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While growing curtain bangs over your forehead — or shaping your hair’s fluffy curls — have garnered attention on TikTok over the past year, there’s something timeless about getting rid of your hair entirely. The shaved head phenomenon picked up steam during the pandemic, but it’s just as relevant today for men and women. It’s also a convenient solution if you’re starting to thin out on top or if you want a more low-maintenance look, according to Patrick Butler, technical director of education at Floyd’s 99 Barbershop. Though it can be cared for at home, it’s a bold choice, said Butler, who has over 25 years of experience in the hair care industry.
Whether you’re planning on buzzing your hair or you’ve already done it, a head shaver is an important tool to consider in order to maintain a clean cut. To help you decide which head shaver is right for you, we consulted hair experts to find out what a head shaver does and we compiled their recommendations with other highly rated options to consider.
What is a head shaver, exactly?
A head shaver is a hair tool that uses oscillating rotary blades — which are covered with a thin layer of metal and operate at a high speed — to cut hair, according to Monica Davis, a hairstylist and founder of the blog MyStraightener. While there are other tools that can help provide a smooth head, including trimmers, clippers and razors, a good head shaver “can cut as smooth and as close to the skin as possible without irritating the skin and minimize ingrown hairs and bumps due to its consistent speed,” said Davide Marinelli, founder and creative director at Davide Hair Studio in New York City. The blades on a head shaver also have a shock absorber effect that allows them to push in and adapt to your head shape, Butler explained.
Head shavers versus trimmers, clippers and razors
While all three tools can be used to help with the maintenance of a shaved head, using one over the other depends on how you want your hair to look. “If you want to compare these three tools, you can say that clippers are a substitute for scissors and a comb, a trimmer eliminates scissors and a [head] shaver replaces classic manual razors,” Davis explained.
A head shaver is usually only used for clean and close shaving and features three to six rotating blades that are meant to cut hair as close to the scalp as possible, Butler said. He added that the more rotary blades a head shaver has, the more area it’s capable of cutting, which can ultimately lead to a smoother finish. It can also be great for those who have already shaved their hair down to just some stubble.
A trimmer is better suited to get rid of fuzz on your neck, around your ears or below your beard rather than for a heavy removal of hair, according to Butler. It features blades that are made for edging, shaping and outlining, Davis told us.
A clipper is designed to cut long and thick hair quickly, and is a better choice if you’re searching for a buzz cut rather than a completely shaved head, Butler noted. It’s typically much more powerful than a trimmer and leaves a consistent length all over. However, “it won’t have a smooth feel — it’s more like a five o'clock shadow,” which might lead you to want to use a head shaver afterwards, Marinelli said.
A razor can provide a close shave using some water and shaving cream, but they should be used in conjunction with the above tools if you have longer hair. Butler noted that a straight razor is “unforgiving” and getting used to such a sharp blade can take skill and patience. “A head shaver, however, is a push of a button and a smooth glide over your head with no worries about cutting yourself,” he added.
Best head shavers in 2022
If you’re ready to shave your head, we compiled a few expert-recommended options to consider. Each head shaver is waterproof, features both a wet and dry shaving capability and has a lithium ion battery for longer battery life in line with our experts’ guidance.
Butler favors the AidallsWellup 5-in-1 Electric Head Shaver for its six pivoting blades that can be used for both dry and wet shaving (meaning you can use water and shaving cream if you prefer). “You hold the shaver as if you were massaging your head and glide the pivoting blades over the surface,” he said. It has five attachments, including one for trimming noise and another for deep clean facial brushing. The AidallsWellup also has an ergonomic design and a pre-shave massage brush to soften stubble and the skin before shaving. The shaver has to be charged for 90 minutes to be used for that same amount of time, according to the brand.
Both Butler and Marinelli recommended the Skull Shaver Pitbull with four blades due to its durability. Although it doesn’t have any extra attachments, this head shaver features an ergonomic handle to hold in between fingers and a blade design that catches hair clippings in a chamber to prevent them from falling everywhere and making a mess, Skull Shaver said. It has a runtime of 90 minutes, according to the brand, and you can see how much battery you have left on it through an LED display screen.
You can also consider the Remington Balder Pro Head Shaver, which Marinelli recommended for its durable five rotary blades and quick shave. Like the Skull Shaver, the Remington shaver doesn’t have any attachments but it collects hair in a chamber underneath the blades, which can be removed to empty it out. It also features a 50-minute runtime — the shortest of the shavers listed here — and the brand says it takes 4 hours to charge fully.
Marinelli called out The FlexSeries Electric Head Shaver due to its five flexible blades, which the brand says easily glide on the skin. It also comes with five attachments, including a precision clipper and trimmer with three safety guards, a nose and ear hair trimmer, and a skin exfoliation brush. The Freedom Grooming shaver has an ergonomic design that’s easy to hold and it comes with a rapid USB charging cable, a micro cleaning brush to dust off the blades and has a runtime of 90 minutes, according to the brand.
The Kibiy Electric Razor comes with six blades. Like the AidallsWellip and Freedom Grooming head shavers, this highly rated head shaver includes five grooming attachments, like a hair clipper, a nose and ear hair trimmer and a massage tool to soften stubble, according to the brand. Though it doesn’t boast an ergonomic design, the Kibiy has a self-locking function that kickstarts when the blades become clogged, according to the brand. This shaver can also run for up to 90 minutes after charging for the same amount of time, and it features an LED display that shows how much time is left on its current charge.
What to consider before buying and using a head shaver
When it comes to head shavers, you’ll want to make sure to look out for certain features that can help make shaving easier and your device last longer. Below, the hair care experts we spoke to outlined some key features to consider, including maintenance, battery life and water resistance.
Wet versus dry shavers
Most head shavers are designed for both dry and wet shaves, but it’s important to keep in mind that some models are only meant to be used in either dry or wet circumstances. Butler said he’s a fan of wet shaving since it softens the hair and opens up the pores on your skin. “The shaver will be able to cut the hair closer to the scalp to produce a smoother finish, and can reduce irritation as it will create a barrier between the skin and the shaver,” he added.
On the other hand, if you’re cutting dry — which can be less time consuming than wet shaving since it doesn’t require shaving foam or hopping in the shower — the blade is “forced to glide over dry skin which may get irritated based on your pressure,” Butler noted.
“The fewer recharges per month you have to make, the better,” said Davis. She added that “it’s not very nice to be surprised by the drained battery right in the middle [of shaving],” so she recommended that a head shaver with a low battery indicator is a plus. Butler also noted that a lithium battery is best because it’ll “hold a charge far longer than standard rechargeable batteries.”
In order to ensure your head shaver lasts a long time, you’ll want to check the cleaning instructions to avoid purchasing one that’s too much of a hassle to maintain. “I always look for how many blades it has and how easy it is to remove the cover for cleaning,” Butler explained. He suggested searching for a model that only requires occasional cleaning or oiling for those with a “stuffed schedule.”
Many head shavers are water-resistant, which is useful if you’re hoping to shave in the shower or when you need to rinse off any leftover hair or shaving cream from the blades, according to Butler. Davis also pointed out that waterproof devices are usually much more durable.
As with many purchases, a higher price tag doesn’t always mean it’s a better product. Some shavers can cost upwards of $100, but according to our experts, you should be able to get a solid one in the $50 to $60 range. If you’re on a budget, “there’s no need to invest too much in a head shaver,” Davis told us. “The market is overflowing with affordable solutions that work great, so don’t blame yourself for saving on this purchase.”
How to treat your head before using a head shaver
Before shaving your head, Butler recommended either showering first or using a warm washcloth over your head to soften the hair and scalp. For Davis, a pre-shave oil is essential to prepare the skin and hair for a close shave. “Having the hair prepped first will soften that hair and allow the shaver to glide more smoothly over the head,” he added.
When using a head shaver, you don’t want a thick barrier of shaving cream — this will make it harder for the blades to glide through your hair easily, Butler explained. He recommended opting for a brush to apply a thin layer of cream that allows for a smoother shaving experience. Once you turn off your head shaver, you can rinse your head with cool water and moisturize with a lotion designed for a post-shave that’s specific to facial or scalp skin, Davis added.