By Aaron Krach for Style + Tech For Men
Just do it. And we’re not talking about pole vaulting over 6 meters, running a marathon in less than two hours or simply wearing Nike’s new 6.0 Primo sneaks. We mean go ahead and shave your head. Buzz the fuzz. Rock the Yul Brynner. Being bald is the hottest new trend, and it’s no wonder: It’s easy to maintain and it can make you look tough.
Seriously, sporting a clean dome is not just for the follicle-challenged anymore. Check out Matt Damon these days. He shaved his locks off for Elysium, a new sci-fi movie co-starring Jodie Foster, and he looks great.
But he’s a superstar, and you, well, aren’t. No worries, the bald look isn’t just for millionaire movie stars. It’s a style for anyone who wants a stronger look. Whether you need to shave your head (receding hair line) or simply want to, almost any man can take it all off.
Did You Say Almost?
“The main concern is the shape of your head,” says New York’s Salon Pour Hommes owner Martial Vivot, who has worked on the heads of many hairless men, including Bruce Willis. “You have to ask yourself, ‘Can it carry the look?’ There are no bad-shaped heads. But some people have a bigger occipital bone — that’s the one in the back. It can be very pointy, and that’s not ideal if you’re thinking about shaving your head.”
Also consider moles or scars. They’ll be visible, so you have to take into account how prominent or noticeable you’re comfortable with them being. Psoriasis is another issue for some men. It’s a common skin disorder that results in crusty patches of skin that are more easily hidden by longer hair. Lastly: skin tone. Don’t shave your head for the first time at the end of a vacation in the Bahamas. Your scalp will be white, and the rest of you will be tan. That’s just going to look weird.
How to Get the Look
Whether you’re at the barber or at home, the process begins with clippers. Use the second-to-lowest length setting to get rid of most of the hair. Then switch to the lowest-length setting to cut much closer to the scalp. Then, use an electric razor or a wet razor in the shower with regular shave gel. Go with the grain; that’s easier on your skin. Later, you can go against the grain to get a closer shave, but don’t rush that. The skin on your scalp is some of the most sensitive on a man’s body.
How to Maintain the Look
Shave as often as every other day. If you opt for a wet razor, apply pre-shave oil and slick shaving cream. Change your razor at least once a week.
And use sunscreen. The skin on top of your dome hasn’t seen much sun. It will burn easily. So slather on something with SPF 40 or 50 and wear a hat if you’re spending much time outdoors.
Not ready to go all the way? Buzz your hair as short as possible. “I recommend, if you have it, to keep some hair — just a little,” says Vivot. “Instead of shaving a head, I use a zero guard for a close clip. I like the look of just a little hair.”
A tight crop has advantages. It can soften the edges a bit, for example, if you have a pointy occipital bone or a large forehead. A little head scruff can hide a mole or scar too, and it can still give you a strong, no-nonsense look.
Don’t forget your facial hair. If you’re going for bald or even tightly buzzed, grow out a two-day beard. The risk with going bald is that it can make you look less than healthy. But with a light shadow of a beard, you’re good to go.
Aaron Krach, former grooming editor of Cargo magazine, is a writer and editor based in New York City. His work has appeared in InStyle, Out, and TimeOut New York, as well as on Esquire.com.