I began the shave by rubbing cool tap water on my beard several times. Then I rubbed my shaving-soap stick/lump directly onto my wet beard and lathered it using my hands, not a brush. This hand lathering creates a flat soapy layer that is not fluffy like when a brush is used to whip lather from shaving soap. However, this flat layer is slick and protecting as long as there is sufficient water present.
I then re-shaved from whatever direction necessary to enhance the closeness of the shave while avoiding skin damage. During this second phase, I did not use buffing strokes, but they were largely oblique. I also didn't consistently use an anti-raking pattern either, since this was an entire pass of pragmatic touch-up strokes. I also re-applied water from the tap and lather from the underside of the razor as necessary to ensure adequate skin protection.
The result was a very high-quality three-C shave: close, comfortable, and quick.
I attribute the three-C shave to the following factors:
- The RM2003, though not terribly aggressive or threatening, is nonetheless the most aggressive razor that I keep with my in-bathroom shaving gear. This razor, compared to my other regulars, has a rather large blade reveal and shaves best with a relatively low blade angle -- that is, with the handle relatively highly angled from the skin surface.
- The Astra SP blade is fairly compatible with my skin and beard, and was pretty new, having only two previous shaves on it.
- I used a light touch for all my shaving strokes.
- I was very pragmatic in the direction of my strokes, making the initial "pass" with grain, and subsequent clean-up strokes both across and against grain.