No visit to the barbershop is complete without a hot towel treatment. While many men enjoy this step for the indulgent relaxation alone, a hot towel treatment also has a very practical purpose: it softens your beard for a shave, especially when doused with essential oils or pre-shave oils.
A hot towel treatment works wonders for skin and hair. Steam and warmth from the towel open up pores, so any treatments you apply absorb better. If you’ve got a few extra minutes, it’s a wonderful step to add to your shaving routine. But it’s absolutely vital if you are prone to getting ingrown hairs.
Thankfully, this barbershop treatment is easily done at home with minimal equipment.
1. Apply your choice of pre-shave treatment onto the dry hand towel
Use any essential oil you’d like to create a relaxing scent during the treatment – peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus are all lovely. You can also select an essential oil based on its skin benefits. Peppermint and eucalyptus, for instance, are both natural antiseptics (peppermint also has skin-cushioning omega-3 fatty acids!), while lavender oil is an antibacterial (great for acne).
Apply only a few drops. Should your face be needing extra moisture – a common concern in the winter – try a pre-shave oil like Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort Pre-Shave Oil. This pre-shave oil contains moisturizing sunflower oil and soothing aloe to soften your beard.
Alternatively, Geo F. Trumper Skin Food is a good option. Its glycerin base nourishes your face while protecting it from the shave ahead. Experiment to see what works for you.
2. Wet the towel and heat it up:
Microwave the towel for 20 to 40 seconds in a microwave-safe dish. The towel should be hot, but not uncomfortable.
Run your towel under hot water from your bathroom sink, then wring it out so it’s damp.
3. Find a comfortable spot to lean back and enjoy
Hold one end of the towel in each hand. Wrap the sides of the towel around your face, covering your cheeks, chin, and forehead, leaving out just the nose. Then relax and meditate for a few moments. Once your towel cools down (about 2 to 3 minutes), remove it and begin your shaving routine.
A full hot towel treatment and barbershop shave, as demonstrated by Players Barber Shop: