Shaving with or against the grain is one of the most debated topics when it comes to shaving, with many people having a firm personal preference. While many do claim that shaving against the grain results in a much finer shave, this frequently causes ingrown hairs, as well as overly-sensitive and damaged skin, making shaving with the grain an option well worth exploring.
The Benefits of Shaving with the Grain
When hair is shaved against the grain, the blade of the razor pulls at each hair, tugging it away from the skin before cutting through it. While this does result in quite a close shave, it means that the short hairs have a difficult time finding their way back out of their hair follicles as they grow, and they will often end up bending inside and growing back into the skin, resulting in ingrown hairs. Since the body recognizes ingrown hairs as an invader, it triggers an inflammatory reaction, which causes redness and bumps around the ingrown hairs. The way in which a razor blade pulls at the skin when shaving against the grain also means that the outer layer of skin is usually removed during the shaving process, which makes it ultra-sensitive until it is able to heal. Shaving with the grain does away with both of these problems, and, if done correctly, will result in a shave that is just as fine as shaving against the grain.
Finding the Grain
In order to shave with the grain, you need to first work out which direction the grain is running. The easiest way to do this is when you have a few days worth of hair growth on your skin, by running your fingers across your hair in every direction. There will be one direction that will feel more resistant than others, and this is the direction that is against the grain. In order to shave with the grain, you need to shave in the opposite direction to this, following the path that offers the least resistance. If you are shaving an area where the grain changes direction in multiple spots, you need to take your time with each stroke of the razor, running your fingers through each patch of hair first in order to feel for the direction of growth.
Achieving a Close Shave
Shaving with the grain rather than against it does not mean that you need to sacrifice the closeness of your shave at all. There are a few steps that you can take to ensure that your skin is still silky smooth afterwards, such as washing your skin with warm water beforehand to open up the pores, and exfoliating to ensure that dead skin cells have been removed, making it easier for your razor to glide across your skin. A sharp razor is also essential, so that it can easily slice through any hairs, while a pre-shaving oil will help to provide lubrication between your skin and the razor, helping it to move across your skin much more smoothly.
Shaving is one of the most common hair removal methods out there, but many often end up developing shaving habits that are no good for the skin. If you usually tend to shave against the grain, try shaving with it the next time you shave, and you will be likely to notice the difference reflected in the quality and health of your skin.