Hot towels are a staple in many barbershops. In fact, they are still used in barbershops to this day!
But are hot towels really necessary for shaving? Or are they simply just a part of that traditional, luxurious barbershop experience?
Many home shavers are unaware that hot towels provide a number of little-known benefits. Home shavers who choose to use hot towels experience fewer shaving imperfections. Saving your face from ravages of ingrown hair, razor bumps, and shaving cuts can be achieved using the same techniques barbers use for straight razor shaving.
Why Barbershops Use Hot Towels
Prior to the invention of the home razor, the barbershop shave was a luxury for many men. Barbers used hot towels scented with essential oils like lavender and other colognes to enhance the shaving experience. Men left barbershops looking and smelling great.
The barbershop shave is back en vogue, especially among young people. The hot towel treatment is a key part of this experience and is also associated with luxury.
What is The Purpose of Hot Towels?
Barbers trust hot towels because they make facial hair easier to shave. Wrapping the customer’s face in a hot towel creates a healthy shaving environment for the skin. From opening the pores to softening hair, hot towels allow straight razors to glide over skin for a close, comfortable, blemish-free shave.
The hot towel effect explains why home shavers are encouraged to use a warm water face wash prior to shaving. The warmth pulls any ingrown hairs to the surface, which also helps diminish razor burn. This is because the razor cuts the hair instead of yanking and pulling, which is associated with many incorrect wet shaving techniques.
How to Create Your Own Hot Towel for Shaving At Home
Instead of using a warm water wash, a hot towel treatment provides the benefits of exfoliation while also providing a relaxing way to start or end the day. Using or designating a towel as a shaving towel is easy – simply choose a face cloth or other hand towel; there isn’t any real need for fancy towel warmers like those in barber shops!
Here are three easy ways to create your home hot towel:
- The Hot Tap Water Method: This method involves just what it sounds like – taking a facecloth and running it under hot water directly from the tap. Wring out excess water, then apply to your face.
- The Boiling Water Method: Bring water to a boil in a pot or tea kettle. Place the facecloth in the sink. Once the water reaches a boil, pour immediately over the facecloth. Wring out the towel as soon as it is cool enough to handle. The downside here is it takes a few minutes for the water to boil. A great life hack is preserving some boiling water for a French press coffee. This can help you save time on heating water prior to a shave.
- The Microwave Method: Soak a facecloth and then wring it out. Once the cloth is damp – not saturated – put the towel in the microwave for 30 seconds on high. The towel may take several minutes to cool. Be sure to use it quickly after microwaving before it cools too much.
Once the towel is warm enough, massage the face with the towel, moving against the grain. This exfoliates and allows the hair to absorb water, thus softening it. The entire hot towel massage takes about three minutes. Once completed, you can begin shaving.
The hot towel treatment doesn’t have to be solely for barbershops. You can enjoy using a hot towel right in your own home. Just be sure your hot towel isn’t too hot!
The Hot Towel Treatment: Not Just for Barbershops
So, are hot towels absolutely necessary for shaving? Not really… but if you want to exfoliate your skin and make your shave easier, then it is definitely worth giving it a try. Your hair and skin will thank you!
By taking an extra five to 10 minutes to properly heat up a hot towel and massaging your face prior to shaving, you will save more time on the actual shave.