Saturday, August 10, 2013

Head Shaving: How I do it

Over the past two years, I've been shaving my own head twice a week down to what I'd like to think is stubble. When I started, it was awkward, hair was pulled regularly, spots were missed, and it took a good 20 or more minutes to get the job done. I'm now down to just under 10 minutes, pull maybe a hair every few months, get it pretty smooth, and, oh ya, I've blown $300 on new hair clippers.

About / Disclaimer / Clarification
Two years of head shaving twice a week should mean that I've learned something. By no means am I a professional hair cutter, but that's a good 600 to 700 shaves across three sets of hair clippers. Everything I describe below is a description of my own experience and is not meant to be used as a guide or as instructions. It is not to be thought of as professional advice. Do not try it yourself -- just enjoy the ride.

Tools
The head shaving process involves the use of two hair clippers for me. I started with the Oster Fast Feed, then wanted something better (or the best) and bought the Oster Classic 76. Then I wanted something even better and got the Andis BGRC -- this one should be a newer design compared to the decade or more design of the Classic 76.
Oster Fast Feed and Classic 76
When I got the Classic 76, I felt bad about shelving my Fast Feed, so I started using both of them. Also, I was having trouble getting used to the Classic 76's body and feel for the first few months. The Classic 76 would be used to do the first run, and the Fast Feed would do the fine tuning or clean up. Now, I use the BGRC and the Fast Feed, then throw in the Classic 76 and Fast Feed every now and then. They're all good clippers and hard to part with!

One interesting thing I noticed was that heat was no longer a problem after I started using two hair clippers. Going about ten minutes straight with one clipper usually meant that the blade would get noticeably warm -- almost to the point of discomfort. Cutting usage time down to five minutes straight meant that the blades would only start getting warm by the time I finished with one unit.

All of my blades are set to 000 or 0.5mm. The BGRC cuts closer than either Oster pair for some reason.
Andis BGRC
Check them out on Amazon.com:
Oster Fast Feed
Oster Classic 76
Andis Ceramic BGRC

Place
Everything goes down at the bathroom sink. With something done so regularly, I didn't want to need many materials or make the process longer. I did initially start by laying down newspapers and even tried doing it in the tub. The newspapers got annoying, it was very difficult to cut in the tub because the cord wasn't long enough, and no mirror was available.

After a few weeks, I ditched the tub and the papers for the sink. It actually works incredibly well because hair, surprisingly, doesn't hit the floor. Most of it ends up on my body, stuck on my scalp, or in the sink. With a faucet right there and very short hair, I just send everything down the drain -- I've promised to pay if a plumber ever becomes necessary. Hair cut at twice per week usually means bits around 2 mm to 3 mm in length.

Time
Any. Usually not first thing in the morning -- too drowsy to handle things comfortably. The mid-week cut is done after work, and the weekend cut I do in the afternoon or when I feel like it.

How I do it
Surely and quickly. Let me walk through the steps that I take through a regular cut. My process is a bit screwed up right now because of the new Andis BGRC that I'm still getting used to.

1. Get clippers, go to washroom. I don't store them in the bathroom due to humidity issues, steel, and lack of space.

2. Grab clipper oil and lubricate the blades. I lube the teeth, the lower contact point where the base of the upper blade (one that moves) meets the lower blade, and the plastic slide in the middle.

3. Start with either my Classic 76 or BGRC to trim the edges of my hairline from sideburn to sideburn around back using a bottom-up motion.

4. Do behind the ears with a back to front (front being my face) motion.

5. Using a front to back motion, I shave the right side of my head (right-handed) from the top/ temple down to my neck, then do the exact same with the left side of my head. I try to go as far back as I can to at least the center-back of my head.

6. Shave the top with a back to front motion.

7. Change over to my Fast Feeds, repeat step #5 with a back to front motion. This step might not be necessary with the efficiency at which my BGRC cuts -- thinking about losing it.

8. Bend over on the sink and rest my body on my elbows, then use a back to front motion to shave the top of my head. I start around where the edges of the top of my head meet the back and sides. If my head were a square, I'd start at the edges around the top face.

9. Repeat step #8 except I use a right to left motion from ear to ear.

10. Get off my elbows, turn around, and shave the back of my head using a right to left motion. I start from my neck up to the top of my head where the top and back meet.
 
Summary of my head shaving process
Some notes

Redundancy
Most of my process is designed to go over everything twice from different angles to make sure I get everything. Step #10 was the most recent addition and probably the best. In the past, I was never able to get the left back side of my head smooth. This probably had to do with the fact that I'm not left-handed and can't reach that area with my right hand.

Lubrication
For lubrication, it was only after I got the BGRC that I realized that I was supposed to lube the plastic blade guide slot -- reread the manual for my BGRC and Classic 76. I thought the plastic was enough? Luckily, there weren't any signs of damage or excessive wear on either the 76 or the Fast Feeds.

Using a razor
I tried this twice. Both times ended in failure. I think my hair was too long. Wrecked a Mach 3 blade doing it the first time. Ended up having to go back to my hair clippers and electric beard/ mustache shaver to save me. Did not like the look, to be honest. The flabs of skin on the back of my head when I put my head up don't appear as noticeable with stubble.


Related
Oster Fast Feed and Classic 76 Review
Shaving My Own Head with Clippers

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