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Great Hair 2012: Why More Men Are Shaving Their Heads

Local barbers are seeing an increase in the number of men asking for head shaves. Here’s why more men in their thirties and forties are taking it all off.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Rich Manegio’s head is puffy with foam as he leans over the sink, then draws a razor over his scalp from his hairline to the back of his neck. “It’s almost like combing your hair,” he says, demonstrating his shaving routine in his Northwest DC apartment. When he’s done, he has a smooth, slightly shiny head, accomplishing what he likes to call “going cue ball.”

Manegio, 48, a director at a software company, first shaved his head ten years ago when his hair had grown thin: “At first I would cut it short, then I decided to stop pretending I had hair.” He chopped it down to a buzz and then went “full bore” on a whim one night while his wife was half asleep. “When she woke up the next morning, she screamed,” says Manegio, who sports glasses and a graying beard.

A shaved head has become one solution to hair loss for guys disinclined to try Rogaine or hair plugs. Mike Gilman, cofounder of the Grooming Lounge men’s salon, says “we’ve definitely seen an uptick” in the number of head shaves requested at the company’s DC and McLean shops, which stock moisturizer and aftershave specifically for the scalp.

Customers who request the $50 hot-lather head shave, which is 40 minutes of serious scalp and face pampering, are typically in their late thirties to fifties. That’s a generation of men who’d rather be bald than have a toupee or, maybe worse, a wispy comb-over.

There are issues—it can be chilly in the winter, for one. Manegio keeps a slight buzz cut during the blustery months for “a little buffer of heat.” Then there’s sun exposure: Sunblock is a must.

Still, says Gilman: “Our barbers tell people, ‘Bald is always better than balding.’ ”

Please, though, do not describe a shaved head as “bald” when speaking to Todd Greene, creator of HeadBlade, a specially designed head shaver.

“The difference between balding and shaving is that balding is passive. It’s something that happens to you, and nobody ever looks at it as a positive thing,” says Greene, 45, who has been shaving his scalp for 17 years. “The minute you shave your head, you get confidence because you’re not balding—you shave. For so many guys, it’s life-changing.”

Seinfeld’s George Costanza and comedian Larry David are—passively—going bald, Greene says. Actor Bruce Willis and tennis great Andre Agassi shave their heads. Think about it: Who’s cooler? “Head-shaving,” he says, “is the antithesis of balding.”

There’s no denying that the hereditary hair loss that comes with age for many men—50 million, according to the American Academy of Dermatology—is a sensitive issue. (Women experience hair loss as well, though they aren’t turning to shaving.) Spencer David Kobren, founder of the American Hair Loss Association, estimates that hair-loss treatment is a $3.5-billion industry, including the use of FDA-approved medications such as minoxidil, better known by the brand name Rogaine, and finasteride (Propecia and Proscar).

Says Kobren: “Guys are really suffering out there.” When you lose your hair, he adds, “you’re losing a part of yourself, a part of your identity, and it’s a huge psychological blow.” Kobren, 47, has used Proscar for 17 years and still bears a decent crop of hair. But he tells balding men that if they “can deal with a shaved head, just shave it off and forget about this misery of trying to retain your hair.”

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  • Sandy

    I don't agree that "bald is better than balding" for at least two reasons: 1) Any time a guy shaves his head it is generally assumed that he is doing so because he is going bald. It's not as if they are fooling anyone. 2) Guys with receding hair lines, who don't feel the need to shave, seem to exhibit more confidence because they aren't following the fad. As long as they keep it neat and avoid the combover they seem to be doing a better job of "owning it" than they guys who shave. Lastly, there are way too many guys shaving their heads to "look alpha" as if merely shaving one's head would turn them into Jason Statham. If you are receding then don't freak out about it - just keep it neat.

  • iamthecure


  • dominic

    I've been shaving my head for about 7 years now. I am proud to be a shaved head 😊

  • Tony

    I started losing my hair when I was in high school more than 30 years ago and have been shaving my head for the last 15. It's so thin now it looks like the legs of a 14 year old boy if I let it grow out so I keep it smooth.

  • Goodminton

    It's absurd, clearly they think it looks masculine, sort of like a penis. And so many of them have that facial hair around the mouth that looks like pubic hair!
    Mostly fat 50-somethings trying to be 'Breaking Bad'.
    Why do people do idiotic things in big flocks of idiots? Whatever happened to individuality, self-determination & free-will... If only Uncle Fester knew how 'normal; he now would look!

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