Shaving Lab Experiment

Every day since starting this blog, I’ve been watching shaving-related videos. I pay attention to as many variables as I can, especially the less obvious ones that aren’t discussed in the video. I’m on a quest to identify the best practices for shaving, then incorporate them into my own shaving routine, and share them with you here.

Today I implemented two new/different variables that I’d like to share with you.

1) Hot Towel: 2 Full Minutes

I’ve already been using a hot towel, but I’ve never recorded the precise amount of time it’s on my head. I casually just wait for the towel to cool off, and assumed it was 1-2 minutes. When I decided to measure exactly how long this cool-down period lasted, it was actually only 45-seconds!

I recently learned that it takes two minutes for the steam from a hot towel to soften and hydrate the wire-like hairs on our scalp. This two minutes allows the hairs to become 30% softer than normal, and thereby more comfortable to shave.

2) Shaving Cream + Shaving Soap Combo

In an effort to explain the differences between shaving cream, shaving foam, shaving gel, and shaving soap, I’ve been doing a deep dive into the chemical ingredients of each type of shaving product. This article will be released in early November.

While gaining a better understanding of the chemistry involved, I learned that soap and foam are more soluble, thereby making them easier to rinse from a blade. Gel and cream produce a thicker, longer lasting, and more rich lather. Preferences vary, but there are chemical differences between these lubricants that impact how they work.

Having observed a number of Italian barbers apply a small amount of shaving cream to the scalp before lathering up with traditional shaving soap, I wondered if this combination was actually useful, or merely showmanship.

So off to the shaving lab I went, carefully massaging a pea-sized drop of shaving cream into my scalp before my usual shaving soap.

Today’s Shaving Lab Experiment

  • Hot towel, 2 full minutes (specifically 2 hot towels at 1-min each)
  • Pre-shave oil applied by hand
  • Pea-size drop of shaving cream massaged into scalp
  • Shaving soap applied with shaving brush


As far as the steam towel goes, the difference between 45 seconds and 2 full minutes was undeniable. The hairs were clearly more “ready” to be shaved after two minutes than they were after 45 seconds. This will now be customary for all my future shaves. If you’re going to implement this, use two towels. Warm the first, and after applying it to your head, pop the second one into the microwave. By the time the first one cools off, the second one is ready to go.

As far as the shaving cream goes, I was a bit skeptical. I’ve never been a fan of shaving cream because it clumps up and gets clogged above the blade in my safety razor. Rinsing it with warm water doesn’t do much to dislodge the buildup. So I was careful to only add a small amount, purposely not building it into a conventionally thick lather.

I have to say… Massaging that small pea-sized amount of shaving cream (I used Pacific Shaving Company) really blended well with the pre-shave oil and shaving soap, creating an exceedingly lubricated shaving surface.

While this component is non-essential to my shaving routine, I do believe it’s an added benefit of comfort that I’ll continue to incorporate.

Give these a try during your next shave.

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