shaving against the grain

Shaving against the grain stirs quite a debate among shaving enthusiasts in the world. Some say you should do it because it is the only way to get a closer shave. On the other hand, others say that you should never do it because it can irritate the skin and lead to ingrown hairs. This is uncomfortable and unsightly, especially when shaving facial hair.

Should you try shaving against the grain? It’s really up to your own personal preference. If you are going to shave against the hair growth, just make sure you do it right. If you shave with care, the downsides will become irrelevant.

Downsides To Shaving Against The Grain

If you take good care of your skin and have a good shaving routine, there are next to no downsides to shaving against the direction your hair grows. However, if you are shaving wrong, you could experience a variety of downsides. Shaving against the grain improperly can cause the following issues:

  • Razor burn
  • Skin irritation
  • Ingrown hairs
  • Plucking or tearing hairs out

With the proper routine, these are all completely avoidable. The problem most people face when it comes to shaving is not really knowing how. You have likely seen the commercials that claim the latest razors are sharper than ever and require fewer strokes than ever to shave with. Because of this, we think we just need a few simple down-strokes with the grain, and we are good to go. However, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Shaving with your hair growth does not offer a close shave, and many people are not satisfied with that. This makes it well worth researching shaving techniques and learning how to against the direction your facial hair naturally grows.

Some people end up making the switch to straight edge razors because they offer the best shave. However, even if you stick with a regular wet razor, you should still learn how to properly shave against the grain. There are some simple steps you can take to avoid all of the above and get the best shave you’ve ever had while doing it.

Steps To Improve Your Shave

If you’re determined to get the closest facial hair shave of your life, you need to add some extra steps to your shaving routine. These steps will moisturize and soften your face, which protects it from becoming inflamed and irritated afterward. If your routine looks like the list below, you will see a significant improvement in your shaving experience.

1. Warm Up Your Face Before You Shave

You can do this by using a hot towel, or you can just take a hot shower first. The heat will soften both your skin and your hair, making for a more comfortable shave.

2. Exfoliate Your Skin Before Shaving

You can use exfoliation scrub to do this, or a boar bristle shaving brush will also work. Exfoliating will make sure there isn’t any dead skin or grime around your facial hair because that can hinder the razor with each pass.

3. Practice The Three Pass Shave

Using the three pass shave means that you shave with the grain first. Next, re-lather your shave gel or cream and go across the grain, and then re-lather a final time to shave against the grain. The most important aspect of this is that you shave WITH the grain first. It will take most of the stubble off, and it will set you up for an AGAINST the grain shave without any irritation.

4. Moisturize After The Shave

Whether you have facial hair or not, moisturizing your face is extremely important. It keeps your skin from drying out or getting irritated. If you moisturize, you are much more likely to have soft, healthy skin even when you use a razor.

5. Always Use a Sharp Razor

Don’t try to squeeze out a few extra shaves from your blade. Dull blades will not give you a close shave and require extra passes to make sure you get every hair. This will also make your skin more prone to irritation, so it is crucial to use a sharp blade every time. If you hate having to keep buying new razor blades and putting up with dull shaves, consider making the switch to a straight-edged razor. One blade lasts for life in most cases.

Shaving Against The Grain Can Be An Enjoyable Experience

Shaving doesn’t have to be a chore or a mundane task we have been born into. Instead, you can make it a comfortable and enjoyable pastime. That is the mantra of this website. It is important to realize that certain “truths” about shaving with razors are actually “myths.” While some people will tell you that shaving against the grain is a mistake, you can give yourself a great shave with the proper steps.

Do you have a favorite method for shaving against the grain? Tell us all about it in the comments section.


  1. Nice post. I’ve been shaving against the grain for years – can’t get a decent close shave otherwise. The only problem I’ve aver had was razor burn – and infrequently at that. More often than not, it was my own fault for not using a sharp enough blade.

    • Yeah I know what you mean, I used to be the same. In truth it just takes a bit of extra effort and planning to enjoy a much better shave, but most of us are lazy.

  2. Hey Dom, I used to get serious shaving rash after I shaved. Then I came up with this strategy.

    First I have a shower which I do every morning then I shave. This way my stubble is nice and soft and comes off very easily. I do the three pass shave. It works for me but the blade has to be sharp if I try with it blunt it will still leave a rash. A sharp blade leaves no rash and a clean shave.

    • Nice, you follow it quite similar to how I think most people should do. How long does your blade stay sharp before you need replacing it though? If it’s one of those replaceable cartridges, the manufacturer’s claim 10-20 shaves, but I find it isn’t really that long.

  3. When I first started having to shave regularly I ALWAYS shaved against the grain, usually with a dull razor, and I never could figure out why my skin was so irritated. Durr. Though I eventually figured out this was the problem, it turns out that this is common knowledge!

    I have really fine facial hair that doesn’t grow too fast, but you look pretty stubbly in your g+ profile Dom. I imagine it takes quite a few passes on a regular basis to tame that beard. Am I right? 🙂

    • Well, using a straight razor means you don’t need to shave as often. Think about it, the closer the shave, the longer it takes to grow back!

    • Glad to find so many people agree with me on this! I was surprised when I learned how many places advise against it.

  4. I personally like to start my shave off with shaving with the grain then finish off with going against the grain. I then finish the job with a cool water splash to close them pores up and some bay rum to seal the deal. Thanks for sharing Dominic!

    • Pores don’t actually change in size though, so while hot-water might help the skin contract, the pores will stay the same size. Who knew eh?

  5. Nice method. However, I advise against facial scrub for those with sensitive skin. I also am a big proponent of pre shave oil and olive works fine. The main advantage to a cold rinse is to reduce inflammation and redness. I also avoid aftershave but use an oil moisturizer. I also find the modern 3-5 blade razors to be gentle and effective, but avoid BIC. Stick to Gillette , Wilson sword, etc.

  6. Hello, I have sensitive skin but I have been trying the double edge razors and love them! Only problem I have and always have had since shaving (even with cartridge shavers) is cutting myself when going against the grain. I really hate it because I want a very, very close shave. I am not familiar with how to do this properly I suppose. Maybe I should try a much sharper blade in my safety razor? I have Astra which I haven’t used yet. Been using Gilette 7 O clock blades so far and I don’t think a feather blade would be smart with sensitive skin right now. Ideas?


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