In the last few weeks I've finally gotten to the point where I can give myself consistently close and irritation free shaves. I've also managed to speed up the process quite a bit, mostly by skipping any unnecessary pre-shave routine and cutting out passes. I'm pretty much doing one full with the grain pass and a touch up or half pass (against the grain) on my neck/chin area. I can certainly do better but in the interest of saving time in the morning I find the results quite good with this. I pretty much have to do two passes on my neck and chin to get anything close to acceptable in that area, a little annoying as it's also my most tricky and sensitive area. Since I've gotten better with my technique I've found pre-shave oils and creams don't actually do a whole lot for me, or at least I've gotten comfortable results without them. I'll probably go back and try the shave oil I liked so much a while ago and try and evaluate the results now that I'm much more consistent in my shaves. I also might use the Proraso pre-shave cream as more of a luxury thing when I have a little more time to shave but I've never really found it did much other than make my face feel tingly and smell nice. I've also cut a good deal of time by not using my sink as a scuttle. I still warm my mug under hot water but I don't do anything to try and keep it warm, since I'm generally faster and doing fewer passes I don't really need to work as hard to keep it warm. I'm also hoping to get a scuttle for Christmas giving me consistently warm lather with no additional time spent mucking around filling my sink and keeping my mug in there making it harder to clean my razor. I also rinse my razor under the tap now, which is far faster than wiping it on a cloth or sponge and it's less clean up at the end. I've also been experimenting with different blades and different blades feel more different than I thought they would. Now that I'm a better I want to revisit the Feathers. I was getting good results with just a single pass with them. I think they've given me the best single (with the grain) pass results of any blade I've tried but I found I was getting a good deal of irritation going across or against the grain which meant my neck and chin would either be a little stubbly or irritated depending on if I tried another pass on that area. I haven't tried them in a while though and I'm wondering how much of that irritation was due to the extremely sharp blade or me lacking in technique. I've since tried Derbys, Wilkinsons and Merkurs. The Derbys and Merkurs are quite a bit tamer than the Feathers and I quite like them. I want to give the Merkurs a little more time but at the moment I'm leaning towards Derbys as my go to blades. I didn't much care for the Wilkinson Swords, I found they felt oddly rough and they didn't do as well as the Feathers on a single pass but gave me much more irritation than the Derbys and Merkurs on multiple passes, sort of a worst of both situation. They were the first I tried after the Feathers though so I'll give them another try in the future. Seems I like the more forgiving blades, probably makes sense considering I'm still fairly new to this and my beard isn't terribly heavy or coarse. As I said I'm hoping to get a scuttle and a Feather AC razor for Christmas along with some cream and a new brush. Anyone else ask Santa for new shaving gear?