And I think I have the answer to it all. My wife and I went to the beauty supply house yesterday. She's a licensed beautician, so she gets all kinds of cheap stuff. I was looking at this rack of products called American Crew for men. They had this little tub of shaving cream:
That's an image of it, so you'll know what to get. Fellows, this stuff is the single most awesome shaving cream I've ever encountered. A small tub cost me $6, and it may be more if you can't find a hairdresser to buy it for you, but you can get it off the internet. A Google search brought up several sellers.
It is more expensive than your usual Edge gel type stuff, but it is so worth it. This stuff is mega thick, extremely moisturizing and it SMELLS GREAT. My wife loves it.
I have always had rash/bumps or other nastiness on my neck after shaving and thought it was a hopeless cause. After adopting American Crew and trying some new methods in the Ubermonkeys thread, I finally shaved this morning with no irritation. Not only that, my face and neck feel great!
Here is my regimen: 1. Shower. Big-time hot. 2. Run sink full of hot water. Splash on face. 3. Apply just a dab of American Crew using a brush. Yeah, the old barber shop style brushes. Then spread it around. It doesn't take much at all to cover the face. See the linked thread for the virtues of using a brush. 4. Brush your teeth or something to kill time while the cream softens your beard and moisturizes your face. 5. Shave with the grain. Then go gently against it. 6. Rinse with VERY cold water.
The only drawback to American Crew is it is THICK, so you'll have to clean your razor on a towel. Water won't wash it out. However, that is also the strength of it because the cream won't slide off your face and will ONLY come off when you are properly shaving. Right on.
Hope this helps somebody.
EDIT: Also, here is a great article (msnbc.msn.com) that talks about the awesomeness of shaving brushes and recommends some old-school razors that are supposed to rock.
(edited by Parts Unknown on 6.6.06 1023)
"How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: 'The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.' This would shackle the viewer to reality, and I don't want this to happen to 2001." - Stanley Kubrick