As we have touched on before, there are many methods and directions in which you can shave your face. We have talked about the advantages of shaving with the grain, against the grain, across the grain, and everything in between. These are all contingent upon you knowing which way the grain of your facial hair grows, i.e. beard mapping. In this article, we will teach you how to map your own beard in order to better understand in which direction your facial hair grows so you can better take care of your hair and skin going forward.
How do I find my beard map?
The process in which you will find your beard map is pretty simple. We would recommend, for all folks, to shave your face clean so you may have a blank canvas to work with.
Then, let your facial hair grow out for a few days until it reaches about 1/4 inch in length.
Then, observe: look in the mirror, have someone you know look closely, or take a few selfies. Identify the different sectors of your beard, and which direction the grain is going in each.
To help, I sketched this map with the direction of my beard growth, shown by the direction of the red arrows.
Okay, great. What do I now?
Simply put, shave! Now that you have the knowledge of which directions your beard grain flows, you can observe which methods work best for you and your skin. We already have an article touching on directional shaving and which one is best for you, however here is a brief reminder:
With the grain- Shaving in the same direction as your facial hair, the razor blade pins the hair against the skin, leaving a small amount of hair above the skin line. This method is best for consistently ending with the least amount of irritation possible, and we would recommend it as a first-pass option.
Against the grain- Shaving in the opposite direction of your beard growth, this method slightly pulls the hair upwards, cutting the hair below the skin surface level. Because of this, shaving in this direction runs an increased risk of irritation and razor bumps. We would recommend this as a second-or-third pass option, only.
Across the grain- Shaving perpendicular to the growth direction of your facial hair. This method helps you get a similar closeness as shaving against the grain, however, you don't run the same risks of irritation and ingrown hairs. In this method, the blade is cutting the hair right at the skin's surface and will have you feeling smooth as a seal, perfect for those with more sensitive skin and/or coarser facial hair.
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