Shaving with the grain is often looked at as the only proper method for trimming your facial hair. A smooth approach with an unchallenging finish, shaving with the grain is a good way to get a good shave.
If you’re looking for something more from your shave, then good simply isn’t good enough for your facial hair. Shaving with the grain can get the job done, but there is a myriad of techniques that will help your razor hit home.
Learning how to shave with the grain involves learning about the multitude of different strategies employed to best prepare your face for its shave, but you can always take your education a step further.
Shaving with the grain may not be your only option.
A hotly contested debate between shavers involves which direction primes the face best for long term beard development. When it comes to something as small as facial hair, every millimeter makes a difference.
There are two primary directions, with or against the grain, that shavers can practice, each one with merits. Each technique has benefits and sacrifices.
There are all sorts of theories and suspicions surrounding these shaving techniques, and every action you take will have consequences. Nobody wants to be messing around when it comes to sharp blades and their face.
If you simply stay calm and read on, you will avoid the worst pitfall that one can have when approaching facial hair development, ignorance. Whichever methods you choose to use on your stubble, it is nice to know the implications of your shaving decisions.
Some experts even believe that the way you shave severely impacts your facial hair’s growth. While spending time trying to boost up your beard hairs, it’s imperative to know the actions you are taking are promoting the health of your facial hair.
If growing a beard doesn’t come easy to you, the last thing you want to do is shave it in a way that demotes growth. If you feel like you shave and shave and shave and can never fully rid your face of stubble, the last thing you want to do is keep trying the same thing without ever exploring new options.
It may seem like a minute detail, but shaving with the grain vs shaving against the grain can have magnanimous effects on your overall shave. Making things more confusing is the fact that there isn’t one right answer for the proper way to shave.
Shaving with the grain is commonly accepted as an easier and safer strategy, but does that make it better? If shaving against the grain is harmful and there are no benefits, why would anyone give it a shot?
In a world full of options, these dilemmas are yet more quandaries to sort out. To make things easier, we’ll break down the advantages and disadvantages of the different shaving methods and help you understand how to get a close shave with the grain, or against it.
What is Shaving grain?
Shaving grain is a term we use to define different motions that can be used while shaving. These definitions have spiraled past just literal terms to represent a variety of different styles.
Going against the grain can now be defined as a person who puts themself in a conflicting position with those around him. It can give people credibility and emphasize their renegade nature. It means trying something that you had always sworn off, or changing your mind about your beliefs.
In shaving, it is simpler. The grain simply implies the pattern in which your hair grows. Shaving with the grain means you are shaving in the same direction that your hair grows. Shaving against the grain means you are pulling your razor in the opposite direction that your hair grows towards.
In other words, to shave with the grain is to start at the top of your shaving area and moving down your face, while shaving against the grain means you start at the bottom and head towards the top. The specific direction your grain flows in is personal, but this pattern fits most of us.
Whether you enjoy your shave with or against the grain, we’ll walk you through the basics of each option and help you understand how to get the most out of whatever style you prefer.
Well, Which one is Better?
Now that we understand there are varied shaving techniques, let’s get to the bottom line. Whether we shave the neck up or down and whether we shave up or down our face will yield different results. The best technique for you is a tricky question to answer.
Some argue heavily for shaving with the grain, going as far as to say it is the only real shaving option. Others deny that shaving with the grain goes far enough in your shave, opting to go against the grain for a final smoothness.
Not one of these two methods is universally accepted as the best method for shaving your beard. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish and what tools you have either direction could be the grain shaving maneuver that’s best for you.
Shaving with the grain is generally used as the safest technique for trimming your beard. It is seen as a safer and smoother option. The blade meets less resistance as it runs through your hair and tugs less against your face.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s never a reason to try shaving against the grain. The easiest option is hardly ever the best, and the shaving world is no different. Going against the grain may allow you to reach a closer shave than you ever thought possible.
If you’re looking to maximize your shaving potential and understand the pros and cons of both going up and down your face, look no further.
Shaving with the Grain
Shaving with the grain is the tried and true method accepted by most standard-bearers. It heads in the same direction as the body’s natural contours and is the best way to shave with relaxed comfort.
This means it is the most recommended technique for beginners. If you are just starting to understand how to shave, you shouldn’t worry too much about how close your shave is. Focusing on your movements and techniques is the best way to advance and get more comfortable with the razor near your face.
Therefore, if you are just beginning your shaving days, shaving with the grain is the best way to start. To learn how to shave with the grain, rub your hands across your facial hair. If you can’t quite find the feeling this way, try a credit card.
Whichever direction in which you rub your hands and you feel the hair pushing back will be your against the grain direction. When the hair feels smooth as you rub your hands across it, it means you are with the grain.
Shaving with the grain’s meaning is as simple as that, the same direction that your hair is growing. Send your razor in that smooth direction you have mapped out and enjoy a nice, relaxing, and simple shave.
The razor and the hair will work well together, and your razor will meet little resistance. A proper blade will cut right through any visible hairs, and your shave will be done in a hurry.
Shaving with the grain’s main benefit is safety. It lowers your chances of cuts or annoying razor burns during your shave, generally reducing skin irritation. This is a huge benefit and is reason enough to commit to a specific shaving style.
That comfortable shave carries benefits past the skin, like shaving with the grain is a good way to increase the life of your razor blades. The smooth movements allow the blade to meet minimal resistance and flow along with your hair’s natural patterns. This means fewer trips to the store and more flowing shaves.
Shaving with the grain is the smooth way to shave. Minimal resistance on the blade or the skin allows it to be a good option for daily shaves that get the job done. Unfortunately, its downside is its simplicity.
The fact that the blade meets so little resistance puts a low ceiling on what the blade can do. Any bits of hair that are tucked away in hard to reach corners will not be caught by a blade flowing so smoothly across your face.
Additionally, the way the hair is growing works against the flow of your razor in this pattern. That means that hair that has just sprouted out of your pores will dodge your blade.
A smooth simple shave may be all you are looking for, but some beard groomers want more. Shaving with the grain does make it difficult to achieve a closer shave compared to shaving against the grain.
This means shaving with the grain can leave visible stubble after your shave and may not leave you with the same smooth feeling some might get from shaving against the grain. Shaving grain is all about personal preference, and what is shaving with the grain if not one choice in a sea of options.
How to Get a Close Shave with the Grain
If you are looking to combine the safety and comfort benefits of shaving with the grain without sacrificing your shave’s quality, there may be hope for you. Just because it’s more difficult to get a close shave with the grain doesn’t mean it is impossible.
These techniques have been tested thousands of times by people looking to increase their facial hair smoothness without having to be too technical. Nobody wants to take a trip to their barber every time their facial hair is out of whack, and we may not be quite ready to shave against the grain.
Simple adjustments can avoid the need for any extra work.
Several techniques will boost the quality of your shave no matter which pattern you choose to take. The first step is to ensure you are wielding a fresh blade.
One of the most interesting cooking phenomena is that you are more likely to cut yourself with a dull blade than a sharp one. This idea carries into the bathroom as well. Not only are you more likely to damage your skin with a dull razor, but you will also find it difficult to get a nice, close shave no matter which way the razor flows.
Once you have a good collection of fresh, sharp blades, the most important steps to achieving a close shave with the grain involve properly prepping the face for your shave.
It is ideal to apply warm water to your face at least 5 minutes before your shave. Warm water helps open up the facial pores and prep your body for a sharp blade. If you apply the water with a nice washcloth, you will be removing any specs of dirt or dead skin that may be getting in the way of your razor, guaranteeing a smoother and close shave.
Explore your options
There are a million different shaving products out there. Chances are, you haven’t yet tried the shaving option that is best for your face. Each one of us wields unique facial hair, meaning what’s right for one person isn’t right for us all.
Try out a few different products and see how they affect your shave. No matter what you use to trim your facial hair, the only guarantee is that your facial hair will grow back, so you have plenty of time for experimentation.
These techniques can help prepare your face for its shave no matter the grain pattern you take on. They become more important when you are shaving with the grain, as the body needs backup to achieve the close shining shave you are looking for.
Shaving Against the Grain
As a common idiom, going against the grain implies rebellion. Nobody wants to rebel against their face, but shaving against the grain isn’t quite as radical as its name may imply.
Many professional razor cuts and barbershops will shave against the grain. It is common practice wielded by most professional beard groomers, and it can have benefits for your face if it is the particular technique you see fit to apply to your face.
It does however undoubtedly increase the difficulty of your shave and leaves a lot of room for error. Shaving against the grain is a riskier shaving technique and can leave your face with razor bumps and shaving cuts if not handled properly.
If it increases the risk of blemish but is still widely used in shaving, the benefits must be staggering. Shaving against the grain will yield you a closer shave than any other shaving technique could come close to transcribing.
There’s no better way to walk out of a shave with your skin feeling newly born than giving it a nice cut against the grain. Just because there are some risks doesn’t mean the option should never be explored. With patience and humility, you can understand how to shave against the grain without risking injury.
How to shave against the grain safely
Done well, shaving against the grain is the only way to reap some benefits felt by the maneuver. A technique not recommended to beginning shavers, it is nevertheless a powerful option for those seeking a closer shave.
While shaving against the grain, you should follow all techniques that help you obtain a close shave when shaving with the grain as well. Shaving against the grain can be seen as an extension of the shaving process, not an entirely different scenario.
Before you head into the bathroom and start breaking all the rules indiscriminately, here are a few basic tips for understanding the proper techniques to apply while shaving against the grain.
Shave with the grain first
One of the first keys to shaving against the grain is shaving with the grain first. This means sending the razor down the face and then up the face.
The reason this is so beneficial is that shaving against the grain means running the razor blade in the opposite direction that the hair is growing, increasing resistance. If you have removed a large chunk of excess hair before spreading the blade against the grain, you are removing a large amount of that extra resistance.
This allows you to gain the benefits of a nice, close shave without putting yourself at too much of a risk.
Just as if you were planning on being outside on a sunny day for hours and hours, one application of shaving cream won’t be enough to fully cover a full-on against the grain shave.
A nice foamy gel will help you map out the areas you want to cover while shaving against the grain and provide plenty of support and lubrication for your shaving process. This will help understand your approach and keep the razor blade fresh.
Don’t be afraid to pause your shave often. Take breaks and examine your blade, sending the head of the razor through warm or cool water to avoid build-up of skin cells or trimmed hairs. The more clogged up your razor is the more chances it has of getting caught against something, leading to damaged skin.
If you follow these techniques, as well as take the time to make mistakes without consequences, you will find the best way for you to shave against the grain while making sure the only thing being trimmed is your facial hair.
What about the neck?
The neck will almost always have the opposite grain direction as your face. This can complicate your shave, as to whether or not you shave up or down the face is an important factor in determining if you shave the neck up or down.
The neck is an area you should be less willing to experiment with when it involves sharp blades but is simple enough to shave with or against the grain
To shave with the grain, you start at the bottom and head upwards. Shaving against the grain switches up this flow, starting at the top of the neck and working down. This means most of us will shave down our face but up our neck.
Whichever technique you prefer, achieving a close and safe shave is a possibility for you. The most important aspects of your shave will be applied before the blade ever touches your skin. Shaving grain is as essential to understanding as any other shaving strategy.
Shaving with the grain can be looked at as a safe but less effective way to shave. Shaving against the grain can be seen as a potentially harmful option that leaves you with a smoother shave. Neither one can be applied in every case universally.
No matter which shaving method you apply, it is important to stock up with a single-blade razor and a multiblade razor and sees which one works best for you. It seems obvious that multiple blades would bring a better shave, but that is not always the case.
Multiblade razors have been known to make shaving easier, but with a cost. They can also cause razor bumps and irritation. Single blade razors may take longer, but it helps provide a smoother shave no matter the technique.
To achieve the best shave, you should try to shave with and against the grain, in that order. Start by removing all the most prominent and pronounced hairs with the grain. That will prolong the life of your razor and your healthy skin.
After you have run through the entire area being shaved with the grain, you can switch up your approach. Reapply your shaving cream and switch up the angle of your blade to get the most minute specks of hair out of your face.
A proper shaving technique can take years to come by. The direction of your blade is just one piece of a larger puzzle but makes a large difference. Experiment and learn something new every shave until you find the strategy that works best for you.