Barbershop-style hot towels are ideal for priming your beard but they’re hardly practical at home. A hot shower will have a similar effect, opening pores and helping soften the beard.
A cleanser or, better yet a face scrub, should be your first preparatory potion. Not only will the scrubbing action lift hairs, making them easier to cut, but it will also slough away the microscopic dead skin cells and dirt that’s been festering away on your face. By ‘sanding down’ the surface of your skin with these products, you’re reducing the likelihood of razor drag and an inferior shave.