Knowing how to shave against the grain is important for a clean, smooth face. But if you don't know how to do it properly, it may lead to irritation, razor burn, or small cuts.
I promise you, however, that you don't need advanced knowledge or skills to achieve a close shave. All you need is patience! Although a sharp razor blade will help.
What Is the Grain?
The grain refers to the direction your hair grows. But when we talk about how to shave against the grain, that doesn’t necessarily mean shaving upwards.
The hair on your cheeks may naturally grow parallel to your jawbone, whereas the hairs on your chin may grow downwards. And the hair on your neck (like mine) may grow sideways. So there’s a good chance that, if you shave by pulling the razor down your face towards the ground, you’re not shaving with the grain!
How to Shave Against the Grain
As we mentioned before, patience is a key component for shaving against the grain. But you don’t only need patience while you shave. You need to be patient with yourself as you learn how to shave better.
Whether you’re completely new to shaving, a wet shave enthusiast, or somewhere in between, it doesn’t hurt to review how to shave against the grain.
Your morning routine shouldn’t be stressful, and you shouldn’t be in a rush to get it done! Take your time to get the perfect shave.
By shaving slowly, you’ll learn more about what irritates your skin. For example, you may realize a small patch of hair along your jaw grows in a different direction than the surrounding area. Or maybe you keep nicking your chin because you have a small mole where you can’t see.
The razor doesn’t have a mind of its own. It doesn’t know to adjust when it’s irritating your skin. But you know when something doesn’t feel right.
Use small strokes
In addition to going slowly, start with small strokes and pay attention to how the razor interacts with your skin. This will help you find the best angle for shaving against the grain in different patches of hair.
If it stings or hurts when the razor pulls against the grain, relax or lessen the blade’s angle and try again. If your razor isn’t catching or cutting any hairs, hold the razor at a sharper angle.
For a sharper angle, move your hand and tilt the handle closer to your face. For a less aggressive angle, tilt the handle away from your face.
And use especially small strokes around the curves of your chin and jaw. You may need to use strokes in different directions to catch all the hairs. This is easy to do with slow, short strokes!
Keep your wrist locked
The correct angle of the razor on your skin is essential for a good shave. And in order to maintain that angle, you can’t have a flexible wrist. If you let your wrist direct the razor, you’ll cut yourself.
Instead, keep your wrist stiff and use your arm, elbow, and shoulder to move the razor along your face. That way, the razor stays at a consistent angle as you pull it along the grain.
Use an alum block
It may seem like an unnecessary product, but if you want a smooth, irritation-free shave, it’s a wise purchase!
A shortened term for potassium aluminium sulfate, the alum block is antiseptic. It helps to stop bleeding and soothes skin.
It does, however, dry out your skin a bit. So after rubbing the block across your face, gently rinse off the residue after a minute with cold water. Then pat your face dry – do not rub!
You just ran a razor blade over your face a few times, so it’s fresh and prone to irritation. If you rub it with a towel, your skin won’t be very happy.
Use a double-edge razor
By following these tips, you can achieve a close shave with a cartridge razor. But when you use a double-edge razor, you have more control over the blade.
For example, did you see how precise I was when shaving the edge of my mouth? How close my razor reached underneath my nose? And not a single nick!
Shaving with a double-edge razor takes practice, but it will greatly improve how you shave against the grain.
Ready to Treat Yourself to a Shave?
After all that washing, shaving, rinsing, and rubbing you just did to your face, you need a good moisturizer to rehydrate your skin. Our post shave serum will leave your skin feeling healthy and smelling fresh!
Still have questions about how to shave against the grain? Let us know in the comments!