Benefits of Hot Towel Shaves

Hot Towel Benefits

The history of hot towel shaving dates back to Roman times when barbers would heat towels and apply them to patrons’ faces to soften the beard. Hot towels aid in facial hair removal by opening pores, improving blood circulation, and protecting the skin. As best barber shops make a resurgence, so does this classic prep technique.

Benefits of hot towels:

  • Softens hair follicles
  • Opens pores
  • Prevents ingrown hairs

Benefits of Hot Towel Shaves

Incorporating hot towels into your shaving routine offers tremendous benefits that not only create a smoother, cleaner shave, but also improve the overall health and appearance of your skin. While seemingly a small detail, the incorporation of heat and steam helps soften facial hair, open pores, remove dirt and debris, and make your skin more receptive to products and treatments – the difference can be significant compared to dry shaving alone.

From classic barber shop hot towel preparations, to saunas, steambaths, and now heated masks and wraps, the therapeutic power of warmth and moisture has long been harnessed for both relaxation and skincare goals alike. When applied properly, hot towels improve the shaving process and experience while preventing common issues like razor burn, ingrown hairs, rashes, and more.

A. Softens Hair Follicles

Facial hair emerges from follicles beneath the top layer of skin at angles that make getting a close, smooth shave difficult if the hairs remain stiff and coarse. By applying a hot moist towel for 2-4 minutes before shaving, the warmth helps soften and relax hair follicles so less force and irritation is required to cut the hairs flushed with the skin. The heat essentially makes hair more pliable for easier, closer cutting below the surface.

Benefits of softened follicles:

  • Closer shave: Hairs trimmed near follicle
  • Less irritation: Blade glides smoothly
  • Fewer passes: Less risk of rashes

B. Opens Pores

In addition to softening hairs, the heat from a hot towel also helps open/dilate the pores on contact. Opening pores improves their ability to absorb, making it easier for them to take in rich shaving creams and moisturizers. This leads to a closer, more comfortable shave.

Benefits of open pores:

  • Allows better access to base of hairs
  • Improves lather retention on skin
  • Unclogs debris and oils
Towel TypeOpen Pore Effect
Hot Wet Towel15 minutes
Steamed TowelUp to 30 minutes

As shown in the table, steam towels provide even longer pore dilation for better shave prep.

C. Prevents Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs occur when the sharpened tip of a trimmed hair grows back under the skin instead of rising to the surface. This leads to irritation, inflammation, pimples, and scarring if left untreated.

By exfoliating the surface of the skin, hot towels help remove debris from pores while their heat encourages new hairs to grow upright instead of into the skin. This prevents ingrown hairs.

D. Improves Blood Circulation

The application of a hot towel raises skin temperature, increasing blood flow to the area. This circulation brings fresh nutrients and oxygen to surface cells while flushing away waste.

In addition to creating a closer shave, stimulated blood flow leaves skin smoother and healthier with improved tone, resilience, healing, and clarity.

E. Other Creative Hot Towel Variations

Beyond classic hot towel technique, creative variations can enhance benefits:

Essential oil infused

  • Eucalyptus, lemon, tea tree
  • Aromatic relaxation
  • Anti-inflammatory

Cold towel finishes

  • Tones & tightens skin
  • Closes pores after shaving
  • Reduces irritation

Sugar exfoliant

  • Removes dead skin cells
  • De-clogs hair follicles
  • Boosts circulation

Towel wraps & facials

  • Extended hydration treatment
  • Anti-aging effects
  • Rejuvenates skin

Getting creative with add-ons and towel temperature maximizes results!

Proper Hot Towel Shaving Technique

While hot towel shaves offer tremendous benefits for skin and shave quality, technique is equally as important for maximizing results. How you prep, apply, shave, and finish plays a key role in the closeness, comfort, and overall satisfaction of the process.

Follow these best practices from Hallandale’s best barbershop quality shave:

A. Prepare Face

Cleansing and exfoliating the face before applying a hot towel optimizes pores’ ability to absorb moisture while removing barrier debris:

1. Wash face

  • Use mild cleanser
  • Rinse fully with warm water
  • Pat dry with clean towel

2. Exfoliate (optional)

  • Scrub with bristle brush
  • Sugar/Salt scrubs
  • Chemical exfoliant pads

Removing dead skin cells and surface oils allows for better heat and steam penetration into pores and hair follicles for a closer shave.

B. Heat Towel

The right temperature and heating method are key for balancing skin safety and pore/hair follicle softening effectiveness:

  • 48-54°C / 120-130°F – Soaking in hot water 5 minutes
  • 50-57°C / 125-135°F – Steaming (heat + moisture) 5 minutes

Heating above 60°C risks burns. Hotter is not better.


  • Use thermometer to monitor
  • Test on inner forearm first
  • Re-heat/re-wet as needed

The goal is the highest safe heat for 5 minutes to safely maximize pore dilation and hair softening.

C. Apply Towel

Proper application ensures covering all shave areas evenly for equalPrep:

1. Wring out any excess water (don’t want dripping)

2. Unfold and open towel fully

3. Place carefully over entire face

4. Apply light pressure

DO NOT scrub! Let the heat do the work.

Ideally leave towel on for the full dilated pore effect time achieved during heating preparations.

D. Complete Shave

A hot towel alone won’t give a close shave – the right tools and techniques are still essential:

Quality Razor

  • Sharp, quality blades
  • Single vs multi-blade
  • Safety guard for sensitive skin

Shaving Cream

  • Brush on warm lather
  • Shaving oil


  • Skin pulled taut
  • Light pressure
  • With vs against grain
  • Rinse blade frequently

Take it slow and adjust as needed based on your hair type and skin sensitivity.

E. Rinse & Moisturize

Finish a hot towel shave properly for comfort and skincare:

1. Rinse & pat face

  • Use cool water
  • Pat dry gently

2. Apply after-shave moisturizer

  • Sooth skin
  • Prevent dryness
  • Protect from irritation
  • Maintain suppleness

Light gels or body butters containing ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and Vitamins C & E help hydrate and nourish post-shave without clogging pores.

Popular Hot Towel Shaving Kits

While the tools for an excellent hot towel shave may seem simple – a towel, shaving cream, a razor – sourcing the right materials and ingredients can get complicated quick.

To simplify the process, complete hot towel shaving kits provide tailored collections of gear specifically designed to work together for optimal hair softening, lubrication, and an ultra-close finish.

From budget basics to luxury sets with pre-shave oils, upgraded razors, badger hair shaving brushes, and more – today’s top kits have everything the modern man needs for an old-school barbershop quality shave from home.

A. Top Kits Under $50

For an affordable starter set, these value kits offer solid combo essentials:

1. Maison Lambert Perfect Kit

  • Hot towel
  • Shaving cream
  • Razor + 5 blades
  • Travel bag

2. Extro Cosmeceuticals Shave Set

  • Pre-shave oil
  • Shaving butter
  • Post-shave balm
  • Towel & bowl

3. The Superior Shave Bundle

  • Badger brush
  • Shaving soap
  • Chrome razor
  • Alum block

Quality gear at a fraction of the typical price. Great for beginners on a budget.

B. Premium Kits

For the ultimate luxury experience with professional grade instruments, upgraded premium sets take things to the next level:

1. The Art of Shaving Full Kit

  • Badger brush
  • Pre-shave oil
  • Shaving cream
  • After-shave balm
  • Executive razor
  • 30 towels

2. Vikings Blade Chieftan Shave Set

  • Safety razor
  • Stand & bowl
  • Badger brush
  • Pre-shave oil
  • Shaving cream
  • Alum block

True high-end shaving indulgence!

C. Best Travel Kits

For maintaining your on-the-go shaving routine while traveling, compact portable kits make it easy:

1. Gentleman Jon Deluxe Kit

  • Folding brush
  • Shave cream bars
  • Mirror
  • 3 towels

2. Percy Nobleman Travel Set

  • Pre-shave oil
  • Concentrated shave cream
  • Soothing balm
  • TSA-friendly razor

No need to compromise!

D. DIY Kits

For those who like to customize, mix and match your own:

  • Towel – Turkish cotton, terrycloth, microfiber/ $5-$30
  • Shave Cream – Glycerin-based, moisturizing/ $5-$20
  • Razor – Stainless steel safety/ $20-$150
  • Brush – Badger/boar hair or synthetic/ $10-$70

With some research and experimentation, you can curate the perfect personal shave system.

Getting your hot towel prep gear dialed in makes all the difference for genuinely barbershop quality shaves from

Frequently Asked Questions

When incorporating hot towels into your shaving routine there are bound to be questions on best practices. Here we answer some of the most common hot towel shave FAQs:

How hot should the towel be?

For maximum pore opening and hair follicle softening while preventing burns, towels should be heated to:

  • Wet towels: 49°C / 120°F
  • Steam towels: 54°C / 130°F

Monitor with a thermometer and test on inner wrist first. Reheat as needed.

What is the best material for shaving towels?

Absorbent fabrics like Turkish cotton, terrycloth, or microfiber work best to retain heat and moisture. Avoid coarse materials.

Turkish CottonUltra-soft, absorbent
TerryclothAbsorbs moisture

Can I use a hot towel on my face without shaving?

Yes! Hot towel facial treatments offer benefits like:

  • Cleanses skin
  • Opens pores
  • Stimulates circulation
  • Hydrates
  • Relaxes muscles

Use a clean towel and non-comedogenic skincare products underneath for best results.

Does hot towel prep help electric shavers?

Yes, though pore dilation benefits diminish without a wet shave using cream. Still helps lift hairs and prevent ingrown.

How long should I leave the towel on my face?

For maximum pore dilation, leave a heated wet towel on for 5-6 minutes. Steam towels dilate for up to 30 minutes. Reheat/re-wet towels as needed.

Is a barbershop hot towel shave good for acne?

Yes! The heat & steam help:

  • Loosen sebum & debris
  • Exfoliate dead skin cells
  • Kill acne bacteria

Be sure to use non-comedogenic products. Extractions may also help.

What temperature water should I use to heat towels?

For wet towels, use water heated to ~50°C / 120°F. Water above 60°C risks burns. Monitor temperature.

Can I microwave my shaving towel to heat it?

No! Microwaves generate uneven internal heat that can’t be felt till touching skin. Use hot water immersion or professional steamers instead.

Following proper barber technique and safety precautions with your hot towels prevents issues while maximizing prep and skincare benefits!

Let me know if you have any other hot towel shave questions.


As highlighted throughout this comprehensive guide, incorporating hot moist towels before and during the shaving process offers tremendous benefits when done properly.

The application of heat and steam softens coarse hairs, opens pores, exfoliates, stimulates circulation, and preps skin for the closest, most comfortable shave possible while reducing ingrown hairs and razor irritation.

Beyond physical perks, the ritual nature of hot lather prep evokes a sense of classic, old-school luxury that makes grooming feel special.

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