Few things make a man feel more fresh and confident than a clean, professional shave by a trained barber in a local shop. Unfortunately, most of us have neither the time (nor the money) for this noble daily ritual – so we do it ourselves. This does not, however, mean we must settle for mediocrity in our daily shave, quite the contrary in fact.
We stock our shelves with the newest in razor technology with more frequency than we replace our outdated mobile phones, we experiment with shave oils and the latest shaving creams and gels. We purchase shave soaps to prepare our faces, and warm barbers towels to open our pores and soften our hairs, we apply lotions and balms and after-shaves to soothe our post procedural irritation.
When you think about it, we really put a lot of thought and effort into this most manly of morning rituals – and for good reason. A man feels confident when he knows he looks great, and that starts with our face.
When we feel clean cut and well-groomed an assured confidence radiates outward, and since that poised manner begins with our face, it deserves to be spoiled. Since we cannot visit the local barber every morning we do everything in our power to bring the barber to our own bathroom, and nothing defines that experience more (other than the simultaneous feelings of trust and terror that flow when a straight razor is being scraped over the thin skin of our neck) than a fresh, warm lather applied to our skin. That hot lotion gliding over our face, waking our pores, standing up our hair, readying them for the razor – truly a wonderful way to begin the morning.
And now, we can have that same barbershop experience brought to our own bathroom with the warm lather systems and shaving cream warmers that are on the market today. We have found that there are a few different types of lather warming machines available today.
One is basically a barbershop model for home use – it requires mixing your own lather in a small tray within the machine, then heating, using and cleaning the machine. This is a lot of work that seems unnecessary when you look at some of the other models. The upside to these systems, however, are their general lack of technical issues that seem to plague other dispensers.
The other popular dispenser models are made to utilize your existing shaving cream cans. You basically pop the trigger-press top off the can of shaving cream, replace that top with the system’s trigger-press system and slide this new collective into the dispenser’s cylinder which encloses the entire can. These warmers are generally more popular but we have found that their simplistic mechanics (and cheaper price) may be the cause of some minor technical problems that sometimes arise after using the system for a period.
Also, if you do end up opting for the cylindrical models be sure that the dispenser is compatible with your current shaving cream. Some are specifically designed for shaving CREAM, some for shaving GEL and some are designed for multi-use (so for once in our lives, let’s read those directions).
Now the personal care product company Conair seems to have the market cornered when it comes to quality warmer/dispenser systems (two for three on our suggested list) and for good reason – they sort of invented the shaving can warmer/dispenser style. While companies like Sharper Image and Hammacher Schlemmer also have versions of this system we saw no real difference (except in price) between the better Conair models (because Conair did crank out a few ‘lesser’ models) and the catalogue brand products.
So here we go…
Our Top Three Shaving Cream Warmers
# 3 HGL-1-NR by Conair
Unlike several shaving cream dispenser systems the HGL1NR can heat both shaving cream and shaving gel. It works with most shaving cream/gel can sizes and all you have to do is pop the top off your can, slide the can in the system and close it back up – easy enough for most. The system has multiple temperature settings so you can control how hot or warm you would like your lather to be. One of the few issues we have seen with this warming dispenser system is after weeks or months of use it will sometimes fail to get your lather as hot as when the machine was first purchased. This seems to be a hit-or-miss problem – some report the temperature dropping after a month or so and some report having the system working like the day they bought it even after years of use. Otherwise, a simple, well-built shaving cream (or gel) warming and dispensing system.
# 2 HLM-11-CH by Conair
Another great system by Conair, and another warming dispenser that will work with both shaving cream and shaving gel. The HLM11CH is basically the HGL1NR in a bespoke suit with a PhD. It operates the same way (pop the trigger-press lid off your shaving cream/gel can, insert the can into the Conair system’s cylinder, place the Conair system’s lid over your can, close system and shave away!) but with a slightly higher level of sophistication. This warmer/dispenser heats the lather within a minute (up to five times faster) and the LED light on the top of the machine tells you when the lather is heated and ready. The HLM11CH is built better and is generally more aesthetically pleasing than its younger brother (it also costs about five times as much). Even though both systems are almost identical we do suggest the HLM11CH because they tend to last longer than any other Conair system (and they look way sexier than any other Conair system).
# 1 Razr Lather Machine by Andis
Okay, so this is one of those machines we talked about earlier that are similar the lather machines in your barbershop – but for home use. Yes, you would have to buy special shaving lather for the machine (which is really what we should all be using anyway); and yes, it does take around 15 minutes to warm up the shaving lather; and yes, you do have to clean out the hot lather compartment after every use… But it is SO worth it! Theliquid shaving lather works exceedingly better than canned shaving creams and gels and there are so many great liquid lather brands out there. You can absolutely tell a difference when the hot lather comes out of the Razr and you massage it into your stubble – the barbershop experience finally brought home.
A Few Words More
So, if you have a brand of shaving cream or gel in a can, and you want to stick with it – go with one of the Conair models, they do exactly what they advertise and if you take care of them (clean the nozzle daily, unplug after each use, etc.) they will last and perform well. If, however, you are one of those men who just must have the absolute best in everything he does (we’re talking to you, guy who buys a first-class plane ticket for his 25-minute flight) – we recommend the hot lather machine by Andis. It really is a better quality shave.
One more thing, avoid (at all costs) those cheap replacement heads that are designed to simply fit on top of your shaving cream/gel can and heat the cream as it comes out of the nozzle. Since they have no component that fits over the can itself to stabilize the fitting of the nozzle they tend to break very quickly. They also fail to heat your shaving cream or gel to above body temperature – cool in theory (kind of) but not in actuality – try again, we told you which ones we like!