Should You Shave Against The Grain Or In Favor?

Shaving against the grainShaving in the opposite direction of the hair growth can be the fastest way to have a closer shave. Unfortunately, it is also a “short cut” route to aggravate the skin, damage hair follicles and have more serious problem in the long run.

The reason is simple. The hair grows in all directions, especially around the neck, and when a razor is passed against its natural direction, you are effectively pulling the hair back on itself.

Admittedly, shaving against the hair growth repeatedly will give you a close shave as you will be cutting closer to the root. Basically, by doing so, you are forcing the ends of the hair out slightly, but the drawbacks outweigh the real benefits since it is better to have a little less close shave instead of having ingrown hairs, burns or irritation.

How can you shave correctly?

First, it pays to do what all professional barbers do. Spend one minute to examine your beard to see which direction it is growing and create a plan of attack based on what you see (a magnifying mirror can help.)

You can also use your fingers (you will know if you are pushing against the tide, because it feels like you are stroking the hair of a dog the wrong way).

To avoid accidentally going against the growth, always use short gentle strokes, letting the safety razor slide on the skin without pressure.

Generally talking now, shaving has always carried some interesting misconceptions. For example, people have for years believed that shaving against the grain would grow thicker hair.

Well, the hair follicles are set to go in a certain direction at birth. Prone to balding men are genetically programmed before birth to lose hair at an early age and people’s exposure to excessive body hair is also genetically programmed. Shaving in favor or against the growth does not awaken dormant hair follicles to produce hair.

Several studies since the 1920s have demonstrated and confirmed that shaving has no effect on hair growth or density, it changes, however, the appearance of the hair.

Either in favor or against the grain, shaving causes hair to grow with the square ends. As hair grows naturally with a gentle slope to end, shaving hair makes the end into a square shape.

This gives the appearance of thicker hair when in fact it is the same diameter as always, only less tapered at the end.

And of course, most of the hair is lighter and weaker at the end compared to the root, again due to the genetic programming. So, when you shave the hair ends, what remains is darker coloration, with the hair giving the appearance of being darker.

In conclusion, shaving against the grain makes no difference to your hair, except for giving you all sorts of skin irritation problems (as mentioned before.)

There are, however, some other effects to shaving against the grain that need to be mentioned. For example, shaving against the grain can cut hair at an angle, leaving a sharp point that may be more prone to ingrown.

This condition is called “razor bumps” and it is much more common for men shaving beards than for women’s legs, but for women, it can also be a problem in the bikini area or underarms.

Finally, we can clearly see that shaving against the grain will not make your hair grow thicker or denser. On the other hand, shaving against the growth can cause inflammation and irritation.

So, if you still insist and simply have to shave against the grain so that you get that softness on your skin, make sure to use a clean and good quality blade as well as lots of shaving lubricant.