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Another Vegas Shave, At Canyon Ranch

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palazzo las vegas
Ah, Las Vegas.  To some it’s a den of sin.  To others, a playground.  For the wife and me it’s romantic.  We were married there–no, not at some cheap drive-through chapel, but in a gondola on a (faux) canal at the Venetian hotel.  We try to make it back there once a year or so: we enjoy the food, the shows, and the (modest by most standards) gaming.  I also try to get a barber shave while we’re there.  In the past I have gotten shaves at The Art of Shaving (at Mandalay Place), the Mirage spa (by the Master Barber formerly of Truefitt and Hill), and at the Wynn resort.  This time I had a somewhat surprising shave experience at Canyon Ranch Spa in the Palazzo resort.

The Canyon Ranch Barber Spa

The Venetian and Palazzo resorts are sister properties joined to one another.  Canyon Ranch serves both properties but the barber suite is located at Palazzo.  I inquired about the skill and experience of the barbers and I was told that there were two Master Barbers who did shaves.
I was assigned to Peter, a middle-aged South Korean.  We chatted for a few minutes, talking about his background (he’s a second generation barber and has worked at Canyon Ranch since just after it opened at Palazzo in 2006), my expectations for the shave (I didn’t tell him about Sharpologist, only that I shave with traditional kit and I’ve had a number of barber shaves in the past), and what products he uses for the shave (the Canyon Ranch Barber Spa uses products from The Gentlemens Refinery.  It’s a good, solid line).  Then he began.
canyon ranch towelsFirst up were the ubiquitous hot towels (the temperature of which Peter expertly gauged).  And the first surprise of the experience: Peter put on the first towel briefly, then removed it and applied pre-shave oil not only on my beard but also over the rest of my face before applying a second hot towel.  I thought to myself “what the…?” but after a minute or so he removed the towel and gave me a vigorous full-face massage.  Then another hot towel.  By the time he was finished with the prep my wife said my entire face was beet-red.
Next up was the shaving cream application, another surprise.  Rather than the standard mix from the hot lather machine (I think it was a Lather King) he had it loaded with Gentlemens Refinery shave cream.  I’ve heard of people using traditional shaving cream in a lather machine but it usually requires some modifications.  Anyway, Peter applied a thin layer of cream on my beard area (less “creamy” and more “foamy” of a consistency, compared to other barber lathers I’ve had.  I think it would be “creamier” if used straight out of the jar with a brush) then re-applied cream to the areas he was shaving as he progressed.
canyon ranch razorNext surprise: Peter used a non-folding, eastern-style (“Kamisori”) razor (it looked similar to a Feather SS but not the Feather brand) with Feather Pro Guard blades.  I expressed my surprise to Peter and he said he learned with a non-folding razor and western-style folding razors “feel weird” to him so he sticks with the non-folding variety.  His shave technique was unlike anything I’ve experienced: he took very short, very quick, very light strokes.  The lightness of Peter’s blade work was amazing: imagine a moth flapping its wings on your skin.
After the first pass more towels, oil, and cream, then onto the second pass.  Once again he used incredibly short, quick, light strokes.  After the second pass yet another hot towel to clear off lather residue then some aftershave balm.  He used the balm’s lubrication for a couple touch-ups, then re-applied to those areas.
canyon ranch eye treatmentPeter then applied an under-eye treatment with a makeup brush and something he called a “cooling face mask” to the rest of my face.  The face mask is a Gentlemens Refinery product that is not generally available–it’s in limited distribution to barbers–but should be soon (in wasn’t on their website but I did find an example of it on Amazon).  Finally an ice-cold towel to remove the mask, followed by an additional moisturizer (due to the exceptionally dry air of that area it was a welcome addition).
All in all it took about 45 minutes for the experience.  The result?  With the exception of one small rough patch under my chin (that I sometimes miss myself), it was “baby’s butt smooth” and no irritation whatsoever.
canyon ranch shaveAt $80 this was the most expensive barber shave I’ve had.  But it also included a full-face treatment and to tell you the truth, I think the experience was worth the price.  As a pampering luxury experience I’m glad I did it.  If that price concerns you remember this is the Las Vegas “Strip” and I suppose the shave could be “comped” if your gaming habits warranted it.  For the record I paid for the service…and I’d probably do it again on another trip.  It wasn’t the leisurely-paced, luxurious shave I’ve had at other barbers but it was fascinating to watch a true “master” at work.  The “after” picture below doesn’t do it justice.
canyon ranch after


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

11 thoughts on “Another Vegas Shave, At Canyon Ranch”

  1. Christian Levesque

    Looks like an amazing shave and you sampled The Gentlemen Refinery’s product range. The pricing is at the Las Vegas level, and since it’s a playground for adults, you’re in your right mind to spoil yourself with such a shave experience.
    You can easily blow through $80+tip in one spin of a roulette wheel! At least here you get something tangible.

  2. $80.00 is quite reasonable, 4 weeks ago I paid £39.00 for pretty much the same treatment at Trumpers on Duke of York St.

  3. Seriously man? Your face is all but glowing there. I think it does plenty of justice! Sounds like my next trip better be to Vegas. Men deserve pampering just like the ladies do, just in our own way, and a good shave, there’s nothing quite like it, something our female counterparts just don’t understand. I’ve also never seen anyone use a straight razor like that, I have to say I’d be a bit put off by it just visually if I hadn’t read what you said about it. I suppose it all depends upon the skill of the master eh?

  4. Sounds incredible! A proper awesome barber shop shave has long been on my bucket list (in my head it’s at Trumper’s Curzon st. location in old London) but I haven’t brought myself to do it yet. I have pretty sensitive skin – it’s what brought me to wet shaving, after decades of everything else. I’m afraid I’m going to walk out of there with my neck on fire.
    There’s a nice looking “Italian” barbershop not far from me in Waterloo, Ontario Canada. I have literally gone in there twice to look around and measure the goods, but to date haven’t booked a session. I really want my first barbershop shave to be awesome like this was!

  5. Sounds like you had fun in Vegas.
    since you didn’t mention it, I assume Peter didn’t burn off the hair in your ears and nostrils with a wick. A barber in Istanbul did this for me, and it worked beautifully. I’ve never felt cleaner. Apparently, it’s against the law in at least some states–or so a barber in Connecticut told me. I’m not going to try it at home, but I wish I could.

  6. Thanks for sharing what sounds like a terrific experience. I think $80 for pampering yourself in this manner, particularly in a place like Vegas, is very reasonable. I might even consider it a good value.
    I find it very interesting that different, even what might be considered odd, techniques can have terrific results. I recently had a shave by a young woman who, during the shave, I would have sworn had no clue what she was doing. The result was a damn fine shave. There is no “one way” to do most things, contrary to what many would have us believe.
    Please let us know how your face was the next day. I sometimes find facial products have a delayed effect (some great, some not so much). My guess is things will be fine.

  7. The razor looks like the CJB razor I purchased on eBay for about $30. It has similar heft and finish like a Feather SS, but at a fraction of the cost. I personally find the handle a too short for my large hand. Glad you had such a nice experience, Mark! TGR products are nice, tho pricey. I remember when they debuted and we’re all the rage on B&B; I managed to purchase their Standard line for 50% off during that Christmas.

  8. Looking good there Mark. I see he did nothing about the gray hairs. Wonder what brand of razor that was. From the picture it looks just like a Feather Artist Club RG. I think for the location and the treatment you received, the $80 was a bargain.

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