My hair has progressively been thinning at the crown for years and I finally want to shave it all off. What clippers and other accessories do you recommend I get?
May 15, 2011 12:23 PM   Subscribe

My hair has progressively been thinning at the crown for years and I finally want to shave it all off. What clippers and other accessories do you recommend I get?

I'm a 24-year-old male who (unfortunately) has very thin hair at my crown. When I say "thin", I mean really thin. Most people with MPB (Male Pattern Baldness) supposedly start thinning in their 20's, but this isn't the petty baldness I see most 20-some-year-olds complaining about; this is bad. Don't believe me? Look at this photo.

OK - so you get the point. I'm balding . . . badly.

I've come to accept the fact that this problem won't magically improve itself and I don't want to have to take drugs for my entire life just to retain the hair I currently have. So I want to get a high-quality pair of hair clippers and perhaps other hair accessories that will help me effectively remove my hair regularly. Any recommendations from fellow MetaFilter users who're bald/like the shaved look?

Now I've a question regarding the length I should cut my hair: Should I shave my hair right to the scalp? I've black hair and my hair wouldn't have to be very long for the bald patch to become noticeable to others. So I'm thinking I should maybe shave it all the way off. What do you think?

If you need to ask/tell me anything regarding this, email me at my throwaway email address:

I decided to ask this anonymously since family and friends know I'm on MetaFilter; this is a sensitive topic for me.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Wahl Balder is the closest, most comfortable non-blade shave out there. That said, you're going to need to be comfortable with being bald no matter how long (or short) the hair is.. that's the trick!
posted by kcm at 12:48 PM on May 15, 2011

These Philips clippers are good. Apart from the fact that my first pair mysteriously stopped working, the fact that you can rotate the head makes the job a lot easier.

When I first started clipping I used the stupid grade lengths. It took one of the plastic attachments to break before I used the clippers on their own. I now just trim to whatever the grade is that doesn't use the plastic attachments, which are just a faff.

What I would say is that if I'd had the cash then and the same surgical options were around I'd have seriously considered it.

I think trimming it all off, as I do now, feels more like a lifestyle choice than an accident of genetics. By the same token, if you don't feel that you are ready to be "bald" now, then you don't absolutely have to.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:52 PM on May 15, 2011

I started balding at 21. The full monty - receding hairline, bald spot,and everything in between. By 23, there was no hiding the fact that I was losing my hair, and by 25 it was pretty much gone. That being said, I waited until I was 28 to shave my head (which was way too long) and I cringe (even more than usual) at what few pictures exist of me then. Once I finally bit the bullet and shaved, everyone made comments about how much better it looked.

Here's the thing - trim it super close, or shave it outright - you're not going to be fooling anyone as to why you have the hairstyle you have. Which is to say, being concerned about "the bald patch being noticeable to others" is kind of a moot point.

I shave my head roughly twice a week (mainly because I'm lazy). That's shave, not trim. I find it's easiest to do in the shower (not as messy as trying to do it over the sink, and wet shaving is best anyway).

I use a beard and mustache trimmer (I think it's a norelco) to knock it down if I go more than 3 or so days, so that the shaving goes easier.

But like MuffinMan says, make it a lifestyle choice - own your baldness!
posted by namewithoutwords at 1:10 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're not balding badly, just a lot. It's not bad, promise. Other people can see it, yes, but it doesn't make you ugly. In this flat we have Nicky Clarke, Babyliss and Remington clippers, and only the Babyliss ones are rubbish. None of them cost more than £20, so they probably aren't expensive where you are, either. Just buy some. Or, if you're worried about missing bits or don't want to commit yet, go out and get your hair cut very short by a barber. That way you'll find out if you like it; if you don't, it'll grow back pretty quickly.

Beware of the sun! You may well have already discovered the annoyance of sunburn on your head - at least if you get rid of everything, it's considerably easier to put sunblock all over your head and get a nice even tan.

(FWIW, I'm female and have more than enough hair of my own; my boyfriend is also in his twenties and keeps what hair he has left (less than you) between grades 3 and 6 (I think it looks better on the shorter side of that), my boyfriend's one brother does the wet shave thing, and his other brother keeps his about grade 2. The all look fine.) If you get it really short but not totally shaved, people will want to stroke your head. Drunk girls will not necessarily ask first. YMMV as to whether you think this is a good thing.
posted by Lebannen at 2:21 PM on May 15, 2011

In my experience in the world of hair clippers, you get what you pay for. I've owned 3 in the past 15 years. The first was a hand-me-down Wahl set from my father. Not sure how much he paid back in the '90s, but they were great and lasted many, many years. When those died, I bought a $25 Conair set. Those consistently pulled my hair and died within 2-3 years.

My current clippers are the Wahl Super Taper II ($50) and they are great. As long as I keep the blades oiled, hair pulling is not an issue. They're about 7 years old now; my wife uses them on me every 5-6 weeks.
posted by puritycontrol at 2:29 PM on May 15, 2011

If you want it really short, a T-trimmer like this one does a pretty good job. I used it for a while before moving on to a HeadBlade. Though looking at at Wahl Balder that kcm linked to, I'm tempted to try that as well...

And hey, good on you for taking the plunge! I started losing hair around age 14-15 or so, was miserable about it for 6 years, and then decided that medications and comb-overs weren't getting me anywhere. My hair hasn't had more than a week's growth for about 5 years now.
posted by greatgefilte at 2:50 PM on May 15, 2011

Seconding the Phillips clippers that MuffinMan recommended. I used ones with a more conventional design before, and the rotating function makes the process a whole lot easier. I think mine came with a 2 year warranty, though YMMV.

I think the key to cutting your hair short is not just to 'own' the look, as has been said, but to 'own' the look 100%. This means cutting it on a regular basis, with no excuses. Usually, you'll look much, much better once it's cut - you just have to be brave and get used to it.

One useful accessory is a friend/SO who can help you out with the sides and the rear - though with practice, it's definitely possible to do a great job without them.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 3:41 PM on May 15, 2011

Remington shortcut trims very nicely.
posted by hortense at 7:52 PM on May 15, 2011

HeadBlade FTW! I no longer shave, just trim (wife's preference) but when I did it was HeadBlade all the way. (Get cheaper replacement blades at your local chain drugstore.) Good support on the HB site too, as well as on Bald R Us ( Know that there is a learning curve - shallow, but real, especially with shaving. Try clippers first (I use a cheap Wahl, it's a great brand), then go all the way if you're not too freaked out. Going completely bald right off the bat will be a little less obvious a transition. Then again, your friends already know, and your true friends won't care - though they'll tell you (honestly) how good you look. Also get a little hand mirror to use with your wall mirror, to make sure you didn't miss any spots on the back in your clippering. Ditto namewithoutwords on shaving in the shower, ditto Lebannen on sunblock (and on touchers and drunk girls). You also now will have a great excuse to own a wide variety of cool hats.
posted by attercoppe at 8:00 PM on May 15, 2011

I have a Wahl that I like. Get one that plugs directly into the wall and runs directly on AC (no battery charging wall wart). Anything with batteries is underpowered crap, and stupid aside, since if you're like me you'll use it exactly in one place: in front of the bathroom mirror with an outlet two feet away.

I prefer the very short buzz cut to shaving, since shaving requires daily maintenance to look good, and a very short cut only requires maintenance every week to two. Besides, the fuzzy is fun to play with.

You can easily try both - it grows fast when it's this short.

You're going to love the new style. I've had mine for a few months and I really like it. I'm long over feeling weird about my pattern of hair and you will be soon too.

By the way, the best procedure for cutting (tmi?) is: Find vacuum and place in bathroom. Get naked. Buzz cut hair, and don't worry about where it lands. Vacuum. Shower well, throw the towel you use directly in the laundry, get dressed (optional).
posted by fritley at 8:00 PM on May 15, 2011

Get what hairdressers use - I bought my Wahl Super Taper from my hairdresser. They're built like a brick shithouse, and spares are readily available from the same source.
posted by cogat at 3:53 AM on May 16, 2011

I don't have any advice, just one woman's input that the close-cropped-head will make you look super-hot. For serious.
posted by monkeymonkey at 6:29 AM on May 16, 2011

I generally use these Wahl Professional Balding Clippers. They are a bit more expensive than many of the other clippers available ($40ish), but they're MUCH better made, and before these, I went through about 3-4 previous pair of clippers. I find the length (very, very short) works out well if I use them ~5 times a week. Don't worry about your bald spot being visible; if you shave your head, it doesn't look bad. Think Jason Statham.

The longer comb length included with these clippers also works very well for my beard.

When I want a smooth head, I also use the HeadBlade, which is awesome. Their shaving cream is also especially good.
posted by JMOZ at 11:37 AM on May 16, 2011

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