Hot Towel Shave

Whilst In lockdown we took all advantage of the quiet period and pinned down Wahl’s Artistic Team and The Asylum Barbershop Co-Owner, Andrea Lynne Raymond to talk – The Hot Towel Shave!

The biggest misconception there is about hot towel shaves is that its a closer shave than your standard mac3! Not true! 

A hot towel shave is a one blade shave that isn’t necessarily tighter, but cleaner and better for your skin and growth! Its a luxurious and relaxing time for men! Its the equivalent to a womens facial in my opinion! 

Starting out barbering this was one of my biggest fears! Putting a bare blade near a man’s throat! I had images of a sweeney todd remake! But when you learn from the right people it’s such a lovely calming service to carry out! I almost feel the relaxation of the gent during the service! 

You can never learn enough when it comes to shaving and I’ve learned so many techniques over the years from various educators!

I did my first course with Gary Devane (owner of Portland Barbers). The second course i did was with Sam Donnelly (Sams barbers). The next course was with Gary Machin ( British barbers association). And of course in house Wahl Shave courses!

Each educator had their own step by step and but the basics always remained the same! 

Here’s my step by step:

  1. Make sure all the tools you need are ready before the client arrives so they aren’t sitting in the chair watching you prepare! 
  2. put on your gloves and prepare your blade.
  3. well your towels in hot water (as hot as your hand can take) and rinse out. Place 2 towels in the microwave/towel warmer.
  4. carry out your consultion with clients/analyse their skin and hair growth.
  5. adjust the chair and lay the client back. The position of the chair and how the client is seated is very important. For both the comfort of your client and for you to carry out the service with ease! The client must be at the right height for you and lying back enough so you can access all parts of the face and neck with ease.
  6. if you have someone in whos had a few drinks the night before they may bleed a lot more if you nip them , so I try to warn grooms parties etc of this! (It can happen no matter how long you do it ) 
  7. I then place one dark towel across the chest and tuck it into the top of the gown(ensure its not too tight and doesn’t block and hair you will be shaving). Place a dry white towel folded over the dark towel. And a small face cloth/ tissue on one side (for wiping) 
  8. making sure the skin is prepped well, this includes using the right product! Everyone’s skin is so different and you must access this in your consultion! From scars, to spots, moles, dips, wrinkles ! Everything must be taken into consideration before you begin the shave! 
  9. i start off by applying a layer of shaving cream to the face in circular motions (this opens up the pores and follicles).
  10. make sure you’re getting the right consistency of shave cream so it won’t dry up or run down the face is very important (its shouldn’t drip off the brush if you held it up).
  11. take your towel out by the corner of the towel with a thongs or your fingers and wave from side to side if its slightly too hot on your fingers. 
  12. having your towels rinsed out enough in order not to burn the client or have water running down their face (its a relaxing service after all).
  13. Place the towel under the chin and wrap both sides across each other over the face,  allowing a slight gap for the nose. 
  14. I then place my dry white towel over the wet one to lock in heat.
  15. after there’s no longer steam coming off the towel remove the dry towel and put back across the chest. And fold the wet towel in two over the eyes(this is more relaxing and your client won’t be starting into bright lights)
  16. re- apply your Shave foam in circular motions. 
  17. I use the end of the cut throat (where you rest your pinky) to draw around any areas to avoid such as moles etc.*using your cut throat in long, smooth motions begin with the lip and chin area. For underneath the nose ,lift the nose up to stretch the skin.
  18. its so important to stretch the skin especially in areas where there are divots or looser skin! 
  19. I like to start with the lip and chin as I find this is the most difficult and the hair will come off easier immediately after you’ve removed the hot towel!
  20. next i work on the cheeks moving towards the jawline.
  21. as you wipe the cut hair off on a towel or tissue make sure to fold it over when one side is full to keep it looking clean and tidy and to stop you accidentally rubbing off it! 
  22. continue with the neck and so on.
  23. add a new towel. Re-apply foam and shave for second time over areas that feel rough. 
  24. then repeat towel and apply some shave oil and feel for any rough areas. 
  25. apply more shave cream (this along with the towel will draw out the oil)
  26. never go over the same place more than a few times as this can irritate the skin! 
  27. after your hot towels put on a cold rinsed out towel! Apply a non-fragrant moisturiser, this feels amazing on the skin, it’ll help cool the skin and any redness , and it will slowly wake up your client if they’ve dozed off!

These steps are steps i follow and I feel gives a nice relaxing service! Everyone approaches their shave differently but the basic science of hair and skin remain the same!

Education is key here! Make sure the first course you do is the best standard!

About Author /

Ruby launched ZeroGapped, the magazine for the barbering women of the world, after noticing that there was a gap in the market. ZeroGapped combines her love of publishing and barbering, in one spot online.

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