So you’ve gone bald. Or maybe you’ve simply shaved your head. No big deal, right? You lost your hair, not a limb.
But just because you don’t have anything to shampoo and condition doesn’t mean you suddenly get a free pass at any necessary grooming. On the contrary: Because you’re bald and beautiful now, you’ve got a new set of rules to work with, as opposed to guys who have to clean and coif their hair.
Like the skin on your face, the skin on your scalp is more sensitive than it is on the rest of your body. As such, it’s good to wash your scalp with a gentle cleanser or soap, the same way you would cleanse your face. Because shampoos are formulated for different hair types in addition to the scalp, Minars says, you can choose a shampoo if you want, but that it’s less necessary since you don’t have any hair up top. As for a cleanser, pick something that exfoliates while it deep cleans—a salicylic acid wash is best for this, as it gently dissolves dead skin cells. This will help prevent clogged pores when you shave, as well as any dandruff from overly dry skin.
Same drill for moisturizing: Treat your scalp like the rest of your face, and apply an SPF-packed moisturizer after cleansing, before exposing yourself to the sun’s harmful UV rays. “The bald scalp is like a satellite dish for the sun,” Minars says. “It is in the perfect position to absorb every unwanted ray of sunlight. For this reason, we see a lot of skin cancers on the scalp.” He recommends an SPF of at least 30. If you’re exercising outdoors or spending lots of time in the sun for any reason, he suggests a broad sectrum SPF 50. For standard, everyday use, try a broad-spectrum moisturizer like with a daily protection of SPF 30.
If you’re bald by choice, or if you still have hairs on the sides or back of your head (everyone does, since these hairs don’t fall out), you don’t have to worry too much. The follicles of your shaved hairs don’t need much attention, Minars says; they’ll remain healthy without any intervention. But you still need to treat them like your facial hair, and you’ll need a good shaving regimen to prevent ingrown hairs, nicks, and infection.
Because the hair on the top of your head is *usually* finer than beard hair, you might luck out and avoid ingrown hairs. (Guys with thicker hair might bet otherwise.) Either way, you can avoid ingrowns by never shaving the hair with the most “cutting-edge” technology: Minars says to avoid anything with more than three razor blades. You don’t need to cut all they way below the surface of the skin. He also advises against the shortest setting on an electric clipper. This means you may have to shave more often (just an extra day sooner, really), but it will save you any agony, and any unsightly bumps in a very visible place.
When you shave, Minars advises that you treat it like any other shaving regimen: Open the pores and soften the hair with hot water before you shave, then close and tighten everything with cold water when you’re finished.
Minars has been hearing this request less often, but still: Many men have asked him about lasering away remaining hairs on their heads—anything around the sides and back—for a permanent, labor-free slickness. “I would not recommend laser removal for the scalp,” he says. “It is a very painful area to treat because the hairs are so dense. I’ve had grown men cry as they do it. It is hard to get these hairs to permanently stop growing, too. Other areas do great, but I won’t treat scalps anymore. Just keep shaving.”
BY ADAM HURLY