"Technique over Tools"

As a beginner, this can serve you well. I didn't know this when I started out, so when something didn't seem to work, I'd switch to another blade or start a hunt for another razor. What a waste of time.

Just like these guys are saying, just work on your pressure (keep it super light), razor angle (differs per razor, and user to some extent), and direction (need to know your growth direction for this).

Also

  • I don't do any preshave except a splash of cool water. Not even a shower. Still get great shaves.
  • /u/assistantpigkeeper 's first paragraph is pretty much what I would have said. Find a blade from a sampler that works for you and stick with it for a while as your technique improves. Then keep exploring the sampler.
  • I don't actually like the greek yogurt consistency for my lathers. For most soaps, that's too thick for me. Doesn't bond with the face as well. But these guys have been at it longer than me, so I say try it both ways and see where you like your own lather. Besides, as you try for the "perfect" lather, you'll likely miss by one way or the other, and you might end up finding it where you didn't think it was.
  • /u/MalthusTheShaver and I agree on so many things about shaving. His advice comes from an experienced and excellent place. However, some prefer cool water rinses between passes (especially if you have inflammation of any kind), and some shavers actually don't rinse at all, but just re-lather for the next pass. Haven't tried that yet. So your between pass rinsing may be something you can discover for yourself as well.

And

  • Tell us your razor and soap, so we can make sure you don't have junk.
  • The VDH soap is actually decent. Something many of us might not like to admit.

I have been using the viking crusader, a viking black stallion brush, the viking chairman bowl, and taylor of old bond street. With a nivea sensetive after balm. Van der hagen blades since my assorted blade pack hadnt come yet. Going to try a new blade on saturday. The persona platinum chrome.

Thanks for the kind words, sir!

A cold water splash can also work well - I've done it myself, especially in the summer. Warm water is better for getting the soap off, cold better for soothing. No reason not to try both!