Shaving against the grain, some people curse it while others swear by it. It is arguably the most controversial topic when it comes to wet shaving and rightfully so. For if done incorrectly, the unfortunate fellow will be sure to experience a nasty case of razor burn in the coming hours.
Why Do People Shave With The Grain
Simple, it gives the closest shave, PERIOD! There is no denying the quality that an against the grain shave delivers. When you want truly baby smooth skin then an against the grain shave is what you will want. This is because shaving against the grain typically cuts the hair beneath the skin line giving the face a smooth to the touch finish. However, the very thing that makes shaving against the grain effective is also its Achilles heel.
Why NOT To Shave Against The Grain
As stated above, shaving against the grain cuts the hair beneath the skin line, which results in a face that is smooth to the touch. The issue with this is that the hair can have difficulty finding its way back out and begins to bend back into the skin. With the hair having nowhere else to go but back inside it begins to form a bump. This is very prevalent in people with curly hair and is one of the main reasons that prevent people from wet shaving. Another issue with shaving against the grain is simply that it is a very tough on your skin. Against the grain passes usually remove a small layer of your skin which is also why alcohol-based after-shaves burn like they do.
What Should You Should Do
***Don't try this at home***
The absolute best advice I can give you is to learn your hair growth patterns and how your skin reacts to different shaving patterns. Against the grain shaving is something that is not made for everybody. Some can shave multiple times a day with no issue while others can do it once and regret it for the remainder of the week. There is not one answer that will work for everybody but there are ways for you to reduce the risk of irritation and razor bumps.
Another good (and often overlooked) source of information is to ask your own barber. Not only are they experts in their field but they also are familiar with your hair growth patterns and can give you advice specific to your face. The better that you know you face and understand your hair growth patterns the sooner you can have great shaves free of irritiation.
What I Do
I figured I’d share my process just to give you an idea of my routine. Before I begin, I soak my badger brush in a cup or warm water. Simply running the brush under water for a few minutes will work as well but this tends to give the best results. With that soaking, I start with a shower (or at the absolute least a GOOD face wash) and then apply a pre-shave oil to my skin. I am currently using a lemon-scented pre-shave oil.
Once complete, I remove the brush from the cup and work up a good lather with my Abrazo shaving cream and apply in circular motions to my face. Now I typically shave in 3 passes: North --> South ‘with the grain’ pass (face and neck), South --> North (very light short strokes on face and neck), East --> West pass (face only). The final pass is mainly just to clean up anything not caught from the previous two. After every few strokes I am sure to rinse of the razor thoroughly to get rid of any excess lather or hair. Also, I’d like to point out that I re-lather before each pass. That is VERY important!
Last but not least comes the after-shave, and I personally am a fan of an alcohol-based product after a good against the grain shave. However since this will dry out the skin I make sure to moisturize after. I am sure you did not have to guess to hard to figure out that I am using our Abrazo moisturizing lotion. But even if you do not use our product just be sure to moisturize after your shave. Shaving in general is a very invasive process which is why it is so important to help your skin recover from each shave.
We love to trade “shave stories” here at Abrazo so feel free to let us know about your routine in the comments. Can you shave against the grain with little to know irritation? Or are razor bumps a very real issue for you. Let us know!