Welcome to Part 2 of Head Shaving with Safety Razors, featuring guest blogger Jon Wogoman of The Bald Nation! Last week Wogoman shared his journey into traditional shaving and head shaving. Today, he guides you through the complete process of shaving your head, with additional details on how to shave against the grain for those of you willing to try it. Enjoy!
What to expectWhen you first start shaving your head, your skin will be extra sensitive to your razor and the outside elements because until now it's been protected by your hair. The sensitivity level will be lower if you have been losing your hair and there isn't a lot to shave off. Some areas of your head may be tougher to shave than others, especially the little bumps and crevices of your scalp. In truth, being a good head shaver takes a lot of practice. You can read all the articles on head shaving you want, but practice is vital. Even with experience you will still sometimes get razor burn, cuts, and nicks - that's just a part of shaving and always will be. However, the more experienced you are, the less likely you are to encounter irritation.
Angle, angle, angle. It's all about the angleI can't stress enough the importance of angle. Angle is what can turn a great shave into a nightmare. What is the correct angle to use when shaving your head with a safety razor? The area you are shaving will answer that question. A good starting point is always thirty degrees, and from there you can critique your angle as you see fit. Rest the razor flat against your skin and then lift the handle to thirty degrees. After doing this a couple of times you will be able to skip this step and start at the thirty degree mark. The angle will change depending on what part of your head you are shaving. When I'm shaving, my angle is anywhere from fifteen to thirty degrees, depending on where I’m shaving and which safety razor I'm using for the night.
The processThe top I always start at the top of my head with the razor at a thirty degree angle. Beginning at the hair line, I shave front to back against the grain in small, fluid strokes. After I complete the first pass I re-lather and shave again, keeping the same angle the whole time. Then I slowly run my first fingers over the top of my head and feel for parts I missed. I spot shave these areas and move on. Where the top curves into the sides Before I shave the sides of my head, I concentrate on the area where the top curves into the sides. This area takes a lot of focus because you’re shaving at a continuous angle of twenty to thirty degrees. It was one of the hardest areas for me to learn. If you don't keep your razor at that continuous angle, you will cut yourself every time. The sides The sides of my head are the next area I shave. The sides are a little easier since they’re pretty much a straight shot from top to bottom. I keep the angle of my razor at a strict thirty degrees every time. The back of your head The biggest area to shave is the back of my head, and has taken the longest to master. I start at the top of the back of my head, keeping my razor at a twenty to thirty degree angle, and shave from the top down in short, fluid strokes. I re-lather and complete the process again if needed.
Should you shave against the grain?There is a lot of controversy surrounding the idea of shaving against the grain. There are many supporters on both sides of the fence. It is a personal choice, but keep in mind that shaving against the grain can lead to more irritation and ingrown hairs. I'm going to talk about my experience shaving against the grain. I decided years ago that I wanted a smooth head in all directions. I did a lot of debating on whether or not I should shave against the grain and ultimately decided to try it. My scalp was extra sensitive the first couple of times, but a couple of weeks the sensitivity level decreased and felt no different.
How to shave against the grainExpect a learning curve when shaving your head against the grain. The angles and directions of your safety razor change a little bit (although stay the same for the most part). The one section of your head that you don't have to shave is the top, since you already shaved against the grain the first time around. The sides Start at the sides. Begin at the bottom of one side, turning your razor upside down and shaving from the bottom up at a thirty degree angle. Make small, fluid strokes and be careful because now you are pulling the skin instead of pushing the skin. On the second pass, you will want to shave sideways from back to front in a twenty to thirty degree angle with the razor upside down. Shave both sides the same way with the same angle. Where the top curves into the sides The top portion of your head that curves into the sides is an area that I once again shave separately. This area is tricky when shaving with the grain, and even trickier when shaving against the grain. With your razor upside down at a twenty degree angle, shave upwards, keeping the same angle but contouring the head at the same time. Remember be extra careful, and if you need to make very small strokes to complete this section without injury, so be it. The back of your head The last section that usually takes the longest is the back of my head. Starting from the bottom with the razor turned upside down at a twenty five to thirty five degree angle, shave upwards in small, fluid strokes. Take as much time as you need and make as many passes as you need, but remember more passes may equal more irritation. Just some food for thought.
That's my whole shaving routine. This routine may seem very long and daunting, but it's actually not. My entire shaving routine usually takes around fifteen to thirty minutes. Wet shaving, especially on your head, is something you take your time to do. There are a few things I want to point out to you before I go:
- Always remember that shaving your head with a safety razor is not a chore - it's pleasurable when done the right way.
- Always pull the skin tight on the area you are shaving to avoid injury.
- Never change the angle of your razor while shaving. Always stop to change the angle and continue. Changing the angle of your razor mid stroke can cause serious injury.
- Use good pre- and post- routine products such as pre-shave oil, which should be applied before your shaving soap or cream to give your razor added glide. And don’t forget a good aftershave splash/balm or both.
- Find a quality moisturizer to keep your skin well hydrated.