In ancient Roman times baldness was considered the scourge of men
In ancient Roman times baldness was considered the scourge of men. Historians believe that Julius Caesar himself constantly wore his trademark laurel wreath to hide his thinning top. Hair was power; Caesar would force the Gauls to cut their hair as a token of submission.
Throughout the Roman Empire, men scrabbled to hide their balding pates, in the process inventing both the comb-over and spray-on hair. Almost 2000 years later, little had changed: in 1893 Dr Condict Cutler observed that fear of baldness “is evidenced by the enormous sale of nostrums warranted to restore the natural covering to the scalp”.
Yet in the 21st century, toupees, comb-overs and miracle hair growth products have finally reached their end. Balding men everywhere are shaving off the precious little hair they have left and embracing baldness.
Even young men blessed with flowing locks are opting to shave it all off. Celebrities promote the bald look on television, models sport stubbled tops in glamorous magazines and hairless athletes strut onto the sports field to the roar of cheering fans. Baldness has become fashionable.
To find out what has sparked this shift in the public perception of baldness, alive spoke with a few men’s grooming experts.
Celebrity groomer, Craig the Barber in Hollywood, whose client list ranges from P. Diddy to the Crown Prince of Dubai, confirms that baldness “is looked at as a style choice as much as it is genetics”.
Craig elaborates: “Pop culture plays a major part, not only in how we dress, but also in how we wear our hair. Michael Jordan, one of the major faces of the ’90s, brought greater acceptance to the bald look”.
Michael Jordan is widely seen as a pioneer of the current bald trend for good reason. Gersh Kuntzman, author of the book Hair! Mankind’s Historic Quest to End Baldness (Random House, 2001), explains in an interview with Salon magazine:
“If he allowed himself to go bald naturally, people would have thought: bald athlete, he ’s weak. Instead, he shaved it and didn’t allow society to define his baldness. He redefined what baldness means. He turned it into an icon of virility”.
Low maintenance—and sexy!
Master stylist Dave Alexander, who co-owns a chain of barber salons and co-created a line of shaving products, also believes that Jordan was a trendsetter. But Alexander suggests that the trend has gone beyond mere imitation or hero worship.
He finds that most men view a shaved head as “a great low-maintenance alternative to drugs, rugs and creams” and that “the majority of women find the look quite sexy”.
Statement of confidence
Graham Bingham, owner of a high-end barber shop, agrees. With so many attractive shaved celebrities parading in the media, the bald look has garnered considerable sex appeal.
According to Bingham, a bare head is now “considered a statement of confidence”. His clients shave their heads to “differentiate themselves from the pack” and for a “tough, masculine look”.
So the experts are in agreement: the symbolic reversal of hair as a Samson-esque icon of power to hairlessness as a mark of athleticism and masculinity has taken firm hold in the public psyche. Today the average man can own his baldness with pride.
But another incentive is that the shaved head is more natural and authentic, yet costs nothing. Sure, throwing money at your hair loss will give you a superficial Donald Trump-style mop, but is that really what you want?
How to shave your head
Read this guide before buzzing it off to avoid razor burns, cuts, bumps, rashes and other unpleasant surprises.
- Have a long, steamy shower to open up your pores and hair follicles.
- If necessary, use a hair clipper on the shortest setting to cut your hair down to about half a centimetre, then exfoliate your scalp.
- Lather in a shaving gel or oil. Avoid products with menthol, which desensitise the skin.
- Use a clean, three-blade razor or try a special ergonomic razor made for shaving heads.
- Shave with long, smooth, slow strokes, and without applying much pressure.
- Go with the hair grain, not against it, and avoid shaving the same area more than once.
- As you shave, rinse the blade regularly.
- Once you’re finished, use a hand mirror to check the back. Rub your head to check for rough spots.
- Pat your head dry, then apply a natural moisturiser.
- Follow this procedure two or three times a week to maintain your fresh new look.
Taking it all off is liberating. Those annoying hairy guy problems like bed hair, split ends or bad hair days will never haunt you again. However, your sexy-smooth scalp still needs some special attention. Here are some bare care tips for your naked noggin.
- After shaving, apply a moisturising lotion. Choose an alcohol-free aromatherapy formula with natural ingredients that replenish the natural oils lost when shaving your scalp.
- Avoid using a general emollient such as cocoa butter. These oily types of moisturisers will clog the pores on your head and give you acne.
- Remove dead skin cells and dirt by exfoliating weekly with a face scrub. Scrubs gentle enough for your face will be kind to your scalp.
- Protect your bare head from the elements. Always apply an oil-free sunscreen or wear a hat when in the sun. On cold days, wear a fleece or cotton hat to keep warm.
- Stop rashes by avoiding fragranced soaps and nonbreathable or wool hats. If you do get a rash, apply a standard cortisone cream.
The bald and the beautiful
These well-known sexy stars not only pull off the shorn look, but they’ve inspired hirsute fans across the world to shear off their own locks.
- basketball legend Michael Jordan
- action star Bruce Willis
- soccer hunk David Beckham
- Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart
- tennis player Andre Agassi
- tough guy Vin Diesel
- AFL Brownlow medallist Chris Judd
- Olympic swimmer Michael Klim
- actor Gary Sweet
- star of stage musicals Anthony Warlow
- rock singer-turned-politician Peter Garrett
- professional surfer Kelly Slater
- Calvin Klein model Fredrik Ljungberg