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Tips to Avoid Nicks and Cuts While Head Shaving

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shaving cut on scalp

Even the most seasoned head shavers occasionally end up with shaving cuts when using a blade.

It could be a trickle of blood running down past the ears, or maybe that tell-tale sting when you step back under the shower letting you know you’ve nicked your scalp.

But take it from someone who’s spent the last 20 years shaving his head: there are some tricks and tips you learn over time to reduce those painful and annoying shaving cuts on your bald head.

Here are a few I’ve picked up over the years.

Start With The Basics

First, let’s get the more obvious ones out of the way:

Use A Fresh Blade

A brand-new, super-sharp one will slice right through, but a dull blade can tug at the hair. This increases the risk of cuts for several reasons:

  • Uneven pressure: A dull blade doesn’t glide smoothly across the skin, making you more likely to apply uneven or additional pressure and scrape or cut the skin on your scalp.
  • Multiple passes: With a dull blade, you’ll need to go over the same area multiple times to get a smooth shave. More strokes = greater risk of cutting or irritating the skin.
  • Skin puckering: When hair is tugged instead of being cut cleanly, the skin puckers around the hair follicle, exposing it to your razor and leading to nicks and cuts.
  • Loss of control: When the blade tugs at the hair, it can cause sudden and unexpected movements, making it harder to control the razor.

For most people, using a sharp blade is shaving 101. Yet we still let our blades get blunt because we simply forget to change them.

I have a to-do list app on my phone that reminds me to change the blade in my razor every 7 days. This makes sure my blade never gets dull.

leaf razor closeup
the blades on my Leaf Razor

When I run low on spare blades, I immediately add a note to that to-do list to order more later that day. This way I never run out and never have to rely on a used razor blade.

Buzz It Down

When your hair is trimmed as short as possible, your razor is able to maintain better contact and the blades can glide more smoothly across the scalp.

The longer the hair, the more likely you are to lose control of this blade-to-scalp contact and nick your head.

It’s rare that I let my hair grow out for more than a couple of days. But if it happens, I always have my trusty Skull Shaver Pitbull handy to buzz my hair down before shaving.

skull shaver and leaf razor

I recently surveyed over 100 bald men to see whether they used a razor or electric shaver to shave their heads. While 69% said they prefer a razor, there were plenty who said they used both so they could get the hair as short as possible before grabbing the razor:

Use A Mirror!

Just like when you shave your face, having a mirror to show you what you’re doing is an easy way to avoid shaving cuts.

I always shave in the shower because the hot water softens the pores and makes shaving my head much easier. I invested in a stick-on shaving mirror for the shower wall, and I massively notice the difference when I’m on vacation and the shower doesn’t have one!

These are the obvious tips, but here are some tricks of the trade that I’ve picked up along the way that you might not be using just yet:

Pro Tips

Adjust Your Grip

Shaving your head means tackling the back of your scalp completely blind. Even if you play with the angles to set up two shaving mirrors facing each other, you still have to deal with right being left and vice versa in the reflection.

This is where you need to rely on other senses to understand where your blade is in relation to your head.

Instead of gripping the bottom of the razor handle, I’ve learned to hold it closer to the head so I can feel where the blade is making contact with my head. This means I can shave with the blade at the right angle and avoid accidentally side-swiping my scalp and cutting myself.

leaf razor grip

Razors like the Leaf, with its Y-shaped neck, really help with this. But even a traditional razor can be better controlled by gripping closer to the head and taking your time.

Since changing up my grip, I’ve had far fewer accidents.

Shorter Strokes

Like anyone with a case of Male Pattern Baldness, some areas of my head grow hair thicker than others.

The ‘horseshoe’ pattern – where hair still grows around the back and sides – means that it’s far easier to shave the top of my head where there are just a few stray hairs to get rid of.

Where a lot of bald men have to shave more thoroughly is the edge of this horseshoe. It’s where my hair grows the thickest and I have to use more strokes to get a smooth finish.

Longer strokes mean shaving over areas that don’t need this much attention. By using much shorter strokes, you can do more passes with your razor where you need to and avoid irritating the scalp where those extra strokes are unnecessary.

It also risks accidentally cutting yourself where the contours of your head are less smooth in shape.

I have a bump around the back of my head that I can easily catch with my razor if I’m not careful. Longer strokes from bottom to top increase the risk of this happening, but using shorter strokes allows me to shave each area of my scalp the exact way it needs.

Keep Your Eyebrows Low

When you’re shaving your head, there’s always a temptation to look up.

my forehead

This wrinkles the forehead, which isn’t ideal when shaving around the edge of your hairline. Your razor now has folds and crevices to catch, increasing the risk of shaving cuts.

Trust me, I’ve been there!

Instead, keep your eyebrows down to make your whole scalp as smooth as possible. If you can use your non-shaving hand to pull the skin taut, that’s even better.

Use Gentle Pressure

If you’re using a decent blade, there shouldn’t be any need to apply pressure to achieve a smooth shave.

It can be tempting to press that little bit harder to make sure you’re shaving all the way to the follicle, but this just means that any slips with your razor will result in a deeper cut.

If you’re applying the kind of pressure you’d use to write with a pencil, then ease off.

As a bonus tip, exfoliate your scalp before shaving. This will mean that any dead skin and buildup of dirt, oil, and sweat is gone before you start to shave. This layer of grime can act as a barrier between blade and scalp, so clearing it away first means your razor gets right to the bottom of each hair.

Bonus Head-Shaving Tips

Shave With The Grain If You’re A Newbie

When you’ve been shaving your head as long as I have, the scalp toughens and shaving against the grain is easy.

But if you’ve just started shaving your head, shaving against the grain will result in redness and irritation. Instead, shave with the grain until your head gets used to the blade, then after a few months try against the grain.

Expect a little redness at least, knowing that your scalp will get used to it over time.

Use Your Hand As A Guide

It’s easy to miss bits on the back of your head, but constantly going over the same area to make sure you’ve caught every last hair will result in irritation. 

Instead, alternate stroking the back of your head with your free hand and shaving with your razor. This will give you an idea of where you still have stubble and which areas are already smooth.

Don’t Skimp On Shaving Cream

A good quality shave cream makes a massive difference. For years I shaved with regular big-brand shaving gel, until I tried a proper shaving cream and brush.

I was shocked at how well the cream lubricated my head and how much easier it was to get a smooth shave with zero irritation.

If you want an even smoother ride, use shaving oil underneath the cream.

Shave In The Shower

You can splash hot water on your head to soften up the pores, but there’s no substitute for immersing your scalp in the constant flow of your shower. The steam that builds up also helps to soften the hairs and ensure a comfortable shaving experience.

Shower shaving also means no messy sink to clean up afterward, and rinsing is much easier.

About The Author: Matt Fielding is the owner of Matt has been shaving his head for 20 years and shares lots more head shaving tips and advice for bald and balding men on his site

Matt Fielding

Matt Fielding

Matt Fielding is the owner of Matt has been shaving his head for 20 years and shares lots more head shaving tips and advice for bald and balding men on his siteView Author posts

2 thoughts on “Tips to Avoid Nicks and Cuts While Head Shaving”

  1. shower shaver and head shaver here. your photo was perfect as the most common location for me to draw blood is the occipital region of my noggin.

  2. I used my DE razor to shave my head for many years before discovering the Leaf triple blade head shaver and found the Leaf so much easier to use and i get the same fantastic result. Totally agree with everything said in this article regarding technique and products used.

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