An effective head shave can be a transformative experience. It’s a period of intense focus and reflection. Having a solid routine that works for you each and every time is crucial. So, should you shave your head before or after you shower?
You should generally shave your head after you shower. The main reasons for this include the fact that it’s an opportunity to exfoliate the scalp, to soften the skin and hair, and also to allow for a more hygienic shave.
I’ll be diving deeper into these benefits in the next section. Although these benefits are more important for men who shave their heads using manual razors, they are still worth bearing in mind for those who use electric shavers.
After explaining these benefits in more detail, I’ll run through a few frequently asked questions to give you as broad an understanding of the topic as possible.
Let’s get to it.
3 Reasons To Shave Your Head After You Shower
It’s important to bear in mind that “shaving your head after you shower” isn’t necessarily the same as a “wet shave”.
Many men choose to shower with warm water, then towel-dry their scalp prior to the shave.
What’s the purpose of this? Why shower if you’re simply going to dry it off afterward anyway?
Well, that’s where these three benefits come into play.
1. It’s an opportunity to exfoliate
Exfoliating is almost like a trade secret among shaving enthusiasts and aficionados. Not many men can be bothered with it despite its profound effects.
Exfoliation refers to the removal of dirt, oil, and dead cells from the top layer of the skin. It’s important not to underestimate the power of this simple process prior to a shave.
This layer of filth clogs up the bases of the hairs. It mattifies them, causing more friction during the shave. Although it may seem fairly smooth as it occurs, without proper exfoliation the shave is nowhere near as close as it could be.
The blade is obstructed, causing pulling, tugging, and irritation. Removing this layer allows the blade to glide seamlessly across the scalp. This allows for a closer shave and leads to less skin irritation.
Showering in itself will remove some of this layer of filth and so can be labeled a mildly exfoliating procedure in itself. But using a physical exfoliant such as a scrub on the scalp during the shower would be even better.
It’s important to be gentle, however. Because over-exfoliating in itself can be irritating to the scalp skin.
Use it wisely and use it to your advantage.
2. It softens the skin and the hair
Warmth and moisture will always allow for a more effective and comfortable shave. Warm water falling upon your scalp softens and relaxes the scalp skin and causes the hair strands to soften and swell as well.
A razor glides far more efficiently and smoothly across relaxed, soft skin. It also cuts through soft hair far easier than stiff hair.
This leads to a closer and more even shave, with less tugging, less pulling, and less irritation.
The incremental gains from little changes like this are what cumulatively lead to incredibly smooth results.
Having said this, it’s important not to overdo it. Warm water isn’t the same as scalding hot water. Be careful and don’t hurt yourself.
Showering before a head shave is a soothing, relaxing experience to get you in the zone. Soften that skin, soften that hair, and open those pores. The results will eventually speak for themselves.
3. It allows for a more hygienic shave
Unfortunately, shaving isn’t always the most hygienic process. It should be, but it sometimes isn’t.
The mere act of shaving can cause soreness and irritation to the skin. Sore and irritated skin is more prone to infection.
There are several ways through which the risk of this can be minimized:
- Using fresh, clean blades each and every time. If using an electric shaver, regularly cleaning out the shaving head and oiling the foil/comb.
- Reducing irritation and soreness from the shave itself. This can be achieved by following the tips we’ve already mentioned and more (eg. exfoliation, clean blades, moisturizing afterward). Safety and straight razors are less irritating than multi-blade cartridge razors.
- Cleaning the surface to be shaved beforehand. Yes, by showering.
Showering does clean the scalp prior to the shave and allows for a more hygienic experience.
Having said that, it’s best to avoid strong soaps and shampoos before shaving, because these can be drying to the skin. They can also cause some inadvertent, temporary irritation you’d rather not have before running a razor over it.
Use a mild, gentle soap to rub into your bald scalp. This isn’t necessarily just a practice you should follow before you shave. Try to use gentle soaps on your dome even when you’re not shaving.
Can I Shave My Head With An Electric Shaver Before I Shower?
As you hopefully gathered from the list of benefits above, they aren’t universal to manual razors. They are also entirely applicable to the use of an electric shaver for head shaving as well.
The reason for this is that they aren’t to do with wet vs dry. They simply explain that the warmth and moisture you gain from a shower before shaving, even after towel-drying, allows for a cleaner, closer, and more comfortable shave.
It’s true that unlike with a cartridge, safety, or straight razor, an electric shaver can be used “dry”. You don’t necessarily need shaving gel, cream, or soap to get the job done.
But this doesn’t mean that a shower beforehand won’t enhance or improve the results of the shave for the reasons above.
What About A Warm Towel Instead Of A Shower?
This is an interesting question. Wrapping a warm, moist towel over the scalp is a preferred method of shave shops globally. As you’d expect, they aren’t exactly able to ensure their customers have a warm shower beforehand.
The warmth and moisture of the towel achieves a similar result, however. It relaxes and softens the skin, provides a gentle cleansing effect, and also softens and swells up the bristles.
This all leads to a closer and more comfortable shave.
Although this is obviously the more practical method in a barbershop, a shower does seem more appealing in the comfort of your own home.
Going to the effort of warming up a towel and leaving it wrapped on one’s head for a period of time seems unnecessary when you could just hop in the shower.
This is down to personal preference, however. It’s just important to know and note that there’s an alternative method available to you.
Does The Temperature Of The Shower Water Matter?
It’s true that hot water opens the pores and softens the skin and hair. But very hot water causes soreness, irritation, or worse. This is something to be very careful about.
There’s a point where it does more harm than good. It wouldn’t be practical to give you an exact temperature, as every man is different.
Just make sure that the temperature of the water is comfortable as it lands on your scalp. If it’s uncomfortable for you, it’s likely to be too hot.
The duration of the shower also matters. As you’ve probably noticed already, spending too long under the shower can ironically have a drying and pruning effect. This is something you want to avoid as well.
Be more clinical with the shower. Shower with a purpose – that purpose being preparation for a phenomenal shave.
Allow yourself just a couple of minutes for the shower for the sake of efficiency, as well as to avoid drying out your skin before the shave.
Additional Tips For A Gloriously Effective Head Shave
What you’ve learned in this article will serve you very well going forward in your dome polishing journey. But if you’re aiming for perfection, bear these tips in mind:
1. Pre-shave oil is a bald man’s best friend. It’s thoroughly hydrating and moisturizing. Rubbing it into your scalp before a shave will lubricate it well and allow for a closer and more comfortable shave. Yes, even when using an electric shaver.
Pre-shave butter is very similar in terms of its ingredients and its effects. However, it has a more solid consistency. Whether you prefer oil or butter is down to personal preference and something to experiment with.
2. Use shaving cream or soap. Yes, if you want to get serious with your shaving you’ll want to start using a brush and bowl to build up a lather. The cushion and lubrication you achieve is far superior to simply applying the usual foam.
Of course, this is only necessary if using a manual razor (cartridge, safety, or straight).
Shaving cream is more “beginner-friendly” because it has a higher concentration of water and is easier to build up into a lather.
But shaving soap is the more “professional” option and will give you better lubrication and cushion when used correctly.
There you have it. A clear answer to a commonly asked yet poorly understood topic. Hopefully, you found that useful.
You’ve learned what you’ll need to do for the best results, as well as some additional tips to take your head shaving to the next level.
As I alluded to earlier, shaving your head is something you should look forward to. It shouldn’t be something you think of as a chore.
When done properly, it truly is a liberating and intensely masculine experience.
Have fun with it. Enjoy.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.