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Does going ‘against the grain’ give you a better shave?

Does shaving against the direction of hair growth give you a smoother result? We asked the experts at online retailer The Shaving Shack for their view on the subject. This is what they said.

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive at The Shaving Shack is about shaving and hair direction. The most specific question regarding shaving and hair direction is whether or not to shave “against the grain” or contrary to the direction of growth. Many people advise not shaving against the grain because of ingrown hairs, redness, irritation, and many other maladies. However, with a little technique, a light hand, and good equipment shaving against the grain is not only possible but will leave you with a smooth, and long lasting shave.

Before shaving it is important to map out your face and in which direction the hair grows

Before shaving it is important to map out your face. Get to know the lay of the land: know your face shape and jawline, which direction the hairs grow and where they shift in direction. This will allow you to reduce the hair in passes, achieving a closer shave each time. This pass method is more often used with traditional shaving razors such as a double edge safety razor or straight razor, but it is also possible and helpful to replaceable cartridge users as well. You will achieve the closest shave in three steps: first going with the direction of growth, secondly across the direction of growth, and then finally against the direction of growth. Many gentlemen can get a very acceptable and close shave by going the first two passes: with and across. Although if you want that “baby’s bottom smooth” feel going against the grain is a must.

After your two first passes are complete you are ready for the last pass against the grain. Remember, take it easy and slow the last thing you want is redness and irritation. Using a fresh sharp blade and a light hand will make this easiest. If you experience any tugging or pulling step back, check you razor angle, re- lather, and try again. It should come just as smooth as your other passes even if you have iron-like hair.

Suggested razor blade angles for each pass

Once you have finished the against the grain pass rinse off and take a feel, analyzing the shave and if there are any spots that need touching up. Your face should now feel incredibly smooth and clean! If by chance you do experience some redness and irritation apply a moisturizing aftershave and only shave with and across the grain for a few days. This will give your face time to heal and get used to the new technique. It may take a few tries to acquire the right technique but once you do the smooth face and feel will be completely worth the effort!

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