Being Bald

Being Bald and Owning It

I never really intended for this blog to be about hair loss, baldness, hair buzzing, or head shaving, but my social media is starting to recommend lots of accounts that share interesting related content, and much of it resonates with me to the point where I feel I need to share it.

Here’s a link to an interesting Q&A I found with Tim Ferriss, in which he answers a question about his experience of hair loss and going bald. He addresses this topic at 52 minutes, 31 seconds into the recording, but if you enjoy hearing Tim speak, as I do, you could listen to the full thing.

I’m not going to transcribe what he says verbatim, but I’ll pick up on a few interesting points and how I feel about them.

Hair loss is a sensitive subject for most men

One of the most interesting things he reveals as he begins to answer the question is that he has more PMs/DMs and social media notifications from men agonising over their own hair loss than on any other subject. Clearly, this is a sensitive topic for most men, and even Tim has to pause and take a sip of wine before continuing with his answer.

When you first notice you are losing your hair

Tim says he began to lose his hair at the back, and had no idea until he saw a photograph of himself taken at a barbecue while he was promoting his book, The 4-Hour Work-week. It took him completely by surprise, and he didn’t know what to do.

For me, it was happening at the front, and I first noticed it in a hotel mirror while on holiday in Florence, Italy. I remember seeing my scalp through my hair for the first time. I had recently changed barbers, and decided it must have been a dodgy haircut, combined with unfamiliar front lighting in the mirror. However, once I’d noticed, that doubt and concern started to grow.

I didn’t want to be that guy who’s combing over his five bunches of hair on one side each morning, fooling himself but fooling no-one else.

Tim Ferriss

When to shave your head

For a while Tim decided to keep the hair, but reveals that he used to shave his head as a younger man, when he was into wrestling. Back then, he found it convenient and it never really bothered him, so when the time came for him to make the decision to shave later in life, he simply told himself he “didn’t want to be that guy who’s combing over his five bunches of hair on one side each morning, fooling himself but fooling no-one else”. Instead of going for the donut/horseshoe look, he decided to “turn this bug into a feature”, and just shave his head.

Let me turn this bug into a feature.

Tim Ferriss

It took several years before I finally decided to do something. I have a client-facing job and was concerned about how I would look if I suddenly buzzed or shaved my head. I didn’t have anything as drastic as a bald spot, so I tried different things like hair loss shampoo, thickening shampoo and conditioners, and coupled those with a good barber and a neat French crop cut with a slightly longer fringe. It was enough for a while, but I knew my hair would continue to recede at the sides and thin at the front, and deep-down I recognised the path was one-way, and that I would eventually reach a point where I had to do something.

That point came earlier than expected in the form of the first COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, when I knew I would be going nowhere for the next three months. I had been curious about trying a super-short cut for a couple of years, so armed with a beard trimmer, I buzzed my head one Sunday morning. A year later, I now shave my head completely bald every day, and love how it looks when combined with a beard.

A lot of women are into bald men

Tim says he has never met a woman who’s into balding men. The key word there is balding, suggesting someone who is in the process of going bald. What he goes on to say, is that he has met a lot of women who are into bald men. The key word there is bald, which suggests someone who is over the process of balding, and is now bald.

I can’t speak from much experience here, as I’m a happily married man, but I will say that even I have noticed more glances, smiles, and second-looks since I started shaving my head. Back when I was self-consciously trying to hide my receding, thinning hairline under an extended fringe, I never noticed any of those looks. Maybe it’s simply down to me having more confidence, and not just the fact that I’m now bald.

The key takeaway here is that men who are worried about their ability to attract or retain a partner should take some comfort in the above. Most people won’t care either way, some will be really into the bald look, and a few will be completely put off by it. In all likelihood, those in the latter category would also be put off by men who are balding, so ultimately, life would probably be better without them being part of it.

Hair loss treatments

Tim says he considered using different drugs, and even tried one treatment for a while until it had a negative side effect. He then realised that trying to rescue the remnants of what use to be on top of his head simply wasn’t worth the effort.

I never tried any drugs to treat my hair loss. Maybe my balding process wasn’t advanced enough for me to feel desperate enough to go down that road. The silliest thing I did was buy a thickening spray which added some kind of powder to my hair. I didn’t stick with it for long, as it was messy, and at the back of my mind I kept seeing an image of myself caught in a rainstorm, with dark brown streaks running down my face.

I’m good with the bald.

Tim Ferriss

You’ll never look back

Tim says he has never really looked back since taking off all his hair, and that he is “good with the bald”.

I completely agree. I have never looked back since that Sunday morning in March 2020 when I first buzzed my hair off, and now I love being bald.

If you’re a man who’s going through hair loss, or is considering buzzing your hair or shaving your head, I hope you’ll find this post useful.

Being Bald

Yes, I Still Shave My Head

I’ve already written about the experience of buzzing my hair and shaving my head for the first time, but that was almost a year ago, so I thought it was about time I wrote a follow-up post.

To Recap…

Just before the UK went into lockdown last year, I buzzed all my hair off for the first time. Over the months that followed, I experimented with different lengths from 1mm to 6mm, but most importantly, I never felt I wanted to grow it back. I loved my new look and the confidence it gave me, and I still do, a year later.

I tried shaving with a blade a few times, but found that too tricky, and a little nerve-wracking. I also tried using an old foil shaver, which was easier, but took a long time. However, both experiences revealed the length I was happiest with was as close to 0mm as I could get. In other words, completely shaved.

The Remington RX5

Around the middle of August last year, I invested in a Remington RX5 head shaver, and started shaving my head as close to the skin as a rotary shaver can get. I was really pleased with that machine. It delivered a quick shave in a few minutes, and if I spent a bit longer going over my head a few times, I could get it quite smooth, especially if I shaved straight after a shower while my head was wet.

Some guys report irritation using the RX5 or other rotary head shavers, but I didn’t have any problems.

Getting Closer

I used the RX5 every day for several months, but at weekends I would often go back and use my old Philips foil shaver, which could get even closer if I was prepared to keep going over it. I found myself liking the smoother shave more and more, and over the 2020 festive period, I made the decision to try shaving every day with the foil shaver to see if I could maintain that smooth finish on an on-going basis.

It turns out I could, and I didn’t want to go back to using the RX5, so I made the decision to invest in a new foil shaver that was specifically designed for shaving heads. I did some research, read lots of reviews, and watched lots of YouTube videos before I decided which one to buy.

The Babyliss Pro Titanium

In January this year I splashed out and treated myself to a Babyliss Pro Titanium head shaver. It’s a beast of a machine, used by professional barbers to get a smooth shaved head finish without using a blade. It’s a beautiful object, superbly designed, nice and weighty, with a substantial build quality.

After charging it, I tried shaving my head with it for the first time and was immediately impressed. It was powerful, and I could feel it shaving completely bald as it moved across my skin. After a few days of practise, I got the technique nailed down, and I’ve been using it every day since.

The key for me is to shave every day, using short strokes against the grain, not too much pressure, taking my time. The results are a perfect skin-smooth head shave every time.

(A little side note: I’m amazed by the battery power in the Babyliss Pro Titanium. A full charge can last over three weeks, which is pretty impressive. In comparison, the RX5 usually needed charging every week.)

Pre-Shave Oil

I read on some blog (probably one selling shaving oil) that using a pre-shave oil would guarantee the closest shave possible, and that it would work with either electric shavers or blades. Although I was already happy with the closeness of the head shaves I was getting without oil, I decided to give it a try, to see if I was missing out on an even closer shave.

It didn’t work for me. The oil made the shave feel a bit more comfortable, but I found the oily bits of hair gummed up the cutting blades, meaning I had to stop mid-way to clean them. After a couple of days, I also started experiencing some irritation and spots, so I abandoned the oil and have been using it as beard oil instead. It smells great, and I’m happy to have repurposed it instead of throwing it away.

To Be Continued…

That’s my journey so far. One year on, I’m still sporting a completely shaved head, and I absolutely love it. When combined with a beard or stubble, I think a shaved head can give a man a strong, distinctive, masculine look. I will never go back to having hair, and I honestly wish I’d shaved it years ago.

If you’re a guy who’s contemplating buzzing your hair or shaving your head, I hope you’ll find this post useful, and trust me when I say how awesome it is once you take that step. That first buzz is the scariest part. Once you’ve done it, you’ll immediately feel better. No more bad hair days, no more trips to the barber’s, no more worries about wind or rain. You can look good from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, and experience that sleek feeling of a perfectly smooth head every day.

Some days I pause and wonder what I would do if a cure for hair loss became widely available and it was possible to completely reverse the process. Would I go back to having hair? It’s a tough one, and difficult to answer, but right now I can honestly say I’m enjoying being bald, so the answer would be no, and I mean that.

Being Bald

How it Really Feels to Shave Your Head

Spoiler: it’s amazing!

Back in March, just before the UK announced it was going into lockdown, I buzzed all the hair off my head. Two months later, I’m still sporting the buzzed/shaved/bald look, and loving it. Here, I’m going to address some of the doubts other guys may have when they are thinking of embarking on the same journey.

Since March 2020, I’ve looked something like this. Here, my head has been shaved pretty close to the skin, using a Remington RX-5 head shaver.

First of all, let me set out where I was before I decided to buzz. My hair was definitely receding. I had a great barber who was doing a brave job of concealing it, but looking back it was pretty obvious I was losing my hair. I didn’t have any bald patches, but it was receding at the temples, thinning at the front, and there was a noticeable expanse of forehead barely hiding under a French crop.

Even though I was at an early stage in the hair loss process, I found it distressing to recognise it was happening to me. It knocked my confidence in so many ways. Trying different things to conceal or reverse it just compounded the problem.

The Big Buzz – An Immediate Improvement

When I first buzzed my hair I could immediately see an improvement in the way I looked. My wife took a few days to get used to ‘the new me’, but I felt better almost straight away. Words that kept coming to mind were ‘neat’, ‘tidy’, and ‘smart’.

I like to keep myself fit, and I was delighted to notice that somehow having no hair on my head also seemed to make me look more toned and muscular. I have no idea how that can be, other than perhaps making my head seem smaller.

Out of interest I started doing some Google searches so I could read about the experiences others guys have had. There are some great articles around with descriptions that mirror my own first-hand experience. I felt the same tremendous sense of relief that the worry was over for me. I had found a look I was happy with. My hair loss no longer mattered.

Mirror, Mirror …

For a few days, every time I walked past a mirror I would get a bit of a shock if I forgot about my hair, but after a proper look I always preferred the new me.

I started spending more time in front of the mirror, moisturising and taking a bit more care of my skin. I’m not sure whether it was the enhanced beauty regime or the simple fact that a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, but I started visibly looking younger.

Instead of frowning into the mirror and seeing nothing but a receding, thinning hairline, I was now seeing a good-looking man. My eyes were wider and less tired, my jaw was strong, and my cheekbones were chiselled. My thin, wispy hair had been preventing me from seeing all these positives for years.

Venturing Out

My first trip out was to my local supermarket to buy essentials at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. It was early days and we weren’t yet in full lockdown, but everyone was starting to get nervous so the shop was pretty quiet, which suited me while I took my first tentative steps.

One of the first people I saw was a woman who worked at the supermarket. What I’m about to describe probably happened because I was studying her closely to try to read what she made of my new look, but while stacking baskets in the shop she actually struck up a short conversation with me, and I got the distinct impression she approved of what she saw. The reality of course is that she had never seen me before, and this was just her response to a guy who seemed to be checking her out!

Two days later, the same thing happened a couple more times with women in a different supermarket. All of this gave me a little confidence boost on top of what I’d already enjoyed after the big buzz.

Now, before you write me off as an egotistical w***er, know this: I’m useless at flirting, have never been a player, and most of the time wouldn’t have a clue if a woman was attracted to me unless she wrote it on a Post-It and stuck it to her head.

With Hey, Ho, the Wind and the Rain

As a guy with thinning, receding hair, I hated the weather. After spending time carefully arranging my fringe, I would step out of the door and a puff of wind would destroy my efforts in a second.

So far we’ve had an amazing spring in the UK and I’ve yet to feel rain on my bald head, but the first time I encountered wind without hair was a wonderful experience. Instead of that horrible whipping, flapping sensation, I had the lovely feeling of the air whooshing over my scalp, and didn’t have to worry about my hair being messed up.

This sounds like such a trivial thing but believe me the sense of relief was amazing.

Phantom Bangs

I’ve heard about people who have lost limbs experiencing phantom pains or itches, but I never knew people could also feel phantom hair falling out of place.

Prior to buzzing, because my hair was receding and thinning at the front I would often run my fingers through it to make sure it was in place on my forehead, and providing some coverage. For a couple of weeks after buzzing, I kept doing this move even though there was no longer any hair to fiddle with.

Every time I did it I would catch myself and smile. No need to do that any more. My ‘hair’ was now perfect. All the time. Forever.

Shaving – The Final Frontier

After initially letting it grow out to a ‘number two’ (6mm), I bought myself some new Remington hair clippers and trimmed my hair gradually shorter. First I went back down to ‘number one’ (3mm), then I dropped to 2mm, then 1.5mm, then 1mm, which was the limit of the clippers, but also my favourite length. After a few weeks, I decided to go all the way and shave skin-close with a safety razor just to see how it looked.

I liked the result, but wasn’t convinced the extra effort and discomfort was worth it. I nicked myself with the razor while shaving and the whole thing took way too much time. I swore to stick with 1mm from then on.

About three weeks later, I found my old beard trimmer/shaver and decided to try shaving my head using the foil on that. The experience was much more comfortable and I got a really good finish, but it still took a lot of time. Two weeks later, when I tried again it was perhaps a bit quicker, but I suffered some mild irritation afterwards.

To Shave or Buzz, That is the Question

Getting a super-smooth finish isn’t really high on my list of priorities, and I actually prefer the feel of my head the day after shaving skin-close. It feels great for another three or four days until it grows back to about 2mm, at which point I want to buzz it off again.

Looking at it from that perspective, shaving is beneficial because I don’t need to do it as often. However, the extra time it takes and the discomfort involved means it’s not a clear hands-down win for shaving.

One thing is for sure: I will never go back to the old self-conscious me that was trying to hide his hair loss, terrified to go out in the wind. There is absolutely no question of that.

I’ll end by saying I wish I’d buzzed seven years ago when I first started noticing my thinning hair. Battling on for so long was a losing game and I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself.

This is the first time I’ve written such a personal post, and I feel a bit exposed putting it out there. However, if this helps just one other guy make a tough decision, I’ll be a happy man.