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Should You Shave with or Against the Grain?

By Jason
September 23, 2023
6 minutes
Should You Shave with or Against the Grain

When it comes to techniques of shaving unwanted body hair or shaping the beard, there are mainly two groups of people advocating shaving in opposite directions. One group says shaving against the grain gives the optimal results while the other is adamant that shaving with the grain is the safest option.

So, did you recently start shaving, and you are confused about which approach to take? Well, both approaches have their pros and cons. It comes down to personal preference in deciding which way you want to go. So, you can find the information about shaving in both directions here to determine which one will suit you better.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Shaving with the Grain: Benefits and Technique

Shaving with the Grain: Benefits and Technique


Shaving with the grain means moving your razor blade in the direction your hair is growing naturally. On further elaboration, rub the hair with your fingertip to and fro and see which side shows more resistance. The opposite side is the direction of hair growth.

For example, hair grows in a downward direction on the face while in an upward direction on the neck.


Shaving with the grain is the most gentle and safest method of grooming the beard as well as the body hair. Additionally, it works smoothly for people with straight, curly, thick, or thin hair.


Shaving with the grain has the following advantages over shaving against the grain.

  • It offers a comfortable shaving experience which allows you to shave without extra caution
  • It is more suitable for sensitive skin
  • It reduces the risk of skin redness, cuts, ingrown hair, and nicks

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Shave With the Grain

You can get both a close and risk-free shave by shaving along the grain if you follow these steps.

  • Get a fresh and sharp razor with a single blade instead of a multi-blade razor. A safety razor can do a good job here
  • Wash your face with warm water to soften the hair and open the pores
  • Apply a shaving gel or cream to lubricate hair and provide a smooth surface for the razor to move
  • Start shaving in direction or hair growth in short strokes while pulling your skin taut
  • Wash your face and apply a moisturizer
  • Repeat the process if you want a closer shave

Part 2: Shaving Against the Grain: Benefits and Technique

Shaving Against the Grain


Shaving against the grain is moving your razor a in direction opposite to that of natural hair growth. It is determined by looking carefully at your hair growth and rubbing hair with the fingers. The direction where you feel a scratchy feeling is the direction where you can shave against the grain.


Shaving against the grain tugs the skin and pulls the hair. As a result, hair is trimmed at a deeper level offering a closer shave. However, there is an increased risk of nicks, bumps, and cuts, and you have to be very careful while shaving against the grain.

Moreover, it works well for men as their skin is on the thicker side.


The advantages of shaving against the grain are given as.

  • Shaving against the grain provides the closest shave possible because it pulls the hair before cutting them
  • It makes the skin look smoother and more radiant as there is no stubble shadow because of the close shave
  • You need to shave less frequently if you are shaving against the grain because hair takes a longer time to grow out of the skin

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Shave Against the Grain

Although shaving against the grain is not recommended by experts, you can take the following steps to shave against the grain safely.

  • Determine the direction of your hair growth
  • Shave at the end of a hot shower or wash your face with warm water for a few minutes before starting the shave.
  • Apply a pre-shave oil and shaving cream to prepare the skin. The cream should be at room temperature or warmer.
  • The first pass should always be along the grain so that your hair is trimmed leaving a little to work on when you move against the grain
  • Wash the face again and apply pre-shave treatment
  • Pull the skin taut with your hands and shave against the grain slowly with small strokes with no pressure
  • Wash the face and apply post-shaving treatment.

Part 3: Should you Shave with or Against the Grain?

Should you Shave with or Against the Grain

Do you wonder if shaving against the grain is bad? Let us find out which direction of shaving the skin is the right direction.

The Role of Individual Factors in Shaving

First of all, you need to determine your goals for shaving the skin. Do you want to make it look fully hairless with a close shave at the cost of ingrown hair and bumps or would you rather prefer skin-friendly hair removal without a close shave?

Additionally, your skin sensitivity and ability to tolerate the friction caused by shaving against the grain matters a lot.

Ideal Direction for Shaving Different Parts of the Body

For shaving the face, it is recommended to do one pass with the grain, a second across the grain, and a third against the grain if it is unavoidable. For the body except for intimate areas, you can do one pass with the grain and another against it.

This is because facial skin is sensitive while the skin of the body is tougher.

Part 4: Best Practices for a Successful Shave

Best Practices for a Successful Shave

Below are some tips to achieve a successful shave whether you shave with or against the grain.

Use a Sharp High-Quality Razor

Your razor must be in good condition for you to groom your facial or body hair meticulously. So, ensure that the razor blade is sharp, and there is no rust, or compromise in the quality of the razor.

Moreover, if you are using a replaceable razor, clean it before and after use and replace its blades regularly. Here is how to clean a razor like a pro.

Wet Shaving is the Way to Go

Dry shaving irritates the skin and increases the risk of side effects. Wet shaving is better because it softens the hair, opens skin pores, and allows the blades to cut hair more easily. Furthermore, the difference between both types of shaving is explained in wet shaving vs. dry shaving.

Prepare the Skin Well

Skin preparation plays an important role in making your shave successful. The basic steps of skin preparation include exfoliation, cleansing, and lubrication. It helps in preventing ingrown hair as well as explains how to prevent ingrown hair after shaving.

Shave Gently

Instead of going rashly with the razor, you should be as gentle as possible. For this, apply little to no force on the blade and use small strokes when you are shaving. Moreover, you should keep your hands steady and go slowly moving from one section to another.

After-Shave Skincare is a Must

A successful shave does not end with removing the hair with a razor. It needs more than that. Always follow your shaving routine with an aftercare treatment and skin hydration. So, here are the best lotions to soothe the skin after shaving.


Shaving with the grain or against is up to your requirements. Using your razor in the direction of hair growth might not give the closest shave but it keeps the skin irritation-free. However, shaving against the grains makes your skin look like it never had hair but you are at the risk of cuts and bumps.

So, if you have mastered the technique of shaving against the grain, you can go for it. On the other hand, if your skin is sensitive and you are a beginner, shaving with the grain is a better option. Furthermore, you can simply try both techniques to see which one suits you better.

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