Which Direction Should You Shave Your Head? (Easy to Follow Guide)
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Shaving your head is an important part of grooming. Now, different men have different reasons for shaving their heads. For some, it’s for fashion, and for others, it’s to conceal the fact that they are going bald. For other men, shaving offers a much-needed hairstyle change and helps them cool off during summer.
For soldiers, shaving is mandatory, and for men going through chemotherapy, hair falls off, so shaving helps to minimize irritation and save them the embarrassment of shedding. Some shave to honor a family member or friend going through chemotherapy.
Regardless of your reason to shave your head, you must know how to do it right. If this is your first time, we’ll share some tips and easy-to-do tricks that’ll help you avoid irritation, cuts, and other problems. In this piece, we shall focus on answering ‘which direction should you shave your head?’ Is shaving with the grain better?
Which Direction Should You Shave Your Head?
As a beginner, you have a long way to go before you master a safety razor or electric razor handling techniques. As such, you are bound to make a lot of mistakes when shaving your head with a razor. It’s important to start with the safest method and advance to other techniques as your handling improves.
With that said, we recommend you shave your head with the grain – the direction your follicles grow. This technique makes shaving safer and easier. Moreover, you get to avoid irritation and nasty cuts. Once you gain confidence, you can shave your head against the grain to get a closer shave.
Shaving against the grain provides a close and smooth shave that lasts for a short time. For most men, hair will grow back in two days, and it’ll be as though you shaved with the grain. While it achieves a close and smooth shave, there is a high risk of irritation, nicks, and cuts. You should decide if a smooth shave lasting about two days is worth the risk. But generally, if you have sensitive skin, you should shave your head with the grain.
On the bright side, you can reduce the risk by using quality tools, and creams, and mastering the technique.
Before we get into the process, note the following:
- Have a routine – Building a routine develops good habits and increases your efficiency of the task. With a routine, you get better at achieving a closer shave and spend less and less time shaving.
- Use the right shaving tools – we cannot stress enough the importance of using the right tools. They not only help you achieve a close shave but also make the process comfortable. Always start with a fresh blade. You could use a straight razor or a cartridge razor. Remember, when shaving your head, there are lots of blind spots and some hard-to-reach spots. Therefore, choose a tool that you are comfortable with and less aggressive.
How to Shave Your Head
Though the process isn’t complicated, it needs patience and pre-shave preparation. Below are some steps to follow for a cut and irritation-free shave.
If you have long hair, grab a hair clipper and use it without the guard. Or even better, use a balding clipper. Shave everything you can with the clipper before the actual head shave. It’s best if you use the lowest setting on your clipper. If you start shaving with long hair, you risk uncomfortable tugging and pulling.
Using a clipper helps to pull back hair with the free hand as you move the clipper over your head. You can also use your hand to feel for spots you might have missed. Remember to get the hair at the back of your head growing past your hairline and down your neck.
Wash Your Head with Warm Water
You do this for the same reasons you do when shaving your beard – to soften the hair, relax the skin and open your pores for a smooth and frictionless shave. Warm water achieves these results best. Moreover, taking a quick hot shower or washing your entire head under the skin before a shave will get rid of clipped hair that might clog your razor.
Oil Your Head
Some men skip this step, but we’ve found it beneficial as it adds a layer of protection between your scalp and your blade. These extra barriers are important, especially if you have sensitive skin and are prone to razor burns and ingrown hairs. The less drag you have when shaving, the fewer bumps and nicks you’ll get. Some oils that are great to use at this stage include coconut, castor, and jojoba oil. However, some brands have developed excellent blends. You can also use an alum block or styptic pencil to stop bleeding.
Choose a Razor
Should you use a safety or cartridge razor? Well, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. Many guys already use cartridge razors like the Gillette Mach III, so using one would be best. However, be prepared for a hard time navigating the angles of your head and finding the perfect pressure to use. There’s no shame in first-time mistakes.
Some razors are made for purely head shaving, such as the Headblade ATX.
With that said, we recommend graduating to using a safety razor as soon as you can as it’ll save you money on blade replacements and will achieve an even better and closer shave.
Remember, a single sharp blade is better than multi-blades as they increase the risk of skin irritation. But on the flip side, it has a steeper learning curve. It’ll take a couple of practice sessions to get the grip right.
Apply Shaving Cream
Shaving gels and shave creams work well. Spread the cream lightly and consistently on your head. You can even get some shaving creams made especially for head shaving. You can use a mirror to help you see if you have full coverage. The cream or gel will soften the follicles and improve the razor’s gliding on your head and protect your skin from irritation.
Use Gentle and Light Strokes
As you may know from beard shaving, slow, light, and smooth strokes are ideal. Take your time since rushing increases the chances of making mistakes. As a beginner, you should shave in the direction of your hair. As you gain more experience, you can shave against the grain.
Shave along the Contours
If you have an adaptive razor, the blade will pivot easily over the contours of the scalp. Fold your ears when shaving close to them to protect them from cuts.
Rinse the Blade Often
Always make sure you rinse the blade often. You can do this by placing it under running water after a couple of strokes to get rid of hair, shaving cream, and dead skin. This step will keep the razor from getting clogged up. Most shaving tutorials show men hitting razors against the skin or wiping them down with towels – don’t do it. Doing so can damage the razor.
Reapply Shaving Cream
If you want another pass through the same spot, you should reapply the cream to prevent a razor burn and irritation.
Rinse and Dry
Once you get a good shave, it’s time to rinse your head with cool water and pat it dry.
After drying, apply aftershave lotion to soothe your skin and prevent skin irritation. Use an alcohol-free quality product. Moisturizing will keep your scalp hydrated, and soft and leave you smelling heavenly.
Skip Everything and Use an Electric Razor
If you don’t want to run your blade blindly over your scalp or don’t have the patience for the process described, you can use an electric head shaver to achieve a close shave. These electric shavers won’t break the skin even when you speed up the process. Moreover, they irritate the skinless. A bestseller in this category is the Skull Shaver Pitbull Gold Pro.
The tradeoff for using these shavers is that the scalp doesn’t remain smooth for long. Using an electric head shaver (or any electric razor), you’ll have to re-shave every few days, while with a regular cartridge razor, you can go for a week.
How Often Do You Need to Shave Your Head?
This boils down to personal preference. It mainly depends on the look you are after. Do you want to have a shiny bald head all the time? Or are you okay with some bit of growth? If you prefer a shiny scalp, then you should shave every other day. Generally, you should shave your head every time you shave your beard.
If you don’t mind some bit of growth, then you can shave once a week. Different men have different hair ranging from thick and dark to scarce and light hair. For others, hair grows fast, and for others, hair growth is slow. With that in mind, you’ll learn how often you shave from personal experience.
Do I shave head hair up or down?
Stretch the skin on your head taut for an even and smooth surface and move the razor with the grain. Whether this is up or down your head depends on the direction your hair grows.
How do I know the direction of my hair growth?
If you run your hand across your head and the hair feels smooth, then that’s the direction of hair growth. But if your hair spikes up when you run your hand across your head, then you are going against hair growth.
What happens when you shave in the opposite direction?
If you shave your head against the grain, you risk getting ingrown hair, skin irritation, and razor bumps.
Will shaving your head makes hair grow faster or thicker?
Not quite. Shaving your scalp doesn’t change the pace of hair growth or its thickness. This myth stems from the fact that hair regrowth is usually different at first.
Is hot water good after shaving?
It is not. After you shave your head, you should use cold water as it will constrict open pores and stop minor nicks you might have gotten. This will prevent bacterial infection. Cold water will also soothe and calm the skin leaving you feeling fresh.
Can hot water kill razor bumps?
When you start feeling skin irritation, soak a towel in hot water and place it on your head for a few minutes. The heat will shrink razor bumps and kill harmful bacteria.
Ruiru Kibet is passionate about beard care and male grooming. He believes it’s an art form and is happy to share his insight with men across the globe. He’s into wet shaving and evidence-based grooming, a passion that helps him analyze men’s grooming brands, products, and wet shaving practices presenting you with the best recommendations and advice.