Before You Start Shaving

Before you start shaving it is important to learn the grains of your face:

Shaving with a safety razor or straight razor isn’t like shaving with a cartridge razor.  You can’t just mash it against your face and start scraping away the hairs in just any direction. Heck, you shouldn’t even do that with a cartridge razor.

Taking a little time to get to know your face will go a long way towards getting a great shave, no matter what tools you use.

Wet shaving isn’t a 1-step process like with a cartridge razor.  You shave your face at least two times, or in shaving terms, you make multiple “passes.”  The first pass knocks off the bulk of the stubble, and the 2nd pass gets the rest of it.  The 3rd pass, if you do it, is really clean-up work to ensure you have a baby-bottom-smooth shave.  To be successful, you have to work with the grain of your beard.

Getting To Know Your Face

Your beard has a grain. Yeah, like wood. You may have never noticed, but the hairs on your face don’t just stick straight out from the skin. Your whiskers grow in at an angle, and while there’s some commonality between faces, every man’s face is different and unique.  The grain of your beard even changes over time.

The best way to get to know your face is to spend some time feeling it, and mapping it.  It’s best to do this with at least 2-3 days worth of growth, maybe 1/8th of an inch, so maybe plan this for a Saturday or Sunday night.

shaving-directionSo lets do it.  Take your finger tips and run them along your sideburns, starting at the top and moving towards your chin.

For most people, it should feel smooth. That’s “With the Grain” (WTG)  Now push back up.  It should feel rough like sandpaper.  That’s “Against the Grain” (ATG).  If you rub back and forth across that area, it’ll be rougher than going with the grain, but not quite as rough as going against the grain.  That’s “Across the Grain” (XTG).

Here's a map of a normal man's facial grain:

Map Your Face

Now it’s time to get to know your whole face a little bit more intimately.  Rub all over your face, getting to know the grain, and where the grain changes.  You’ll use this intimate knowledge when you start shaving!

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