Can You Shave Against The Grain With A Safety Razor?

As a frequent shaver, chances are you have once or twice looked yourself in the mirror, wondering which direction you should shave your hair. For many men, the most troublesome question is “Can you shave against the grain with a safety razor?”

Shaving against the grain means you have to shave against the direction of how your hair grows. 

Should or should not shave against the grain is a serious debate that varies from one groomer to another, so let’s try to address the answer in the article below! 

Can You Shave Against The Grain With A Safety Razor?

Shaving Against The Grain With A Safety Razor
Shaving Against The Grain With A Safety Razor

Is it safe?

Generally speaking, shaving against the grain can be the source of many problems. These include redness, skin irritation, itchiness, and even ingrown hairs.

That being said, the mere act of shaving against the grain does not guarantee such negative consequences. Rather, it is the choice of tools and techniques to be blamed. 

Therefore, shaving against the grain is safe as long as you do it with finesse.

Should you do it?

If you are inexperienced in shaving, experts recommend that you should avoid shaving against the grain for the sake of your skin’s health. However, people with more confidence in their skills can try out this method without much fuss. 

Lee's Razors
Lee's Razors

After all, shaving against the grain tends to offer a closer shave, resulting in a smoother surface. For those who want their facial skin to look and feel flawless, shaving in the opposite direction of the hair’s growth is a must-have step.

The Pros And Cons Of Shaving Against The Grain With A Safety Razor

Pros

It offers a close shave

Professional groomers have agreed that shaving against the grain is a guaranteed way to have the closest shave.

This is because the blades on a safety razor are capable of cutting even the hair nearest to the skin surface in each pass. As more hair is removed, a direct touch to your face or chin will be way smoother.

Shaving against the grain will give you a closest shave
Shaving against the grain will give you a closest shave

It reduces the frequency of your shaving routine

Shaving against the grain allows you to remove as much hair from your face as possible. Subsequently, the hair takes a long time to grow properly, leaving you plenty of days to enjoy before getting back to your grooming practice.

It helps you save time and energy

If you want to shave against the grain, you are likely to do it once or twice only. The hair-cutting capacity of each pass is so powerful that you might be able to remove the hair completely within the first few passes.

For those who are in a rush, a quick shave against the grain may save the day.

Cons

It can cause skin problems

When shaving against the grain, you allow the blades to get real close to the skin. This is when trouble may occur. If you have sensitive skin, exposure to the blades can lead to skin redness, itchiness, and irritations.

Shaving against the grain can cause irritations
Shaving against the grain can cause irritations

There is also the problem of ingrown hair. If your safety razor tugs or pulls the hair out, snapping it underneath the skin surface, the hair will grow backward and get trapped into the skin. 

It can be very painful 

Moving against the natural flow of how your hair grows increases friction, which results in scratches, cuts, and nicks. It can also remove the top layers of your skin, making you feel painful and uncomfortable during and after the shave.

It needs time to heal properly

When your skin is subject to such forceful movements, it might take a few days to recover entirely.

In other words? No splashing water, no rubbing the face, and even minimal contact with skincare products.

It affects the quality of the blades on your safety razor

The blades on your safety razor will get dull much faster when shaving against the grain.

As the hair puts on lots of resistance while being removed from the opposite direction, the blades will get rusty within a few shaves only. 

It requires a learning curve

Not everyone can master the art of shaving against the grain, especially if they are new to this technique.

Shaving against the grain requires hands-on experience and lots of practice, making it almost exclusive to professional groomers. 

The Pros And Cons Of Shaving With The Grain With A Safety Razor

Pros

It is suitable for sensitive skin

When you shave with the grain, you minimize the amount of drag and friction between the blades and the skin. As a result, your skin does not have to suffer from extra pressure to get rid of the hair. Razor bumps, irritations, itchiness and ingrown hairs are not to be worried about. 

It’s better to shave with the grain for sensitive skin
It’s better to shave with the grain for sensitive skin

It is beginner-friendly

Shaving with the grain enables you to follow the natural flow of your hair, making it a piece of cake even for amateurs.

Even if you make some mistakes along the way, shaving with the grain is still relatively easy to perform, leaving you plenty of room to perfect the techniques.

It does not affect the lifespan of your blades

Considering how forgiving the blade is towards shaving with the grain, there should be no surprise as to why these blades last longer. 

When there is little resistance from the hair, the blades can cut through stubble effortlessly, but not at the expense of the blades’ sharpness. Consequently, you get to enjoy the blades for quite a long time before they give in.

Cons

It calls for a lot of time and effort

Since shaving with the grain manages to remove a minimal amount of hair, you have to repeat the process multiple times if you want your skin to look smooth. 

Dealing with so many passes at the same time can cost you minutes and make your shaving arm sore afterward.

It does not have a close shave

When going with how the hair grows, the blades on your safety razor cannot get too close to the skin. Thus, the hair nearest to the skin surface will still be left untouched.

Verdict

Shaving against the grain works best for people with some months of shaving experience under their belt, who would like to achieve a much closer shave without too much time and effort involved. 

Given how demanding this shaving technique is, make sure to try it out only after you have mastered the basic skills first. Note that this method is not highly recommended for the sensitive skin.

On the other hand, if you do not particularly care about having a closer shave and do not mind idling in the bathroom, shaving with the grain will suffice. 

Admittedly, it may be time-consuming and tiring to cut through the hair multiple times, but it saves you from potential risks of skin problems.

How To Shave Against The Grain With A Safety Razor

Pre-shave

Step 1: Wash your face thoroughly with warm water. The heat will open up the pores, making it easier for you to remove the hair without the risks of tugging and pulling.

Step 2: Apply pre-shave oil to the skin. It helps to moisturize and soften the skin as well as your hair. You also stand a lower chance of getting scratched or irritated.

Step 3: Apply your shaving cream or soap. If you have sparse hair, you can skip this step. But for those with coarse hair, shaving with water only can lead to trouble.

Shave

Determine the direction of your hair growth
Determine the direction of your hair growth

Step 4: Have a look at your face in the mirror and determine the direction of your hair growth.

Check your jawline, chin and cheeks to see where the hair shifts its direction. If you are familiar with how your hair is arranged, you stand a higher chance of removing them effortlessly.

Step 5: Start by shaving with the grain. This allows you to remove most of the hair, so you do not have to struggle with later steps.

Step 6: Shave across the hair. Shaving sideways gives you a quick idea as to how shaving against the grain works, leaving you better prepared for the final act. It also helps to remove hair closer to the skin surface as well.

Step 7: Shave against the grain. As this shaving direction alone is enough to exert pressure on the skin, make sure to keep your hands steady.

After-shave

Step 8: After you are done shaving, use cold water to wash your face. The low temperatures will close the pores, thus toning down their appearance on your face.

Tips

  • Prepare your skin beforehand: Shaving against the grain can be particularly difficult for people with coarse hair. If you think the blades will encounter lots of resistance, try washing the face with warm water, then hydrate it in a hot shower. This way, both the hair and skin surface will emerge much softer.
  • Choose a suitable shaving cream or soap: If you choose a product that does not lather well, you end up pressing your blades against clotted cream or soap. As a result, each cutting pass will be heavily hindered.
  • Take care of your blades: Make sure your blade is sharp, not dull. If the blades are too dull, you can end up pulling the hair out ineffectively. Furthermore, do not forget to rinse the blade after a few strokes. This gets rid of any residue hair and keeps the blade as sharp as ever. 
  • Be careful when it comes to acne or sensitive skin patches: If you suffer from acne or have super sensitive skin, you have to be careful with how the blades go. Shaving against the grain can apply too much pressure on these areas, causing pain and discomfort. 

FAQs

What razor is best for cutting against the grain?

When it comes to shaving against the grain, using a double-edge safety razor or a straight razor is preferable to replaceable cartridges. 

This is because the two former tend to be more aggressive and less forgiving, thus capable of removing more hair in one pass.  

What is the best way to shave with a safety razor?

Shaving with a safety razor
Shaving with a safety razor

When shaving with a safety razor, it is best that you shave with the grain, especially for beginners. The blades on the razor themselves are already sharp against the skin, which means you need to use as little pressure as possible. 

You might also want to keep the blade as far away from your skin surface to reduce cuts and nicks, and do not forget to angle the razor between 30 and 45 degrees. It takes some trial and error to perfect your skills, but these are the most basic steps for shaving with a safety razor. 

Does going against the grain cause ingrown hairs?

Yes. Going against the grain can lead to ingrown hairs if your shaving skills are subpar.

Usually, ingrown hairs happen when you pull the skin taut, leaving the hair to bend backward underneath the skin instead of growing out of it. 

Therefore, you will be able to prevent ingrown hairs when shaving against the grain if you do not tug the hair out aggressively. 

Should you shave with or against the grain legs?

For the first few passes, it is better if you shave with the grain on your legs. This enables you to remove longer, coarser hair.

Once they are out of the way, you can proceed to shave against the grain for a much closer, smoother shave.

You should shave with the grain on your legs first
You should shave with the grain on your legs first

Should you shave against the grain pubic area?

When shaving pubic area, you are not advised to shave against the grain. The pubic area is highly sensitive and delicate, making it more prone to nicks and cuts.

Thus, even when shaving against the grain provides you with a closer shave, it still stands a higher chance of developing razor bumps and ingrown hairs.

Conclusion

Can you shave against the grain with a safety razor? Yes, you can, provided you have enough skills, and experience. It’s relatively suitable with normal skin than sensitive one.  

While this technique is indeed challenging, it does offer a much more satisfying result for your facial hair should you manage to do it right.

Lee Cantor

Provide the best shaving product reviews and shaving advices to the wetshaving community and friends.

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