Shaving Against The Grain With a Razor

Shaving Against The Grain With a Razor

How do you shave against the grain with a safety razor or a straight razor? My experience of shaving against the grain will help you to get a better shaving experience. At least, you can avoid the mistakes that I made.


Learn your grain

First, you need to learn what is grain. Grain is a seed. Wait… That is wrong. We are talking about shaving here. Not about agriculture.

Ok. Grain is the direction of your hair growth. Especially, since we are talking about wet shaving, the direction of your facial hair growth. If you have not taken notice of your grain, start now.

Beard Be Shaved
See the difference of grain direction

At least have a two days growth on your face. This will make it easier to recognize the grain.
Inspect each area carefully. You will notice that at a different area, the hair will grow at different courses. This will give you multiple grain directions.

If you have difficulties seeing your grain direction, just take your phone and photograph those difficult areas. You may even zoom in to see better.


Prepare Your Skin

I still amazed that people nowadays prefer to grab an electric razor and shave immediately. Your stubbles and your skin are not prepared yet.

At least, wash your face first. Hydration is key here. Your face will be wet. Your hair will loosen a bit.

A hot towel will definitely boost up your preparation level. But I am a cold water shaver lately. I skipped the hot towel altogether. It is too hot living in the tropical country to have a hot towel to my preparation regime.


Get a Good Brush and Shaving Cream

I am a bit reluctant to promote canned shaving gel. They do not give enough protection. I really went traditional with this. Get a good shaving brush. Find your own shaving soap.

Create a rich creamy lather. It will protect your skin from the sharp razor. You should never shave without a proper lather covering your face.


Always Shave With The Grain First

Yes. When you shave, always shave with the grain first. This movement will cut most of the facial hair. Given you a “clean” face after just one cut.

But usually, the first pass Always shave with the grain - Be Shavedwill leave stubbles. When you feel your face, you can sense your freshly cut stubbles. You will feel your face like a sandpaper when you go against the grain. This will give you a good picture of where to cut next.

I always have more stubble on my lips’ corner area and my chin area. Those areas always need another pass to clean up.


Follow With Shave Across The Grain.

Shaving across the grain will give you a closer shave. For most people, this will give a DFS (Damn Fine Shave).

If your office needs you to have a clean shaven face, this second pass is the final pass. You do not need to go against the grain. You are done.

Just put your alum block and after shave. Hit the road!

I only do two passes when shaving now. It saves me a lot of time and I have fewer irritations. I can feel that my alum block gave less feedback than if I do 3 passes shaving.


Should I Shave Against the Grain?

I learned that I have been doing the wrong thing before. This was back then. When I was still using a multiblade razor. I always do multiple against the grain passes.

No wonder I had severe razor burns back then.

I never knew that you can and you may shave with only 2 passes. I thought that I needed to have a BBS (Baby Butt Smooth) result. Or a Dolphin Skin result. Heck… I love it when I finished it with a BBS.

Those razor burns I experienced were the reasons why I never bought or used an aftershave. I always thought that it was the aftershave’s fault that I had “Home Alone scream”. I never thought it was my fault for trying to get a BBS.

I always thought that the “torturing” experience, when shaving (and aftershaving), is the necessary part of being an adult man.


Why Not Shave Against the Grain?

It is because you may Shaving Against The Grain - Be Shavedexpose your skin to a razor burn situation. It can lead to other skin problems. The risk will be much higher if you are using a multiblade razor.

Razor bump happens when you are over trying to get a very close shave. The stubble will be cut too shortly, below the skin surface. This will result in having a higher chance of ingrown hairs.

The only way to avoid ingrown hairs is not to shave too closely. Use a single blade safety razor. Or even better, use a straight razor. Learn how to do it.


What if I Want to Shave Against the Grain?

You still can do it. I will not forbid you. I still do against the grain shave on several occasion. Usually, it happens out of habit. Or I have a stubble that is really hard to cut.

Just remember, use NO PRESSURE when you do this pass.

I have been wet shaving for almost a year now. (Surprise!! Surprise!!). A traditional wet shaving that is.

I can vouch that using pressure while shaving contributed to my razor burn problems. Thanks to shaving forums like The Shave Den and Badger and Blade, I learned that my shaving skill needs to be disposed of. LOL.

Yeah, I used pressure all the time while shaving with my Gillette Mach 3. To make it worse, I also do multiple against the grain passes.
Finishing moves

I always use cold water to clean my face from lather residue. It helps to tighten the skin a bit.

I also found that rubbing alum block to your face afterward really helps to reduce the inflammation from the razor burn. It soothes the skin. Wash again with cold water after 1 minutes.

Use an aftershave. Never ever forget. A good aftershave can help the healing process. Yes, shaving against the grain might do some damages to your skin. So, a healing agent is needed here.


What Do You Think?

I am now trying to avoid shaving against the grain. It is still weird because I always try to get a BBS result. Ending shaving session with tiny stubbles gives me an unfinished feeling. But if I insist on cleaning them, I will end up with razor burns.

What do you do to avoid razor burns? Do you always do against the grain shave? Do you prefer not?


12 Replies to “Shaving Against The Grain With a Razor”

  1. Hey Arief
    This is some really useful information, I didn’t even know I was doing it wrong all this time. I used to get bumps every time I shave, so I was shaving against the grain? This is really helpful, not many people know about this I guess. Thanks again Arief!

  2. Great information. I myself have a very unique shaving style. But the parts of my face that I do the normal thing with lol (neck and trim line) I go with the grain. I have to admit I do do a second pass against the grain… on the way up, never had a problem. Everyone is different though. Again, great information overall.

  3. Awesome info here i never would’ve known. I never have any bumps but I always have irritation. I am definitely glad i found this site and I’ve thinking of switching to a one bladed razor for a while now. Do you have any recommendations on a good one?

  4. Wow, never knew not to shave against the grain. I shave my head and face and this was every informational. Also never thought to us my phone to get a good picture of the back of my head and neck. Thanks for all the information.

    1. Hi Derek,

      Actually, you can shave against the grain. If you have no bump problems, that is.
      Yes. I always use my phone to photograph area that I can’t see. It helps a lot.

  5. I like how you are so clear here, good job and i agree with every bit of it! Shaving is always easier for me if i go along with the grain and not against it and i guess that’s why i never get bumps after shaving my beard. I have ever shaved my head by myself a number of times and in about 3 tries, i got the bumps somewhere around the back but it stopped. Some people’s skins may react differently too as i have heard before.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Yes. Shaving is so personal that each experience differs from another. I am happy that you managed to have bumps free shavings. What kind of preparation that you do when you shave your head?

  6. This will be great information to pass on to my male friends along with even shaving my legs I suppose. Hair is hair. I do love using mens razors though, they just seem to work better. Any idea why Mens razors seem to work better than womans razors? Not like you’ve used a womans razor to truly compare.. haha. Just wondered, if you had any thoughts on it.

    1. A razor is a razor, Genevieve.

      It is just a marketing trick to sell more razors. Women razors are exactly the same with Men razors. They just painted it with pink. 😀

      Granted that most women razors have long handles. The long handle helps women to reach far when shaving their legs.

      I think the reason you like men’s razors because they are more aggressive than women’s. They cut “faster” and closer.

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