Shaving Against The Grain – The Skill To Have Closest Shave Possible -Xtrimblades

Here I m going to talk only about against the grain shave as the title says.

You being shaving your face daily with the grain. You are perfect in getting the razor burns free shave. All of sudden, today you decided to have some variation in your daily shave pattern and decided to shave against the grain and you have no idea what you going to have in your face after the shave,  you are afraid of shaving against the grain in fear of getting cut or skin infection or ingrown hairs issue.

There are three variations in wet shaving, WTG, ATG, XTG. Majority of people shave with the grain to avoid razor burn and irritation.

People try each variation at a certain period to test how well it goes with their facial skin.

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For few people,  shaving against the grain is an open invitation for ingrown hairs, at a certain point it is true, but does that make shaving against the grain bad?  There are many people who still love the against the grain shaving process. After all it is all about personal preference if you do with perfect logic and technique.

If you want to go against the grain with straight razor , and it is your very first time, I recommend you to use a safety razor before trying the actual shave with your straight razor.

So, let’s learn about the grain more deeply.

What Actually Is The Grain?

If you are just a beginner  to wet shaving, you must have read about “With the grain, Across the grain, and Against the grain”. But what that grain actually means? In short, Shaving with or against the grain means shaving opposite or with the direction of your beard hair grows.

When you go with your first razor pass, I suggest you to go “with the grain” (to the direction of your beard hair growth) and go the down direction of your hair growth in your chin and neck area.

It won’t give you close shave though, but it will lessen your stubble to ensure the second pass is very smooth without any nick.

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Shaving against the grain will make you achieve close and smooth shave you ever had with a safety razor or a straight razor.

In total If you are performing three passes, go “With the grain”, “Against the grain”,  “Across the grain” and respectively. In case of two passes, go with “With the grain” and “Against the grain” with your second pass.

As a beginner, the practice of shaving against the grain will give you minimal cut or nick if you have a rich lather. Not only for beginners but for professional shaver too, having rich lather is very important to have a great shave.

In shaving against the grain, a small amount of skin irritation is common. Though shaving against the grain is a close shave, the probabilities of having ingrown hair are higher, this leads many people opt to shave either ACROSS or WITH the grain.

Note: Be prepared for additional caution to deal with cut or nick you going to have while against the grain shaving.

How Do I Find “Against The Grain” Direction Of My Facial Hair?

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Run your fingers or you can take credit card through your face cheeks, the direction which feels harder to your fingers or credit card,  that is your “against the grain“ direction.

Is Shaving Against The Grain Bad?

Shaving against the grain is neither bad or good. Though, against the grain shaving provides you the closest shave. But you cannot snub the fact, it aggregates the chances of ingrown hairs. Depend upon your skin tolerance level, shaving against the grain should fine as long as your skin tolerates the skin burning throughout the process. Applying quality aftershave lotion or balm should be a worthy choice to prevent your facial skin from catching any infection.


What Happens If You Shave Against The Grain?

When you shave against the grain, the razor blade comes straight in contact with your facial hair follicles instead of your facial hair first.

The chances of having cut and ingrown hairs are high. Due to close contact with hair follicles, skin irritation is a common thing while going against the grain.

If you want to give a try, you have to be perfect in holding the razor grip.


Does Shaving Against The Grain Promote Hair Growth?

NO. Shaving against the grain does NOT promote the growth rate of your beard hairs. It is a delusion that shaving against the grain makes your beard grow faster, in fact, it makes your facial hair look more thick and dense on its regrowth but it does NOT upsurge the hair growth speed.

Does It Bleed When Shaving Against The Grain?

To avoid bleeding using safety razor when you shave against the grain, you don’t need to put a lot of pressure especially if you are shaving with the safety razor. The chances of getting cuts are high due to lack of proper technique in shaving against the grain with the straight razor. Shaving with improper technique might bleed your facial skin which will refrain you from shaving for next few more days until it heals.

Note:  If you are beginner with safety or straight razor and goes against the grain, you might bleed little. As you get perfect in your skill of shaving you won’t face any bleeding issue.


Shaving Against The Grain With A Safety Razor Is Safe?

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Against the grain shaving with a safety razor is superior compared to an electronic razor.

You have to learn the perfect grip on safety razor to have a close shave against the grain.

As a beginner, many people go with an electrical razor to avoid cuts, the only problem with an electrical razor is, you fail to hold the electrical razor at perfect angle throughout against the grain process.

In case of the safety razor, holding the razor at a specific angle is possible with little practice. Don’t put too much of pressure, the weight of your safety razor is sufficient to do its gravity job of putting pressure while shaving.

Shaving against the grain with safety razor gives you a much smooth and close shave compares to electrical razor.


Can You Shave Against The Grain With A Straight Razor? How?

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Yes, you can, shaving against the grain is the second hardest skill one can have with a straight razor. Place your head in your nape, in short, lean your head back and pull your skin as tight as possible above Adam’s apple and curl your upper lips to give a way to shave against the grain.

Never shave with a dull blade if you are shaving with a straight razor or shavette, or safety razor it will give you skin irritation and leave you unhappy after the shave.

Which Razor Should I Use For Shaving Against The Grain?

Picking up the suitable razor to shave against the grain is something you must pay close  attention.To shun all the hassles, you just need to have a perfect  razor in your shaving kit.  Let’s have a look below:-


  • Cartridge Razors

No, not every guy is accustomed to a safety razor!  in fact, these days people are opting for cartridge razor to save their time, specially the beginners who have just started shaving their face.

If you are a existing cartridge user and want to opt for a safety razor, you can give try on it.  But still, if you want to shave with a cartridge razor, make sure you cut the hair clean as fruit ninja player!!

Shaving against the grain with cartridge razor is complicated. Cartridge razor consists of 4-5 blades with a guard stick on it to shield you from getting any cut.

One thing to remember whole shaving with cartridge razor,  with its 4-5 blades you are shaving very close to your facial skin. It may give you a close shave but with those 4-5 blades your shearing your facial skin too beneath your facial hair which can result in razor burn and rashes.

One positive thing about cartridge razor is, you don’t have to change it often. The main handle stays with you, you only change the head of the cartridge razor(blade).

Some brands promise you 5-7 shaves per blade. If you are a traveler and need your razor with you, cartridge razor is with you wherever you go!!


  • Straight razor

Want to have a perfect classic shave? Go with a straight razor. Shaving with a straight razor requires a lot of practice as your grandfather did in his initial days of shaving. Believe me, the time you devoted to learning those steep curves and placing perfect pressure while shaving with a straight razor is worth.

Straight razor works like a charm with a rich lather. You can use either shaving soap or shaving cream to achieve the rich lather density.

If you don’t want to do all the hard stuff on your own, or you fear of getting cut while shaving with a straight razor, leave it all in barber’s hand.

While shaving with a straight razor makes sure your blade has a sharp edge which is stropped in the perfect way to give you a close shave.

In case of using a shavette straight razor, make sure you use a sharp blade. to learn more about shavette and straight razor click here Thick beard hairs are easy to cut when shaving against the grain if you have a sharp blade.

  • Safety Razor

Shaving with a straight razor is time-consuming compared to cartridge and safety razor. In case of the safety razor, it gives full access to you to control the movement of your hand while shaving.

If you are just a learner with a safety razor, it is the finest tool to try to get skilled in it. While shaving with a safety razor you don’t have to put a lot of pressure, just let the razor’s weight do its job of pressure.


What Are Things I Need To Prepare My Skin Before Shaving Against The Grain?

Picking up the best suitable razor according to your skin is dependent on your level of experience. Once you pick your best choice of razor for shaving against the grain, now it is time for you to collect some other essential things to prepare your skin before shave to have a razor burn free against the grain shaving.


  • Pre-Shave Oil

Made of essential and carrier oil, per-shave oil carry out as a cleanser and antibacterial properties which supports in fighting the bacteria on your skin.

Applying pre-shave oil help in cleaning your debris and keeping your face moisturized throughout your shaving process. It keeps your facial skin soft and makes razor  drift over your skin without tugging or giving you any razor burn or nick.

Applying pre-shave oil helps in fighting eczema, ingrown hairs, skin rashes, and other skin related problems.


  • Shaving  Cream

If you are shaving with safety or straight razor, I recommend you to go for shaving soap or cream for a better quality of lather. I do not like to apply gel or foam which is loaded with unsafe ingredients.

If you are shaving with a Cartridge razor, using foam should be your best choice, it is a ready-made lather,  just adds few drops of water and lather up your face, the quality of foam is dense if you create good lather over it.


  • Shaving Brush

The shaving brush is the one tool that supports in producing a rich lather. Beside producing lather, it supports in making your taut beard hairs slack which make the shaving blade to shear them with smoother slip.

The skin has to be softer while shaving against the grain.  When you shave against the grain you don’t want the razor blade to touch your skin or tug in your hairs to give you razor burn or skin rash.

Shaving brush lift up your beard hair to make easier for the blade to cut them closely without touching your skin.

Other benefits of shaving brush , it also massages your facial skin that increases the blood flow to make your skin soft.

Use of a boar shaving brush should be your choice. Boar brush creates awesome dense lather.  If you are confused about choosing your first shaving brush, read here.


  • Aftershave  Balm

Choosing of aftershave balm depends upon your skin type. If you are having dry skin, avoid the aftershave which contains alcohol. Alcohol dry up your face more if you have a dry face already. Always use Alcohol-Free Balm. Aftershave balm is fine to use if you have oily skin or normal skin type.


How To Shave Against The Grain Without Razor Burn?

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No doubt, shaving again the grain offers you a very close and baby butt face. Compared to shaving with the grain, a small noticeable stubble grass is visible after the shave. Unlike, shaving against the grain shear your beard hairs touching your hair follicles to have a completely smooth face.

Especially shaving with a straight razor, you have to learn the steep curve and the position of holding the straight razor while you against the grain.

Note: Don’t go against the grain if you have a very dry sensitive skin, that may lead in giving you skin rashes.

Let’s learn how to shave against the grain without razor burnt:-

  • Check The Hair Directions

To check the direction of your beard hair growth, simply take a credit card or you can check with your bare hands too.  its good to use a credit card to understand the direction of grain more clearly. Move your credit card with the grain, the sound created by credit card is pretty smooth.

Now run the credit card against the grain, the sound created by credit card is kinda louder. Be cognizant of churns as you’ll need to be cautious when shaving them. Think of all the spots as you’ll be applying shaving cream on those spots too.

  • Wash Your Face

Washing face before shaving is the first step toward having a good painless shave. Washing face supports in eliminating the grime and oil from your face. It also helps in loosen those beard hair. To wash your face, don’t use regular soap, instead use the face wash that suits you best according to your skin type.

  • Apply Pre-Shave Oil

You have washed your face, now your face is fresh and your beard hairs are dirt free But, your face is dry, yes, when you wash your face with regular soap it makes your face drier. Soap is more strong in a cleanser that makes your face drier.

The dry face is more prone to get cut while shaving.  Hydrating your face before shave makes easy for a razor blade to cut your beard hair without any hassle.  Applying the best pre-shave oil before the shave makes your face moisturized and hydrated. The blade won’t tug in your hair while shaving if you apply pre-shave oil.

  • Warm Wet Towel

Now its time to make your facial hairs lose or slacken. Wet the soft towel in warm water, place on your face for about maximum of three minutes to give enough time to slacken your hairs. This way you also kill the leftover bacteria that are hosted on your face for a long time to start their own town as “ eczema town”!!

  • Lathering

Having rich and thick lather Is definitely a winning point.  Go with a boar badger brush to have thick lather. Lathering wakes up those slacken hairs and massage your face to increase blood flow beneath your facial skin to make your face smooth after the shave.

Running boar brush over your face provides deep exfoliation to your skin. It helps in parting the hair and skin to give way for the razor to cut them without tugging and putting much pressure.

  • Time To Shave

By now you might be ready with your lathered face holding your choice of razor weather it may be a cartridge, safety or straight.  Now its time to perform some practical magic.

One thing to remember, shaving against the grain will make look your beard rough and dense when it grows back your hairs. But If you shave close enough to your skin it will give you a soothing experience.

When you shave against the grain, you can hear the shearing sound of hair which give you assurance on shaving against the grain is working its best to give you closest shave.

Go with the grain when you do your first pass. Go Against the grain on your second pass, If you are performing total three passes, I suggest you go with and against the grain on your first and second passes. On the third pass, go across the grain.

While shaving under your neck area,  pull the skin tight up above your Adam’s apple and run the razor up, that is against the grain. Make sure you wash your razor blade after each stroke to keep going with clogged hairs.


  • Apply After Shave Balm

Once you complete your shave against the grain, you will notice your face is much smooth and clean. If you want to check the quality of shave, move your hand against the grain. By now you may feel a little burning sensation on your facial skin.  Now, wash your face to remove the residue of lather and apply after shave balm to prevent your skin from having any infection and diminish the burning sensation you suffered while shaving against the grain.


Shaving against the grain is not scary as you think if you fear of getting any skin cut or infection. You just need all the products in your shaving table to handle any hassle you face. Nothing much I can conclude here, as shaving against the grain depends upon your skin type. If you have already a dry face, against the grain shaving might be a problem for you.  I would love to hear your experience from you on against the grain.  Is it worth? Comment below to let us know!!

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