Ciao to comb-overs. Buh-bye rugs and plugs. The shaved head has become an accepted solution to male hair loss and a symbol of modern style.
According to statistics from Conair, some 22 million men 22 to 65 shave their heads regularly. And men's fashion pundits approve ... mainly.
"At the moment, it's perfectly fine to shave your head. You don't need hair," says Adam Rapoport, style editor of GQ magazine. "It's common for guys on Wall Street, to captains of industry, to lawyers, to celebrities, to guys at the gym."
Brian Boye, Men's Health fashion and grooming director, agrees. "It's become mainstream. Men can have long hair, short hair, and now they can have no hair. It's a style statement. Being bald says, 'I'm confident, strong, this is me.'"
The popularity of the style is underscored by a variety of products - from razors designed specifically for the scalp to grooming products to soothe bumps and reduce shine. (We asked three local guys who've embraced the look, all trainers at Power Ten Fitness Center in Port Washington, to test some products.)
So how did the evolution from hair-worshiping society to chrome-dome nation occur? Todd Green, who introduced a razor called Headblade back in 1999, says one push came around the year 2000 "when the military officially approved head shaving. The government realized it was not a trend," Green says. That's true, says Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. "We don't consider it a faddish haircut."
But pre-military and post Mr. Clean and Yul Brynner, we mustn't forget the "Michael Jordan effect," Green says. The basketball star took it off in the late '80s, and inspired pro-athletes everywhere to do the same.
Today, Boye says, "Men are looking more toward Hollywood and entertainers for their cues." Early headshavers included Bruce Willis and Vin Diesel. Comedian Howie Mandell and rocker Chris Daughtry have also opted out of hair.
But hold on. "Don't do it reflexively," Rapoport says. "It's not a democratic style. If you're a pale dude, with a weak jaw line and a few extra pounds, you might not look as good as others." Consider just buzzing it super short (think Jason Statham), and don't underestimate the power of facial hair. "Go really short on your head, and leave a little stubble on your face."
Who: Dan Kozerski, 34, Floral Park
His story: Kozerski wore his thinning hair quite short and was apprehensive about going completely bald. So we sent his photo to headshave.baldlygo.com, where men who are losing their hair can get a virtual head shave for a fee to see how they'd look before taking the giant leap. Kozerski liked the image and, with a little help, did the deed.
Products: Because he was a newbie, we got help from nuBest stylist Jamie Mazzei, who first buzzed him and then worked with a Headblade razor ($10, headblade.com), Citizen Smooth Refreshing Head Shave Cream ($15.95 at citizensmooth.com) and Headblade matte finish moisturizer ($8.97). Though Mazzei felt the shaving cream could have lathered up more, Kozerski loved the cooling effect of the product's botanicals, mint and tea tree oil. He also liked shine-reducing Headblade moisturizer.
Reaction: "I really like it," Kozerski says of his new 'do. "Half a percent of me felt like bailing ... but the picture helped a lot. It calmed my apprehensions." His girlfriend, Bonnie Young of Port Washington, who stopped in to watch, said, "I think he looks good. And I can't wait to give it a feel."
Who: David Waites, 42, Glen Cove
His story: "About seven years ago, I started losing my hair on the top, but the sides were growing in really good, so I looked a little like Bozo the Clown, which gave me motivation to shave it off." And, he adds, "Ladies love bald guys."
Products: An electric shaver kind of guy, Waites tested the new groomer from Conair, "Cleanhead" ($40), following up with Headblade Clearhead lotion ($8.97) to reduce bumps and ingrown hair after shaving.
Reaction: Waites gave Cleanhead a huge thumbs up. "The blade part is softer than the one I currently use , and it's contoured, so it's a lot easier to get behind my ears." While he liked the briskness of Headblade's Clearhead, he said, "It stings a little."
Who: Scott Lagas, 32, Deer Park
His story: An assistant women's basketball coach at C.W. Post, Lagas has been shaving his head for 12 years. "I was beginning to get male pattern baldness at 18, losing my hair on top and the front."
Products: It took Lagas about three minutes to shave his three-day growth with the Headblade. He had to get used to it, and he did nick himself, which he said is par for the course. He followed with Bald Guyz Moisture Gel ($5.99 at baldguyz.com) and Bald Guyz SPF 30+ Sunscreen Gel ($9.99).
Reaction: The razor "works like a charm. What's best is that you only have to go over it once. I am definitely going to turn in my straight edge for Headblade." As for the Bald Guyz products, "They felt a little slimy going on, but my head is softer than I've ever felt, and I'm happy to have a suntan lotion that will actually stay on."
Try it on
Want to know how you would look with a shaved head? And perhaps a goatee? The folically challenged who are considering going all the way, can get a preview at headshave.baldygo.com, a support site for men who are losing their hair, where virtual shaving is offered for a fee (starting at $37 for one picture). We asked them to "shave" Donald Trump. We think he looks fabulous sans sweep.
So do Barack Obama, Jay Leno (well maybe not) and Beyoncé. Check them out in our photo gallery.