Shave With the Grain, and 14 Other Tips for the Perfect Shave

Getting the perfect shave is actually pretty easy — provided you choose the right products and know what you’re doing.

shave-with-the-grain

We get asked a lot of shaving questions here at Dollar Shave Club (who’d have thought?), from how to shave with the grain to how to choose the best shave aid for your skin to the tricky business of edging under the nose. Because it’s important, here’s how to shave with the grain: Pull the razor in the same direction that your hair seems to be pointing to prevent creating sharp angles.

Now, the rest might sound a bit complicated, but the perfect shave isn’t as elusive as you might think: We’ve put together 15 simple steps to help you soften the whiskers, avoid rashes, pick the right products for you, and, yes, even more on how to shave with the grain (it’s important! Did we mention that yet?) Follow this guide and you’ll never have to Google how to stop bleeding from shaving again.

Step 1: Map Out Your Stubble

shave with the grain map out your stubble

Start by running your fingers over your stubble to determine the direction of hair growth. If it feels smooth, you’re moving with the growth — if it feels rough, you’re moving against it. This is what people are talking about when they say to “shave with the grain” — to move the razor in the same direction that the hair is growing.

If you go the other way, you are shaving “against the grain,” which, while it does get even closer to the skin, can result in those red razor bumps that come with ingrown hair. In general, to shave with the grain, you’ll run the razor down your face, but up your neck.

Step 2: Wash Your Face

shave with the grain wash your face

Wash the areas of your face you’ll be shaving with warm water and a good exfoliating prep scrub to remove any gunk — including dirt and dead skin cells — that would otherwise clog up your blade.

(If you want to simultaneously knock out an important step in taking care of your whole face, including the hairless parts, you can wash your face with your choice of face cleanser that is best suited for your skin type — such as an oil control face wash designed to help control oil and shine, or a hydrating face wash that hydrates and replenishes as it cleanses.)

Step 3: Get Steamy

shave with the grain steam the hairs

Apply a hot, moist towel to your face for at least 30 seconds. This softens up your whiskers and open your pores, making it easier for the razor to glide smoothly across your face and effortlessly slice through the hairs.

Step 4: Lather Up

Choose a shave product that’ll lubricate your skin and soften the hairs without drying out your face. The type of lather you use is down to personal preference: A shave cream is a more traditional option that provides a cushiony layer between your razor and skin for a pillowy, smooth shave. But those who want to be able to see exactly where they’re shaving — if, for example, they’re experimenting with some different beard styles — may want to try a softening, transparent shave butter instead.

Step 5: Shave With the Grain

shave with the grain start shaving

As we mentioned earlier, it’s vital to know how to shave with the grain (especially around the crease of the neck), as it helps to prevent razor burn, skin irritation and ingrown hair (if you try to go against the grain and discover that your skin generally isn’t prone to irritation, then shaving this way is certainly a one-way trip to Smooth City — just be aware that this isn’t true for most people.)

Another useful thing to remember is to use a fresh razor blade, and run it under hot water before shaving, since a hot blade cuts through hairs like a warm knife through butter.

Step 6: Flush Your Razor Out

shave with the grain wash the razor

Rinse the front and back of your razor with hot running water after each stroke to remove hair and excess lather. If the running water isn’t enough to remove stubble build up, gently tap the razor’s handle on the side of the sink, or use a clean cloth or brush to clean it off.

Step 7: Edge Under the Nose

shave with the grain edge your nose

Getting to all the hairs under and around your nose can be a pain, but the best way to shave your upper lip is by making a few passes, as follows. First, curl your top lip inward to stretch out the skin, then shave downwards from your nose. Next, position the razor sideways under your nose and shave outwards horizontally, from the middle out to the left, then from the middle out to the right (almost like you’re cleaning your windshield). Finally, curl your lip once again and shave upwards (the only time we’ll recommend not to shave with the grain).

If you notice a few stray hairs even after all this, check the back of your razor — many of them (including our 6 Blade) come with a special trimmer edge designed for getting into tight spots, like right under your nostrils. You can use this edging strip for removing the final stragglers.

Step 8: Go Smoothly

shave with the grain smooth strokes

For cheeks as smooth as a baby’s bottom, make your razor strokes long and apply a consistent amount of pressure.

Step 9: Be Careful to Shave With the Grain On Your Neck

shave with the grain shaving your neck

Use small downward strokes once past the jaw until you feel your hair growth change direction. Then, to shave with the grain of your neck hair, flip your blade around and use upward strokes, following the direction of your hair growth.

Step 10: Trim the Sideburns

shave with the grain sideburns

Use small strokes under the sideburns, stopping at the jaw line. Then, even out your sideburns by making sure the razor is perfectly parallel to the ground: It’s a lot easier to get them the same length if they end in a straight horizontal line, and not curving away in different directions. Shaving precision zones like your mutton chops is the perfect time to choose a transparent shave butter to get extra visibility. You can trim any excess bulk on the sideburns themselves with a trimmer.

Step 11: Shave the Jaw

shave with the grain shaving your jaw

As with shaving the neck, use small downward strokes until hair growth changes direction. Of all the parts you’ll shave on your face, this is the hardest part to accurately shave with the grain, so take your time here. And don’t press too hard: Too much pressure is what causes irritation and razor burn.

Step 12: Shave the Chin

shave with the grain shaving your chin

As you reach the natural curves on your chin, apply even less pressure to avoid nicks and cuts.

Step 13: Rinse Your Face

shave with the grain rinse your face

Rinse your face with cool water — this removes residual shave lather and helps to close your pores. When finished, pat dry with a clean towel, since rubbing dry can cause irritation and redness.

Step 14: Calm Your Skin

shave with the grain then moisturize

A shave isn’t over when you put the razor down — pick a proper aftercare to soothe your skin when it needs it most. Since shaving is a natural exfoliant, make sure you always apply a gentle alcohol-free post shave product afterwards to help soothe, nourish and hydrate your skin.

Choose a post shave cream for rich and lasting hydration. Or if you’re not into creams and lotions, choose a post shave dew for quick vanishing, lightweight moisturization.

Step 15: Realize How Good Your Face Looks

shave with the grain results

Check it out! You’re even more handsome now that you can actually see your own face! And all it took was a few basics: Proper preparation, choosing the right products for you, knowing how to shave with the grain, and understanding how to care for your skin afterwards. And if you ever need help remembering one of these tips, you can always come back here for a little reminder — we’ve got you.