When you first shave your head, you would think that you were bidding goodbye to those issues that plague people with long, luscious locks.
This includes the problem of dandruff, which is not typically something that you associate with having a bald, shaved scalp.
With this in mind, imagine my surprise when I first shaved my own head and found that this was not an indirect solution to the unwanted presence of dandruff.
In fact, my sudden dearth of hair seemed to highlight the dandruff on my scalp, creating a brand new problem that I was not prepared for!
In this post, I’m going to take through the phenomenon of dandruff on shaved scalps, asking why this occurs and how you can successfully make this a thing of the past.
What Exactly is Dandruff, and What are the Main Causes?
If you were anything like me when I was younger, you probably have a good idea of what dandruff looks like.
You’d probably be surprised to find out what it actually is, and what causes it to occur in the first instance.
Rather than being directly associated with hair, dandruff is categorised as a skin condition that typically affects the scalp.
This causes white (or sometimes grey) flakes of skin to appear on the scalp and in the hair, while they can also fall from your head and onto your shoulders.
Although it is not a contagious or harmful condition, it can leave your skin feeling dry and itchy, while it may create a degree of social embarrassment if untreated over time
Learning this changed my whole perspective on dandruff, while it at least partially explained why shaking my head could still create a snow globe effect even without a full head of hair.
It also helped me to understand the most common, underlying triggers of dandruff, which remain relevant whether you have a shaved head or not.
I quickly learned that the presence of irritated and dry skin on the scalp in the most common cause of dandruff.
In the case of dry skin, this will probably be present on other areas of your body too, and it will also be characterised by small, colourless flakes and minor (if any) inflammation.
Oily skin is also a prominent cause of dandruff, and this can be exacerbated by not shampooing your hair and scalp enough.
Ultimately, this can cause oils and dead skin cells to build on your scalp, damaging the skin and leading to the onset of dandruff.
Of course, you’ll find that this is relatively easy to avoid and treat, but it’s definitely something to look for when you wash your hair and scalp.
What Causes Dandruff When You’re Bald, and Can Shaving your Head Exacerbate this?
As we’ve already touched upon, the common triggers for dandruff are universal and can apply to you regardless of whether or not you have hair.
Still, there are some triggers that more likely to factor if you’re a bald guy, and it’s important that you remember these when the problem takes hold.
Typically, it is dry skin that is most likely to cause dandruff on a bald, shaved scalp.
The reason for this is simple; as when you drag a razor or a clipper blade along your scalp you are effectively performing a deep exfoliation at the same time, and this can cause a tremendous amount of pressure and stress on the sebaceous glands at the top of your head.
Over time, these glands and the surrounding skin may dry out, causing fragments to flake off and create the ugly spectacle of dandruff.
You may also see that the affected areas are characterised by red blotches, which you have an often uncontrollable urge to scratch at the most inopportune of moments.
Now, when I shaved my own head at the tender age of 17, it was due to the relentless progression of male pattern baldness.
This meant that I was embracing my baldness and committing to a shaven head for the rest of my life, regardless of changing fashions and the changing of the seasons.
For those of you in the same boat, this is an important consideration.
After all, your environment can cause an up-tick in dandruff production in some instances, especially during the winter or if your reside particularly cold, windswept regions.
In these case, your shaved scalp can dry out quicker than normal, causing a temporary dandruff problem that is related directly to the climate.
Conversely, extreme heat may also be a trigger for dandruff, especially if the scalp is frequently exposed to direct sunlight.
Here’s the Twist – The X Factor That can Impact on Dandruff Production on Bald Scalps
At this stage, you’ll hopefully have a better understanding of dandruff and why it continues appear on your bald scalp.
A little later, I’ll discuss the best practice for successfully treating this condition while continuing to shave your head, but firstly I thought I would share the hidden X factor that can cause dandruff production to vary from one shaven headed person to another.
We’ve already talked about how the sebaceous glands can dry out and cause dandruff, particularly if you shave your head regularly or do not clean your scalp frequently.
The glands, which secrete oil onto the scalp and into any remaining hair follicles, can also naturally produce an excess of sebum oil in some instances.
This phenomenon is known as seborrhoeic dermatitis, and over time it can cause an inflamed scalp and ultimately trigger (wait for it) dandruff!
In this respect, the sebaceous glands represent the X factor in dandruff production among bald males.
While it’s possible to exert pressure on these glands and cause them to dry out while shaving, we all produce a unique amount of sebum oil depending on our genetic make-up.
This will have a direct impact on your natural level of vulnerability to dandruff, and it’s important to bear this in mind when attempting to address the issue.
Also, whether you produce minimal amounts of natural oil or an excess, you may find yourself at greater risk of developing dandruff once you’ve shaved your scalp.
This revelation should also come as a comfort if you’ve noticed that you only began to develop dandruff after shaving your head (which I can imagine would come as a huge shock!)
In fact, it could be the type of razor that you use or changes to the frequency with which you wash your hair that have caused this issue, so there’s no need to panic unnecessarily.
The Bottom Line – How to Treat Dandruff and Prevent it in the Future
Regardless of your own circumstances, if you have a bald head and dandruff you’ll probably want to take action straight away.
Tackling this condition should be considered as a two-part process, as you first look to eradicate dry or damaged skin and then develop a shaving technique that minimises the risk of dandruff occurring in the future.
In terms of the former, most people will argue that one of the best ways to treat an existing course of dandruff is to use a medicated shampoo.
There are a number of different products available, and the frequent use of a specialist shampoo can help you to get the issue under control quite quickly.
Similarly, you can also use an exfoliating cream or lubricating oil to eradicate dry skin on your scalp, although it’s important to apply these products with caution.
Remember, if you’re prone to producing a high volume of sebum oil naturally, attempting to lubricate your scalp further could exacerbate the issue and increase the production of dandruff.
So, you’ll need to monitor your condition and be willing to adapt your treatment over time, particularly if you’re to achieve the best possible results.
With your existing dandruff issue under control, you’ll probably want to pop open the champagne, kick back and maybe even light up a cigar.
Still, this only represents half of the battle in the war against dandruff, and to protect your scalp in the future you’ll need to create a long-term treatment and shaving plan.
One of the first things you should consider is purchasing a cartridge razor capable of delivering a close and even finish.
Products such as Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide successfully leverage the attachment that connects the head to handle, creating agile movements and a flexible design that enables you to shave your head with tremendous efficiency.
This will prevent you from applying unnecessarily pressure on areas of the scalp or head that may be difficult to reach, while minimising any nicks or cuts to the skin.
The majority of cartridge razors also feature multiple blades, creating a smoother finish that is kinder on your skin.
In addition to a high performance and flexible cartridge razor, you should also make sure that you use a pre-shave oil.
This is something that I swear by, as it performs the pivotal role of moisturising your skin before a razor blade even touches the scalp.
If you’re not familiar with pre-shave oil, this is a carrier oil-based solution that can prepare and protect your skin for a smooth shave.
Almost instantly, this minimises the risk of your skin and sebaceous glands from becoming dry, which in turn makes it less likely that you’ll encounter dandruff in the future.
One of the main benefits of pre-shave oil is that it’s completely natural, as it leverages organic ingredients such as jojoba and caster seed oils.
As a result of this, it is capable of mimicking the natural oils that are produced by your skin, helping the blades to move effortlessly against the scalp and without causing any irritation or inflammation.
Once again, you’ll need to pay attention to your scalp and try to avoid using an excess of oil, as this can prove extremely counter-intuitive over a prolonged period of time.
Shaving cream is another important consideration for us bald folk, and I’ve learned that you can’t simply head to the local supermarket and pick up a standard can of foam or gel.
Not only is the skin on your face very different to your scalp, but cheaper products also tend to be chock-full of chemical-based ingredients that can be genuinely challenging.
These can subsequently dry out your skin, which as we’ve already discussed is a huge no-no for anyone who has a bald scalp.
Alcohol-based ingredients are also potentially damaging to the skin on your head, as they’re likely to dry out your skin over a period of extended use and increase the rate of dandruff production.
So, should you tackle this prickly issue?
My advice is to spend a little more and invest in a higher quality of boutique shaving cream, which leverages natural ingredients and is typically used in high-end barbershops.
These products offer far greater value if you’re worried about the onset of dandruff, as they’re much more likely to compliment your skin and keep it well oiled.
And Finally – Don’t Overlook the Importance of Common Sense
So there you have it; my guide to dandruff, it’s impact on bald men and how to take care of your scalp when shaving it on a regular basis.
On a final note – I’d also recommend that you show TLC to your scalp whatever you’re doing.
All this requires is awareness of the causes of dandruff and a little common sense, as you look to safeguard your skin and protect it from numerous environmental risks.
As we’ve already said, cleaning your scalp frequently is crucial regardless of whether or not you have hair.
While you may change the type of shampoo that you use as a bald man, it’s still imperative that you keep the area clean of excess oil and dead skin cells at all time.
Similarly, you need to prevent your scalp from drying out in extreme cold or hot conditions.
This demands that you protect it from the elements, by wearing an appropriate hat during the winter and applying sun screen in the summer months.
With the latter, you should use a product with an SPF of at least 30, although personally I’d recommend using an SPF 50 cream on your scalp.
Not only will this protect your skin and mitigate the risk of cancer, but it also prevents your skin from peeling and making you feel as though you have a dandruff issue when you actually don’t!