It sounds like your worst problem is that hard water...
For your brush, wash it out with a little dish liquid (like dawn etc, something mild) and then do a soak in 1 part white vinegar 9 parts water (I like an even 10% concentration ;)) (just added: add a dash of glycerine too)... brush should hold lots of water after that. My C&E brush shed a couple hairs for the first few uses but stopped - if it sheds much more I'd give them a call.
Definitely use bottled water for your shave - distilled or reverse osmosis water would be best, but just about any bottled water will give you better results than hard water. Your lather should have a bit of sheen on the top of it, if you move it around in the light. Just warm it up in your microwave before use. If you use a scuttle, there's no need to fill it with bottled water.
Razor bumps are often caused by cutting the hair underneath the skin surface, which can happen if the hair is pulled before it's cut, or if you stretch the skin too much while cutting. It can also be caused by irritating the pore with bad blade angle (scraping rather than cutting) and could also be an indicator that more pre-shave prep is needed (corn huskers lotion is a cheap alternative), or that your lather isn't lubricating enough (likely!!).
Last edited by m00t; 02-12-2007 at 09:53 AM.
[COLOR="DarkOrchid"]And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be
[COLOR="DarkOrange"]This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again
how sheeps' bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.[/COLOR]
[COLOR="DarkOrchid"]Oh, certainly, sir.[/COLOR]