Evangelizing: The Grooming Lounge

The Grooming Lounge has two locations in the DC area, one in Georgetown, and one closer to me in Tysons Galleria, aka Tysons 2. They bill themselves as “the country’s premiere destination for quality men’s grooming products and services.” I had never heard of them until Lisa bought me a gift certificate for their hot lather shave. Since we were heading out on Saturday night, I decided that Saturday would be a good day to give it a try.
Walking into the Grooming Lounge, you are greeted by a well-dressed gentleman who takes your coat and escorts you to the waiting area. The waiting area is just two short benches with two small LCD TVs to get your SportsCenter fix on, but just next to it is the bar. Yes, a full bar is waiting for you. The host will ask if you want a drink, so be ready and order something other than a rootbeer like I did. I noticed they had Maker’s Mark, so maybe you’ll want to try some of that.
After a short wait, your “shaver” (for lack of a better word, the person who will be shaving you) arrives and takes you back to your barber-style chair. Only this chair has a neat twist: it pivots and full reclines so that you are totally comfortable during your shave. The shaver (whom I will call Becky from now on, since that’s who did my shave) will ask about how you normally shave, whether you are sensitive in any particular area, and then explain the journey upon which you are about to embark. Then it begins.
First up is your first of seven (hopefully I remember all of them) hot towels. The hot towels help get your beard and stubble nice and wet, and open the pores as well. Following the first hot towel is the pre-shave face wash, which contains lavender, aloe and rosemary oil. I should mention at this point that at no time did I feel anything other than masculine. They’re not going to let you walk out of there smelling like girly flowers or anything. You’re a man! It’s not girly at all, it’s just indulgent. Becky scrubbed my face, removing any layers of dead skin, and getting all the grime and dirt off. This was quickly followed by another hot towel. I should also mention at this point that they never really rinse your face with water. They remove the previous application of face wash, lather or whatever with the hot towel, patting your face with the towel gently, and never rubbing the towel on your face.
After the second towel came an application of their shaving oil. The oil was a mix of meadowfoam, peppermint, and avocado oil, with a clove scent. I could feel it tingling my face, all over my day-and-a-half old stubble. Then it was time for the third hot towel. This was followed by more shaving oil and their hot lather. Time to shave? Not so fast my friend. Time for a fourth hot towel.
After the fourth hot towel, you start to wonder if you’re ever going to feel a blade. Well, now it’s time. After another application of shaving oil and hot lather, the shaving begins. Becky shaved this pass with the grain of my stubble. In retrospect, all that time she spent rubbing my face with oils and soap and lather, she was figuring out how the hair on my face grew, and by the end, she was more familiar with my face than I was. The Grooming Lounge uses Mach 3 razors with more hefty handles than you will find in your local store. They believe that there is some benefit to having more than one blade, but that 18 blades is probably too many. The first pass, again, went with the grain. Be prepared to stretch your face for the shaver, as they don’t want to stick their finger up your nose to get to the hard to reach areas.
Next came the fifth hot towel. After this towel came some more oil and their own shaving cream. The cream is heavier and thicker than the lather. Becky used some water to moisten the cream and prep each area she was working on as she shaved. This set combined the across the grain pass with the against the grain pass, assuming that I am remembering everything correctly. Yes, against the grain. By the time she got to this point, my stubble was almost non-existent, but the against the grain pass got it right down to nothing.
After the sixth hot towel, Becky applied the fragrance-free aftershave with olibanum, almond oil and lavender. She noted a couple of the spots that she was going to finish off, and let me run my hands over my face to check it out. Very impressive! I didn’t even notice anything wrong with the spots she noticed. She cleaned up those spots and applied the after shave, and it was time for one last hot towel. This hot towel was immediately followed by a cold towel, to close up the pores and get rid of any lingering stuff on my face. Finally, one more application of the aftershave balm, and I checked out my face in the mirror. Beautiful.
Becky gave me a soft sell on all the products she used on my face that day, as well as some stuff I can use with a brush, if I ever get a new one (the Calvin Klein piece-of-shit had the bristles come out of the handle after about 2 weeks of use, and no glue will keep them in the handle). I checked out with my gift card, which conveniently has enough money on it to pay for the shave and the tip, well earned by Becky, and I was on my way.
How good was the shave? Was it worth $50 plus tip? You’re damn right it was. Look, it’s not something I’d do every day, every week, even every month. It’s definitely an indulgence for special occasions. If this place was around when I was getting married, the groomsmen would have all been in there getting hooked up for the wedding. I, according to Lisa, will be going back there for an anniversary shave. It’s that good. Lisa stripped Evan down, and compared the baby’s bottom to my face. A close call. My face was extremely smooth, but has been weathered by 32 years of living, otherwise, it was smooth as our baby’s bottom. I had three other women touch my face that night, and all three were ready to send their men to the Grooming Lounge.
You can buy all of the products I mentioned (except the hot lather machine, and you’re on your own for the hot towels) at their website. All but the lather part is included in their “Greatest Shave Ever” kit. I get nothing for referring you to them, which is a shame, because I’m gonna be pimping this place to everyone I know. I can’t personally vouch for their $50 haircut, or $30 manicure, but the Hot Lather Shave is well worth your time and money.