Hot Towel Shave

A professional hot towel shave is one thing that every man should experience at some point in their life. 

Men prefer the hot towel shave experience because you end up with a clean shave without razor burns and the scratchy irritation associated with normal shaving. 

What Is a Hot Towel Shave

Shaving involves removing hair from the face and then grooming the facial hair. 

Through regular shaving, dead skin cells are removed in the process for a cleaner and more polished look.

On the other hand, hot towel shave is an after-shave treatment that barbers use when they visit the barbershop. 

Benefits of a Hot Towel Shave

Promotes Better Circulation  

Applying a hot towel on the face, whether during or before a shave and massaging the face, helps improve circulation.

It is also a great stress reliever bound to leave you feeling relaxed. In addition, the treatment also helps promote better hair growth, just like when properly applying beard growth oil.

Helps Open Up the Pores

Like coconut oil can unclog your pores, a hot towel shave also helps open up the pores and soften the skin thanks to the steam produced. 

The steam makes it easy to remove excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells while opening the pores to minimize irritation when shaving.

Soothes Irritated Skin

Shaving can lead to skin irritation due to razor burns, nicks, cuts as well as rashes. If you have irritated skin, a hot towel shave helps to soothe the skin while removing ingrown hairs. 

It’s just the same way an aftershave balm prevents irritation or even the world’s best pre-shave oil.


Hotel towel shave helps remove dirt, excess oil, and dead skin cells while also cleansing and moisturizing the skin for a rejuvenating look. 


Applying a hot towel on the skin during and after shaving is extremely relaxing and helps relieve stress. 

How Does a Hot Towel Shave Work

How Does a Hot Towel Shave Work

Hot towel shave involves the use of a hot wet towel on your face. It’s a pre-shave treatment whereby moist heat penetrates the skin, softening the tissues and promoting relaxation in the process. 

The treatment is used to help relax the muscles around the eyes while opening the pores, making it easy for moisturizers to penetrate the skin. 

For a hot towel shave to work well, you need to use a high-quality luxury towel. 

The moist heat also helps promote circulation in the neck, shoulders, head, and entire body. Hotel towel shaving is also a great way to help you relax, soothe sore muscles, and mobilize the joints while softening the tissue adhesions. 

Pros and Cons of a Hot Towel Shave


  • A hot towel shave helps open up the pores.
  • It soothes skin irritations that result from razor burns, cuts, and rashes. 
  • Hot towel shave also helps exfoliate the skin by getting rid of dead skin cells. 
  • The treatment also helps remove ingrown hairs. Using a straight razor, the ingrown hairs are pulled out compared to when you use a 4 or 5 blade razor at home. 
  • Through hot towel shave treatment, you get a close as well as a sharp shave. 
  • A hot towel shave with old-fashioned straight razors protects skin from burning and itching and razor bumps that you are likely to get after a regular shave. 


  • The only disadvantage of a hot towel shave is that it can take you longer than a regular shave. 

Features of a Perfect Towel for Hot Towel Shaving

If you are thinking about trying hot towel shaving, one of the things that you need to get right is the towel. 

Before you even think about installing a towel warmer in your bathroom, here are features that you need to look out for when you are looking for a towel for hot towel shaving. 


The feel of the towel is vital and it depends on the cotton it is made of. 

If you are looking for a towel that offers that royal softness and gets softer when wet, then go for a towel made of 100% Egyptian or Xinjiang cotton.

If you use a rough towel for hot towel shaving, you are likely to experience irritation, flaking, redness, and skin dryness which negates the whole point of the hot towel shave. 


Features of a Perfect Towel for Hot Towel Shaving - Size

The size of the towel also matters when it comes to treating your hair, face, and other parts of the body.

You only need one high-quality towel of the right size that can cover all the areas. 

Hyper Absorbent 

Rather than using an average towel for hot towel shaving, you need a highly absorbent towel. 

A hyper absorbent towel will retain heat for long, but there won’t be water dripping down your body.  


A quick-dry towel is a towel that dries quickly so that you can use the towel whenever you want. 

A quick-dry towel also means that you won’t have to worry about mold, mildew, bacteria, and germs that breed on a wet towel. 

Eliminate Bacteria

For hot towel shaving, you need a towel that can eliminate bacteria. Used towels can cause skin infections due to bacteria that breed on them, so you need a high-quality towel for hot towel treatment. 

Detect Impurities

Besides bacteria, other impurities can affect the health of your skin. Regular towels can not detect any impurities on the skin. 

High-quality towels for hot towel treatment, on the other hand, have silver coating as well as sensing areas that change color whenever they detect any impurities like chemicals and sweat on the skin.    

Easy Maintenance 

When it comes to hot towel treatment, you need a towel that is easy to maintain because you know when to clean it.

High-quality towels are usually self-cleaning in that you can easily tell when the towel is clean and when it needs to be washed. 

Durability and Longevity

It goes without saying that you need a towel that will last and very few towels are built for that. 

High-quality towels used in hot towel shaving are usually made of twisted yarn woven together for durability and double-stitched hems that ensure the towel lasts longer. 

How to Warm Up Your Towel for Shaving

How to Warm Up Your Towel for Shaving

Hot Tap Water Method

This method involves running your towel under a stream of hot water from a faucet. Ensure that the towel soaks for at least two minutes before you squeeze to remove excess water. 

After that, go ahead and dab the towel on your face. This is the simplest method, but it will only work if your bathroom or kitchen faucet pumps out steam water. 

Boiling Water Method

This method involves boiling water in a tea kettle or a pot. Place the towel in a sink and then pour the boiled water over it.

After that, allow it to cool a little, and then go ahead and wring out the excess water. 

The disadvantage with this method is that you will need to wait for the water to boil.  

Microwave Method

With this method, soak the towel in water until it gets damp but not saturated; after that, put it in a microwave for about 30 seconds on high.

Let the towel cool a little but not too much that it loses the heat before using it to massage the face going against the grain. This ends up exfoliating the skin while softening the hair. 

How to Shave Using Hot Towel

How to Shave Using Hot Towel

Step 1 – Check for the hair growth direction

The first thing you need to do is inspect the hair to see how your hair is growing. It’s always advisable that you shave in the direction your hair is growing.

If your beard is not long enough, you might want to use the contents of the beard growth kit like minoxidil to help speed up the growth. 

Step 2 – Clean and exfoliate

The next thing you need to do is to clean the skin using facial scrub and face wash to remove dead skin cells, dirt, and excess oil. 

This ensures a smoother shave that results in fewer ingrown hairs. 

Step 3 – Steam and hot towel

If you have the time, jump in the shower or apply a hot towel to your facial hair for about a minute. 

The steam helps soften the hair while opening the pores to prevent ingrown hairs and irritations. 

Step 4 – Apply shaving cream

Before choosing between the Mach3 and Fusion razors when shaving your beard, you must apply shaving cream or premium shaving gel before. Then, allow the cream to sit on the skin for about 30 seconds.

Step 5 – Start shaving the sides

Once the shaving cream has done its job, choose your own beard shaving kit and start by shaving the sideburns making sure that you go in the direction of the hair growth. 

Use short strokes, making sure that you don’t push the blade too deep into the skin. 

For a cleaner and closer shave, hold the blade at a 30-degree angle when shaving. 

Step 6 – Shave the neckline

Hair on the neck grows in different directions, which can be a problem when you are shaving. 

Before you begin shaving, you need to determine the hair growth direction.

Step 7 – Shave the chin and lip area

These should be the last areas you shave since they ensure that the shaving cream sits for longer. 

Stretch the skin using your free hand and then proceed to shave.  

Step 8 – Apply cold water

Since your pores will be open throughout when you are done shaving, splash cold water on the face or use a cold towel to close them up. 

Step 9 – Apply aftershave

Finish off by applying an after-shave cream to minimize bumps and irritation. 

You might also want to consider using high-quality beard balms and beard butter to keep the skin and beard moisturized

Do’s and Don’ts With Hot Towel Shave

  • Do make sure that you clean your face and beard first with a facial scrub or face wash for a smoother and more comfortable shave. 
  • Do apply a hot towel on your face for 30 seconds to a minute so that the steam can soften the hair for an easier shave.
  • Do use a highly absorbent towel to ensure that there is no water dripping off the towel to your body when you are hot towel shaving.
  • Do ensure that you always use a clean towel to avoid transferring any germs and bacteria to your skin which could cause infections. 
  • Do also ensure that you don’t burn yourself when you are warming the towel. Likewise, before you place the towel on your face, make sure that it is cool enough to prevent burns. 
  • Don’t leave the towel to sit on your face for too long because then that negates the whole hot towel shaving experience.   

FAQ About Hot Towel Shave

Why do barbers use hot towels?

Barbers use hot towels when shaving because the steam softens the hair making it easier to shave. Hot towels also help exfoliate the skin and open the pores to prevent razor burns, irritations, and bumps associated with regular shaving. 

How long do you leave a hot towel on your face before shaving?

If you are thinking about trying hot towel shaving, you can leave the towel on your face for about 30 seconds. This is enough time for the steam to soften the hair and open the pores for easier shaving. 

Does a hot towel help razor bumps?

Yes, a hot towel is great if you happen to have razor burns. Just soak a towel in hot water, wring out excess water and place it on your face for about 5 to 10 minutes. This helps kill bacteria and reduces the swelling caused by razor bumps. 

Are hot towel shaves worth it?

Yes, hot towel shaves are worth it. The treatment is effective in softening the hair for a smoother and close shave. It also helps relax the muscles and tissues while promoting better circulation. In addition, you end up with a close and soft shave free of razor bumps, burns, cuts, and irritations common with regular shaves. 

What is a hot lather shave?

Hot lather shave involves using hot lather on your facial hair. It works just like hot towel shaving by softening the hair and making it easy for the cream to be absorbed through the skin.  

Does a hot towel open up pores?

A hot towel placed on the skin helps clean the face by removing excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. The released steam also helps open up the pores while softening the hair for a close shave. 


While hot towels are not a must when you are shaving, the treatment is important in exfoliating the skin and softening the hairs for an easier and smoother shave. If you’ve never tried hot towel shave, I would suggest you do that at some point. Your skin and beard will thank you when you don’t have to deal with skin irritations, razor bumps, and cuts.  

Jay - Barber

About the author: Jay – Barber

Jay is one of the members of the Beardoholic writers team and NFL, celebrity barber. As a master barber with years of experience, Jay can make your beard look any way you envision. Jay’s specialty is black men’s hair and beard styles, but he also has deep knowledge on how to create a perfect neck and cheek line, short or long beard and virtually any beard and hair shape and style.

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