King of Shaves launch Shave + Shield dual action shave prep moisturiser

KOSThe concept of the new King of Shaves Shave + Shield is simple: it’s a product that you can use as a shave prep but  as a moisturiser too. So, technically, you don’t actually need to rinse it off after shaving as you would with a gel, foam or cream. In that respect it dovetails beautifully with King of Shaves’ last big launch, the Hyperglide, which is essentially a razor that can, if necessary, be used without water. So, add the Shave + Shield to the Hyperglide and you pretty much have the ultimate waterless shave.

In practice, not rinsing has a few disadvantages (not least that the odd rogue stubble clipping might still be stuck to your face) but it’s still an excellent time, space and money-saving product to have in your bathroom, gym bag or to pack into your suitcase if you’re heading off on your hols. What’s most impressive about it is that it’s lubricating enough to shave with and yet isn’t remotely greasy or shiny on the skin, leaving a perfectly matt finish. Clever.

Available from shave.com priced £4.99

 

Exclusive: King of Shaves makes shaving even smoother with their new Hyperglide razor

HYPERGLIDEIt’s unusual for me to lose my composure when introduced to a new grooming product. My usual press launch poker face (mastered over the years in order not to offend PRs when I am miserably underwhelmed) rarely fails me. But it did several months back when Will King, founder of King of Shaves, gave me a sneak preview of his new Hypergilde razor.

Dipping the head of the razor into a glass of water he asked me to try it out on my actual face (the bits that aren’t bearded anyway). Usually, I’m reluctant to do this, especially when sitting in a crowded restaurant, but since I was in a good mood I thought I’d comply with his request. Rather embarrassingly, when I placed the cartridge against my face I let out an audible gasp  – something Will sorely regrets not capturing on his smartphone. The reason for this involuntary emotional outburst lies in the fact that the Hyperglide feels totally different to any other razor when it makes contact with your skin.

This is because it features a high-tech, ultra-thin polymer that’s chemically-bound to the razor cartridge and which creates a layer of lubrication delivering friction levels even lower than that of ice or Teflon. It’s difficult to describe how this actually feels but imagine an ‘intimate lubricant’ applied to your face and you kind of get the picture.

Hyperglide-Handle-Holder-v1Other razors have toyed with lubricants, of course, but what makes this one so special is that, because it’s chemically bonded to the razor, it doesn’t leave a residue, peel off or snag. The result is a razor that doesn’t just deliver a great shave but one that feels genuinely pleasant to have against the skin.

What’s more, the coating means that, if you were stuck, you could probably shave without a foam, cream or gel  (all you’d need is some water) though obviously using a shave prep is always the best idea. As an extra bonus the razor and blade pack comes with a nifty little transparent holder that you can stick onto your bathroom wall or mirror so your razor’s always at hand.

As you can tell, I was genuinely excited when I fist tried the Hyperglide for myself (and I am notoriously hard to impress) so huge respect to Will for delivering a clever, innovative and fun product, as well as one that delivers a great shave.

Hyperglide-Handle-Front-v1The King of Shaves Hypergilde launches on 16th January. For more info go to shave.com

How to grow the perfect Decembeard

DecembeardIf you’ve always fancied growing a beard or just enjoyed Movember so much you fancy continuing with the facial hair then December is the perfect time to grow one – and raise some cash for charity in the process.

Decembeard is the annual fundraising initiative organised by Beating Bowel Cancer and this year I’ve been helping them out by providing some beard-growing tips.  And below is a slightly extended version of them. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now and grow one!

1. Get growing! The great thing about growing a beard is that you don’t have to do any prep – in fact the opposite is true. All you need to do is down tools and let the fuzz flourish.

Every man’s beard grows at its own rate, though, so don’t be put off or disheartened if progress seems slow at first – some of the best looking beards were late developers!

2. Keep it clean. Keeping facial hair fresh is no more hassle than keeping your face clean – you simply need to spend a few extra seconds massaging in your regular face wash. Pay extra attention to rinsing to ensure no soapy residues are left and then gently pat dry with a towel. Don’t rub your beard aggressively to dry it as this can cause irritation.

3. Invest in a good trimmer. Like privet hedges beards need regular pruning if they’re to look their best. To keep your Decembeard looking tip-top whiz over it occasionally with a beard trimmer. Opt for one with a good range of cutting lengths and a removable safety guard or pop-up definer so you can tidy the hair around the lips.

Always trim when the hair is completely dry, though, as hair relaxes and expands when wet, contracting again as it dries, so if you cut it when it’s still damp you may find you’ve trimmed too much off.KING OF SHAVES BEARD TRIMMER

4.  Switch to oil. If you want to shave around the edges of your beard to keep it defined use a shave oil – because they’re transparent you’ll be able to see exactly where you’re shaving and will get better accuracy.

5. Draw the line. For a smart, defined beard trim it so the outer edge lies at the top of the adam’s apple, moving towards the corners of the jaw diagonally. For a softer, more natural-looking beard line, use a beard trimmer and gradually decrease the length towards the outer edge so you get a blended effect.

6. Moisturise. Facial hair ‘wicks’ moisture away from the surface of the skin making the stuff beneath your beard especially prone to flakiness. To avoid dryness and beard dandruff spend a minute or so massaging a specialist beard balm like The Happy Bear’s Superior Beard Balm into the skin beneath your burgeoning face fungus.

GGBB7.  Ditch the itch. Using a moisturiser or beard balm twice daily (see above) will help keep skin and hair soft and supple but applying a hair conditioner to the beard can help keep it soft and reduce itching too.

It’s also worth giving your beard a light brush with a stiff bristle beard or hairbrush or moustache comb to minimize curl, even out the growth and minimize the risk of ingrown hairs.

8. Dye right. If you’re worried about grey whiskers disguise them with a specialist beard and moustache dye, available from most large chemists. Specially formulated for facial l hair, which is tougher than the stuff on your head, they’re easy to apply, cover greys in less than five minutes and deliver great, natural-looking results.

9. Be patient if you’re patchy. Beards are a lot like lawns – sometimes they’re cursed by annoying bald patches. But don’t give up if your beard’s a bit uneven at first – gaps often fill out after a few weeks once the hair gets to a decent length.

10. Have fun! Remember, facial hair fun to experiment with. You won’t know what you’re getting until you’re a few weeks in but that’s part of the fun. And when you’re growing it for Decembeard you’re doing it for a great cause (or something incredi-beard as the charity like to put it). You never know you may even decide to keep it!

For more information about Decembeard go to beatingbowelcancer.org

King Of Shaves gets behind Decembeard

Basic CMYKAs I pointed out in my recent Movember post, few charities can survive without the oxygen of publicity. And when you’re a charity like Beating Bowel Cancer, who raise awareness about bowel cancer and offer support and advice for those affected by it, every bit of publicity helps – especially when you’ve a fundraising event like Decembeard to promote.

The idea behind Decembeard is simple: you register, you grow a beard for a month and raise money for a great cause in the process. This year’s aim is to raise £145,000 and to help the charity achieve that King of Shaves have come on board as a supporting partner, encouraged it seems by my own small involvement in providing some grooming advice (see KoS founder Will King’s blog on his reasons for getting involved here).

14141955AAnyway, since beards need a little TLC to look their best grabbing yourself a trimmer is a great idea, which is where King of Shaves comes in. To help ensure fantastic-looking facial hair (and help the cause) they will be donating 10% from sales of their Prostyle King of Beards eGrooming range at kingofshavesdirect.com and will be running special competitions too. More than that, though, they’ll be promoting Decembeard, giving it some of that all-important publicity I was talking about.

So, if you haven’t already registered do get on board. There are few ways to do something positive for charity that are quite as simple as growing a little facial hair but, equally, few that can make such a huge impact on people’s lives. So go on – grow one!

To more information and to register for Decembeard click here.

Dove Men+Care take on Gillette & Nivea with new shaving range

Dove_Men_Plus_Care_Sensitive_Shave_Foam_200ml_FO_8711600734050It’s one of the most fiercely fought male grooming battle of all but that’s because it’s also one with some of the richest spoils. Yes, I’m talking about the shaving prep market.

For years Gillette, Nivea, Wilkinson Sword  and L’Oreal have been slugging it out amongst themselves, with a spirited and successful challenge from King of Shaves. But just when you thought the fight couldn’t get any meaner Unilever have entered the fray with three brand new shave products from Dove Men+Care.

Complementing the existing Dove Men+Care body care range and recent face care collection their new Shave Care Range features a low-foaming Shave Cream designed to give skin extra hydration, a Shave Gel available in three variants (Hydrate+, Sensitive+ and Revitalise+) and a convenient Shave Foam (available in Hydrate+ and Sensitive+ versions). With formulations designed to keep skin soft supply and hydrated throughout the shave and with all of the products coming in at an affordable £3.49 the battle for shaving supremacy in the UK just got a whole lot more interesting.

 

Disclosure Notice: I received a free sample of this product for review purposes

Tattoos rule the shaves!

David Beckham’s impressive sleeves aren’t the only ink to be splashed all over ads for grooming gear thesedays. More proof of how accepted tatts have become in the mainstream media comes in the shape of King of Shaves‘ ad for their Azor razor featuring British sprinter James Ellington. Looks sharp doesn’t he?

Want to slash your shaving bills? Will King’s “King of Shaves SUB” might be the answer

With Britain in a double-dip recession and belts tightening across the land, value-for-money grooming has never been more important. I talked to King of Shaves supremo Will King about his new initiative, King of Shaves SUB, which aims to help men everywhere ‘save while they shave’. 

GG: I think we’re all agreed that times are hard Will. In what ways do you think the current economic climate has affected the way men view shaving?

WK: The past seven or so years, since metrosexuality died a death in 2005, have been rather intriguing.  We’ve had A) a global economic meltdown since 2007 and B) a resurgence in men sporting stubble and/or facial hair – beards – in a big way.

I reckon this growth – to excuse the pun – has been down to a couple of factors, the cues taken from Hollywood A-Listers – the Brad Pitt’s, the George Clooney’s and from a sporting perspective, the David Beckham – who’ve adopted a ‘roughness’ to their approach, rather than a ‘smoothness’.  This, alongside a more relaxed approach to work (not necessarily clean shaven, suited and booted) has for sure driven growth in stubble.

In addition, there is a view that when things get tough – men get tough – and you look maybe tougher with a beard, designer stubble – a little more ‘caveman’ (with a small c). Fight or Flight?  Fight.  Right now however, I’m seeing more A-Listers (eg Ashton Kutcher in the new Two and a Half Men series clean shaven, and more celebrities clean shaven.  These things go in cycles, I think smooth is starting to come back – but will only really get traction when the world is in a happier place.  Has it affected sales of razors & blades – yes – I think it has – looking at the negligible growth of brands in this space…

GG: Do you think that the resurgence of the beard has been a direct reaction to the price of blades? 

WK: Maybe.  I don’t think so though – I just think that men are relaxed being a little stubblier, or have a nicely groomed beard right now.  Blades, for sure ARE expensive – hence us just launching our King of Shaves SUB – but I’m not sure people are growing beards to put two fingers up at razor & blade companies.

GG: Do you think that many companies treat their consumers with cavalier indifference, especially in these difficult times?

WK: I think that’s maybe a bit harsh.  We live in a world that is changing extremely fast right now, with new ways to do things coming down the track all the time, for example Twitter this time a couple of years ago was pretty widely derided.  It’s a great way for companies, brands to connect with their purchasing consumer – yet it’s only recently they’ve started taking to it to keep close to their customer.

Back in the day, it was all about ‘Brand Broadcast’ but now it’s about ‘Digital Dialogue’ and by the nature of dialogue, larger companies find it hard to handle – and more than a little scary. I’m pleased to be a ‘CEO who Tweets’ – as it offers people a way to directly chat with me – maybe makes the face of our brand a little more human. Some like how I go about things, some don’t.

What does annoy me though is the ‘assumption’ that your consumer will always stick with you, irrespective of what you do…  For example, a Gillette Sensor razor blade in 1992 cost 41p per blade.  Now a Fusion ProGlide Power Blade costs £3.50.  You’re not telling me that’s down to inflation, or adding three more strips of stainless steel?  If you take people for fools, then one day – you end up the foolish one.

GG: What was the inspiration behind your latest venture King of Shaves SUB?

WK: I’m sure everyone who reads this has seen the awesome video by US start-up Dollar Shave Club.  To say I’m ‘well jel’ of how they did it, and the global traction they got, let alone calling out all that’s wrong in the razor, blade world and more – would be understating it.

However, they are selling generic, private label razors on a subscription model, using a 1970’s ‘Trac 2’ equivalent as a loss leader.  So, I knew as soon as I saw the video, we HAD to respond – and fast – to open up a direct to consumer sales channel – a digital & commercial dialogue – with our customers, and simply use the ‘contact lens direct’ model, sending an Azor, Azor 5 or Azor S through the post, with 3 cartrdiges, for between £3-4/month.

Because we were able to strip out the RRP  – Retail Ready Packaging, and streamline the ordering/fulfilment cycle – we are able to make a margin (despite Royal Mail’s best efforts) on sending through your razor SUB each month.

GG: And what’s in it for you?

WK:  Well, It’s been really great  because of how we’re able to (once again) connect directly with our customers.  After all, we’re all – or most of us – on a social network these days – we increasingly subscribe to connectivity and conversation, and our King of Shaves SUB is a much about that, as it is delivering the King of Shaves each and every morning.  It’s all about the UX – User Experience – these days. As Apple well know…

GG: So how does it work? 

WK: Visit KingofShavesSUB.com, select your razor (Azor 4, £3/pcm for example), fill out the easy-to-fill-out form, enter your debit card details (or PayPal) and – ta da – you’re done.  You can cancel after 30 days – the SUB lasts for 24 months – and we simply send the King of Shaves through to you nice and easy, in a lovely metallic blue envelope with a little card from me!

GG: Anything else in the pipeline?

WK: We’re looking at including our shaving oils in the next few weeks – these are going through transit trials right now, and we’ve launche our latest Azor S for Women on the site too.  So, you to can be a ‘Money S(h)aving Expert’ – as is Martin Lewis, who gave us a great plug on Lorraine on ITV this morning!  Oh, and we also picked up coverage on Forbes.com   Not bad for a brand that sells shaving stuff, eh?

For more info about King of Shaves SUB click here.

architect of cuts David Cameron likes the King of Shaves Azor razor!

It’s not always easy to think of something entertaining to write about on your blog but whenever the scourge of writer’s block strikes I simply check out what King of Shaves founder Will King is up to on Twitter and I am immediately inspired to commit fingertips to keypad.

Today he was  hobnobbing with our glorious leaders at the launch of  Start Up Britain, a private-sector led initiative aimed at helping people set up businesses  – one backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. He was also busy garnering some rather polarising razor endorsements. Ignoring the inherent (and well-known) dangers of dragging politics into marketing, Will excitedly tweeted:

“I have it on “impeccable authority” that British Prime Minister David Cameron a fan of our King of Shaves Azor 5. Yayyy! Eat that, Gillette!”

As smug as this Tweet sounds ( it’s very much from the “your mum stinks and never washes her curtain nets!” school of knocking) it’s an endoresment that’s also very much a mixed blessing in my book,  in the same way that having a clean-cut Tiger woods endorse your razor only to find out he’s a serial wick-dipper might be.

After all, let’s not forget that David Cameron leads a coalition government because he was unable to seal the deal with the majority of the British electorate and has an approval rating in Scotland of -39%. Nor that he is presiding over the most hated public sector cuts for a generation.  Not content by alienating half his customers, though, Will clearly thought he’d go for the rest of them by roping in even less likeable George Osborne (earlier this month 45% of people said they were dissatisfied with his performance), tweeting:

“Also gave George Osbourne a King of Shaves Azor & had a quick chat as he left #startupbritain. Least he won’t worry about cuts with it ;)”

It’s a cute joke, I  know, but (if you’ll excuse the pun) this kind of comment is, at best, a double edged sword. The prime minister and chancellor are, after all, accused on a daily basis of “cutting too fast and too deep” of “making uneccessary cuts” and generally wielding the axe indiscriminately. In fact, it’s a government defined by cuts.

Given this obvious fact it you do have to ask yourself whether you’d want your razor company to be associated with the perpetrators. If nothing else, it does rather leave you exposed to some unwanted ribbing. As I myself pointed out on Twitter when I heard the news: “David Cameron is fan of King of Shaves Azor 5 razor apparently. Well, he is known for cutting too fast and too deep…” And trust me, mine wasn’t the only quip in this vein.

Still, it could have been much, much worse. Imagine the fallout if Nick Clegg had endorsed it.

New King of Shaves Azor 5 razor is a sharp mover – in more ways than one

Following my comments about the new Gillette ProGlide razor a few days ago it seems only appropriate that, now that I finally have the King of Shaves Azor 5 Sensitive razor in my grubby little hands ahead of its official launch later this week, I should let you know what I think.

Firstly, ‘the science bit’ as they used to say in the ads. As a company King of Shaves rivals only L’Oreal in the silly made up-words stakes (if anyone at L’Oreal is listening, by the way, my dream job is coming up with ever more ridiculous ingredient names). So, not only does this particular razor feature ‘Bendology’ Technology, it also has ‘Endurium’ Nano Coatings on its blades (to make them last longer), features a blue ‘Polyastomer’ alloy handle and has (and this is my absolute favourite) an Elastomer Skin Pre-Tensioning Beard Bumper. You’ve no idea how much all this verbal silliness arouses me. Genuinely. After ‘Nutrileum’ ‘Derma Genesis’ and ‘Boswellox’ it doesn’t get much better. In fact, it’s practically turned this blog into a one-handed write.

Of course, I’ve no idea what any of this fancypants wordplay actually means and don’t suspect the average punter does either, nor will he care. He certainly won’t be reading the explanations on the back of the pack (by which time he’d have three days growth anyway). No, top of the consumer’s priorities is whether it provides a decent shave.

The answer, I’m pleased to report is yes. As an inexpensive razor (a handle plus two replacement cartridges costs a mere £6.99 – much cheaper than its rivals) it certainly does the job. I still think the Azor’s Soft Flex hinge isn’t a patch of its rivals in terms of  contouring (it’s the equivalent of a clumsy lover who grabs and gropes rather than strokes and caresses) but in tough times we often have to compromise.

Bottom line, though, is that it didn’t draw blood which is certainly as much as you can ask from a razor. And I’ve grown to like its unique Y-shape design. What’s more, the Azor 5 is absolutely beautifully weighted (‘Sensubalance’ technology perhaps?).

The big downside, however, is that in addition to the five blades on the cartridge there appear to be a couple of extra ones down the side of the handle in the shape of some rather nasty ridges. What’s more, on my sample at least, there were more sharp edges where the two halves of the handle meet.  This is annoying because there is a little part of me that wants it to be fantastic. Unfortunately, discovering these careless imperfections is the equivalent of a man finding out his hot date has a bristly pair of legs. But then, if you will plump for  a cheap date…

Gillette’s new ProGlide Razor whisks up a new storm

Recently the rather febrile world of male razors had yet another of its regular ‘convulsions’ as Behemoth manufacturer Gillette launched its brand new razor, the Fusion ProGilde, into the market. Specially re-engineered, with superfine blades, improved glide and a redesigned handle for better control it’s the latest development in the quest for that holiest of Grooming Grails, The Perfect Shave. Price? Just under a tenner for the manual version with two blade cartridges.

Bang on cue, self proclaimed ‘David’ in the epic David and Goliath razor war, King of Shaves, pops up with its usual ‘can you believe how much it costs?!/how much the blades are?!’ indignation. King of Shaves, you see, has its own new razor to promote, the Azor 5 System Razor, and appears to have based its entire marketing strategy on being cheaper than Gillette. Which I can confirm it is, in a similar way that Lidl is cheaper than Waitrose…you get the idea. Anyway, as I write this I am wondering whether I am suffering deja vu but no, we’ve all been here before and, scarily, I’ve written about it all before too so do forgive me if you’re nodding off.

Now, to me the cost aspect is totally bogus. Here’s how I look at it. I  really like a nice omelette right? I do, and I’m very funny about my eggs. I happen to like Burford Browns. They cost a packet compared to your bog standard ova but have such wonderfully rich orange, tasty yolks that I will settle for nothing less. And, whether you think I’m a snob or not, I will pay what I can afford for a good egg because, for me, a good egg makes a good omelette and while I can still spare the money I will. In fact, I’d probably go without  for a good egg – it’s that important to me. And my point is, why should shaving be any different?

I have tried the ProGlide (on what skin I do shave on my mush) and personally think it’s excellent, with great handling, fantastically smooth results and – crucially – no nicks and cuts. Okay, so I’m not a huge fan of the colour (I’d like a simple black and gunmetal grey combo) but really can’t fault it otherwise. I’ve talked to other men who’ve tried it and they agree with me.  I haven’t yet tried the Azor 5 System but will let you know how it compares in due course. Rest assured, though, I certainly won’t be basing my review purely on something as one-dimensional as cost. No, Sir-ee. As sure as eggs is eggs I won’t.