Here are three key ways to do the task, depending on which tools you prefer, with expertise from Sanford Rodriguez, barber at No Club Barbershop
Electric Clippers and Shavers
The electric trim is as straightforward as it gets: Take the guard off your clippers and mow it over the head using the shortest possible setting. This will snip the hair all the way to the scalp (leaving roughly 1/16 in., or 1.5 mm of hair).
While an electric-clipper “shave” won’t last as long as a razor-blade one, it will give you far less grief. The clipper will give you roughly one week before you need to clear the canvas again, says Rodriguez. “These are relatively quick, and you don’t have to worry about razor burn or skin irritation,” he says.
If you want to snip it even closer (and earn a couple extra days before needing a reset), invest in an electric stubble shaver, too. You need to clip the hair to a short stubble in order to get any mileage out of an electric shaver, but running it over your bare scalp will keep the hairs as trim as possible.
Try these: Wahl Balding Clipper ($51, Buy It Here); Smart Shave Rechargeable Shaver ($90, Buy It Here)
Chances are you’re used to shaving your face with a traditional cartridge razor, and that’s how you graduated into shaving your head, too. Given that your head has all sorts of rounded angles and contours, a flexible-head razor can deliver a smooth, no-strain shave. (That’s especially true given all the weird angles you have to do while shaving the back of your head.)
With this kind of shave, Rodriguez notes that skin preparation and hydration are the most important things to keep in mind. “Make sure the skin and hair follicles are nice and warm by first showering in warm or hot water,” he says. You can also shave in the shower and then spot check it when you’re out. As with your facial hair, follow the hot shower with a pre-shave gel to improve razor glide, says Rodriguez. We recommend The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil ($25, Buy It Here).
He then suggests using a shave brush to apply the cream, using a circular motion. “This will help lift and suspend the hair follicles, allowing for a closer shave at the root,” he says. (Copy that over to your facial-hair regimen, too.) Try: Vikings Blade Luxury Badger Brush ($33, Buy It Here). “Then, pull the scalp tight when shaving, to provide a nice smooth surface area.” Otherwise, you’ll be dragging the blade over loose skin and wrinkles, which will lead to cuts and plenty of missed spots. And, for the sake of hydration, chase the shave with a soothing balm or lotion to help heal and protect the skin. Try: Crown Shaving Co. After Shave Lotion ($19, Buy It Here).
Try this: Gillette Mach3 Razor ($7.35, Buy It Here)
A safety razor has a single blade, as opposed to three or more on the “everyday” options. A pack of safety blades, like this double-edge variety pack of 100 blades, should last two years if you replace each blade with your weekly shave ($20, Buy It Here). If you have sensitive skin—as is common with scalps—a safety razor and its fewer blades might be a good option for you because there’s less friction and dragging along the skin, thus less irritation. If you give this method a try, then review the pre- and post-shave tips in the “traditional razor” section above; it should match the regimen in this case, too.