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Bald Heads Need Love Too: Why Washing & Conditioning Your Shaved Head Matters

black bald man on beach

Whether you've made the decision to go bald or Mother Nature has made the decision for you, taking care of your hair and scalp should still be a priority. While being bald may have many perks and benefits, eliminating the need for shampooing and conditioning isn’t one of them. Baldness, in many cases, can be a low-maintenance option for many, but keeping your shaved scalp fresh, smooth, and healthy will require an effort that includes washing and conditioning.

Allergies, pollution, airborne toxins, the sun's rays, and other environmental factors such as excessive cold, wind, or rain all impact the health of your head and can cause your scalp to become dry and irritated. So, although it may be tempting to forego the whole shampoo and conditioning routine with a quick slathering of body wash on the noggin, you’ll likely end up doing more damage than you thought possible.

Why Do I Need To Shampoo My Bald Head?

Maintaining a healthy scalp for a bald head requires special attention and treatment. When most people think of shampoo, they think of it as soap made for hair. In actuality, most shampoos are designed to treat the scalp rather than the hair. Given this, it's understandable that a bald head would require shampoo, as the scalp is the bald head's first line of defense.

Sebaceous glands secrete sebum and are found on the scalp. Sebum is an oil that keeps skin hydrated all over the body. Sebum is produced in the body through a small amount of environmental influence but is mostly created naturally by hormones.

To better clarify, think about what happens when your skin is exposed on a hot, sunny day. Even with an SPF, the body will be exposed to the sun's rays and will begin to dry out instantly. UV radiation and heat remove moisture from the skin, and as that moisture evaporates, sebum production increases. The body's attempt to keep things hydrated is to create more sebum.

Hormone levels also greatly influence the amount of sebum that each person can produce. That's why some people have oily scalps while others have dry scalps. So, while the environment in which a person lives might also have an impact, the primary generator of sebum is almost entirely hormonal. For someone who lives in a dry, humid climate and already has an active sebaceous gland system, the combination effect can be exponential and especially challenging to manage.

Why Can’t I Just Use A Bar Of Soap Or Lotion?

Before explaining the role of shampoo in scalp treatment, it's worth noting that the number of sebaceous glands on the scalp significantly outnumber those on the rest of the body. As a result, the drying properties of soap and lotion are harmful to a bald head.

Bar soap, for instance, has a very specific pH balance. The properties that make up a bar of soap, which is commonly used from the neck down, is designed to produce a rougher clean than a soft cleanser or shampoo. While it is easy to understand why it may be tempting to slide the bar of soap up your body to your bald head while showering, doing so tricks the scalp into thinking it is much drier than it actually is, causing sebum levels to rise. Extra sebum results in an oily, greasy scalp, which is a balding nightmare.

Lotion, on the other hand, is designed to dry the skin on the surface. True skin moisturization requires far more than lotion, and while the head may feel smooth after application, the glands and hair follicles receive none of the advantages. That implies that if sebum levels rise due to drying, the lotion on the top of the scalp will evaporate as oil is created, resulting in an even more greasy mess than usual.

So a bald head's scalp needs the healing and oil-controlling properties of shampoo. And to fully comprehend the effects of shampoo on the scalp, it is first necessary to understand the production and function of sebum, as well what happens when shampoo is used.

What is the Function of Shampoo on the Scalp?

Shampoo is useful because it allows the scalp to get rid of any oils it produces that may be lingering on the head. On a bald head, excess sebum is extremely evident because there is no hair to hide or cover it. Surfactants and sulfites are commonly found in shampoos sold in drugstores and other retail stores.

Surfactants are used to remove material from the scalp that has accumulated over time, such as dry and dead skin, as well as oil that has left a residue. Sulfites are a chemical that is used to remove oils from the scalp, but their abrasive nature might cause more harm than good.

Most dermatologists today advise against using shampoos that contain sulfites. In reality, the demand for sulfite-free shampoo has grown to the point that finding one at a reasonable price is relatively simple. Because maintaining consistent oil levels is such an important part of scalp management, a sulfite-free shampoo that won't hurt the scalp is essential.

There are three different types of shampoos, each with a different role in scalp care: hair masks, traditional shampoo, and conditioner.

For someone who is bald, a hair mask is obviously of little use. A hair mask, for the record, is designed to remove oil and debris from the actual hair. It's only applied to the hair, and it's usually something that's supposed to be left on for 15 to 20 minutes before being rinsed.

Shampoo eliminates dead skin cells and oil from the scalp. They're frequently suggested to be used in conjunction with a conditioner. What is the ideal approach or regimen for a bald head, given this prior knowledge of the many types of shampoo and what they do?

Some people choose to apply conditioner on their bald heads. Conditioners are available in rinse-out and leave-in forms and work to treat the scalp. Some people who shampoo regularly to maintain the health of their bald head will follow up with a leave-in treatment to keep their hair moisturized. Conditioners differ from shampoos in that they are designed to repair and treat the scalp rather than cleanse it of debris.

What Shampoo Or Conditioner Should Be Used On My Bald Head To Maintain A Healthy Scalp And Keep Oil Under Control?

The answer to this question will differ depending on the individual. Most people believe that combining the two is an excellent way to scrub and wash the scalp, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

To begin with, shampoos are all created with various goals in mind. There are shampoos for colored hair, thick hair, and yes, even bald head shampoos. Many of the bald head shampoos are designed to help with scalp health, and many of these shampoos are designed to address two issues that bald people deal with from time to time: itchiness and hyperhidrosis.

Itchiness, or pruritus, is a common problem for bald people. Some irritation is caused by sun damage, while other times it is the result of a lack of moisture. In general, any shampoo formulated specifically for bald heads should address this condition.

Over-sweating to cool down the body is known as hyperhidrosis. This disorder can occur everywhere on the body, although it is more likely to occur on a bald head than on a head with hair. When the body becomes overheated, it is powerless to stop it, but when it does, the scalp dries up and perspiration begins to accumulate. This can leave an oily coating on the head that is only exacerbated by the additional sebum that is produced.

So, what is the preferred shampoo for the bald head that addresses both of these concerns? The ideal recipe for bald scalp care is to use a mix of a moisturizing, cleaning, sulfite-free shampoo and a leave-in conditioner for the scalp.

While a rinse-out conditioner is certainly acceptable, the leave-in experience is typically more pleasant and helps to simulate the sensation of applying a soothing lotion to the body. A leave-in conditioner helps take a wet scalp from a shower and retain its moisture rather than rinsing it out. It's preferable to use a leave-in conditioner on a damp head so the product can trap as much moisture as possible. So, for those who want the advantages of a leave-in conditioner, it should never be applied when the scalp is fully dry. A conditioner, like any moisturizer, traps moisture in the skin and holds it there.

How Often Should A Bald Head Be Shampooed?

Because how often a head should be shampooed will vary from person to person, it's crucial to pay attention to how rapidly your scalp produces oil. The simplest approach to find out is to shampoo your hair and notice how long it takes for your scalp to get oily and greasy. That could be a few days for some, but others who produce less sebum can go a week without shampooing.

The Bald Bottom Line…

A widespread myth about bald heads is that they don't need to be washed other than with bar soap or shower gel. Because exposure to outside elements and the natural hormonal production of sebum, even guys with shaved heads should shampoo and condition their scalps on a regular basis. Shampoo, with its hydrating properties, is needed to offset drying, and can also prevent dandruff (yes, even on a bald head). A good conditioner will heal damaged hair follicles and keep the scalp healthy. Now that you know, let’s get to washing!