Charity Headshave

Beautiful bald woman
Photo: Alex Zotov/Shutterstock
Q: My friend's daughter recently started cancer chemotherapy. My husband and I (I am 32) have signed up with a few of our friends to do a cancer charity head shave next month, to show our moral support and to raise money for research. I have thick, wavy hair with very long layers. It's approximately one third-down my back.
My friend says that for legal reasons they don't really shave our heads, they just use clippers with a zero. I am starting to get scared as the event is forthcoming. My husband tried to console me by saying that the "zero" is like a crewcut or buzz and should not look completely bald. How low do you think it will look, and how long do you think it will take before I can wear a short fashionable style like a pixie?

A: First of all, kudos to you and your husband (especially you) for making this kind of commitment to bringing attention to the need for cancer research. Having lost a sister and an aunt to cancer and seen them dealing with chemo, I can understand the desire to do something to help.
However, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to give you the news I think you want to hear. The “zero” clipper cut length is approximately one-sixteenth of an inch (1/16th inch). While it is certainly NOT shaved, it is almost as short as you can get without using a razor and shaving gel.
This length is generally used in these situations because it is less likely to result in ingrown hairs and is proof against nicks and cuts caused by razor-shaving. For people who have thick, dark hair, the resultant look and feel is that of stiff velvet when running your fingers over the stubble.
As for the length of time for it to grow back, you can usually count on the average of a one-half inch per month of growth. (Some people’s hair grows faster, and some grows slower.) This means that inside of four months you could have 2 inches of new growth and be ready for a stylish, gamine cut.
I realize that you are afraid of this dramatic change. Just remember your reasons for doing this and think of the positives that can come out of it, aside from the chance to raise money for a good cause, and show support and solidarity with a young woman who’s probably a lot more afraid (and for greater reason) than you are. Here are a couple of things you will get from this experience:
• A clean slate as far as your hair is concerned. Your hair will be brand-new and in the best condition possible as it grows out. It will be a chance to keep your hair as healthy as you can with all the knowledge you’ve gained about caring for the hair.
• A chance to redefine yourself, and your style. Many women get into such a pattern with their hair that they become entrenched in a look and have a hard time getting beyond it, even when they want to. This will be a great chance to try something different and invent a whole new you.
I do want to encourage you (given the description of the length of your hair) to make sure that the organization holding this charity head-shave event is coordinating with Locks of Love. It would be doubly nice if you could not only raise money for cancer research by having your head shaved, but if your hair could be used to make wigs for children who’ve lost their hair to chemo.
Once again, congratulations to you for your commitment and sacrifice.
See also:
How fast hair grows
How to shave your head
How and why short hair can make you look younger