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 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 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
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
Wash your face 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.
Step 3: Get Steamy
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 cream you use is down to personal preference: Shave lather is traditional for a pillowy, smooth shave, but those who want to be able to see where they’re shaving more clearly—if, for example, they’re experimenting with some different beard styles—may want to try a soft, transparent shave butter instead.
Step 5: Shave With the Grain
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
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 that crusty, old toothbrush that’s still hanging around to clean it out.
Step 7: Edge Under the 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 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
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
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
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. It also helps to use a transparent shave butter for extra visibility when shaving precision zones like your mutton chops. You can trim any excess bulk on the sideburns themselves with a trimmer.
Step 11: Shave the 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
As you reach the natural curves on your chin, apply even less pressure to avoid nicks and cuts.
Step 13: 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
A shave isn’t over when you put the razor down—proper aftercare soothes your skin when it needs it most. Since shaving is a natural exfoliant, make sure you always apply a gentle alcohol-free post shave cream afterwards to put back what you took out by shaving. This will help to soothe, nourish and hydrate your skin.
Step 15: Realize How Good Your Face Looks
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: The right preparation, knowing how to shave with the grain, and how to care for your skin afterwards. We told you it’s easy when you know how.