I've learned some things in my first month of wet shaving.
A month isn't a long time and I've got no idea if any of this will work for other newbies but here it is..
I started out pretty good to be honest. I read a lot of posts, watched a lot of vids, and gave careful attention to what I was doing. My first few shaves were ok to be honest. A few weepers here and there and some irritation on my neck.
A month later and I hardly ever get weepers and there is almost no irritation, sometimes none. I'll call it a successful month and hope to improve in months ahead. But here are the things I think helped me get my first bit of improvement.
I shave a lot. I might have only skipped 2 days of shaving but there were some times that I shaved twice a day. I shaved the night before and did a touch up shave in the am. I have no idea if it's better to rest your face a day or two but grow more hair requiring extra passes or to shave more often but I picked shave more often. Maybe it was the practice, my face getting used to DE shaving or both but clocking 50 shaves in a month did something that helped me.
Products - I used to use just one shaving product, Barbasol lime. Now in my prep I apply some Kiss My Face cream and work it in with my finger tips. I let it sit awhile while I prepare things. I rub an Arko stick all over my face lifting up the whiskers. After I'm done I use a combination of witch hazel, After shave, balm, and even Lubriderm or aloe vera gel depending on whatever whim I'm on. My thinking is that these products work. The witch hazel does something...the menthol does something.. These products in prep work to prepare you for shaving and the post products are healing your skin. Sounds really simple as I'm writing it but I just never thought about healing my face after shaving before I came here.
Pressure - I could not really figure out how to use zero pressure and let the weight of the razor do the work. It sounds good but I don't really know how to do that. What I did figure out was that holding my razor close to the head using only my thumb and first two fingers uses a lot less pressure than say grabbing the handle in your whole fist would. Sort of like holding a tea cup with a tiny handle. It forces you to have a light touch if you use a very light hold.
Angle - I'm still a bit lost on proper angle but I rely on sound to guide me. The face is all sorts of angles and I can't figure on how to hold 30 degrees across it. I just listen for cutting and adjust if I don't hear any.
Short strokes - I use (try to use) short 1" strokes instead of long sweeping strokes of days gone by from ear all the way down to jaw. Uhm..yeah, it took me a few times to learn long DE strokes don't work for me at all.
Passes - I've done a weeks worth of 2 pass shaves. Either WTG or WTG and XTG trying with all my might not to chase after perfect shaves and be happy with the socially acceptable shave required for my work. I try hard to stick with it but the quest for BBS has a strong pull. I must admit that I sometimes do go with 3-4 pass shaves and even the newbie no no ATG pass from time to time. I know I should not do it but it's so damn effective. It cuts stuff that the other passes are missing. This is a tough one but TRYING to stick to SAS and low wear and tear 2 pass shaves did do wonders for me on neck irritation. It's hard to obey the rules.
Blades and razors - Everybody says get a sample pack so I did. I also got two razors and I've been trying all sorts of combinations. I've found that most of the blades are very similar and the differences are in how many shaves a blade gives me or if a blade is a bit sharper to start out with but for me it's not a huge deal (yet). The important part was in trying two blades that don't work for me at all...they suck. If I only had those blades to start with it would be tragic. So testing different blades gives you valuable information. I found out what it's like for a blade to skip and it's not the end of the world but it's an eye opener and teaches you how to recognize a smoother blade. There is no substitute for trying some variables and learning what they mean to you and your shave.
That's it so far. I moth isn't that long and maybe not enough to post a zillion word post on "all I've learned" but I read tons of posts like this and that is perhaps the most important part of the puzzle. Having a forum like this to absorb as much information as you can from those that have gone before me. There is a massive amount of information here and the newbie can type things into the search box and spend the next hour chasing down info that will save weeks/months of experimenting on their own.
So yeah....my first month of real shaving was fun.