For the past month or so, I've started my shaves with ATG passes, and I've been getting great, irritation free shaves!
Almost everything that I've read about shaving recommends that we shave in a length-reducing manner, starting with a WTG pass (followed by XTG and ATG if desired). I followed this advice for quite awhile, but sometimes, by the time I finished my ATG pass, I would end up with some redness and irritation on my neck. Like most necks, mine is full of hair that grows in every direction. Any direction that I shave in will result in me cutting some hairs WTG, some hairs XTG, and some hairs ATG. It's kind of impossible to get a nice, clean WTG pass like I can on my cheeks.
Anyhow, as I said, I recently switched things up and started shaving with my first pass as ATG. On my cheeks, this works out pretty well. In 1 pass (or maybe 1.5) can get BBS. Not blood, no irritation.
On my neck, my first pass is predominantly ATG and removes most of the hairs that go in the same direction (about 60% of the hair on my neck is goes in 1 direction and can be cleanly removed with this 1st ATG pass). My 2nd pass is ATG from another angle (N to S), removing most of the remaining hairs that grow in the same direction. And my 3rd pass is ATG from yet another angle (S to N), removing the last few rogue hairs. After 3 passes I get a mostly BBS shave without any irritation.
I'm not sure why this works for me, but it works. It took me a few tries to adjust my strokes and my hand stretching, but it was well worth it. And heck, if you're foolishly in pursuit of BBS (or near BBS) and getting irritation, you might want to give this method a try.
Here are some tips on how I do things:
- I shower and wash my face.
- I rinse and face lather for 4-5 minutes (I could bowl lather, but either way, I've got to let the water/lather set into my beard for 4-5 minutes).
- I start with my cheeks, stretching the skin by reaching my non-shaving hand over my head and pulling up from the sideburns.
- My strokes are really short and quick--kind of like buffing.
- On my neck, I use my non-shaving hand to gently hold the skin in place. I usually place a finger or two behind the razor's path (kind of the opposite of how I stretch for my cheeks). I don't pull the skin tight on my neck--I just hold it in place. I also don't use facial movements to stretch/tighten the skin--I find that doing so can cause irritation.
- I never re-shave over a spot on my skin again without re-lathering.
YMMV, but I thought I'd share a few tips on what's been working for me.