliction.
Because it’s not an affliction. And here’s why:
Studies and research show that bald men are perceived to be more masculine, athletic, and sexually powerful.
Remember a few paragraphs up when I said ‘BUT, there is a massive upside to this potential downside…’? Well, here it is.
Because baldness is indirectly linked to high levels of testosterone, women are biologically programmed to associate baldness with being sexually prolific. Big check there in the ‘Pros’ column.
And if that sounds too good to be true, at the very least it won’t make you any less attractive.
Imagine if that list was an online dating profile? It’s a solid set of attributes to conjure up in someone’s mind when they look at you.
The Benefits of Shaving Your Head
You’ve heard why thinning hair shouldn’t be considered a problem. Well, what are the benefits of taking the plunge and having a shaved head? Are there any positive reasons for doing it? Put simply, yes!
You’re in control
Shaving your head when you are experiencing male pattern baldness is like a kid standing up to a bully. For a long time, you may have assumed that your thinning hair is defining you and has control over your appearance, your mood, and your happiness.
So by shaving it, you are in control. It’s your head, and from now on it is up to you how it looks! The feeling of freedom will be amazing if a receding hairline or a thinning crown has been a worry for years. It will literally be a weight off your mind.
‘Has that girl noticed I’m thinning on top?’. No, because you’re not anymore.
Speaking of which…
Ladies Love It
If looking more attractive to women is of interest to you, then having a bald head should be up there on your list of ways to get more attention. Research shows that you will look more confident, stronger, and, interestingly, taller!
It Draws Attention to Your Best Features
Once you’ve braved the shave, prepare for your smile to stand out a mile or your eyes to be more piercing than ever. Without any hair on your head, there’s less for the eye to be distracted by when someone looks at you. OK, people who know you might stare at your head at first, but most people now only have your facial features to pay attention to. So they’ll be more prominent than ever!
Follow some basic scalp care tips (we’ll come on to that), and your scalp will be healthier than ever. If dandruff or an itchy, flaky scalp has been a problem for you, shaving your head will be a revelation!
Moisturizing your head is going to become part of your routine. When did you last moisturize your head? Exactly. So your scalp suddenly becomes an area of healthy, clean skin.
Plus, as you’ll read soon, scalp massage is important. It’s going to be useful in maintaining your healthy scalp, but also feels awesome. I can’t think of another part of your self-care regime which you’ll look forward to more!
You’ll Save $$$$$$$
How much do you spend on products for your hair? Over a year I bet it adds up, right? How much do you spend getting your hair cut or styled? Again, it adds up.
That’s an expense you just won’t have any more! When you make the shave, you won’t be ditching the shampoo entirely, but you certainly won’t be using it a lot. One bottle will go on for what feels like forever.
So there you go. There’s another upside to shaving your head. Not sure that’s the reason our friend Jeff did it though. If he can invest $250,000 into Google back in 1998*, I doubt the cost of the barber was a concern when he was starting to lose his hair.
*shaving your head won’t improve your business forecasting skills. That’s just a coincidence, sorry.
What are the dangers of shaving your head?
Look at it this way, it will grow back. So are there really any ‘dangers’? But much like signing a waiver before an operation, it’s probably best to know what potential downsides there are before you do it.
Will it suit you?
You’ll never truly know until you do it. And sure, some head shapes and some faces are probably better suited to it than others.
But like almost anything else in life, it’s about confidence. If you think you look awesome, you do look awesome.
Having said that, a shaved head generally suits a more athletic gent. So this could be that incentive to lose a few pounds?
Either way, if you want to test the water before taking the plunge, try an app like ‘Make Me Bald’. Upload a headshot and get out the virtual razor!
If you’re taking a razor to an area of skin that’s never been shaved before, you might experience some inflammation, acne or burning.
Again, there are things you can do to limit, or avoid, this. But if you know you have irritable or sensitive skin, it might be a better idea to opt for the very short buzz cut instead.
You might not care about what other people think. And neither should you. But if you do, prepare yourself for an interesting response.
People you know will want to rub your head a lot. They’ll probably jump with fright when they first see you (literally in some cases). You may even get the occasional squeal.
If you have shaved your head in support of a charitable cause, it’s at this point you should be shoving your JustGiving page in their face.
It’s a strong look, it’s a unique look, and it’s a quite brave look. So just be aware that this isn’t like getting any ordinary haircut!
How do you know when the time has come to shave your head?
I suppose it’s a bit like when you decide to propose to your girlfriend. The time just feels ‘right’! And if it’s not, it will always grow back/you can get a divorce.
But if shaving your head is something you’ve been thinking about for a while, if it’s something that’s been suggested to you a few times, and if thinning hair and baldness has been concerning you for a number of years, it might be time to start picking out the right razor to shave your head.
How to Shave Your Head
This is the important bit. If you’re going to do it, you need to do it right. And take care of your scalp, almost from the very first second of being exposed to the elements!
Here is a quick video for you
Step 1 – Trim it Down
When you do get to the point of shaving, having less hair to shave is going to stop your razor from getting clogged and generally make the whole process much smoother. So trim it down first.
Using some good clippers, start at the front of your hairline and shave back to the crown. Once that is done, repeat but this time from the neckline up to the crown.
If you don’t have clippers, this may be a good time to make one last trip to your barber to get it shaved down and say your farewells.
Step 2 – Shower
Much like shaving your face, prep work is vital for a smoother, less irritable shave.The water moisturizes your hair follicles causing them to stand up so they are easier to catch with a razor. Plus the heat will soften pores and get the blood flowing. All in all, you’re going to find the whole process easier and less likely to encounter any after-care issues.
TOP TIP – short on time? Just place a hot towel on your head for a few minutes.
Step 3 – Pre-Shave Oil (Optional)
Applying pre-shave oil will create a lubricating layer and a protective barrier between your scalp on that very sharp bit of metal that’s about to glide over it.
The oils should be natural and applying a pre-shave oil is going to make for far less (if any!) irritation after the shave.
Step 4 – Lather Up!
You wouldn’t take a razor to your face without shaving cream, and neither should you on your head.
You should go looking for a quality shaving cream, shaving soap, or gel to do the job. You must buy quality. Cheaper shaving creams are full of silicone and alcohol. These will dry out your skin and you can’t risk that, especially after the first few shaves when your scalp is raw and unfamiliar with being shaved.
You might use cheap stuff on your chest, but the skin on your head is different and a lot more sensitive. So don’t risk it. The dried-out skin on your head can result in flaking, blotching, and peeling. Not cool. Lather up with a shaving brush. This will make those follicles stand proud and be begging to be shaved! Which has the added advantage of meaning you’ll need fewer strokes of the razor to get a nice close shave, therefore reducing the chance of irritation? It also exfoliates the skin which will give your skin that fresh healthy look/
Step 5 – The Shave
This is the moment. But there’s conflicting advice.
Some would say go WITH the grain first (i.e. don’t shave against the direction of your hair growth). Some would just say to shave from front to crown, then from neckline to crown.
As this is the first time shaving your head, you might do better going with the grain. You will sacrifice quality (i.e. closeness) slightly, but I recommend it for the first few times as your scalp adapts. Be prepared to run your fingers over your head to find spots that you haven’t covered.
TOP TIP – don’t let someone else do it (unless they’re a pro). Sure, they can touch it up for you at the end and mop up any of those missed spots. But for the main shave, you need to be able to feel every bump, apply the correct amount of pressure, and know when you’re getting close and when you’re not. Having someone repeatedly not quite get it right, means you’ll be going over your scalp more times than necessary to get the shave as it needs to be. More strokes = more potential for irritation.
TOP TIP #2! – use that second mirror behind you to check for any bits that have evaded your razor. You can buy small hand-held mirrors, perfect for scanning the back of your head as you look into the main bathroom mirror.
Step 6 – Aftercare
READ THIS BIT! Don’t be tempted to think that because the shave is done, your work is also done. Poor aftercare could result in some of those dangers we flagged up above, such as dry skin, ingrown hairs, etc.
Use warm water to splash off excess cream and then pat dry with a clean towel. Towels can harbor all kinds of bacteria that, quite simply, you don’t want to be applying to the newly shaved skin on your head.
Once dry, you must use an aftershave balm. I say ‘must’ deliberately. Balms are full of nutrients and natural moisturizers which your scalp will be screaming out for after the shave.
Apply generously and allow it so it will soak in naturally.
Don’t be tempted by an aftershave. The alcohols in aftershaves (particularly cheap ones) are going to be your freshly shaved head’s worst enemy in the first few moments of being exposed to this strange new world.
Massage! This was touched upon a few paragraphs ago, but head massage promotes blood flow and keeps your scalp healthy-looking. Sure you can rub your own fingers into your head, but it’s going to be a lot more fun to convince someone else to do it.
I recommend at least once a day (once a week should be fine, but whoever you rope into this doesn’t need to know that).
TOP TIP – from here on in, don’t give up on shampooing. Don’t use a lot, and don’t do it often, but you do still have hair follicles there that will need a clean from time to time.
Step 7 – Sunblock
If you have been suffering from male pattern baldness for a while, you might be aware of the need for sunblock from time to time. Well, now it’s a daily necessity.
When our friend Jeff Bezos pops home to see friends and family in the deserts of New Mexico, he will be slapping on the sunblock thick and often to protect from that sun.
But here’s the thing, even when he’s back up in the North in his Seattle mansion, he’ll be applying sunblock also. Your newly-exposed scalp will have had so little experience of the sun’s rays it’s going to be particularly sensitive.
So make sunblock part of your routine, like brushing your teeth in the morning. Even just low levels of the sun could create issues for your scalp, and that cool shaved head look won’t look so cool if your head is peeling and wrinkly.
Step 8 – Enjoy Feeling Awesome
You’ve done it!
Performing the motion of shaving your head and the overall process will seem a little awkward and clumsy at first, but with the right instruction, products, and good old practice, it will become second nature in no time.
Whatever your reasons for shaving your head, it’s a new look that you should embrace and enjoy.
You’ll probably wonder why it took you so long to do in the first place.