Brushes

Whatever you do, buy a good brush.  It doesn't have to be great, but it should be made of badger hair and run about $25, like this one.  Boar and synthetic bristles is like finding a paintbrush in the garage and running it across your face.  They don't feel good and they don't hold water all that well.

My first two brushes haven't been seen since the first few times I've used them.  The entry level Colonel Conk brush (not sure who actually manufactures it) is used every day.  The Colonel also makes some kick-ass soaps.