One of the basics that all wet shavers need to figure out, whether you are shaving your face , legs, or some other body part, is their hair growth pattern. Since MOST wet shavers are shaving their face this is commonly referred to as beard mapping. Simply put, different parts of your beard will grow in different directions. This is useful to know when shaving as different parts of your beard will require different strokes to go WTG, XTG, and ATG [see multiple pass shave article].
To find out the direction that your beard (or any other hair) grows, rub your hand on the stubble. You should feel more resistance and scratchiness in one direction than the others. The direction that feels smoothest is the direction your hair grows, or the WTG direction. The direction you feel the most resistance and scratchiness is the opposite direction your hair grows, or the ATG direction. Some people with finer hair follicles may need to wait for another day of growth to get a good indication of the direction of growth. For a more visual approach, take a cotton ball and stroke it along your face in one direction. Little wisps of cotton will get stick on the hair follicles when you go against the natural direction of hair growth.
As you spend more time beard mapping you will probably find that your hair grows in multiple directions. While it may seem to be a bit of a challenge at first, properly mapping your beard allows you to choose the specific technique that works best for each section of your face. This is the foundation you will build your shaving routine on.
A great tool for keeping track of your beard growth patterns is a Beard Map. This is a drawing of the beard area (neck, jaw, cheeks…) that you can fill in with little arrows to denote your beard direction. You can find two different versions of a blank beard map below. One is completely blank and the other is broken down into sections (some people find helpful to break it down by section).
Beard Map JPG Files:
Beard Map PDF Files
While most of us would assume we know our beards well enough that we don’t need a map, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes and map out your beard. It is particularly helpful as a tool to work on those trouble spots we all have. Take a day or two and fill the map up with as many arrows as you need to denote direction of growth. If you take the time and pay attention you may notice that certain parts of your beard change direction ever so slightly. Instead of doing a WTG pass you may end up performing a more aggressive ATG pass without knocking down your beard enough before hand.
As an example, here is a quick beard map of my beard. While I usually describe my beard growth on my face as going from North to South you can see that sideburns are actually closer to a diagonal to a NW to SE (my right sideburn) and NE to SW (my left sideburn).
Give it a shot and let me know how it goes. As alway if you felt this was helpful then please comment or share it with others. Have a great day and a smooth shave!
A few more quality articles, discussions, and tools can be found on the following links.