What is a pass?
A pass is a series of strokes that will remove the lather
from the surface (skin) that needs to be shaved. You should do a single stroke where you have lather
. Do not shave over and over where you do not have any lather
How many passes should I do?
You should probably do 2 or 3 passes maximum
. Often, too many passes and inexperience leads to irritation. You need to keep in mind that you are aiming for a beard reduction, not a very close shave. However, too many passes will cause irritation. With time and practice, the shave will be closer, do not worry too much at first.
Is direction important?
Yes. Generally, the order of the passes are WTG (With the Grain), XTG (Across the Grain) and ATG (Against the Grain). You can determine the direction by letting your beard grow for 2-3 days. Then, in a mirror, stretch the skin and look at the direction of the whiskers. Shaving ATG is not mandatory to get a close shave and should be avoided at first in order to limit the risks of irritation. Only do it if you feel confident. In all cases, do not force the shave.
It may be helpful to draw out a map of your beard's grain.
There are several templates available:
There's also an interactive whisker map
allows you to map the direction of growth and how to best shave each area. You can then print it out to keep as a reference.
What can you do?
Start by shaving WTG only for your first shave. You can do 2 passes WTG. The shave will not be very close but it will give you an idea on how to work with the angle and let the razor do the cutting. If you feel confident, try XTG as your second or third pass. Only do ATG if you think you are ready.