I normally let my hair grow out to poofy Afroesque lengths before cutting it to a short buzz cut (in barbershop parlance, a “number two” electric clipper blade guide). In summer 2006, I decided to deviate from the norm and embark on The Great Hair Experiment, where I let my hair grow so long that it actually settled and started growing down. At the end of the summer I had enough of that and cut it back to my normal short haircut.
Well, now it’s seven summers later and my hair was getting to the poofy length, so I decided to do a bold experiment again, but this time in the opposite direction: instead of stopping at Number Two length, I would go all the way and just have my head shaved completely bald. I figured I might as well do this once in my life, and now is a good time when 1. I’m single, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future, and 2. It’s summer, so there are far less people on campus, classes haven’t started, and most importantly, I don’t have to teach yet in front of a class of potentially judgmental freshmen.
So I hereby present The Great Hair Experiment II! Here are two before pictures.
The shaving experience, provided courtesy of Rebecca at Game Time Cuts (thanks Rebecca!) in the evening of July 18 2013, was itself worth going through the whole thing. Haircuts are normally simple affairs for me – the barber just uses an electric clipper and grinds down my hair all the way around. But not this time. To sort of ease me into it, the barber first did a regular buzz like I’m used to, but with a Number One blade guide instead of Number Two, so it was already very short. Then she asked me if I wanted to continue. I was nervous about taking this big step, but, with knots in my stomach, I said yes with as much confidence as I could muster.
She then went to “Number Zero” – the clipper without any blade guide. (Doesn’t “Number Zero” sound like some kind of ominous code, like Base Delta Zero?) She went over my head one more time with the Number Zero (and boy was it hot!), before moving on to the final stage: rubbing shaving cream all over my head and using a straight razor to shave it down the rest of the way. Straight razors make me nervous, so I could hardly breathe as she scraped my whole head with that thing.
So here were the results:
And, with better lighting:
At first, it felt weird. When I ran my hand all over the surface of my head, it felt like there was a covering of sandpaper on my head, and then as my hand moved off my hair it suddenly transitioned into smooth oily skin. The part where there used to be hair felt instead like a slightly moist, sticky, oily scalp with prickles, and then it was just, like, my skull underneath. And it was weird! I could feel every bump on my skull, and my skull could really feel my hand resting on it, without hair insulating the sensation.
This state of affairs wouldn’t last long though. In about four days my fast-growing hair had already grown out enough that my scalp didn’t feel sticky anymore, and today, a week after the cut, my hair has already grown in to the point of being rather normal:
Oh, and about the facial hair: I’ve been keeping it for now (albeit trimmed somewhat), because it seems like in pop culture (and real life, I suppose?) a lot of bald guys grow out facial hair to compensate for their lack of head hair (I’m thinking specifically of Walter White). My facial hair policy is the same as my head hair policy: let it grow out until I can’t tolerate it any more, then get rid of it, though with facial hair I shave it all off whereas I obviously haven’t done that with head hair until now. I might shave my facial hair today or tomorrow, at which point I’ll have very little hair.
JULY 25 2013 UPDATE: Now that I’ve seen that this isn’t all that radical and my hair grows back so quickly in one week anyway, I may do this on a regular basis in the future. Even when I teach, assuming I only teach one day a week, I can shave my head the day after my teaching day and it’ll look fine by the time of my next week’s class.