is the practice of shaving the hair from a human's head.
Head shaving can be performed by most standard
razors or electric hair clippers. Several companies produce
razors designed specifically for head shaving. Because it is
generally hard to shave long pieces of hair, people with longer
hair cut their hair short using scissors before shaving it off
completely. Incidents of cutting one's scalp with a razor blade
are common, but generally are avoidable if precautions are taken.
Using an electric shaver generally results in fewer cuts.
Head shaving has been done for practical, religious,
cultural, or aesthetic reasons. Practical reasons include work
safety or comfort, lice prevention, grooming simplicity and
preparation for surgery. Competitive swimmers will sometimes
shave their heads to reduce drag while swimming. Cultural reasons
may include an emphasis on conformity and solidarity as identical
haircuts can make diverse crowds look very similar, or as part
of hazing rituals. One aesthetic reason is the concealment of
baldness. Many Buddhists, Hajj pilgrims, and members of the
Hare Krishna movement shave their heads. The Maasai people of
Africa traditionally shave their heads.
The earliest historical records describe examples
of shaving the heads of people, such as in Egypt and Rome. In
ancient Greece, long hair was a symbol of wealth and power,
while a shaven head was appropriate for a slave. Throughout
much of the 20th century in many Western countries, head shaving
was considered somewhat unusual or lower class. Head shaving
was often associated with manual workers such as seamen, dock
workers and soldiers, as well as with prisoners and psychiatric
The practice of head shaving has often been
used to punish people, such as criminals or political opponents.
Especially for women, the act of shaving off an offender's hair
serves to humiliate the victim and remind them of their offense.
For example, thousands of European women had their heads shaved
in front of cheering crowds in the wake of World War II, as
punishment for associating with occupying Nazis during the war.
As of 2006, several countries such as the United States, Libya
and Russia still shaved the heads of prison inmates as a punishment,
and also to prevent the spread of lice. Inmates of boot camps
for delinquent youths in the USA are forced to have their heads
The practice of shaving heads has been used
in the military, mostly for new recruits. The militaries of
the United States, Russia and several other countries have welcomed
their recruits by giving them haircuts using hair clippers with
no guard attached. As of 2006, shaved heads continued to be
standard haircuts in the United States Marine Corps. In Greece,
this practice was abolished on June 25, 1982, when the military
started allowing recruits to have up to 4 cm of hair. Before
then, the regulation haircut in the Greek army for recruits
was en hro (an archaic phrase for "shaved to the bone"),
which was implemented for hygiene reasons.
In some Hindu societies, Widows are required
to shave their heads upon the death of their husbands. Buddhist
monks and nuns shave their heads upon entering their order,
and Korean Buddhist monks and nuns have their heads shaved every
In the 1960s, some British working class youths
developed the skinhead subculture, whose members were distinguished
by short cropped hair (although at that time they didn't shave
their heads right down to the scalp). This look was partly influenced
by the Jamaican rude boy style. It was not until the skinhead
revival in the late 1970s with the development of punk-skinheads
and the Oi! scene that many skinheads started shaving their
hair right down. Head shaving has also appeared in other youth-oriented
subcultures, such as the punk, hardcore, metalcore, Nu metal,
hip hop and techno music scenes.