Up your shave game with grain mapping

grain mapping

Do you ever find that you seem to get a smooth shave on some parts of your face, but suffer from irritation on others? If so, then grain mapping could be your new best friend.

What is grain mapping?

It’s not as complicated as it sounds, we promise! Quite literally, it’s just the process of mapping the grain of your facial hair. Still confused? Well, you’ve probably heard of shaving “with the grain” (the direction your hair naturally grows) but did you know that the grain is usually different on different parts of your face? This is where grain mapping comes in.

Why should you shave with the grain?

In case you’re unfamiliar with all this grain talk, we’ll give you a quick rundown. You know when you stroke a cat the wrong way and they get really angry? the same principle applies with your facial hair.. Well, sort of. It’s really all to do with friction; from razor burn to ingrown hairs, friction plays a part in many of the most common shaving issues. If you try and shave “against the grain” (the opposite way that the hair naturally grows) friction is created and the hair is harshly tugged before it is cut, which unsurprisingly, your face probably isn’t going to be too keen on.

How to map your grain:

We’re not going to lie, grain mapping does take a little bit of time and effort. The good news here though; your grain doesn’t usually change over time, so once you’ve sussed it out once you’re all set.

You’ll need to split your face into small sections. You can be as thorough as you like with this, but for the sake of keeping things simple, we’d recommend the following:

how to map your grain
  • Sideburns
  • Cheeks
  • Moustache
  • Upper chin (left & right)
  • The point of your chin
  • Neck

Run your fingers across the different sections in all directions. The direction that feels the most resistant or prickly is “against the grain”. You’ll want to shave in the opposite direction, following the path of least resistance. There are a few lucky guys who’ll find their grain is pretty much the same all over their face, but for most of us it’s usually a pretty random affair. Here’s an example:

how to map your grain 2

If you want to be a super geek, here’s a full sized version of the template that you can print off and fill in yourself. Happy mapping!