Once you have a safety razor, the blades of your choice, a shaving brush, a mug and some soap or cream, you're ready to get started. First, it's important to prep the facial hair you're preparing to shave in order to soften it enough to avoid irritation. Hot water and steam from your morning shower are ideal, but you can use a hot, wet towel.
WET SHAVING: GETTING STARTED
Once your whiskers are nice and soft, apply some lather with a wet shaving brush and the cream or shaving soap of your choice. With your assembled safety razor, begin shaving. Unlike disposable razors, which require substantial pressure in order to achieve a close shave, you'll want to use the lightest touch possible while wet shaving. You may need to make a few passes over the same area in order to get a close shave, but minimal pressure means you won't risk irritation or nicks. A safety razor is a fairly heavy, substantial piece of equipment, and you're using the weight of the razor, rather than hand pressure.
A great shaving soap or cream goes a long way toward preventing irritation, but there's also a technique involved and it may take a bit of practice to get yours just right.
AVOIDING CUTS AND IRRITATION
You should shoot for an angle between 30 and 45 degrees, and shave with the grain. Going against the grain will give you a smooth result in fewer passes, but you're more likely to cause ingrown hairs and nicks by shaving against the grain when you're first starting. Until you're more comfortable with handling a safety razor, it's best to settle for additional passes going with the grain. In fact, most irritation from shaving is caused by a determination to get down to the skin in one quick pass, no matter what kind of razor is being used. With wet shaving, the goal is gradual reduction of hair growth until the skin is smooth, so you'll be making multiple passes with light pressure. With this technique, you can put a stop to ingrown hairs, razor burn and other irritation associated with disposable razors and drying aerosol shaving cream.