Shaving is a craft not usually understood, till you visit Truefitt & Hill
By: Gautam Agarwal
Posted on: November 5, 2015
LF Says: ★★★★.5
I think Truefitt & Hill’s location in Chicago is quite brilliant. Located on W. Monroe St, there is a financial area one block away, and residential buildings surround it. And therefore, it is buzzing all day.
A men’s luxury grooming brand offering products and services for men, you certainly feel the blue-blooded touch as soon as you enter the store and salon. It has plush, swiveling chairs with foot rests, gold gilded mirrors, expansive wooden cabinets to display their products. This aristocratic, old-world style is combined with high-tech gear to give proper steam and mists to your face. Instead of jarring the scene, the gear is blended well into the quintessential British décor. And I, for my part, am absolutely comfortable.
My barber, Edwin Cruz, sporting his own long, stylish beard, is patient and detail oriented. To prove my observation, he shaved me three times till he was satisfied! He made me comfortable even before touching me – and yes, that is very important for men.
So it happens
We Indian men do have unruly, adamant beards. What delighted me most was that Mr Cruz, before going ahead with the shave, took time to study my beard pattern and skin type. And then accordingly he decided his strategy and products.
Starting with Truefitt’s Ultimate Comfort Pre-Shave Oil, he generously applied it to soften the hair, and released some steam over my face to help the pores open up. He even put a hot towel (which he changed three times!) on my face to intensify the process. He kept applying more pre-shave oil between the hot towel changing process. Once satisfied, he applied the Grafton Shaving Cream over my face - delicately, slowly and carefully – and then released another round of steam to make the cream more effective. The fragrance of the shaving cream was quite strong. Warm and spicy, it is floral, but leaning more towards a woody background. It lathered quite well with just the right amount of water. Don’t overdo on the H2O. It will make it runny.
I usually don’t end up using the shaving brush due to paucity of time, which I am sure is true with many other men also. Mr Cruz, however, made me realize how important a brush is. Not only does it help to spread the cream evenly, but the circular motions also rouse the hair, thereby making it easier to shave them.
Ms Aida Ophelia Saldana, the manager of the Chicago Truefitt store and a master barber herself, kept checking in between if all was going fine. Having being with the brand and the store for 25 years, this small woman has serviced Presidents and Prime Ministers in her career. “It doesn’t get better than here,” she smiles and says about Truefitt.
A sweet woman, who had welcomed us at the door, kept on checking throughout if I was doing fine. The excellent hospitality was enhanced by the fact that nobody pushed me to buy their products, which most men’s grooming shops end up doing! I was absolutely contented without any pressure to shell my wallet out.
Once the steam was done, Mr Cruz shaved my face with the razor going top to bottom. That cut the first, bigger layer of hair. He was always careful to not raze too near the skin. He then repeated the process: steam, shaving cream, and then razing again, but this time in the opposite direction. The third time, he concentrated on the smaller areas which still had some obstinate hair. Mr Cruz was happy to answer my innumerable questions, and explain the procedures (and his decision to do them) in an easy way.
The entire process was concluded with the No.10 Post Shave Cologne Balm. Containing aloe vera among other ingredients, I am not surprised that it actually soothed my skin, instead of irritating it further which many products end up doing eventually. The experience left my skin feeling smooth, hydrated and supple. Surprisingly, I was very relaxed as well. I guess, after this, I would always prefer coming to the shop to get an experience.
Not just me, the high and mighty Chicago crowd is also quite dependent on their services. The store, which was previously at the Bloomingdale’s building in Chicago, recently moved to the W. Monroe street location. And Neil Bluhm, a real estate and casino mogul in Chicago, with a net worth of $3.6 billion according to Forbes, is one of their regular clients. Being the owner of the Bloomingdale’s building in Chicago, it was easy for him to take a jump from his office and reach the shop for a quick shave when it was inside the departmental store. But now, he was sitting in the chair right next to me. “She [Ms Saldana] is the best in the business. Nobody can do a job as good as her. So I followed her to the new location,” he said as he was leaving the Truefitt shop after his usual routine.
Well then, we lesser mortals don’t have any reason to complain. Do we?
LF Says: ★★★★.5
Coordinates: 111 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL
Ph: (312) 696-1111
Follow the author at @GautiTheDevil
Post your comment
- Martin Starr
- A small correction to a good review: Ms Aida Ophelia Saldana is Mexican, not Asian.
- Soumya Jain
- Hi Martin, thank you for pointing out the mistake! We have corrected it. Glad you liked the review!