Will shaving my head contribute to hair loss?
September 11, 2005 7:45 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to shave my head, but I'm kind of developing a bald spot, and I'm worried about hair retention. Can anyone show me convincing evidence that shaving my head won't contribute to hair loss?

Bonus related question: People won't think I'm a Neo-Nazi, will they?
posted by pornucopia to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total)
er... how would shaving your head not contribute to hair loss?

100% guaranteed loss.
posted by xmutex at 7:47 PM on September 11, 2005

If you are worried that shaving your head will lead to more permanent bald patches, that is false. Shaving does nothing to promote or prevent hair growth. The old wives tale of hair growing back thicker when shaved (legs, chest, etc) is also false. The error stems from the fact that growth after a shave is not a tapered shape like it would if it grew just from the follicle. It's like cutting off the top of a tree, as the new growth moves in, the top of the tree is wider than a tree of the same height that didn't get cut. Anyway, not what you asked.

The answer is that you will not add to your hair loss by shaving, but you are likely to continue losing hair no matter what you do. So shave away, my friend!
posted by qwip at 7:54 PM on September 11, 2005

Oh, and you are silly to even think that people will associate you with be a Nazi. Is Bruce Willis a Nazi?

Now go shave your head and stop asking obvious questions.
posted by qwip at 7:55 PM on September 11, 2005

shaving your head has nothing to do with baldness. Baldness is caused by hair follicles not producing hair. Shaving your head involves cutting the hair off after it's grown out of the follicle.

I've shaved my hair over and over throughtout the years, and if it caused baldness, I'd know about it.

Plus, if you are balding, shaving your head is a much better way to go than the comb-over, so that's a plus.
posted by puke & cry at 7:58 PM on September 11, 2005

If you're worried about looking like a neo-nazi, avoid white or red shoelaces on black boots and the number 88.
posted by keswick at 8:01 PM on September 11, 2005

I started shaving my head a couple years ago. Most people like it, I do notice that when I'm out in rural areas and stop at a diner people stare at me a bit. Of course in rural areas anybody who's not a local tends to get noticed, but it does seem more obvious. I've seen no evidence that shaving my head has hastened my baldness (judging by my shadow of hair when I don't get a chance to shave for a few days) but even if it did, well, so what, I was balding anyway.

The first few days were the weirdest feeling, after a few obligatory Kojak or Uncle Fester comments it died off though.
posted by substrate at 8:10 PM on September 11, 2005

If you're unsure of shaving your head completely, maybe you could start out with just cropping your hair closely? My bf does this, and I think it's hot. (He also looks nothing like a neo-Nazi.)
posted by scody at 8:20 PM on September 11, 2005

As long as your head is a normal shape, women will find your shaved or close-shorn head more attractive than longer-hair around a bald-spot.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:20 PM on September 11, 2005

"how would shaving your head not contribute to hair loss?

100% guaranteed loss."

posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:32 PM on September 11, 2005

Shaving my head (had it like this for a couple years now) didn't make me go bald - still got my slightly thin patch at the back but it hasn't changed. I have to agree that people tend to like it more, though it makes me look quite a bit older.
posted by polyglot at 9:13 PM on September 11, 2005

Bald is sexy. Bald spot's are not.
posted by LadyBonita at 9:16 PM on September 11, 2005

Here is the the thing... if you are already starting to go bald (the small patches), and you start shaving your head now, you are not going to go bald any faster, as the others have already noted. However, the natural progression of going bald will continue regardless of if you shave your head or not. So lets say after a year of shaving your head you decide to grow it out. You will notice that now (1 year later) you will probably have a lot less hair than before you starting shaving, you will be more bald now, not because of shaving, but because of the passing of time. The thing is, you would have been the same amount of bald had you never started shaving. Once (if) you start growing it out again, the balding will probably be a lot more noticable to you after having not seen it grown out for so long.
posted by RoseovSharon at 9:17 PM on September 11, 2005

Shaving your head won't make you go bald for the same reason that clipping your fingernails won't cause them to fall off. what happens to the thing after it's grown has no relation to the mechanism that grows it.

you are silly to even think that people will associate you with be a Nazi

Don't be so sure. It happened to me once when I had a similar haircut.
posted by jjg at 10:21 PM on September 11, 2005

I've been shaving my head for about five years now and I noticed the exact effect RoseovSharon is talking about. I wanted to grow my hair back out a couple months ago and found that the thinning I had when I was 25 had become full-blown baldness. So instead I started using an electric razor to shave closely, but gradually got tired of that and just started razoring it again.

The shape of your head is key, as has been noted. I think that's the difference between using a razor and using an electric razor to leave the slightest fuzz.

Next what you need to find is a razor that works. I've gone from Bic through Quattro, one blade to four, and have finally stuck with the Quattro. They may be expensive, but no more really than I would pay for a haircut every two weeks. I have tried many different shaving creams as well, and have finally stuck with plain old Colgate foam. I shave my skull daily in the shower, and the foam doesn't clog up the razor like gels can.

Get acquainted with the shape of your head, since you will be shaving mostly by feel. It's going to take a month or so to really do it right and not leave stripes of unshavenness on parts of your head, but you'll get it.

The other difference I've noticed is that pimples are sometimes a problem on my head, which I guess hair used to cover. I don't use any after-shave lotions or such, and try and make sure I rinse well after shaving.

One sweet thing about a shaved head is that if you start feeling kind of oily or dirty, just wet your head down and dry off, no matter where you are. Instant refreshment that people with hair miss out on.

On the neo-Nazi question - I've been in the army the past nine years, and while head shaving was always accepted among black soldiers, it's taken longer to catch on with the white and hispanic soldiers. Now though, just about any guy who starts losing his hair is shaving his head, just for the sheer convenience. I'm leaving the army in November and was concerned about my shaved skull impacting my job search - which is why I was trying to grow it out - but now I just figure I'll leave some fuzz on during the interview process and go back to shaving when time passes. I see more and more men shaving, (non-military) so I don't think it's going to be a big problem.

Remember these men as your role models: Michael Chicklis, Bruce Willis, Ed Harris, Michael Jordan. . .

but not these men: Michael Stipe, Billy Corgan.

I think the jury's still out on Moby. Decide for yourself. Good luck.
posted by spslsausse at 1:00 AM on September 12, 2005

There are razors designed for the head they have a ring for your finger and a handle that follows your head shape, the angle is always right.
posted by hortense at 2:25 AM on September 12, 2005

Headblades suck, save your money.
posted by fixedgear at 6:30 AM on September 12, 2005

Shaving your head will not contribute to hair loss. Indeed, if you decide to continue doing it you may begin to wish that it did, as it would reduce the frequency with which you must shave.

I have never felt conspicous with my shaved head. Either at home, or in my travels in first and third world countries.

For advice (which was not asked for, but has been offered by others), I too shave in the shower, but use a two-blade Sensor Excel and soap. Of course you will, likely, save a fortune in hair-related expenses no matter what you use.
posted by Elpoca at 8:35 AM on September 12, 2005

Unless you're applying to work for ANSWER, I don't think having a military haircut will hurt you in any way, especially if your field is related to your military training.

I always like to hire military veterans, because I know they can work hard, even though I'm a total anti-war pussy. In my estimation, you shouldn't be afraid to wear your service on your sleeve dome.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:15 AM on September 12, 2005

Shave it. Balding men who don't look like they have something to hide. The minute I started losing it, I took the clippers and the #1 attachment to my head, and I redo that about every 3 weeks.
posted by luriete at 10:44 AM on September 12, 2005

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