Looking good with a bald head isn’t just a matter of shaving off your hair and hoping for the best. There are definite techniques and tricks that you need to know if you want to look good bald.
Likely, if you’re asking how to look good bald, you’re already partway there. Male pattern baldness is nothing to be ashamed of but losing your hair can be gut-wrenching. Baldness can be even worse when it feels like it’s out of control.
Taking clippers and a razor to your head isn’t bowing to the inevitable, it’s taking control.
Plus, well-groomed bald men exude confidence and power. There is a great deal of pride behind a bald head. Just think of all the bald action-stars! Part of their appeal as powerful, capable, badass men is their baldness.
In this guide, we’ll walk through the basics of how to decide if going bald is the right decision for you, how to get and maintain a bald head, as well as some style and appearance basics that will help you put your best foot forward with your new look.
Let’s get started!
- Going Bald for the First Time
- Facial Hair
- Looking Your Best
Going Bald for the First Time
If you’ve never gone with a bald or buzzed look before it’s a big decision to make. For a lot of men it’s a choice between maintaining a receding hairline, expensive hair loss treatments that may or may not work, or doing away with the hair on your head all-together.
If you’re considering the last one, there are some things to consider before taking the plunge.
When you have a full head of hair it’s easy to ignore your overall head shape. A shaved head shows off your head shape, however, so it’s worth thinking about before you break out the clippers.
In general, men with more definition in their face will look better bald than men with softer or more rounded features.
If you have a very oblong face with a more rounded jawline, you may want to think about whether you’ll end up with an egg-headed look once you’ve shaved. On the other hand, very squat, square faces may look perpetually angry without hair framing and softening your face.
You should also think about bumps, dents, and points on your head. If you suspect you have a lot of odd shapes and ridges in your skull and scalp you may want to consider buzzing your hair instead of going clean-shaven.
Despite those warnings, most men look really good bald if they know how to take care of their skin and match the rest of their style to the bald look. Even if you’re worried that your head shape is less than ideal for a bald look, read on, and we’ll help you find ways to rock the look.
Clean Shaven vs Stubble
Another important factor is the look you want to go for.
Stubble, where you leave just a little bit of hair on your head, can hide and minimize some head shape problems but comes with challenges of its own.
A clean-shaven look is a little more classic and can make some aspects of grooming and maintenance easier, but does nothing to hide head shape challenges and benefits more from tanned darker skin.
Leaving a little stubble is a good option for many men because the contrast between your skin and that little bit of hair will still frame your face. It also masks dents and ridges in your scalp since the light won’t be able to play off the skin directly.
It’s also a good option because the stubble will help protect your head from sunburn and mask other cosmetic issues like dandruff. All those challenges can be addressed with good grooming, but stubble minimizes their impact.
However, if you’re looking at shaving because of male pattern baldness, the stubble only does so much to hide the progression of baldness. If you have a particularly severe form of male pattern baldness you may notice patchy thin sections with no hair surrounded by stubble. Once you’ve hit that point you’re better off with a clean-shaven head.
You should also plan to clip or buzz your hair every week or so, more often if your hair grows quickly. Stubble that gets too long starts to look frizzy and unkempt. Not to mention, it will do nothing to disguise a receding hairline.
A clean-shaven head, on the other hand, will emphasize your head shape rather than framing it, requires a touch more maintenance (although you probably won’t need to shave it as often as you would have to clip it), and is overall less compromising than stubble.
However, a clean-shaven head is also the more powerful look of the two. If you’re willing to put in the work (we’ll talk about good grooming practices a little later) you’ll be rewarded by coming off more masculine, confident, and capable.
Shiny vs Natural
The last major decision you need to make about your look is whether to add a little shine to your head.
This is only an option for clean-shaven men, and you should always go with a wax specifically designed for bald heads if you do want to shine it up a little.
Waxing your head has a few advantages. The wax will help to moisturize your scalp, keeping it looking and feeling healthier overall. Some waxes also offer a small amount of SPF protection, which is great for men who dislike sunscreen.
However, the shine of wax draws attention up toward your scalp, which isn’t necessarily a good look for men with larger or slightly pointed scalps. Wax will emphasize the shape and size of your head even more than just going clean-shaven.
Going with a natural look, on the other hand, can be better for men with paler skin, or who are looking for a more understated appearance overall.
Natural skin will need some additional care since it’s not benefiting from the moisture and SPF protection of wax. At the very least you should invest in a decent moisturizer and some sunscreen.
Look for moisturizers with jojoba oil, since it’s the closest oil to what your skin naturally produces. If a commercially formulated moisturizer isn’t an option, or you’ve run out and don’t have time to get more, plain jojoba oils works well. You can also use olive oil.
Sunscreen is critical for clean-shaven men. Not only is a scalp sunburn a particularly unpleasant and painful type of burn, neither the redness nor the eventual peeling skin is attractive or professional. SPF 15 may work for some men, but you’ll be better served with an SPF 30 formula.
One option would be getting a moisturizer with built-in SPF. Two-in-one products will save you time and energy. You should still have sunscreen on hand if you’re planning a full day in the sun, re-application is a must.
You’ve decided to take the plunge. The hair on the top of your head is coming off. But what about the hair on your face?
You may have noticed that a lot of the men rocking a bald head are also rocking some facial hair. This isn’t just a coincidence, it’s a major part of making the bald look work.
We mentioned earlier that a clean-shaven head tends to emphasize rather than framing your face and overall head shape. Facial hair adds a nice framing element without taking away from the power of your shaven look.
Some men find that showing too much skin above their shoulders makes them uncomfortable. A bit of facial hair can help with that feeling as well.
There are two main factors to think about when deciding on facial hair: your style, and how much time/effort are you willing to put into good grooming habits?
Style is the more important of the two. Adding facial hair is supposed to help you look better, but you’ll just end up looking out-of-character and a little strange if you’re an office guy wearing a lumberjack beard.
Try to match your beard to your style. A shorter goatee goes well with button-up shirts, suits, and vests. You can get away with a longer look if you prefer t-shirts, layers, and plaid.
You should also consider your job. Shorter facial hair tends to look more professional in business settings, but if you work at an indie book store or similar setting you can experiment with longer more-out-there looks. Rock those Viking braids.
Work-place hygiene is another big consideration. You may be expected to wear a bear-net if you have facial hair in food service or medicine. Some tattoo parlors also prefer you keep facial hair to a minimum for similar reasons.
Grooming Your Facial Hair
Thinking about how much time you’re willing to put into grooming is especially important if you’re considering longer facial hair.
Close cropped beards, the ones that aren’t much more than a day or two passed 5 o’clock shadow, require little attention besides a regular trim. It’s still a good idea to get a beard balm or oil for them, but that’s more to maintain the health of your hair and skin than for appearance reasons.
Longer beards, however, require much more attention. Trimming is just the start. If you want a longer look plan on beard oil or balm every day. The moisture is important to help keep the hair healthy and workable. It will also prevent it from getting frizzy, breaking off easily, or starting to curl uncontrollably.
You should also shampoo your beard like you would your hair. Many men swear by conditioning their beard with traditional conditioners too, although you may not need that step if you have a good beard oil.
Also, you’ll need to brush or comb your beard every day. Combing will keep it looking neater, add some shape, and prevent your beard from becoming a crumb and soup catch.
Depending on how long you want to go, and how much styling or shaping you’re willing to do, you may also want a beard straightener. It’s best if you don’t use these tools every day since they will damage your hair over time. Save them for special occasions where you need to look your best.
If you don’t want to take the time to adopt a grooming routine for your beard or mustache, stick to a shorter style that needs less maintenance. Short styles look great on most head shapes and will draw attention to your eyes and jawline.
We’ve already spent some time on grooming, but it’s worth emphasizing. Don’t expect to drop your morning routine just because you don’t have hair on top of your head anymore, you should still spend some time in the bathroom getting ready.
You’ll want a good pair of clippers and, if you want a clean-shaven look, a good razor to get the job done.
Even if you’re just maintaining a clean shave, clippers are good to have around since you never know when you might let your hair slide a day or two longer than you can comfortably shave with a razor.
Plan on taking a shower before you shave. The warmth and moisture of a shower will help your hair follicles relax, making the whole process more comfortable. You can even shave in the shower if you’re more comfortable doing it that way.
Always shave with the grain of your hair. This can be tricky, especially at the back of your head, but take the time to get good at it. You can always ask a friend or loved one to check if you’re concerned you missed a spot.
Shaving with the grain helps prevent ingrown hairs and razor burn, both of which are especially uncomfortable on your scalp.
If you’re prone to either problem, it’s a great idea to invest in an ingrown hair cream or a cleansing/exfoliating wash. Go for products meant for your face and head, anything designed for the rest of your body is too harsh for the thin skin on your scalp.
We also recommend using shaving cream. The cream will help you get a closer shave, reduce the irritation, add some moisture, and generally protect your skin. Use a shaving brush and apply the cream in circular motions. Getting a good lather is worth a little extra time.
Did we mention moisturizer? It’s worth mentioning again.
Your skin depends on a moisture barrier to keep dirt, grime, and bacteria out of your skin. It also helps provide a small amount of protection from the sun and can help prevent windburn.
Moisturizer will also work with your shampoo (yes you still need shampoo, we’ll talk about that in a minute) to prevent rashes and dandruff that will really stand out on your freshly shaven head.
If you’re already using a moisturizer on your face (and you should be), the same moisturizer will work for your scalp. Otherwise, you want to get a good facial moisturizer. Look for natural ingredients and avoid formulations that mention acids. The skin on your scalp can be even more sensitive than the skin on your face, so you need gentle products to get the best results.
We’ve already mentioned that jojoba oil is a good option in a pinch, or if you prefer to use as few ingredients as possible, as is olive oil. As a rule, single-ingredient oils work as moisturizers, while mixed ingredient oils are too greasy. So, feel free to grab coconut oil, but avoid vegetable and palm oils, even in a pinch.
Do not use body soap on your scalp. Do Not.
You still need to wash the skin on your head, and shampoo is specifically formulated for that area, so stick to shampoo to wash the top of your head. You can, however, use much less of it now that you’re not having to cover all the surface area of hair.
We recommend going for either a moisture-rich blend (sensing a theme?) or an anti-dandruff blend. The reason is simple. Dry skin and dandruff stand out on a bald head, whatever you can do to avoid getting dry patches is worth the effort.
If you have facial hair you can probably use the same shampoo on the top of your head that you use in your beard.
Looking Your Best
A good way to think about the transition from a head of hair to a shaven head is this: hair distracts from everything else, a shaven head draws attention to everything else.
With that in mind, here are some simple tips to make the best of that new attention.
Hit the gym
Okay, let’s be real. Bald heads tend to go best with toned or muscled frames. Both looks are highly masculine and highly dominant, so they tend to compliment each other.
That doesn’t mean you can’t rock a bald head as a huskier man, or as a very skinny one, but hitting the gym will still help.
The truth is that not every man can be a well-toned, heavily muscled, model. But, hitting the gym will still help your appearance even if your weight doesn’t change.
Going to the gym helps even the biggest guys for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the endorphins and other feel-good chemicals your brain produces when you work out will help you carry yourself with more confidence.
Plus, fat tends to sit on top of the muscle layer. So, even if you struggle to shed the extra weight, building a strong layer of muscle under the fat will improve your shape and posture. It’s also really good for your health, which will improve the look of your skin and face over time.
Skinner men who struggle to put on weight will also benefit from the confidence-boosting effects of a good workout. Even if you won’t ever look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jason Momoa, or Chris Hemsworth, you can still add tone and shape to the muscles you have.
Going to the gym, regardless of body type, is one of the best things you can do to make a bald head look good.
The color of your skin also has a huge impact on how you’ll look with a bald head. It’s more than just light skin v dark skin, although it is true that darker skin tends to look better than lighter skin.
The biggest thing is whether your skin looks healthy. Darker skin looks healthier even when it isn’t because the pigment disguises blemishes more than light skin.
You should also consider whether your skin tone is even. If you’ve had hair up till now you will also have tan lines on your scalp. Those will go away on their own, but if you don’t want to deal with the awkward transition in the meantime it may be worth a trip to a tanning salon or buying some tanning lotion.
If you do decide to get more of a tan, and we recommend it, don’t go overboard. If you’re naturally very pale don’t try to go too dark. Not only is it not good for you, it won’t look good either. Try for a few shades darker than you already are.
And if you’re trying tanning lotion, wear gloves, and apply it sparingly. Better to darken it slowly over several days or weeks of application than turn orange.
Okay, we’re not going to tell you to change your style, but it is a good idea to step up your game.
The number one thing you can do to look good in your clothes with a bald head is to make sure those clothes really fit. Loose is okay, but baggy isn’t. Make sure the seams at the end of your shoulders hit where your shoulders end.
If you like button-up shirts and clothing on the formal side, try high collars with the first few buttons open. Buy your shirts in the right size if that’s an option. If you can’t find anything that fits, buy a size up and get your shirts tailored.
If you prefer a more casual look, try close-fitting clothes and layers. The extra layers will add an edge of sophistication to your look that will make it all seem more intentional and careful. Jason Momoa is a great example of this style.
Sunglasses are also a great accessory with a bald head. The glasses will do some of the framing work your hair used to do, drawing attention to the best parts of your face and away from imperfections.
Remember, almost any man can look good with a bald head. Just remember that it takes more than taking off your hair to get a stellar look.