How to DIY a Barbershop Hot Towel Treatment at Home

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.

Tools:

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:

Option 1

Microwave the towel for 20 to 40 seconds in a microwave-safe dish. The towel should be hot, but not uncomfortable.

Option 2

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:

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From Bathroom to Barbershop: Four Professional Barber Tips to Try at Home

From Bathroom to Barbershop: Four Professional Barber Tips to Try at Home

Hot Towels

Arguably one of the best parts of visiting a barber is the hot towel service. Nothing is more luxurious or satisfying for the start of your prep routine like a nice hot towel. Recreating a hot towel service at home is simple- all you need is a towel and a bowl of hot water or towel warmer.

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Photo via Instagram/ @akinbarber

Start by grabbing a small towel. To get a relaxing experience place 2-3 drops of an essential oil like lavender, eucalyptus, or sandalwood on the towel at this step. Thoroughly wet the towel with water and ring out the excess with your hands. Next, fold the towel in half and roll it up like a sushi roll. Place the damp towel in a towel warmer or warm water A microwave can be used to warm the towel, too. We recommend about 30 sec. Always use caution and test the hot towel on the inner part of your forearm before placing the towel on your face or neck.

Once the towel reaches your desired level of warmth, apply the towel to your face and hold it there until it starts to cool. If you’ve applied essential oils, take some deep breaths and relax, oils like lavender are relaxing while sandalwood is a memory booster. Once the towel cools down, set it aside to use again at the end of your shave.

For more information on hot towels, head over to How to DIY a Barbershop Hot Towel Treatment at Home.

Dry Your Hair Like a Pro

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One of the biggest hair health mistakes most people make is the way they dry their hair. Most shampoo commercials would have you believe that the best way to dry your hair is to vigorously rub your head with a towel. Vigorously rubbing hair while wet can roughen the cuticle of hair, causing frizz. This can lead to permanent damage, like split ends or breakage  

To dry your hair like a professional, start by taking handful sized sections of hair with your towel and gently squeezing the water out. Repeat small section by section until you’ve dried your entire head. At this point your hair is about 50-75% dry, which is the perfect time to add styling product.

Maintaining Your Neck Line

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Nothing makes a haircut look more unkempt than a messy neckline. After a visit to the barber, your neckline will be clean with no hairs along your neck. However, maintaining a clean neckline between visits to the barber chair is a an extra step you can take keep looking sharp.

The most important thing to remember when you are maintaining your own neckline is to make sure you don’t cut into the hair line. The hair line is the line that separates your hair from your neck. Avoid the hair line and only cut the hairs that appear below the hairline on your neck.

Prior to shaving you will need a few supplies- a hot towel, shaving cream, and a sharp razor. Start by applying a hot towel to your neck. After the towel cools, remove it and apply a shave cream like Geo F. Trumper Soft Shaving Cream. Now you are all set to shave your hairline. Just remember to shave with the grain.

Shave Like a Master Barber

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Getting a professional shave is a wonderful and luxurious experience. Master barbers spend years perfecting their craft, and their life is dedicated to the art of men’s grooming. Even if your barbering skills are not at a professional level you can incorporate professional techniques into your own shave routine.

The art of shaving takes precision, so make sure you have enough time set aside to be precise. Start with prepping the hair and skin with a pre-shave oil like Truefitt and Hill Ultimate Comfort Pre-Shave Oil. Pre-shave oil softens the hair and allows a smooth surface for your shave cream.

When it is time to apply a shave cream use a brush. Shaving brushes lift the hairs away from your face which allows for a closer shave and prevents ingrown hairs. When you have finished your shave, take the hot towel you had used prior and apply the now cold towel to your face. This will close your pores and soothe your skin, reducing redness, post shave irritation, and acne. Finish up your shave with a splash of aftershave for disinfection and a light moisturizer to keep your skin smooth and you’re ready for your day.

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Should You Shave Before or After You Shower?

Should You Shave Before or After You Shower?

When’s the last time you took a step back and looked at when you shave? It’s easy to fall into a routine of shaving at a specific time every day, especially when you have a packed schedule. But just because your shaving ritual fits neatly between a quick shower and morning coffee doesn’t mean it’s the best time for you to shave.

While shaving post-shower has been touted to deliver the most efficient, enjoyable shave, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV). Check the shaving forums and you’ll see just as many men exalting a post-shower shave as loathing it, with the latter claiming it sensitizes their skin.

If you find yourself stuck in a shaving rut and experience redness and irritation post shave, reevaluate your timing and take an honest look at what works and what doesn’t. A few changes can turn a monotonous shave into an enlightening one.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of shaving after you shower and shaving before you shower.

Shaving after you shower

The ideal (i.e. most painless) shave involves removing everything that gets in the way of a clean, slick razor glide. Thus, many men shave after they shower, when their skin is soft and pores are open.

When your hair follicles are dry, they have the cutting density of copper wire, so you should never go at them before first reducing the cutting strength by wetting your beard. Steam from the shower softens hair, making it easier to cut with fewer passes. And an easier cut means less tugging and pulling your skin. Meanwhile, the steam opens pores, allowing you to get in closer to the follicle. Think about it: the tighter the pore, the harder it is to rip hair out of it.

Then there is the bacteria factor: shaving after you shower ensures you’ve let hot water wash away traces of pollutants, dirt, and grime so they can’t be caught in your razor and spread around your face.  This bacteria can easily seep into microtears in your face, causing irritation and razor burn.

Shaving before you shower

While shaving after your shower has a hefty list of benefits, some men say doing so actually causes more irritation and makes their skin sensitive. Indeed, depending on how you like your shower, there is some truth in the matter. If you prefer hot showers, the water may over plump your skin, predisposing you to weepers and nicks. Super hot water actually dries out your skin by removing skin’s natural oils, leaving you with a dry feeling when you shave afterwards.

While the solution is to switch to warm water and perhaps apply pre-shave oil to remedy the dryness, it may not remedy the situation for everyone.

Also, not all of us have time to devote to a luxurious shaving ritual after we shower. Shaving before you shower saves time and the effort of extra clean up at the end.

should you shave before or after your shower?

So which is better?

Although the hair-softening, pore-opening steam of a warm shower is fabulous prep for your shave, your skin has its own needs. Try both methods to see which one gives you less irritation and fewer nicks. You may have been successfully shaving after your shower until now, but as your skin changes (due to age or varying climates) you may find that shaving before your shower works better.

Or pick the routine that suits your daily demands.

If you’re simply short on time and can’t afford to progress slowly through the shaving ritual, save time by shaving before you shower – but with one caveat: complete a hot towel treatment before you shave.

A good alternative: A hot towel treatment

A classic barbershop tool, a hot towel treatment is the mid ground between shaving before you shower and shaving after you shower. If you’re planning to shave before you shower, this treatment will warm and soften skin and hair. While a hot towel isn’t as effective at softening hair as a shower, it does make whiskers swell up. A hot towel won’t remove environmental pollutants and grime.

How to do a hot towel treatment:

  1. Wash your face.
  2. Soak a washcloth in warm water and hold it up to your face for at least 3 minutes, the amount of time it takes to significantly reduce cutting resistance.
  3. If you don’t have a towel on hand, you can also wash your face with warm water for a few minutes before applying shaving cream.
  4. Shave your face.

Tips:

-For extra softening, use moisturizing conditioner on your beard in the shower. Look for one with softening properties, like Dreadnought Concentrated Conditioner.

-Test out your pre-shave shower method: use conditioner before you shave for a week, and then no conditioner for a week. Repeat.

-Beginners can benefit for a post-shower shave in the evening, when they can take their time to perfect their method. 

-Option: exfoliate in the shower to achieve a closer shave. Exfoliation removes dead skin and debris that would otherwise get in the way of a clean shave. However, if you are a novice do not exfoliate until your skin acclimates to daily shaving. If you do exfoliate, do so on the days you’re not shaving.

Infographic: 5 Scientific Reasons Why Wet Shaving is Better

Plenty of us collect safety razors, shaving soaps, and shaving brushes as much for function as beauty, and proudly so – the hashtag #SOTD (Shave of the Day) has over 1.7 million posts on Instagram, and is one of the most popular boards on Badger and Blade. Wet shaving has been thoroughly elevated into an art form. But let’s not forget the science.

Since the early 20th century, when King Camp Gillette invented the first double edge safety razor, there have been three groundbreaking independent studies on wet shaving. “Independent” is the operative word, as there have been numerous other studies carried out by cartridge manufacturers like Gillette, Schick, and Dorco claiming that shaving with a multiblade razor is more beneficial. In these studies, scientists are paid to say multiblade razors reduce the pressure needed for a close shave, thus cutting down on irritation. If you’ve ever shaved with cartridge razors and later switched over to single blade razors, you know otherwise.

The following infographic (via Prime & Prep) covers 5 key observations from independent studies conducted in 1937, 1976, and 2007. In total, these studies prove wet shaving is gentler on skin and delivers a more effective cut than cartridge shaving. Each observation comes with a takeaway that will both boost your knowledge of wet shaving as well as improve your daily shave.

One takeaway for us is the importance of softening hair before a shave with a hot towel treatment or by taking a shower. Learn how to DIY a barbershop hot towel treatment here.

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