I've been looking for a decent shave routine ever since I joined the site, and I think I may have found it after all this time.
What works for me:
A Synthetic brush - not as luxurious as traditional animal hair, but dries and gets wet fast, and has no stink, ever!
Soap creams, specifically Proraso - great herbal scent, and I don't think I can shave without menthol ever again. The stuff's hard enough to lather in the tub yet lathers on the face just as fast as cream. I have no trouble whipping up a great smelling and cushioning lather like this.
A razor with a Muhle head or a Merkur 34c with a Wilkinson or Feather - Wilkinson swords feel sharp in the Muhle head, but it's a great shaver that errs on the side of aggressive while still remains firmly in the category of "mild". The 34c just makes any blade feel comfortable. Great razor but why the short handle?
AS w/ alcohol & glycerin - I tried using post shave balm for a while, and even tried no AS. Always had problems with acne in the shaved area. My skin is smooth with alcohol based AS'...closes up the wounds so no chance for infection.
Fewer passes with WTG only - ATG + WTG = bloody face. I've learned to settled for fewer passes going WTG only...this makes me more careful with my shaves since I know I'm only getting a few passes...makes for bloodless and faster shaves.
Feels pretty good to have made these adjustments...I don't think I've ever been more happy/willing to shave.
Have you found "your" shave yet? Feels good, doesn't it?