I’ve been shaving my head for over a decade now. I remember the day I took the plunge as well as I remember yesterday.
Saturday, June 7, 1997 dawned beautiful. What was to be my last haircut was only a couple of days old. I’d been getting my ‘number one’ every few weeks and frankly, I was getting a little tired of the ritual. I called my style a ‘number one’ because of the clipper attachment used – the shortest one. The only thing that would cut shorter was no attachment at all.
Today would be the day! Nothing beats a professional straight-razor shave so I thought that having a good barber do the deed would be the way to go. I chose a nice old-style barber shop in Princeton, New Jersey. You know the kind – a row of big leather chairs with the swivels and adjustments lined up in front of the mirrored wall. The barbers, each looking as old as the chairs, in animated conversation with their customers as their fingers flew with the scissors. The smell of hair care products filled my nostrils. )I’m not sure what it is, but traditional barber shops have a smell all their own.) I smiled and picked up a magazine as I slid into a chair near the door to wait my turn.
“NEXT!” That would be me. I climbed into one of those leather beauties and faced the barber. He checked out my obviously recent ‘number one’ and looked very puzzled indeed. What did I want him to do?
I told him of my decision and asked for a nice straight-razor shave. And he refused!
Huh?? He explained that they no longer do straight-razor work because of the AIDS risk. Remember, in the late 90s AIDS was big in the news and all manner of reactionary regulatory measures were in full swing. So, no more shaves or even sideburn trims with the straight-razor. I guess it had been a while since I had a good shave, I hadn’t even realized. But it made sense. We lamented the passing of the good ‘ol days for a few minutes.
We decided to use clippers and stuff to take my hair as short as it could go but the rest would be up to me. He selected his tools, removed all of the attachments and set to work. In a few minutes the job was done. I paid, tipped, thanked and stepped into the street, feeling a bit lightheaded.
I returned home to finish the job. What a hack! I discovered that my electric razor wasn’t very effective. I remembered a Gillette razor I received in a mail promotion some time back and found its box. I tried it with some shaving cream. Clearly, trying to do this standing in front of the sink was not the way to go! So I stepped into the shower and slowly went after it ‘blind’, by feel. I only drew a little bit of blood.
And that’s what I do today, albeit much faster and with no cuts. What are my preferred tools? Glad you asked. A Gillette Sensor Excel II, the silver-handled, two-bladed unit of years gone by. The blades are inexpensive in bulk packages at Costco. And Dial Gold bar soap. Gold lathers better than the white. Multi-bar bulk packages are often on sale.
So, what can you expect if you shave your head? There are a few things you probably haven’t considered.
For instance, oil production. Your head produces lots of oil. It keeps your hair nice and shiney. You wash it off regularly and now it’s got no place to go. So your scalp becomes kind of greasy especially for the first few weeks. Your body gradually reduces production over time, but you will notice increased oil on whatever touches your bare head. Dry cleaning your favorite cap every now and then becomes routine. You’ll replace your pillow more often. If you use a motorcycle helmet, choose one with a removable liner and dry clean that, too. (Note, the opposite happens when you decide to grow your hair again. Your hair will initially be too dry until your body ramps up oil production once again.)
Hair also protects you in ways we take for granted. You’ll sunburn easily, so wear a hat or use a good sun block. It really is true that you lose a lot of heat from your head so you’ll definitely be wearing hats in winter. Those knit pullover hats are great and easy to clean. And bumping your head hurts more, even a little bit of hair provides more cushion than you’d expect.
But despite the shortcomings I still recommend the style. It’s easy, quick and inexpensive to keep a clean, consistent look.
I hear you asking, “how about women? Is head shaving an option for women, too?” I guess it’s a matter of opinion. You definitely see fewer women with shaved heads than men. So it probably takes more guts, more self-confidence, maybe a bit of arrogance for a woman to take the plunge. Personally, I think it’s a pretty hot look for the woman that can pull it off, but that’s just me.
For more fun and information about shaving your head, Google is your friend.