Chasing Baby SmoothEver since I discovered old-time shaving with a double edge, I've been striving for the perfect shave: baby smooth and no skin insult of any kind. The reality is, however, that's just not going to happen. The combination of my wiry beard, angle of growth, and skin sensitivity and texture makes this theoretical ideal exactly that: theoretical.
I can get baby smooth all over, but I will have wounds; it's unavoidable. I can have happy skin, but I will feel stubble if I rub against the grain.
The solution is obvious: stop chasing baby smooth!
I will still pursue a good shave. I did so this morning. I took one of my adjustable razors, set it on its mildest setting, and made a first pass largely against the grain. Then I adjusted my razor to a middling setting, re-lathered (deviating from my oft-used single-lather shave) and again shaved largely against the grain.
Then I used some extra water and lather remaining on my face and the underside of the razor, and did touch-up strokes with the razor set to about two-thirds of full bore.
Using a light touch throughout, I got a very good shave -- not quite perfect, but close enough to satisfy.