A Better Shave
GRAIN AND CONTOURS
Relate to the direction that our hairs grow in and the subtle landscape that is our face, our neck or other parts of our body. Hair direction is often referred to as "the grain" and understanding how the hairs on your face, the neck or any area that you shave is a useful study. Knowing your "grain" and the contours of the relevant area will assist you in overcoming the majority of shaving problems.
For example, lets take the face. The below is what's known as a "grain map" and if you have the time it can be a useful reference and study in recalling the direction your hair grows in. Understanding "the grain" will help you to shave "with the grain" (WTG) and by making your first pass with your razor WTG you should be minimizing irritation. Each shaver is different in how many passes they enjoy or if they choose to shave just WTG or include "across the grain" (XTG) or "against the grain" (ATG). Map your grain (mentally, take a picture or use the below image) and enjoy what works best for you.
PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS
A bad shave more often than not. Prepare your skin by thoroughly cleaning and hydrating it; a warm to hot wash, shower or bath, along with a soap that doesn't strip your skin of its natural oils or overly dry it out will have your skin good and ready for the shave ahead. Some shavers enjoy using a pre-shave treatment, e.g a pre-shave oil. These are great but again, find what works for you and as minimum you should begin by cleaning and hydrating the area to be shaved. Pay good attention to the entire area that you'll be taking your razor to and be generous with your application of lather.
There are very few, if any, perfectly flat areas on our skin and as mentioned above, the landscape of our skin is made up its own contours, depressions and ridges. Rather than stretching your skin taught try flattening the area by gently depressing somewhere close by. Experiment with the angle of the area being shaved, e.g. if you are shaving your face try leaning your head forwards or backwards in order to assist in flattening the skin. Also, consider using a shorter stroke for problem areas.
Or rather the amount of pressure one should use when shaving. Try using no (that's right, no) pressure. Instead let your razor and blade (or cut throat) do their thing. Pushing in to your skin is a sure way of irritating, cutting or nicking it and should be avoided. Remember, NO pressure.
CLEAN AND CLOSE
The area shaved with generous amounts of warm water afterwards; this will remove any lather residue left on the shaved area. Now close the pores of your skin by applying a good amount of very cold water. If you choose you are now ready to apply an aftershave or balm.