You don’t need to shell out for a weekly shave, but you can take some of those tips home with you.
A professional hot shave is an experience. If you’ve never had one, it goes down like this: You pick out a barbershop. (We like old-school ones with a little character and a vintage record player.) The barber will prep you, using hot towels and straight razors. It feels indulgent, really, but the result is lasting: A sharp, clean shave without nicks, razor burn, or scratchy irritation.
You don’t need to shell out for a weekly shave, but you can take some of those tips home with you. Here are five ways to make it feel professional.
A hot towel is a signature barbershop move, and for a good reason. Placing a hot towel on your face opens up the pores, softens the skin, and smooths out the hair.
To get your own hot towel, either dampen a washcloth with hot water, or toss a damp towel in the microwave for 30 seconds. To truly recreate the barbershop, add a few drops of essential oil to the towel. Eucalyptus is probably what you’re most familiar with—gyms and spas use the menthol scent on their hot towels ($5, amazon.com).
A professional barber likely has more steps in his shave routine than you do. Before actually touching the razor to your face, the barber makes sure your skin and hair is read for shaving.
One way to do that is by adding a pre-shave oil to your skin, like this one ($25, theartofshaving.com). Massage a few drops into your facial hair to soften the hair. You can then layer shave cream on top to create a soft canvas.
Apply the cream using a shave brush instead of your hands; the bristles on the brush lift your hairs up, making it easier to cut them at the surface. A curly hair can easily recoil and turn ingrown; a brush helps minimize that. To use: Run the brush under warm water, apply cream to the center of the brush, and work it into a lather.
If you’ve ever rushed while shaving, you know how easy it is to nick certain areas. Instead, set aside ample time to cover each area of your face. A professional shave takes time because of the intensity of a single-blade razor, too—but there’s no reason you can’t try it at home.
The super sharp, single blade gets closer to your skin than any multi-blade can. Here are some tips on how to use one. If you’re too scared to go full straight razor, opt for a safety razor instead.
Precision is one of the many benefits of a barbershop shave. Pay extra attention to the details to match that level: Make sure your sideburns are well-blended and there are no stragglers on your neck. Double check under the nose and behind the ears for evenness, too.
Make a good shave last by completing it properly. One of our favorite Men’s Health tricks: Remember that hot towel you used? Pick it again, pulling two of the opposing corners with each hand. Spin it back and forth a few times to cool it off, and apply to your face.
The now cold towel will close up those pores, minimizing irritation. Use an aftershave for disinfectant, and finish off with a moisturizer. There you have it—the perfect shave.