Yes, it’s very possible to get a smooth shave with a shavette going against the grain. When I shave with my shavette, or any razor for that matter, I do two passes: one with the grain and one against the grain.
For whatever reason I like the feeling of getting a really close shave. I can’t get a really close shave by just going with the grain, I always have to go against the grain. If you’re having a hard time getting a smooth shave going against the grain then either your blade is dull or you just need to refine your technique.
I’m going to assume that you have already tried a new razor. I can’t imagine a razor blade getting dull after one pass with the grain. If you have used the same blade to shave multiple times before then it is quite possible that it is getting dull.
As far as technique goes, shaving against the grain is different than shaving with the grain. I could write thousands of words trying to explain it to you and you could watch hundreds of videos on youtube trying to figure it out, but the best way is to simply start trying to shave against the grain.
The getting starting guide at the Straight Razor Place forums recommends for beginners to start out by shaving your cheek with the grain to get used to shaving with the straight razor. Once you are comfortable with that shave more and more of your face. Now I know we’re talking about shavettes and you aren’t completely new to wet shaving but I would recommend similar steps to what’s outlined in that article for going against the grain.
The one thing that will differ from that article is where you start. Start with your cheek area. Start from your jawline and go up towards your side burns/eye/cheekbone. This is most likely going to be a flat area of your face where it will be easier to get a feel for how you should hold the shavette in order to cut the hair.
Another good area is the sides of the front of your neck up to the jawline. If you tilt your chin up it makes for another great flat area for you to practice on.
Your jawbone, chin, above your upper lip, and below your lower lip are all pretty tricky areas. I would recommend holding off on these areas until you are comfortable with the other areas.
For example, if you master shaving your cheek and below your jawbone it’s a simple progression to shave the curve of your jawbone. You know what angle to hold the shavette in order to cut the hair both above and below the jawbone.
When you come to the curve where your jawbone is, you are going to have to adapt the angle of the blade slightly otherwise the blade is just goin to dig into your skin. I like to err on the side of caution and have the angle be too shallow.
If the angle is too shallow the worst that is going to happen is you won’t cut any hair. At that point you know to increase the angle of blade a little bit. You can keep on doing so until you start to shave your stubble.
Another thing you will want to do is pull your skin taunt. Pulling the skin taunt will lift the hair up and help you get a closer cut.
I like to pull the skin that is behind the shavette. That way I don’t have a hand in front of the shavette and don’t have to worry about the shavette slipping and going into my finger.
In conclusion, you can get a smooth shave with a shavette going against the grain. It’s going to take some practice and you are going to nick yourself while learning how to do so, but if you stick with it you’ll get the hang of it.