Head shaving tips from a Buddhist monk

head shaving tipsI know I’ve already covered the topic of head shaving, but I thought it was worth re-visiting for the unique perspective that a friend of mine, a former buddhist monk for most of his life, brought to the topic.

He and his wife (yes, he is married, which is why he is no longer officially a monk) run a small restaurant situated along a beautiful bay along Korea’s West Sea (A.K.A. the “Yellow Sea”), that I try to visit with my family about once a month.

He was quite taken with my newly shorn scalp, and told me several times how handsome it is. I’m sure he was just excited because he doesn’t often see shaved heads outside of the temple.

Note: Shaved heads in Korea are pretty rare and, partly due to their religious connotations, are associated with people deliberately trying to distance themselves from society so generally are not looked upon favorably among the general populace. This attitude is changing, especially in the cities, but not so much out in the countryside.

After exchanging a few words about how liberating, not to mention, cooler, it is, he dove right in, unleashing his decades of experience as a, pun intended, religious head shaver. Unfortunately, the torrent of rapid, excited, Korean overwhelmed my ability to understand, but I was able to pull out three main head shaving tips (also illustrated in the image above):

  1. Start with your hair at a length of no more than 2mm. He said if his hair every got longer than that for some reason, he always goes to a barber to have it shaved down before he takes it down the rest of the way.
  2. When you’re ready to go at it, take a hot shower first to soften the hair and skin.
  3. Now this one I found surprising: Use a 3-blade cartridge razor. I love my safety razor. In fact, the only negative thing about having a beard now is that my expensive shaving kit and all that time it took for me to get good at wet shaving is pretty much going to waste. I had to admit, though, that the safety razor was tough. Even though I recommended using a cartridge razor in my previous post about head shaving, I had still been using my safety razor thinking it would get easier. It never did. My life has been much easier since I found a “Gillette Body” razor and refill blades on clearance at a local mart.

I’ve been following his method pretty close, but I still like to have some kind of oil. Before I even start my shower I use a thick coat of coconut oil and really let it soak into my scalp and hair. Then, I take care of all my other business and save the shaving for the very last, so I know the steam has further hydrated and softened my skin. Then I pick up my razor and go to town.

I’ve been finding that shaving with the grain goes frustratingly slow. I pretty much have to go across the grain for best results.

My problem areas seem to be a particular small spot behind my ear on both sides of my heads. Also, the back of my head where I can’t really see what I’m doing has been causing me a lot of grief as well, but I think this will get better with time.

I’m quite enjoying the shaved head look as my beard continues to grow back in after shaving it all the way down. I think I’ll continue on rocking it well into Fall and probably winter as well.

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