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how to stop balding

Should I shave my head?: Surprising pros and cons

To shave your head or not? As someone who has rocked the bald head but currently chooses not to, I give you my opinion on when you should—or shouldn’t.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

Like most men, I suffer from hair loss.

I’m not sure when it started exactly, but I know that other people were able to notice the top missing by the time I was 26. My receding hairline was easily visible by 28, at 29 my drill sargent at basic training made fun of me, and 30 is when my barber suggested it might be time to shave my head.

I never started shaving my head with a razor, but I did start to give myself a buzz cut with clippers on the lowest grade possible.

The first time I did it, I got a pretty uneven cut, missing a lot of the hair on the back of my head, but I kept with it (and invested in a hair trimmer) until it didn’t look too bad. I didn’t mind it, but ultimately I spent the money and got a hair transplant.

This article uses my experience and observations to help answer whether you should shave your head. Or, at the very least, use an electric shaver to give yourself a buzzcut.

After you go through this article, you should have a pretty good idea if shaving your head is the right move for you.

You’re probably going to lose your hair

Even if neither of your parents lost their hair, the numbers aren’t on your side.

More than 4 in 5 men suffer from some type of male pattern baldness. This is not to be confused with baldness related to health issues or nutritional deficiencies. The type of baldness that you’re going to suffer from is the dreaded “androgenic alopecia.”

This hair loss is due to genetics and can’t be fixed with a simple diet fix or detox—although you can try.

By the age of 50, nearly 85% of men will have to confront the question of whether or not to shave their heads.

By 25, 25% of men are will have some type of thinning hair.

At the age of 35, this figure is up to 66%.

That’s 2/3rds of men who will have to deal with a receding hairline, thinning crown, or disappearing temples before they’re officially considered middle age.

Losing your hair may be natural, but that doesn’t mean it looks great. There isn’t a single man alive whose appearance improves when his hairline starts to run away from his forehead or the top of his head starts to reflect light.

As a result, several solutions have sprung up to help men combat the ugliness of shrinking hair follicles. Of all the options available, the cheapest one—by far— is shaving your head. However, you may not have to if you dread shaving your head.

Reasons why you should NOT shave your head

So far, it’s only been implied, but let me explicitly state something important about this article: this is for men and written by a man. I understand that some women wrestle with this decision, some for stylistic reasons and others for medical, but I’ve got nothing to contribute to that side of the argument.

If you’re in this article looking for that information, I can’t help you. This article by Allure handles the questions for women—>11 Things I Learned From Shaving My Head

I’m also assuming that you don’t want to shave your head. You enjoy having long hair and have no desire to rock a buzz or crew cut. This article is strictly for men who are suffering from hair loss and are on the fence about whether to rock the bald look.

Here are the reasons why, as a man, you should not shave your head.

You’re Level 2 on the Hamilton-Norwood scale

If you're only at level 2, don't worry
If you're only at level 2, don't worry

The Hamilton-Norwood scale is s a seven-type scale used to measure and categorize the stages of male pattern baldness. The difference between level 3 is when you start to see a thinning crown, and your hairline is no longer completely even. Level 2 is hardly noticeable balding.

At this level, it doesn’t look bad, especially if you’re a white guy. This is not to say it won’t get worse, but level 2 still has an even, albeit somewhat receding, hairline and little to no thinning in the crown.

Level 2 is likely where you notice your hair loss, but no one else can.

Technically speaking,Class 2 on the Norwood Scale marks the beginning of a receding hairline and the appearance of a more triangular “widow’s peak” on the forehead. This early phase may be unsettling to some, and there’s a good chance you will move up the Hamilton-Norwood scale, but if you’re just there, there’s no reason to panic. You look fine.

You’re Level 3 on the Hamilton-Norwood scale and you’re disciplined

Norwood level 3. It's clear I'm losing my hair
Norwood level 3. It's clear I'm losing my hair

This is the level where it becomes clear that you’re losing hair. Depending on your

  • Skin tone: you look like you need to get some sun
  • Age: under 23 years old
  • Muscularity: no man looks good being under-muscled—especially a balding man

It can make you look way worse than other guys at a similar level of hair loss. Level 3 is a problematic place for a lot of men for 3 main reasons:

  1. Approaching this level under 30 will make you look older than you are, but shaving it can make you (potentially) look younger. However, a guy with a shaved head at 28 will look aged, regardless.

    Unless you have dark skin of a certain shade and dark hair, a buzz will exacerbate the appearance of hair loss.
  2. This is typically when men try commercially promoted, FDA-approved solutions like Rogaine (minoxidil) or Propecia (oral finasteride). The problem (aside from the horrendous side effects of finasteride) is that these treatments are pretty good at stopping any more hair from falling out but not so great at regrowing it.

    Also, because of the growth cycle of hair, it will take 8-12 weeks to know if it’s working. And even then, “working” usually just means your hair stops falling out, not regrowing.
  3. Related to the last point, finasteride is a prescription-only medication (at least in the United States) because it treats benign prostate hyperplasia.

    Guys who don’t feel comfortable talking about their balding conversation with their dermatologist but still want to try it will resort to buying from shady internet pharmacies that might send them garbage.

If you are level 3 and have the discipline to follow a daily routine and the patience to see it through, my early hair loss protocol is what you should follow at this point. It directs you how to use

To reverse hair loss.

If you’re already pretty advanced in your balding, this protocol will just be an exercise in futility, as it’s likely that your hair follicles are miniaturized past the point of no return. But if you’re only at Norwood stages late 3-early 4, this protocol will work to get your hair back in 3-6 months.

The only caveat is that you’ll have to continue to do it. If you’re looking for something a little more permanent, the next option is for you.

You’re level 4 on the Norwood, you hate discipline, and you have disposable income

Ed Latimore at Norwood 4 but hair cut short
This was shortly before I decided to a hair transplant. I'm Norwood 3-4 ish.

At level 4, you have two stylistic choices: shave your head or get a hair transplant.

For the first choice, if that’s what you want to do, your appearance will dramatically improve—even if you’re under-muscled, overfat, pale, or under age 30. Unlike level 3, there is no drawback to shaving it now.

So, if you don’t want to do that—or you’re objectively better looking with hair—then you’ll have to get a hair transplant. Once you get the hair transplant, you’ll have to follow the hair loss protocol. I initially developed the protocol to keep the hair that wasn’t transplanted from falling out later.

The good thing about following the protocol after you get a transplant is that you’re much more motivated to keep up the simple routine in the protocol because you aren’t trying to regrow a barren head of hair. In many ways, it’s a fresh start for hair growth journey.

To read the details of my transplant and the science of why you need to follow the protocol after you get a hair transplant, read my experience—>My experience getting an FUE hair transplant.

You can’t grow facial hair or you’re terribly out of shape

First, I want to get something somewhat controversial out of the way: there’s no such thing as a weird-shaped head. Some guys think they’ll look strange with a bald head, but I assure you that you look even worse with splotches of missing hair all over your scalp.

It only looks weird to you because you’re used to seeing yourself with a full head of hair. It’s akin to how your own voice sounds strange to you when you hear it on a recording.

If you can’t grow facial hair, then try applying minoxidil on your face. It’s been proven to cause hair growth when applied to the face.

If you’re out of shape, then hit the gym and start to muscle up and reduce fat.

If you look at all the sex symbols in the media who are bald, they put tremendous energy into their physiques. It’s as if to compensate for the genetics they can’t control, they make up for it by becoming total physical units.

When should I shave my head?

Now that you have all the scenarios where I think shaving your head isn’t the best decision, now let’s cover the good reasons for shaving your head.

You’re black

Brothas have been the unofficial spokesmen for bald heads for as long as I can remember. Because of this, you pay less of an appearance penalty as a man for being black and having a bald head.

If you aren’t black, the next best thing is having a darker complexion. Generally speaking, the darker you are, the better you’ll look if you rock the bald head. Granted, I’m black and decided not to rock it, but it didn’t look too bad when I decided to do it. I suspect my dark skin and the next feature played along with this.

Brothas have always been more accepted with bald heads
Brothas have always been more accepted with bald heads

You’re jacked

Numerically, my guidelines for being jacked are simultaneously having:

  • <15% body fat
  • < 36-inch waist
  • +24 BMI

If you hit these numbers, you might experience an increase in attractiveness because it exacerbates your masculinity and physicality. At the very least, you won’t suffer an attractiveness penalty.

[Read more in my guide on becoming a more attractive man here—>How to become an attractive man]

Look the list of Hollywood celebrities who have made the bald look sexy are all athletic specimens. They include:

  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
  • Jason Statham
  • Bruce Willis
  • Vin Diesel
  • Common

All of these guys are in at least great shape. Some of even former athletes. You can’t control your genetics but you can control your work ethic.

Jason Statham, The Rock, and Vin Diesel all have have physiques and they're bald
Jason Statham, The Rock, and Vin Diesel all have have physiques and they're bald

Your confidence has taken a hit

Hair loss can affect anyone’s confidence level and self-confidence. Shaving your head may feel strange initially, but many men feel less stressed and more confident after no longer trying to disguise undisguisable balding with stupid comb-over hairstyles.

This is a way to take control of your appearance. Instead of running from your genetics, you take control of the situation and empower yourself.

You don’t want to bother with a daily routine or spend the money

This point is an interesting one. Shaving your head is cheaper than any other option. However, it is another type of time investment.

In terms of the latter, an FUE hair transplant is not cheap. I had two procedures, and it cost me just under $20k. And to make sure it isn’t wasted, I have to follow my hair loss prevention and retention protocol.

Now I thought it was worth it, but for many guys, the money and the routine are just too great an investment into vanity and a confidence boost. Everyone’s situation will be different, but to get and keep a great result, you’ll likely have to spend about that much money & time on hair care.

With that said, shaving your head isn’t completely free of maintenance. First, you’ll have to do it at about the same frequency as when you shave. Otherwise, you end up with unsightly bald spots. You’ll also need to invest in a skincare routine.

Applying some type of moisturizer, lotion, or aftershave is important to ensure you don’t get razor burns or ingrown hairs (hair bumps). If you’re lighter skinned, you’ll now also have to get good sunscreen (at least SPF 30) for the top of your head.

At the end of the day, you’ll still save a lot of money going to the barbershop or hairstylist, but you likely won’t save that much money in comparison to using the combo of derma rolling, topical finasteride, low-level light therapy, and topical saw palmetto.

You want a new look to reinvent yourself

You don’t want to be the guy who struggled with balding. Even though your appearance is just one aspect of who you are, it’s arguably the one you gain the most feedback from and the one you’re most aware of. Because of its significance, you can trigger serious changes in your mindset by simply shaving your head.

Shaving your head can be a panacea if your confidence or self-image has been wrecked due to male pattern baldness.

To recap

Don’t shave your head if it’s still early in your hair loss, you have the patience to follow a proven routine, or you have the money for a hair transplant. Also, try to put off on shaving your head until you reach the basic standards for being “jacked”

If your hair loss is at Norwood level 4 or higher, you’re already jacked, or you lack the time and discipline to follow a routine, then shave it off.

The rest is up to you.

Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

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