If you want a fresh, clean shave, nothing gets as busy as a double-edged safety razor. But, before you place that blade on your face, you’ll want to master grain mapping—the artful technique of plotting the direction of your facial hair growth. You’ll want to shave ‘with the grain’ if you want to avoid getting bumps, and this is the key to unlock ALL that information for yourself.

It’s something you definitely don’t want to half-step on. Grain mapping will provide you with that guiding light in keeping those pesky ingrown hairs at bay, minimizing bumps and preventing irritation during a shave. It doesn’t have to take much time, either. Get your grain mapping skills down pat with these expert tips:

Level the Playing Field

Before you make any executive decisions on which direction your hair officially grows, make sure you have enough hair on your face to start with. If your hair is too short or too long, it’ll be difficult to gauge the true direction that your hair really grows. Dealing with hair that’s too long is a cinch, though – just cut it.

But don’t go crazy with your scissors or blades. Leave enough on your face–about four to five days–to map out the grain of your hair. You can use the Bevel Trimmer to trim your hairs down to the same length so you can start mastering your grain mapping. If you just shaved, give it a few days to start growing back so your hairs are about the same length. About two to three days is typically sufficient to determine the direction of your hair growth.

Map in the Mirror by Sections

After getting your hairs to the same length, you can start mapping by taking a look in the mirror. Notice the direction of your hair growth for all the applicable areas. They will typically grow in different directions based on the section of your face. Make a mental note as a preliminary step to establishing the pattern of your beard. Examine the growth pattern in the five sections of your beard, including the right and left sides of your neck and cheeks, and underneath your chin. Use your fingers or a sturdy card to determine which hair direction is you’re workin’ with, looking for smooth and rough spots. If it feels rough, then that means it’s ‘against the grain’. And if you go the opposite direction and it smooths the hairs down, it’s ‘with the grain’.

Avoid shaving ‘against the grain’ at ALL COSTS.

Put Your Photography Skills to Use

Move your grain mapping skills up a notch by taking pictures of your face. Snap a few close-up pictures of those five sections of your neck, cheeks, and chin. Use natural light to get the best view, and make sure to use the best lens on your phone or camera for close shots. Forgo the front-facing selfie mode on your smartphone. Better yet, enlist the help of a friend or family member who doesn’t mind playing a part in helping you fine-tune your grain mapping expertise.

Focus on the section you’re mapping out by getting close-ups of those hairs. These close-up shots will help you get a better view of which direction your hair is growing. When you’re done, you can print out your photos so that you have a hard copy for reference. It’s also okay to draw out the direction of your beard pattern by using arrows to indicate which way your hair is growing. Once you’ve mapped out the direction of your beard pattern, you will be able to shave with the grain.

Go for It

No one person’s grain pattern is the same. Still, it’s crucial to map it out to so you can shave without worrying about razor burn, razor bumps or irritation. Finding your grain takes time and patience. But over time you, too, can master your grain and shave like it’s second nature. Preeeach!