1. Whenever possible, shave in the shower or, at least, immediately thereafter; the steam/hot water softens the skin and opens up your pores bringing moisture to the skin. Also, try to wait at least 30 minutes after waking (when skin is at its puffiest) to shave.
2. If time permits, try a facial scrub to exfoliate the skin prior to shaving. (Just one more step that will guarantee your best shave ever.)
3. Next, apply a Pre-Shave Oil, which further preps the skin (especially sensitive skin) and softens the beard for the most perfect shave.
4. Apply your Shave Cream/gel (I'm currently alternating between The Art of Shaving and Lab Series products) with a badger brush, if possible. Believe it or not, a brush does make a difference as compared to using your hand, which can pack the shaving cream into the skin.
5. Let the Cream/Gel/Foam set for a few minutes to further soften the hair.
6. SHAVE WITH THE GRAIN, first: Start with the cheeks, followed by underneath the chin and then the lip area. If your hair grows in different directions, again, make sure that you go WITH the grain first. If needed, after the initial shave, go back over the skin AGAINST the skin for an even closer shave. Too many passes, though, and you're bound to get razor burn or ingrown hairs.
7. Rinse your face in cold water to aid in closing your pores. Do not rub the now exposed skin with a clean, white towel, but instead pat it dry.
8. Next, I either use witch hazel, on a cotton swab, as an anti-septic to ward off redness and/or bacteria. (Should you cut yourself while shaving, you can either use an ice cube, a styptic pencil, or a cold compress to stop the bleeding.)
9. Lastly, apply an alcohol-free after-shave balm/gel, with calming agents such as aloe, to rejuvenate, moisture and replenish nutrients to the skin.
Shaving Tip: To ensure that your blades last longer, and stave off premature rusting between shaves, once used, thoroughly clean them and place (blades up) in either vegetable or baby oil. This simple step will not only maintain adequate blade lubrication until your next shave, thus preventing possible "blade drag," but should also save you a few dollars in the long run.