So, you’ve got a big meeting coming up, and you want to look your best. You’ve got your watch, shoes, and suit picked out. Your girl has heard your pitch 1,000 times, you’ve practiced your introductions in the mirror, and you’ve pretty much done all you can do to prepare.
The morning of the meeting though, you have a serious decision to make. Should you shave against the grain, or with it?
Well, it depends: do you want to look like a 7-year-old who just picked up his dad’s razor for the first time, or do you want to look like a competent male adult?
It’s harsh, we know. But we’re tired of hearing people wrongly claiming that it’s a “great idea” to shave against the grain. This is one of our most frequently asked questions, so we wanted to answer it fully.
Here, we’ll tell you why hopping on this “hot new trend” is the worst choice you can make this year.
Why You Shouldn’t Shave Against The Grain: A Primer
In recent years, the shaving industry has been valued at close to $3 billion. For both men and women, shaving is the most popular hair removal method.
But if you’re not shaving correctly, you’re not only going to end up looking pretty rough (not to mention feeling a little like a cactus) you’re also not going to get the closest shave you could be.
First, let’s make sure you know exactly what this mysterious “grain” is.
Essentially, the grain is the direction of your hair growth. Your hair can grow in different directions depending on its location on your face. Many men notice that, while the hair on their cheeks grows in a downwards direction, the hair on their chin grows upwards.
If you’re shaving “with” the grain, you’ll be pulling the razor in the same direction as your hair growth. So, if you’re shaving your chin, where hair grows downwards, to shave with the grain, pull your razor down.
Obviously, if you were going the “shave against the grain” route, you’d shave in the opposite direction of hair growth.
This is probably why you notice you get a much closer shave at your barber’s – because he is shaving your hair in all different directions, based on the growth on different parts of your face.
If you can’t figure out which direction you’re hair is growing in, even after what feels like hours of gazing in the mirror, it’s much easier to just slowly run your fingers over your face.
Also, this doesn’t make a difference whether you’re using an electric razor, or going the old-school route. You need to shave with the grain at all times.
At a basic level, deciding to shave against the grain is a bad call because of how it manipulates your blades.
Basically, shaving against the grain pulls your hair away from your skin, because it gets almost “trapped” in the blade itself.
There’s a bad rumor out there that this gives you a closer shave because it allows you to “shave more” of the hair follicle. Tough news, boys: the opposite is true.
In fact, making the bad choice to shave against the grain only increases the chances of getting unsightly (and sometimes painful) ingrown hairs, which can turn into serious razor bumps – fast.
That’s just not something you want to have happen the day of or before a big meeting.
Even if you don’t develop razor bumps soon after an against the grain shave, your face may look a little more red for a few hours afterward.
Plus, that 5:00 shadow you really didn’t want showing up “just in time” for your date? Yeah, it’ll be there.
Finally, shaving against the grain may lead you to, over time, seriously damage once-healthy hair follicles. These can lead to patchy growth, slower growth time (if you decide to get on the lumberjack trend for the winter) and even thinner beards.
Tips On How To Go With The Grain When You Shave
Now, let’s move onto how you’re going to conquer the with the grain shaving process itself.
First, if you’re still struggling to find the direction of your hair growth, only lather one section of your face at a time. Yes, it may be a little more time-consuming at first, but soon you’ll remember which direction to shave where.
Also, go ahead and invest in a special shaving mirror. This will make it a lot easier to see how your hair is growing. Plus, let’s be real: it just looks cool. You can even find options you can attach to your shower caddy!
Next, when you’re shaving, don’t bear down too hard on your skin. Also, stop the long, drawn-out stroke that we always see in razor commercials.
Seriously: the key is to shave your face in much shorter strokes, not one long take. Also, take your time. Going slowly isn’t just a way to avoid cuts and nicks (another thing that can make you look pretty amateurish.) It also helps you to make sure you’re getting every last hair.
Finally, we recommend finishing up with a nice aftershave or balm. Especially if your skin is on the more sensitive side, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from heavily perfumed options. (Plus, do you really want to walk around smelling like an 85-year-old college professor?)
Look, we’re all for going against the grain in your work life, love life, and pretty much anything else other than shaving with your razor.
Resist the temptation to shave against the grain, no matter what your buddies are doing.
Of course, to get the best shave, you also need to use the best tools.
That’s where we come in. We don’t just offer the best, no-BS advice in the shaving business. We also tell you where to get the tools to follow that awesome advice.
To learn more about how your next shave will be closer than ever, check out our website and blog.