How to Shave Mens Hair?
I don’t know how many of the poll participants are bald, or balding. I’m not sure if any of them shave their heads already, or are still struggling with whether it’s the right decision. I do know that it’s an easier question to answer after you’ve already made a choice.
I shave my head. But if I’d taken this poll a few years ago, I would have vacillated between “Shave it” and “Some hair is better than none.” My opinion changed constantly, sometimes within the same thought.
I distinctly remember the rainy afternoon in which I stared sadly into the reflection of a storefront window and realized that it had to go. All of it. I needed to take a set of clippers to the whole thing and bring it down to the scalp.
I didn’t want to. I really didn’t want to. I’d been resisting it for years. I’d resisted even considering the option. But even delusion was now wearing thin. That little bit of wetness from the rain revealed way too much scalp to shrug off.
There I was, in my early 30s, and I was finally, begrudgingly accepting the fact that I was losing my hair.
(For some guys, losing their hair was a definite improvement. Check out these .)
If you were to dig through Edgewood Regional High School 1991 yearbook you’d eventually come across a photograph of a young man with a stunning shock of jet black hair, magnificently stretching out directionless in jagged points.(The author, circa 1990)
This hairstyle didn’t do much for me in high school, but during college, it became the locus of my budding self-assurance. And women started responding to it.
Over the years, I allowed my hair to grow out, and then I reigned it in. Sometimes it was a huge purposefully chaotic mess, and other times it was a tight and relatively neat shamble. Even when I was old enough to put on suits and go on actual adult person job interviews, my hair was always some variation on that original unkempt proof of concept. The hairstyle was an inextricable feature of my essence.
I was probably in my late 20s when some unnerving data started trickling in. I would be trying on jeans in a department store, and in the three-way mirror, I’d catch a glimpse of a big glowing beacon in the back of my head. Maybe that was just a trick to the fluorescent lights, I thought.
Running my fingers through my hair, I found the follicles to be more soft and wispy toward the back. And there sure were a lot of loose strands of hair in my sink and on my pillow. Was I using a bad shampoo? Or sleeping weird?(The author, circa 2008)
There were a number of reasons why I refused to accept the reality of androgenic alopecia for a long while. For one thing, every man in my family had the kind of thick hair that you could grab like a clump of grass well into their 60s. There were no exceptions.
For another, I was balding exclusively from the back. Head on in the mirror, I exhibited the exact the same hairline as the one I’d had at 22. From my perspective, I looked fine and completely un-silly.
The third, and most important reason, was that I really didn’t want it to be true. That, in one shot, would mean losing my source of confidence and gaining the title of “bald guy.” I could not accept that. So, I didn’t accept it. And I continued on with my life as though I didn’t look like a guy who was pretending he wasn’t going bald.
In his 2013 academic paper “Shorn Scalps and Perceptions of Male Dominance, ” Albert Mannes explained something that many of us did not need to be told: that balding men usually appear not only about five or 10 years older than their peers, but also “less agreeable, less assertive, and less attractive, ” which unsurprisingly “has been linked with poorer self-esteem and body image and with greater stress and depression.”
Seems pretty bleak for folically-deprived guys like me, right? Actually, there’s a semantic loophole in that last paragraph. Note that I was describing “balding men.” Oddly, it’s an entirely different situation for “bald men.” According to Mannes’ findings, men who shave their heads are perceived as more confident and powerful than men with full heads of hair. And, I’d imagine, way more so than men with obviously thinning hair.
“I do believe that it takes a certain level of confidence for men to shave their heads, ” Mannes explained to me in an email. “So the causality is not that shaving makes men more confident, it is the reverse: for two men who are at similar levels of hair loss, the more confident one is more likely to shave his head than the less confident one.”
Though this was counterintuitive to me at first, I kind of find it easy to swallow. We as a society don’t mock baldness nearly so often as we mock attempts to hide baldness. Consider the difference between Better Call Saul’s Jonathan Banks and The Apprentice’s Donald Trump. Whose head gets more punchlines?
This morning, before jumping into the shower, I pulled out the clippers and shaved my scalp and face down to stubble.(The author, circa 2015.)
My ten-month-old son enjoys the prickly sensation beneath his fingers. My wife likes the cleanness. I inevitably get compliments from her after shaving. She met me at the tail end of my delusional period and never misses an opportunity to tell me how much better I look now.
“I think for men concerned about their hair loss, it is a no-lose proposition to at least try the shaved look, ” Mannes told me. “They may find the look works for them, in which case their anxiety disappears—as it did with you—or it does not, in which case they can simply let it grow back."
Maybe. But I’m getting used to the new me. I love what I see in the mirror now. In fact, if a miracle cure for hair loss emerged from some laboratory next week, I’m not even sure if I would use it.