Should You Shave With Or Against The Grain?

Last Updated: 2021-06-19

by Jeel Patel

A close shave is every man’s dream, and it is only achievable if done with the right technique. But will you shave with or against the grain?  After researching and personally experiencing, we have derived that shaving against the grain delivers the closest possible shave.  But wait, is it safe? Are there any consequences? Is there any other method? What kind of razor to use?

Answers to all those questions are in this article.  Plus, you will also get to know how to map facial hair grain and which shaving tool is perfect for which method.

So, keep reading the article and understand every nitty-gritty about each shaving technique.

What Is Grain & How to Determine it?

The direction through which your facial hair grows is known as the shaving grain, and how to determine it is what we are going to discuss.

with or against the grain

Since the facial hair growth patterns are different for every man, it is advisable to click pictures of every single corner of the face, ranging from cheeks to jawline and upper lips to chin.

Time-consuming, right? No worries, we have an easy way for you.

Though the hair growth patterns differ, there are a few areas that have similar growth trends.  For instance, a mustache and chin beard grow downwards, while neck hair grows upwards.  And it is universally the same for every man.

shaving against the grain face

Now that you know the shaving grain of the mustache, chin, and neck area, let’s discuss the cheeks, sideburns, jawlines, and lower areas.

Here are pictures of cheeks, sideburns, jawlines, and lower areas.  

What we did is clicked pictures of these areas and marked the growth pattern.  It helped us in knowing the grain, and since you already know a few common areas, you will not have to click a bunch of pictures.

We would recommend you do the same thing for understanding the shaving grain pattern.  Trust us! It will help you a lot at the time of shaving.

Now that you have determined your shaving grain- let’s understand each shaving technique.

What Is Shaving With The Grain?

what is shaving with the grain

Since you know the direction your facial hair grows is the shaving grain- following the same with the use of a razor is known as shaving with the grain.  It is the most pain-free and easiest technique.

In our opinion, sensitive skin is the most beneficial skin type when it comes to shave with the grain.

Pros
  • Prevents razor burn, skin irritation, and ingrown hairs
  • Comfortable shave
  • Ideal for sensitive skin guys
Cons
  • Close shave not achievable

Though shaving with the grain doesn’t work when trying to achieve a close and clean shave, most men still prefer this shaving technique.  Since most men adopt it and it’s even harmless, you must know how to do it.

How to Shave With The Grain?

how to shave with the grain

To know the technique, you first need to determine the direction of hair growth.  Since you have already clicked pictures, things are much easier for you now.  For your reference, we have marked arrows in the pictures; these arrows determine the direction, which is also known as “with the grain.”

Another method to determine is by running your fingers through your beard hair.  Here the smoother surface means you are moving with the grain, and the pointier or rough surface is against the grain.

Now that you have determined, follows these simple steps to shave with the grain:

Step 1: Wash Your Face

It is important to wash your face before shaving to remove gunk and save your razor from clogging up.  Another benefit is it softens beard hair, which will save you from unnecessary tugging or pulling.

Step 2: Coat Your Face with Shave Gel

Buy a quality shaving gel that contains natural ingredients. It depends on personal preference as some men want to completely coat their facial hair, while some want a transparent shave gel to check for the area they are shaving.  

Step 3: The Real Game

Always use a new razor blade for shaving.  Place it in your razor and wash it with hot water before using it as it easily cuts through hair.  Now that you know the growth pattern- glide your razor with the directions of the hair growth.

Step 4: Rinse Razor After Every Stroke

It is one of the best and the most advisable practices to rinse the razor after every stroke to prevent it from clogging up.  Another way to remove stubborn build-up is by gently tapping your razor on the side of the sink.

Step 5: Shaving on Trickier Areas

Shaving hairs on your upper lips can be trickier, and you need to be patient while doing it.  What we recommend is to widen your upper lip area by bending the upper lip line inward.  Start shaving in the downward direction right from under your nose.

Step 6: Cleaning the Neck Area

The neck area is another tricky area since it requires moving your razor both upward and downward though, all of the ways are shaved with the grain only.  As shown in the image, you will require to move your razor downward to adam’s apple and then flip the razor and shave in an upward direction to shave the hair below adam’s apple.

Following these steps will achieve a smooth shave without nicks and cuts.  Also, you must slowly move your razor to avoid irritation and inflammation.

Now let’s know another technique, which will help you achieve a closer shave.

What Is Shaving Against the Grain (ATG)? Should You Shave Against Grain?

shaving against the grain

The technique is the opposite of the previous one.  Here you need to move your razor in the opposite direction of your hair growth.  The results are outstanding, but the process is risky.  In this technique, the razor shaves extremely close to the skin, which is why you get a closer shave.  Also, there are only selected razors that work against the grain.

The downside of shaving against the grain (ATG) is it pulls your hair follicles up from the skin, which increases the risk of shaving irritation, razor bumps, and cuts.

Pros
  • Achieve a close shave
  • Smoother results
  • Works well on thick and coarse hair
Cons
  • Risk of razor bumps, shaving irritation, nicks, and cuts
  • Not ideal for sensitive skin

Since it is a boon for thick and coarse facial hair guys and also has risks associated with it, one must know the shaving technique.

How to Shave Against Grain?

Since you know how to determine the shaving grain, we will not spend time discussing that part.  To sum up, just run your fingers or credit card, and the area you find scruffy is against the grain (ATG).

As this technique mostly benefits thick and coarse hair guys, it is important to prep yourself before shaving.

We suggest that you hydrate your skin with warm water for at least three minutes.  It will not only soften the hair but also reduces the force required during shaving.

Once you are all set for shaving, apply shave gel.  We use shaving cream by Gillette, which is affordable and best-in-quality.  It will help against irritation, hydrate your skin, and offer a close and smooth shave.

Since you are ready, pick up a razor and razor blade, wash them under warm water, and start shaving with the grain.

Wondering why we asked to shave with the grain and not against, well, the first time you shave, should be in the directions of hair growth.  After that, if you still find stubble, then flip your razor and start shaving against the direction of hair growth.

Doing so will save you from redness, itching, and irritation.  Also, you must make short strokes and move your razor slowly without applying too much pressure.

Do not forget to apply aftershave post-shaving your facial hair to restore moisture levels and minimize irritation and razor bumps.

Last but not so popular technique, which only a few men know, is shaving across the face.

What Is Shaving Across the Grain?

Shaving across your face is a new technique to get desired results without risking your skin and face.  Both the previous techniques teach us to shave in a vertical method, but this one asks to shave across your face horizontally.

It is an innovative way to avoid irritation and still get a close shave.  The convenience this shaving technique offers to sensitive skin and hard-to-reach areas is tremendous.

Just like ATG, this technique also requires a separate set of razors (discussed later in the article).  Also, it may cause less irritation but not the one that you experience when you shave against the grain.

Pros
  • Simple and easy to learn
  • Good for sensitive skin and tricky areas
  • Less chance of razors clogging up
Cons
  • May cause irritation

Since it requires horizontal passing of razors, there is no such method as the other two techniques.  For your reference, we have attached a video tutorial:

As discussed earlier, 2 out of 3 techniques require a separate razor, so let’s know which razors work best for which method.

What Kind of Razor Is Best To Shave With Or Against The Grain?

do you shave with or against the grain

Basically, there are two types of razors available in the market: Single Blade & Multi-Blade.

So let’s understand the difference between them:

Single Blade Razors

These types of razors have a single side exposed to the skin, or you can say they have a single cutting-edge, such as safety or straight razors.

Single blade razors work amazingly well on all of the shaving techniques.  So no matter you have sensitive skin, thick or coarse hair, this tool will do its job without compromising performance.

Also, it won’t cut hairs close to the skin, which will save you from razor bumps.

Multi-Blade Razors

These types of razors have more than one blade and achieve desired results in one stroke.  It’s because they are built with lift and cut technology, which lifts your facial hair and the blades cut them swiftly.

Shave with the grain is the only technique that benefits from this tool.  You should never follow any other technique using the tool.

So this is all about shave with, against, across the grain.  Now let’s answer some of the commonly asked questions.

FAQs:

1. What does shaving against the grain mean?

Shave against the grain means gliding the razor in the opposite direction of your beard growth. It pulls up and away the beard follicles to shave the hair.

2. Is shaving against the grain bad?

Though it delivers the closest possible shave, it brings in the risk of cutting your skin, razor bumps, irritation, inflammation, and redness.

3. Should I shave with or against the grain?

We would advise you to shave in a direction that your facial hair grows. Post-shave, if you notice stubble left on your face, then flip your razor as many razors come with a trimmer on the back. Use it for shaving the stubble. In the end, if you still find stubble, then go for an ATG method.

Conclusion

Many shave products brag to deliver quality and comfortable shave, but unless and until you master the technique, these products fail to deliver expected results.  To sum, we would say that no technique is as amazing as shaving in the direction the hair grows.  Though it gives a stubble look, it is far better than pain and discomfort.

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