The Dos and Don’ts of Shaving Against the Grain

by Jay Kang | Posted on April 3rd, 2023
Shaving Against the Grain

Shaving against the grain means gliding the razor in the opposite direction of your hair growth. While the hair on your face generally grows downward, patterns can vary—especially around the neck, chin, and jawline. Shaving against the grain can lift the hair and cut it closer to the skin, resulting in a closer shave.


However, it also requires extra caution, as it can lead to potential skin irritation, razor burn, and ingrown hairs. Understanding the direction of your hair growth and knowing when to use this technique are key to a successful shaving experience.

The Dos:

  1. Prep Your Skin: Pre-shave preparation is essential for reducing friction and irritation. Start by taking a warm shower or placing a warm towel on your face for a few minutes. The warmth and steam will soften your facial hair and open your pores. Exfoliating gently with a facial scrub or brush can remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, helping the razor glide smoothly and reducing the risk of ingrown hairs.
  2. Lather Up: A high-quality shaving cream or gel is vital for creating a protective barrier between your skin and the razor. Apply a generous amount to your face and let it sit for a few minutes to further soften the hair and enhance razor glide. Look for products with moisturizing and soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera, chamomile, or glycerin, to minimize irritation.
  3. Go Gentle: Technique matters when shaving against the grain. Use light, short strokes without pressing too hard—let the razor do the work. Avoid going over the same area multiple times, as this can cause irritation. Keep the skin taut by gently stretching it with your free hand, especially around tricky areas like the chin and neck.
  4. Rinse and Soothe: After shaving, rinse your face with cool water to close the pores and remove any residual shaving cream. Apply a soothing, alcohol-free aftershave or moisturizer to calm the skin and prevent dryness. Look for products with anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as witch hazel, aloe vera, or allantoin, to reduce redness and irritation.

The Don’ts:

  1. Don’t Skip the Patch Test: If you’re new to shaving against the grain, test it on a small, inconspicuous area of your skin first. Monitor for any signs of irritation, redness, or discomfort before proceeding further. If you experience adverse reactions, it may be best to stick with shaving with or across the grain.
  2. Don’t Use Dull Blades: Dull blades can tug on the hair and cause discomfort, leading to nicks, cuts, and irritation. Always use a sharp, clean razor for a smoother shave. Replace the blades regularly and rinse the razor frequently during shaving to prevent clogging.
  3. Don’t Rush: Take your time and pay attention to the direction of hair growth. Rushing can lead to mistakes and increase the risk of nicks, cuts, and irritation. Remember that shaving against the grain requires careful technique and patience.
  4. Don’t Ignore Your Skin Type: Pay attention to your skin’s unique needs. Those with sensitive or acne-prone skin should approach shaving against the grain with extra caution, as it can exacerbate existing skin issues. Consider consulting a dermatologist or skincare professional for personalized advice.

Key Takeaways:

  • Shaving against the grain can result in a closer shave but comes with potential risks, including skin irritation, razor burn, and ingrown hairs.
  • Proper preparation, gentle technique, and post-shave care are essential for a comfortable and successful shaving experience against the grain.
  • Conduct a patch test to assess your skin’s reaction before fully committing to this technique.
  • Use a sharp, clean razor and follow a careful, patient approach to reduce the risk of nicks, cuts, and irritation.
  • Consider your skin type and listen to your skin’s response. Sensitive or acne-prone skin may require extra caution.
  • If you experience persistent irritation or discomfort, consider alternative shaving techniques such as shaving with or across the grain.

By following these dos and don’ts, you can make an informed decision about whether shaving against the grain is the right choice for you. Remember, everyone’s skin is different, so it’s important to find the shaving routine that works best for you. With proper technique and attention to detail, you can achieve a smooth and comfortable shave that leaves your skin feeling fresh and well-groomed.

Last update on 2024-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Jay Kang

Just because i'm asian does not mean I don't need shaving. I always wanted to grow a beard when I was young, now I need to shave because hair growth for me is a problem. I'm going through what every man will and has gone through before.