I got this letter a couple of days ago based on a comment I made in flickr :
My girlfriend found this message you had on a photo message board about
you having your head shaved. I am curious to know, as you said you had
your head shaved, what was it like? I am about to leave for a five week work
project and always wanted to peel off all my long shaggy hair to a total shaved
bald head look (of course then use sunscreen while outside)….but what is
it like to be totally shaved bald…or was your’se just super clipped buzzed or’
actual razor smooth bald like what I want to do next week? And how did you
best get a perfect headshave without cuts, nicks, and razor burn? Couple
friends said to just get a super buzz bootcamp cut, but if I am going to take
all my hair off for this summer, I want to go totally shaved bald. So any tips,
experiences and other info you have from when you did it, that would be great.
Nervous to loose the long hair for shaven scalp, but can’t wait too..!!
[Name withheld as I don’t know if he wants me to publish it]
PS–how long did you actually keep the cool look….and ever would do it again?
To which I responded:
Hi [Name removed],
I just posted some pictures on my flickr site so you can see what I ended up doing (http://www.flickr.com/photos/marc-bourassa/sets/72157605978167162/). Back in 2003 I had direct access to the Usenet newsgroups and was able to glean a lot of helpful information regarding how to go about shaving one’s head.
My motivation for shaving my head came from the appearance of a thinning patch (that ol’ “male pattern baldness” I suppose) at the back of my head. I wasn’t sure how fast it would spread so I wanted to see what my options would be. Since I am not so clueless as to think that a comb-over fools anyone I figured I’d like to see if the bald look would suit me.
Most surprising to me were the number of products out there dedicated to helping maintain a shaved head, everything from special bladed shavers to recommended products (pretty much all of which I forget now).
For myself, I ended up picking up a Norelco electric shaver. I already had some electric hair clippers that I used for the initial cropping.
I actually had a bit of fun with it before cutting all my hair off. I took the opportunity to see what a bunch of different cuts might look like on the way to baldness. I shaved it very close on the sides and left it long on top, then I went for a Mohawk of varying lengths. Basically I played with it for probably an hour or so (with my wife rolling her eyes at appropriate intervals) before I clipped ALL the hair off and then took out the Norelco and brought it skin-close.
I never did use a razor on my entire head. The most I ever did was up the sides (where I could see fairly well) and up the back, just extending where I was used to shaving my neck for my normal hair style after a couple of weeks.
From the pictures you can see that I was about as close as you can get to “Chrome Dome” without that final razor step. Also, having dark, thick hair makes it much harder for one’s “dome” to remain “chrome”. I had a perpetual 5 O’clock shadow. I did shave it pretty much every day (I almost always shirk shaving on weekends). But with electric shavers, once the hair gets past a certain length it’s a real pain to get the shaver to properly shave it back to the skin.
I had a pretty active childhood (read “whacked my head and gotten stitches a few times”), that plus a formidable number of crowns (which my barber was always complaining about) and a couple of moles made my head look a lot less like, say, Patrick Stewart of ST:TNG fame or Yul Brynner and a lot more like one of Frankenstein’s lesser successes 🙂 but I would consider doing it again. I just haven’t had the inspiration to do so recently.
It was very cool feeling the air on my scalp, if you’re the type of person who gets cold from drafts then I imagine this could be disconcerting. It didn’t bother me at all though.
I also found folks treated me very differently in retail situations. I’m not a particularly menacing looking guy normally, but the shaved head causes folks to have expectations. Of course, once I open my mouth their reaction changed again as I’m a pretty mild-mannered guy. But the more deferential initial attitude from strangers was something I would have liked to retain after growing my hair back! 🙂
Time saved not washing your hair is almost exactly equaled by the time spent shaving your head.
I shaved my head in late October so I didn’t really encounter the realities of needing sunblock on my exposed dome.
Your hair wicks a LOT of oil from your head, and sweat too which you will find the first time you work out after shaving. Sweat that you could just run back through your hair while running just pours down some other part of your head. Maybe it was just me, but I kept a towel nearby when I used the stationary bike just to keep the sweat out of my eyes. I still can’t bring myself to wear a sweatband…
It’s a complete myth that your hair will grow back thicker, it only seems that way for the first little while ’cause it’s so short (which makes it seem stiff). Once it’s grown in it’ll be the hair you were used to whether you liked it or not.
My hair grows pretty quickly so it really only took a couple of months before it was back to a “short normal”. You can always grow it towards the Buzz cut if you don’t like the bald look, how long it takes is up to your head. For me that would be about 3-4 weeks.
That’s about all I can think of to offer you for your project. I *love* change so I definitely say you should go through with it.
Good Luck, and take some pictures, even if only for yourself. You won’t regret them!