​Men’s Shaving Tips: What Is Shaving against the Grain?

Shaving against the grain is a common talking point even for men with a lifetime of shaving experience.

It divides opinion because sometimes it can cause skin irritation. Generally though, shaving against the grain brings the closest shave and removes coarse, rebellious hairs. It’s one of the most important men’s shaving tips.

If you’ve opened this page though, you’re probably here for the answer to the question “What is shaving against the grain?”

Let’s answer it.

Shaving Against the Grain Explained

Shaving against the Grain

The “grain” means - the direction your hair grows. So shaving “with the grain” means you move the razor in the direction of the growth.

Shaving “against the grain” means going the opposite way.

How to Find Your Hair’s Grain?

Finding your hair’s growth direction is relatively simple and once you identify it you’ll become familiar with it. Here are some men’s shaving tips for finding your hair’s grain direction:

  • We advise using a credit card (or your fingernails) to spot it.
  • Gently push in two directions against your hairs.
  • With the grain” will feel smooth and quiet with little resistance.
  • Against the grain” will sound louder and have more resistance. You’ll hear the hairs bristling as you move them.
  • When you shave against the grain, you will usually notice the hairs being forced in the opposite direction to how they are naturally resting. 

Should You Shave Against the Grain?

The truth is, both directions will probably be needed. It varies between with each man. The trick is to find what is most comfortable for you. For some people, against the grain provides an ultra smooth cut that removes every single hair. For others, it can cause razor burn.

We suggest shaving with the grain first and then against after to remove those hairs that survived. The neck area tends to be where shaving against the grain is most helpful, but it can also be where razor burn occurs.

  • Find what is comfortable for you.
  • Shave with first, then against after.
  • Always reapply shaving foam, so there is no naked skin.
  • If you’re new to shaving, ask a brother or your Dad what he finds best because you’ll most likely have a similar hair type.

Can Shaving Against The Grain Cause Skin Irritation?

When shaving against the grain, the blades usually pull the hair away from the skin slightly. It can be beneficial, but it can also increase the risk of ingrown hairs and breakouts.

One essential men’s shaving tip is always to reapply shaving gel (so there is no naked skin).

Also try resetting the hair before you finish, by gently shaving back “with” the grain to prevent ingrown hairs (especially if you have curly hair). 

Which Type of Razor Should I use?

It's is all down to personal preference. In our opinion, double-edged blades are fantastic for cutting against the grain as you can alternate motions in any direction you want with little effort.

Disposable blades are better if you require more comfort though, as they usually have lubricant strips and modern technologies. 

Electric razors are ideal (our recommendations: https://shavingninja.com/best-electric-shaver-reviews/) if you want to get the job done quickly, without the risk of cutting yourself.

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