I've been having some issues with minor irritation and after much deliberation I chalked it up to a moisture issue. My technique has greatly improved and I've bought a little sharper blades so that's helped but I was still feeling a bit raw. So I lurked a bit and found a little trick(sorry for the lack of credit, I can't remember where I read it). I just wanted to share with my fellow newbies just in case it's just what they need:
Before your first pass put hot water on your face and lather up. Spend a moment or two massaging lather into the face. Let the lather sit for a minute or two then wash it all off with hot water. Lather up again and go for your first pass.
Simple enough and only took a couple extra minutes. I don't mind the extra time. I've been shaving at night because I enjoy taking the time to go through 3 passes(and I can't convince myself to wake up any earlier). Went through my shave with no irritation on my first two passes and just a little irritation during the ATG pass and clean up(chalk that one up to technique most likely).
Tonight I used:
Merkur 38c with a Walgreens branded Personna
AoS sandalwood cream
AoS fine badger brush
AoS sandalwood AS balm mixed with a little Every Man Jack Mint lotion (just for the heck of it)
BBS with just a little irritation and no bleedin. Try it during your next shave and let me know what you think. Anybody have any other tricks to avoid irritation??