Harry’s launch ‘Shave With Pride Set’

It’s all too easy to be cynical about the launch of Pride-themed products these days – after all, so many companies cash in on the annual celebrations now – but the new Shave With Pride Set from award-winning grooming brand Harry’s is a bit different. I was lucky enough to be privy to the creation and design of this set and know first hand the level of care, thought and meticulous attention to detail that went into the razor, packaging and the overall campaign of which it’s a part.

Housed in a special presentation box designed by acclaimed graphic design duo Craig & Karl (one you’ll want to keep to house all your bits and bobs in once you’ve removed the contents), the iridescent ‘rainbow’ razor is that rarest of things: a Pride-themed product that’s useful, helpful to the community (100% of the profits from it go to LGBTQ+ charities like the Peter Tatchell Foundation) and genuinely cool to boot. What makes this razor so special is that the design process ensures that no two handles are exactly the same: like the customer it’s aimed at, each one is a one-off and unique. Which is rather appropriate for a company that genuinely celebrates individuality and diversity.

If the set were the extent of Harry’s involvement with this year’s Pride festivities that would probably be enough. The company’s engagement, however, runs a little deeper than that. As well as the limited edition shaving set, they’re also offering support for the community in the shape of their ‘& Proud’ campaign, featuring the likes of TV presenter Dr. Ranj Singh and Queer Eye’s break-out star Jonathan Van Ness, which encourages members of the LGBTQ+ community to reject harmful labels in favour of ones they choose themselves.  (Van Ness describes himself as a “Hair Flipping Free Spirit & Proud” while Singh is a “Super-Nerdy Gaysian”.)

Finally, following on from the company’s detailed Masculinity Report last year, Harry’s have commissioned Ipsos/Mori to conduct a ‘Proud Allies’ survey which examines the relationship between the straight and LGBTQ+ communities in 2018 – the results of which are to be published shortly. Having clocked them already I can tell you they make for very interesting reading.

Taken as a whole, this considered, multifaceted approach shows a level of committment rare in Pride-themed campaigns. As for the Shave With Pride set itself, it’s great if you happen to be from the LGBTQ+ community and are looking for something to zhuzh up your shaving routine or, indeed, happen to be a proud straight ally who’s looking for the perfect gift for an LGBTQ+ pal. Basic message?  Give with pride, shave with pride, support with pride.

Harry’s Shave With Pride Set is available for a limited time from harrys.com priced £24.

 

 

 

 

Harry’s razors: born in New York, engineered in Germany, finally available in the UK

In the same way that a handful of supermarkets dominate the food market, the world of shaving has been monopolised by just a handful of big bucks corporate giants with a grip on the market tighter than your grip on their handles whilst shaving. They have had us,  if not by the short and curlies, then certainly by the fluff on our chins, for decades. Thankfully, things have changed in the last few years as increasingly savvy men seek out cheaper  – but equally as effective – brands that challenge the razor monopoly with money-saving subscription services that suit, not only customers’ pockets, but their increasingly time-poor lifestyles too.

The latest company to fill this need in the UK is New-York based Harry’s. Already well established Stateside, where they’ve been part of the shaving scene since 2013, the company perfectly chimes with the times and with the changing way in which we shop for our grooming gear. Harry’s mission is very simple: to offer high quality razors, delivered to your door and at a fair price. According to the founders, their leading competitors offer products with an average blade price of £3 whereas theirs come in at just £1.75 – a pretty hefty saving, not just for anyone on a budget but for all of us who’d rather spend our hard-earned dosh on other stuff (beer, holidays, generally having a good time).

I’ve been lucky enough to have met one of the brains behind Harry’s, the affable Jeff Raider (the one with the specs in the pic to the right), on several occasions and his enthusiasm for the brand is genuinely infectious, not least because the germ of the idea for Harry’s came about from genuine outrage about how men are taken advantage of by behemoth razor companies.

In an attempt to tackle this ‘injustice’, he joined forces with pal Andy Katz-Mayfied to create a flexible razor subscription service that offers a great shave at a fraction of the cost and removes the hassle of having to navigate a supermarket or chemist in the process. As well as some cool looking, ergonomically designed, handles featuring top-notch blades (they’re made in Germany in a factory owned by Harry’s) there’s also a superb ancillary range, featuring everything from Shave Cream and Face Wash to Face Lotion and an extremely good aloe-rich Post Shave Balm which, keeping with the value-for-money theme, ranges in price from just £4-£7.

If you fancy giving Harry’s a go you can try their free trial set which includes a razor, shave gel and travel for the price of delivery (just £2.95). You can then subscribe to one of their Shave Plans so new blades pop through your letterbox just when you need them.  As well as the economic advantage this subscription service is totally flexible, allowing you to modify or pause your plan depending on your needs,which makes it great for guys who occasionally like to mix things up by rocking some stubble or sporting a beard.

The big question, of course, is ‘are they   any cop?’ Well, even though I have a beard (or an approximation thereof) I still use a razor on a regular basis to give it definition and to shave my cheeks (no jokes please) and the Harry’s razor is as good as anything I’ve ever used. Plus, they come in a range of fab designs and cool colours so, at that price, what’s not to love?

For more info check out harrys.com

5 ways to take the sting out of shaving if you have sensitive skin.

WILKINSON SWORD HYDROFew things challenge sensitive skin quite like the daily shave. Thankfully, combating sensitivity and irritation is simple. Here’s how…

1. Choose your moment.

As with marriage proposals and football passes timing is everything when it comes to shaving. Skin can be puffy first thing so always allow it time to settle before shaving. Have a coffee, grab some breakfast and only then think about grabbing your razor.  Ideally, shave after or during a shower – hot water and steam causes stubble to expand, which will make it softer and much easier to cut.

2. Keep your cool.

Lots of things can irritate sensitive skin: from heat and friction to the fragrances and colourants in shaving products. To reduce the chance of skin becoming sensitised during – and after – shaving, try using products that are free of artificial fragrances and colours; use warm rather than piping hot water to wash and rise your razor with and never put aftershave directly onto your skin after shaving as the alcohol in it can irritate and dry out freshly-shaven skin (yep, there’s a reason why it stings!)

3. Use the right razor.

Your choice of razor is crucial when it comes to minimising irritation and reducing sensitivity. Wilkinson Sword’s revolutionary Hydro 5 Sensitive razor has been specially designed to deliver improved skin protection whilst shaving. As well as featuring an ergonomically-designed handle for better control and Advanced Skin Guards to prevent skin snagging, it also features revolutionary Hydrating Gel Reservoirs.

This innovative system lasts twice as long as the lubrication strips found on other razors* and also delivers 40% less friction, which is crucial to an irritation-free shave because the less friction the less chance of sensitivity. So effective is the lubrication that skin actually remains hydrated for up to an hour after your shave!

What’s more, the Hydro 5’s special Flip Trimmer allows you to pull back the Hydrating Gels to reveal the razor’s five blades for when you want extra precision (you can see it pulled back in the pic above). All these features go to create the perfect razor for guys with sensitive or easily irritated skin.

HYDRO 5 (1)

4. Don’t press too hard and reduce your speed.

Pressing too hard is one of the most common mistakes men make when shaving – as is shaving too quickly. Pressing harder dosn’t result in a closer shave (but can result in more irritation and skin sensitivity) and no man was ever rewarded bonus points for speed shaving – irritated skin maybe, but definitely no bonus points. So take time over your shave and use gentle stokes of around 2cm in length.

5. Moisturise.

Moisturising skin might seem unconnected to shaving but it’s actually a very good way to minimise sensitivity. That’s partly because dry skin tends to be more sensitive in the first place but also because its surface is full of microscopic ridges which the blades of your razor have to pass over. Keeping skin moisturised keeps it plump and hydrated and softens out these ridges – essentially smoothing out the terrain your razor has to navigate.  

So as you can see, with the right razor and the perfect technique there’s absolutely no reason shaving to a (sometimes quite literal) pain in the neck – even for guys with the most sensitive of skin.

310316011_0_640x640The Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 Sensitive is available now, RRP: £9.99

* average vs Quattro Titanium lubrication strip

A Wilkinson Sword/Grooming Guru Promotion

Go swivel! Gillette introduce new ‘FlexBall’ razor

GILLETTE FUSION PROGLIDE FLEXBALLNormally, when a ‘new’ and ‘revolutionary’ razor lands on my desk for review, I groan inwardly because, generally speaking, there are few places to go with razor technology these days and most of the new developments trumpeted as huge  leaps forward are, at best, minor tweaks made massive by over-enthusiastic marketing.

It’s refreshing, then, that the latest version of Gillette’s best-selling Fusion ProGlide does have feature something rather cute and worth shouting about in the shape of ‘FlexBall’ technology – a feature that enables the head to swivel from side to side slightly to allow the blades even better contact with the contours of the skin. The result is more a lot more manoeuverability and ultimately a much better shave. It’s eye-catching and fun to use and, frankly, anything that makes shaving more fun has got to be worth giving a  go, right?

Available nationwide from February 17th. 

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

Coming soon: The Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler

It doesn’t have a UK release date yet but look out this year for Gillette’s answer to Wilkinson Sword’s multi-functional Quattro Titanium Precision – the Fusion ProGlide  Styler.

Already available in America, this hand-held hybrid between a wet razor and a beard trimmer is touted as the ultimate tool for taming facial fuzz. Not only can you use it to shave around your goatee/jazz spot or beard you can use the edging blade to create precision styles and use the trimmer combs that will come with it to trim your facial hair to a length that suits.

Given that razor manufacturers are suffering because of the trend for facial hair in the wake of these tough economic times, it’s a timely effort by Gillette to breathe some life back into the shaving market and confirmation, if confirmation were needed, that the beard is well and truly back. It’s just a pity I was 10 years ahead of the trend by having one myself. You can be too ahead of the curve you know.

 

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Wilkinson Sword back this year’s Movember

I rarely get angry about the industry I work in (let’s face it, if you’re going to get angry, get angry about the state of the NHS or fat cat bankers not the cupcakes at a fragrance launch or a moisturiser) but there is one thing that really annoys me about it – and that’s its woeful response to male charities.

In October you simply cannot move for beauty and cosmetic company breast cancer initiatives. Big brands fall over themselves to get involved. Bizarrely, even some of the leading men’s brands have got in on the act in the past by donating money from their own sales to…breast cancer charities.

I’m not knocking this. I think the industry’s response to breast cancer is amazing. But its enthisiasm for the cause only makes its apathy towards prostate cancer (the most common cancer in men, affecting 250,000 men in the UK) or testicular cancer (where there are 2,000 new diagnoses a year) all the more evident. And shameful. And let’s not forget that many of the companies that so admirably support female cancer charities also own male grooming brands that could support men’s charities just as vociferously. But they don’t.

Why? Well, clearly, economics plays a part. The beauty industry is still much bigger than the men’s in terms of sales. And there’s a perception that women are much more touchy-feely than men and so a brand can gain much kudos (and additional sales) in supporting the right charities and campaigning in the right way. Again, I’m not knocking this – charity is a business thesedays –  I’m just stating an obvious, if uncomfortable, truth.

The other sad fact, of course, is that men’s cancers rarely make headlines in quite the same way diseases like breast cancer do. Breast cancer has high profile ambassadors like Kylie: prostate cancer has Rudi Giuliani. Breast cancer can affect women who are young, vibrant and have their whole lives ahead of them: prostate cancer tends to affect men who are much older. Yet, both are killers and both destroy lives.

The cruel irony is that women are far better educated (perhaps in part to companies’ charitable campaigning) in terms of looking out for symptoms, getting checked and knowing what resources are available for them than men. The fact is, it’s men who could do with the help. In my opinion, a little concerted effort by the male grooming industry into raising funds for all the men out there who buy their products really wouldn’t go amiss and I’m sure it would get the full support of the men’s press.  After all, men do put money into the pockets of the major skin and haircare companies too.

But enough of my ranting. The actual reason for this post was to mention that Wilkinson Sword are supporting Movember this year as official grooming partner. Movember, in case you’re unfamiliar with it, is one of the few initiatives across the year that focusses on raising funds for a male cancer charity – in this case The Prostate Cancer Charity. An increasingly popular event, all you have to do is register as a ‘Mo Bros’ at the start of November and get growing a moustache (be as outlandish as you like, in fact I positively demand it). As you do this, of course, you need to get as many sponsors as possible and raise as much money as you can.

Wilkinson Sword will be on had to provide support, advice, inspiration and the tools for the job (their Quattro Titanium Precision razor is the ultimate piece of kit for shaving and trimming your ‘tache) so why not get involved? After all, you won’t just be helping other blokes you may well be helping yourself somewhere down the line too.

For more information go to www.facebook.com/WilkinsonSwordMenUK

Thanks to Chris James for the illustration. For more information click here.