I'm too lazy to shave every day....Solutions?
October 4, 2013 4:58 AM   Subscribe

We can put a man on the moon. We can turn a woman into a man and a man into a woman. We can create computers that are smarter than us. We know what the middle of the earth looks like...And so on and so on and so on...... We are a pretty much technology advanced race of humans. How close are we to inventing a 'Nair' like product for the head? I'm bald and a bit lazy and tired of the routine of shaving my head 3x a week to maintain an appearance that isn't so 'gruff'. My wife likes me smooth! Every hair removal product I read of is not recommended for the head, because our skin on top is too thin and the hair removal chemicals could do more damage then good. So anyway, is there a solution on the horizon? Any miracle head hair removal gel, cream, mist coming out soon? Life must be pretty good if this is what concerns me at the moment...... Humor me?
posted by TwilightKid to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are you pale with dark hair? That is what combination works the best for laser hair removal. If you're really serious about it, it's the only thing that actually works (for varying levels of work - people who get laser treatments always have some hair, but it tends to be much thinner, lighter, and slower growing.) I don't know what the deal is with heads, but people get laser hair removal on lots of different tender areas so I can't imagine it would be too strange - and people definitely get it done on the scalp to tidy up runaway hairlines.
posted by Mizu at 5:10 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

The saddest part about this question is that we can't put a man on the moon anymore.

I have been shaving my heads for years. The problem with your question is that even if depilatory creams and goop were suitable for the head, they would take longer to use than shaving would. These products generally instruct that they be left on for three to five minutes, but may take more or less time depending on the thickness of the hair. The thickness of head hair would very likely take longer than five minutes. Since depilatories work by chemically dissolving the hair, and faster product would be more corrosive. So, a product that works faster that is also gentler is just not very feasible.

A lengthy discussion of laser treatment here. In short, it looks like you still need to shave after laser treatment.

I shave every workday morning. It just takes a few minutes and is less time than I would have spent on my hair. If you are feeling lazy, I suppose you could shave at night rather than in the morning. A Headblade also helps make things go more quickly.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:18 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Honestly, Nair doesn't work worth anything anywhere else, either, except for very fine peach-fuzz kinda stuff on your arms or upper lip, for women? It also takes way longer than shaving. Just so you know what reasonable expectations would be if you *could* use Nair on your scalp. For it to be less effort than shaving, it'd have to be incredibly caustic stuff if it was just dissolving hair, and that would not be nice to your skin. It also stinks to high heaven.

The closest real chemical solution I can think of is Vaniqa, which is prescription-only and that could make getting it a problem, but might depend on your doctor, I guess. There are reports of just using it on the face causing head hair to fall out, so I guess that's a pretty good sign that it works on head hair. It might not, however, be very kind to any facial hair you might be cultivating, and it might be expensive, and obviously you'd have to get a doctor on board with letting you try it off-label. In practical terms, laser is expensive but at least generally light on the side effects.
posted by Sequence at 5:26 AM on October 4, 2013

There are depilatory creams made for use on the head/face. They're mostly marketed towards black men, so they might be in the 'ethnic hair' section of the drug store. (Who named an aisle 'ethnic hair'?)

Here's a random one on Amazon.
posted by hoyland at 5:26 AM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can get electrolysis and never have to worry about removing the hair from your head ever again.

If you want to quit shaving because it's too much work, Nair is not going to solve that problem, it's time consuming and messy, and difficult to remove.
posted by yohko at 5:32 AM on October 4, 2013

Theoretically, some sort of dihydrotestosterone gel (or other topical DHT treatment) could make you go permanently bald. Don't know if such a thing actually exists as a product, though. Short of that, it's basically laser to reduce the amount of shaving you'd need to do, or electrolysis to permanently rid yourself of hair. The latter would take a good long while, a good bit of expense, and a lot of suffering.
posted by Dysk at 5:41 AM on October 4, 2013

i had a roommate that tried to use Nair on his face. we were sitting in the living room downstairs and he was upstairs in the bathroom. after a couple of minutes we heard fumbling and thumping overhead, water running, and some yelps of pain. his face was scarred for about a month or so... not sure if it was an allergic reaction or what but if the bottle specifically says don't apply to facial areas then DON'T.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 5:55 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are depilatory creams made for use on the head/face. They're mostly marketed towards black men, so they might be in the 'ethnic hair' section of the drug store.

I've used these to shave or do a goatee and they're a bit tricky. You'd need to experiment to find the best mixture of water and powder for your hair and how long to leave on. Leave it on too long and you will get chemical burns. The link image from above is to milder, pre-mixed form that comes out as paste. Try that first.

Be aware that the stuff stinks.

(Who named an aisle 'ethnic hair'?)

White people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:22 AM on October 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

There's a new product called 'inhibitif' being marketed here in Ontario as a hair growth inhibitor. Not sure if it works.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:56 AM on October 4, 2013

If your wife likes you smooth, maybe you could turn this into quality relationship time and have her shave you.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:25 AM on October 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

The fundamental problem here is that hair is made of keratin, but so is a good portion of your epidermis. So anything chemical that can dissolve your hair will also be able to damage your skin. If the hair is fine, then the amount of time required to dissolve the hair will be less than that required to seriously damage your skin; but if it's coarse, then the skin damage will occur before the hair is fully dissolved.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:44 AM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hi! I'm a trans woman! I've spent way too much time this year researching hair removal methods — in my case for the beard and not the scalp, but most of the details are the same either way. The online trans community, not surprisingly, cares a lot about this shit, and the advice I've found there is very consistent and mostly doesn't set off my bullshit filter. On the other hand, if you just google around, you'll find a lot of bullshit, since (outside of specific closed communities) beauty "advice" online tends to be astroturfing or outright advertising rather than real information.

So, sneak preview: you're probably better off just shaving rather than trying to do something fancy, because a little stubble is gonna be less of a big deal for you than it is for me — and because real hair removal is a royal pain in the ass. But in case you want to weigh your other options, here's the deal as I understand it.


Electrolysis is the only genuinely permanent hair removal method. It is expensive, painful and takes a long time. First off, it's slow because each follicle has to be zapped individually. An second, only a fraction of your hair follicles are active at any given moment, and electrolysis will only kill a hair follicle if it's active — so you have to keep going back each time new follicles cycle from inactive to active, to take the opportunity to kill the newly active ones off. It's like Whack-A-Mole. After a year or so, you'll finally have gotten them all.

Trans women who get a full beard removed using electrolysis can easily spend $10,000 or more on it over the course of the year or so that they're getting it treated. I imagine that a similarly sized region of your scalp could well cost the same amount. It will be cheaper if the hair that's left on your scalp has thinned out (remember, electrolysis treats each follicle individually, so density matters) or if only a small area of your scalp has hair.

Probably electrolysis won't be worth it for you unless you have a lot of money, a high pain tolerance, very thin hair, or some combination of the three.


Laser hair removal is touted as "permanent hair reduction." Anecdotally, it's more complicated than that. Some women say it's gotten rid of their whole beard for good. A lot of women say "Yeah, it basically got rid of the whole thing, but I still have to go back for occasional re-treatment to get a few stray follicles." Some women say it's had basically no lasting effect. The biggest known factor is the color of your hair: grey, blond or light red hairs are basically immune to laser treatment. Everyone finds laser sort of painful, but if you have dark skin it will hurt more — and also has a greater chance of damaging the skin itself.

Laser is faster than electrolysis because you can zap a whole region instead of going one follicle at a time. It costs more per hour — but because it is faster, the total cost of treating an area with lasers is much, much lower than the total cost of treating it with electrolysis. Like electrolysis, laser only works against active follicles, so you need repeated appointments over the course of a year or so to give all the follicles a chance to become active and get zapped. After one laser treatment, you'll have a few weeks or a month or two of hairlessness, and then the next round of follicles will activate and you'll have to go in again. After a half dozen rounds or so of this (assuming you're not one of the unlucky people who see no permanent effect), you'll be able to start going a lot longer between treatments — many months or even years.

Be careful when looking for a place to get laser treatment done. A lot of them are super-shady and basically unqualified to do what they're doing. As I understand it, in most states, you need serious training to get certified as an electrologist, but to do laser you just need to do a quickie "don't shine the laser straight into your eye you moron" safety course. Laser places also have a reputation for promising incredible results that they couldn't possibly guarantee — again, because they're so loosely regulated that they can basically tell you whatever they want. So if you decide to do laser, ask around and find out who has a really good reputation, because it really matters.

I could imagine laser being worth it, if you're lucky enough to have the right combination of hair and skin color, you find a decent bargain at a reputable joint, and you don't mind sinking a bit of time and money into the problem.


Eflornithine (a.k.a. Vaniqa) is a topical prescription hair growth inhibitor. It makes hair grow slower, but doesn't reliably make it any thinner, stop it growing or kill the follicles. I don't know anyone who's bothered with it: consensus in the trans community online is that it isn't effective enough to be worth the cost. You probably shouldn't bother either.


There's no good medical treatment that will actually get rid of beard or scalp hair. Someone upthread suggested DHT, but there's a few reasons why this is a really, really bad idea. First off, as I understand it, you can't just buy DHT: it's not actually FDA-approved for anything, meaning you can't get it prescribed, and selling it without a prescription would likely be illegal since it's a testosterone analogue. (Testosterone itself is a schedule III controlled substance, because it's an anabolic steroid and can be abused by bodybuilders etc.)

So if you wanted more DHT in your system, you'd have to take testosterone supplements. (Some testosterone is converted into DHT in your body, so raising your level of T also raises your level of DHT.) But that's a terrible idea too. First, like I said, T is a controlled substance because it's an anabolic steroid, so this plan would be illegal unless you somehow got a doctor on board. Second, it's got all the famous anabolic steroid side effects: it'll fuck with your mood, shrink your testicles, make you infertile, raise your risk of prostate cancer, potentially damage your liver, etc. Third, if your T levels get too high, some of it starts being converted into estrogen rather than DHT, and so you'll also risk getting fun "feminizing" side effects like gynecomastia. And finally, no matter how high you manage to get your DHT levels, my suspicion is that it probably wouldn't leave you totally bald. DHT accelerates the progress of male pattern baldness; but most men never go 100% bald no matter how long they live, so my hunch is that there's no guarantee that even a decade or more of elevated DHT would get you where you want.

Tl;dr: No. Don't do this.


Cis women with too much facial hair sometimes take antiandrogens like spironolactone or 5a-reductase inhibitors like finasteride (a.k.a. propecia). That shit won't reduce your scalp hair — if anything, they'll slow the rate at which you lose it, by lowering your level of DHT (see above) — and it can give you side effects of low testosterone in cis men, including depression, lethargy and impotence. Again: no.


Basically everything else (home laser kits, electric tweezers, over-the-counter topical stuff, that stupid "no!no!" thing, etc) is unanimously regarded as total bullshit among the people who have tried it.


So, okay, your last option is shaving, either with a razor or with "shaving powder" or some other chemical depilatory. Trans women don't like relying on that, because growing even a little bit of visible five-o-clock shadow in the wrong situation can (in the worst case scenario) put our lives in danger. Honestly, though, in a world with less transphobia and more generously relaxed beauty standards for women, I suspect a lot of us would say the hell with all the fancier options and just shave. My money's on this one as the best option for you too. Sorry for the anticlimax, but there it is.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:23 AM on October 4, 2013 [116 favorites]

Hey, I'm sure everyone else has covered everything better than I could, but since I've spent today looking at clinical laser safety I want to make sure this point is emphasised enough:


If you do decide to go down this route, and want to do it safely (I'm not too clear on U.S healthcare systems, but in the U.K this is possible) see if there's a hospital nearby where a dermatologist can perform the procedure.
posted by Ned G at 5:33 PM on October 4, 2013

What are you using to shave? If you're just using a shitty Gillette disposable or something, you might look at a safety razor or even a straight razor. I use a safety razor to shave my face and shave twice a week max because it cuts so close it takes that long to grow back. You'll go through some adjustment period while you maul yourself like a bear, but may be worth looking into if you decide to not go with the more esoteric treatments mentioned in the thread.

Alternately, go to a barber--a real barber, preferably an old-timey barbershop with salty-mouthed old men that tell dirty stories and know their shit, but I've also had luck with the nouveau hipster type where they take their craft seriously, like a young guy with a bunch of tattoos and a goofy mustache dressed like he's an 1800s barber is also probably reliable, but not anything called a "salon" or that has "stylists" and not anything that's a chain--and get your head done with a straight razor. I do this before every special occasion and it takes me at least a week to get to serious stubble. Plus it feels awesome.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:57 PM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

you might look at a safety razor or even a straight razor

OP is looking to spend less time maintaining his shaved head, not more. A double-edged safety razor, and certainly a straight razor, would take more time and effort. Since he's tired and shaving, a more laborious shaving process likely doesn't fit the bill. I have tried a DE safety razor to shave my head and it is an incredible PITA. I stick with a triple blade in a Headblade or a conventional cartridge razor.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:00 PM on October 5, 2013

Every hair removal product I read of is not recommended for the head

First of all, Nair isn't recommended for your hoohoo either, but plenty of people chemical bomb the shrubbery with it, contrary to the manufacturer's explicit warnings. Second of all, there totally IS a product for the head. It's called Magic Shave, and while it says it's "exclusively for Black men" that's a load of codswallop; it's very popular with women of every color, though we're generally not using it on our heads.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:17 PM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]

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