Is shaving against the grain bad? We've all heard all sorts of things about how you should shave and what's the best way to shave etc.. It seems like everyone has their own opinion when it comes to this.
Mainly because we no longer teach shaving as a skill from father to son. It has become more of a skill you're considered to already inherently know. Unfortunately that isn't the case and while we do our best to shave properly in reality we're learning by hit or miss tactics.
Shaving Against The Grain
Shaving against the grain is the best way to get a close smooth shave. When you shave against the grain you're running your razor against the growth pattern of your hair. This lifts the hairs and lets the blade cut very close to the skin.
Even though your end result is a very close smooth cut it opens you up to shaving related problems. Shaving against the grain opens you up to experiencing more ingrown hairs, razor burn, and skin irritation.
I consider shaving against the grain to be bad due to the issues it opens you up to. You can get a shave just as close by shaving with the grain and across the grain.
If you're absolutely dedicated to getting the closest shave you can get then you'll have to shave against the grain. However, there are some things you can do to lower your risk of those issues and to make shaving against the grain a more pleasant outcome.
Tips For Shaving Against The Grain
Below I've put together some tips that will make your against the grain shaves better. This way you can get the close smooth shave and avoid the negative side of this type of shave. You should find these tips quite helpful and even if you don't shave against the grain it can improve your shaving routine.
Start A Preparation Routine
A shaving preparation routine can make a huge difference in the way you look at and experience shaving. This is often something done by men who enjoy wet shaving with a safety razor but even if you're a five blade cartridge razor user you can set up a beneficial routine.
Here's an example of a preparation routine I recommend.
Start by laying out your shaving equipment in the bathroom. Organize your items and lay out your razor, shaving bowl, shaving cream, shaving brush, and washcloth. A habit I've recently began to enjoy is filling a normal bowl with hot water and letting my shave bowl sit inside the larger bowl with a little shave cream inside it.
This warms by shave bowl and cream for when I'm ready to use it. I usually just let this sit while I take a hot shower.
After you've got everything organized go take your shower. Once you've completed your normal bathing routine always exfoliate. Scrub down your face with a soft bristle brush at the end. After jumping out the shower immediately begin your shave routine.
These steps and showering set up the right environment to have an excellent shave.
Even though shaving against the grain is bad in general if you exfoliate you can improve this type of shave. Most men never exfoliate because they think it's feminine or something. However, exfoliating will greatly improve your shaves.
Here's what makes exfoliating so great... when you scrub down your face before a shave you're removing excess dirt, oils, and dead skin cells. This gives you a couple added benefits to your shave. For one you're removing a lot of bacteria that could get into a shaving cut and get infected.
Since we're focusing on shaving against the grain the main benefit there is exposing shorter hairs. Exfoliating pushes the small hairs under your skin to the surface. This helps combat ingrown hairs which is a major problem when shaving against the grain.
Go Against The Grain Last
Shaving against the grain should be done as your last pass of shaving. If you're doing a three pass shave you can go with the grain, across the grain, and finally against the grain. This will result in your best smoothest shave.
Alternatively I've heard of people shaving with an electric shaver first. They'll dry shave quickly and cut the hairs as short as possible. Electric shavers will leave small hairs behind and finishing up with a razor shave can be a good way to get a close shaver quicker.
Use A Safety Razor
We know shaving against the grain can come with some issues. While it's important to do what we can to lower the risk of ingrown hairs etc.. one big change we can make is swapping to a safety razor.
Safety razors use a single blade to shave and give you more control over your shave. Here's why that matters. With a standard three to five blade cartridge razor you have no choice but to run all blades across your skin with each pass.
When you're doing this shaving against the grain it cuts the hairs closer and closer to where it's a bad thing. The extra blades are also horrible for sensitive skin.
Swapping to a low aggression safety razor means you're only doing one blade pass with each stroke. Going against the grain only takes one pass and very rarely a second. So a safety razor is key to lowering your risk of ingrown hairs, razor burn, and skin irritation.
Is It Really Bad To Shave Against The Grain?
Is shaving against the grain bad? Well, at this point it boils down to your shaving habits. In reality going against the grain can best be described by being a double edged sword. It'll give you the closest shave but that comes with a basket of other issues.
Changing your routine and picking up a couple tips to prevent ingrown hairs etc.. can help you get that close shave and avoid the issues coming along with it.
Let me know if you're someone who prefers shaving against the grain by leaving a comment below. Share your experiences with it or any additional tips you may have for someone else reading this article. Thanks for reading!