The Best Shave in New York

Truman’s Gentlemen’s Groomers unveils a truly decadent way to a smoother face.
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If you’re anything like us, your morning shave routine involves a quick lather, a few swipes with a Mach 3, and maybe a bracing splash of aftershave. But Truman’s Gentlemen’s Groomers, an expanding local chain of men’s salons, has come up with an innovative new approach to shaving that fuses the best of luxury spa treatments with the old-school precision and comfort of a straight-razor: the aptly named Spa Shave ($75).

“We’d have guys coming in saying they wanted to do something to take better care of their skin, but they didn’t feel comfortable getting an hour-long facial. So we thought about it and realized we could make a sort of mini-facial and combine it with a shave and do it right there in the barber chair,” says Truman’s co-founder Joe Marchesi. “You get a mask and eye gel, a scrub, a hot towel, and also a simple clean shave.” The whole experience lasts about 45 minutes—just long enough to close your eyes and come dangerously close to drifting off to sleep.

The Spa Shave is a good indicator of the overall philosophy at Truman’s. “We don’t want to overwhelm men,” says Marchesi. “We don’t want to add a ton of time to his grooming regimen or throw a bunch of new products at him. It’s about doing things right and being able to see real results.”

As do John Allan’s and other men’s salons that have popped up around New York in the past decade, Truman’s offers haircuts, shoe shines, manicures and pedicures, and pretty much any other grooming service you can imagine. There’s a discreet spa treatment room if you want to, say, get your back waxed, or sneak away for a massage without feeling self-conscious about it. You can book one-off appointments, which is how most men start, or sign up for annual memberships, if you’re ready to get serious about your personal care.

The company started about eight years ago on 56th Street on the east side, where it still has its flagship location. Last year it expanded to lower Madison Avenue, just off 30th Street. Next up is a line of exclusive men’s grooming products (shampoo, shave cream, and a water-based pomade—all launching this spring) and then more locations.

And, of course, Marchesi says he plans to continue developing innovative treatments. In the case of the Spa Shave, the innovation takes the form of a 20-step process (see below). It’s elaborate, sure, but it fits easily into a lunch hour or, plausibly, the time it might take you to head to a meeting at a client’s office (wink, wink).

The Spa Shave process, for the record:

  1. Consult on any skin sensitivities and inspect face for sensitive areas
  2. Wash face with Jack Black cleanser
  3. Heat skin with hot lather
  4. Cover face with hot towel scented with chamomile oil
  5. Apply pre-shave oil from Art of Shaving
  6. Cover face with second hot towel
  7. Apply Kyoku Eye Fuel cream to reduce bags and increase circulation
  8. Lather with Jack Black shave cream
  9. Shave with grain and across grain with Japanese straight razor
  10. Heat face again with hot lather and towel
  11. Apply second round of Jack Black shave cream
  12. Shave against grain
  13. Carefully wipe face with hot towel
  14. Apply Kyoku Lava Masque deep pore cleanser to forehead and nose and leave for 10 minutes
  15. Use Art of Shaving aftershave balm to cool shaved area
  16. Cover shaved area with cold towel scented with eucalyptus
  17. Refresh cold towel after 5 minutes
  18. Wipe off Lava Masque with hot towel
  19. Apply Malin & Goetz face moisturizer
  20. Marvel at fresh-faced handsomeness

Truman’s Gentlemen’s Groomers: 120 East 56th Street, 212.759.5015, and 121 Madison Avenue, 212.683.9400

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