Prep Your Skin for the Perfect Shave

For most men (or whoever), shaving is a chore.

Of course, you can always come into the shop and have us do it for you (we barbers love shaving!), but if you have to shave your own face, proper skin preparation with save you from everything from razor burn to irritation, bleeding, sensitivity and ingrown hairs.

These are the steps we use in the shop to get your skin ready for the perfect shave, adapted for your home routine.

For a primer on the shaving part of this routine, check out 4 Steps to a Perfect Shave


If you have more than a day or two of stubble (depending on thickness and rate of growth, of course), taking a razor straight to it can tear your face up, as well as dull the ever loving shit out of the blade (you can totally do it with a skilled hand and straight blade, but that's another story, this is the guide for your average blade wielder).

Buzzing your whiskers down to a more reasonable length makes for a much more comfortable shave. Our favorite tool for the job is a liner, a great little multitasker that is perfect for everything from cleaning up the edges of beards and hair to knocking down ear and nose hair.


In the shop, every fella's favorite part of the shave is the hot towel portion of the festivities. A slathering of scalp-focused conditioner, mixed with a pre-shave if you like, and the moist heat work together to loosen up dead skin cells and soften beard hair.

You can replicate the hot towels we use in the shop at home by soaking a hand towel in water and squeezing it out relatively hard. You want a decent amount of moisture, not sloppy wet or dripping. Then just stick it in the microwave for a minute or two (until it is almost too hot to touch), and press onto on your face. For shaves in the shop we use two or even three towels, but even one application will soften things up quite nicely.

You could also do a kitchen steam, boiling up a cup or two of water, turning off the heat, holding your face 6 inches or so over the pot and draping a fluffy towel over your head. Breathe slowly, letting the steam open your pores and soften your face and beard.

For a faster and more streamlined beard softening, you can do all of this during your normal showering routine. Go about your usual business, then near the end of your shower, when the hot water has already done its initial softening job, rub on that conditioner and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing.


Hair, especially thick hair, does this interesting little trick wherein it grows up and out of the skin, and sometimes pulls the skin up around the hair with it. When a razor comes along, you're trying to shave through skin and hair. This does not end well. There will be blood.

When we shave you in the shop, we use a hot towel to give your face a good rub, but a great (even better, actually) option is a scrub. Not only does a regular exfoliation give you a baby smooth face, it feels fantastic and delivers a lot of nutrients you may be missing. The first time Tyler tried it, he remarked that it felt like a bear scratching its back against a tree. So. Good.

Remember, you can have too much of a good thing with this one. Keep it to two or three times a week, max.


Those little rough bits in the scrub will be a problem for your razor if you don't get them all off your face before you shave. With a sugar scrub, just use enough water to dissolve it all, but if your scrub has bits in it, you may want to follow up with a gentle wash that is not, for the love of all things holy, standard bar soap. 

Ready for razor deployment.

For a primer on the shaving part of this routine, check out 4 Steps to a Perfect Shave