Grooming Guru Essentials: The Razorpit

Let’s face it, whilst shaving might be a pain in the neck it’s the constant expense of buying blades that’s the real killer. And that’s before you consider the eco-nightmare of tossing all that metal and plastic into the bin. Well, that’s where this genius little device from Denmark comes in. It uses a small silicone plate to miraculously sharpen blades and keep them free of dead skin, stubble and grime (a much better solution than cleaning your razor with a toothbrush which can dull the blades). The result? Your razor stays sharper, for longer. I must admit I was sceptical at first but tried it on a blunt blade I was about to throw out and it gave it a whole new lease of life. Ok, so there’s an initial outlay but you’ll soon recoup that trust me. Cutting-edge stuff, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Buy RazorPit – Razor Blade Sharpener from Jesper Hvejsel on Vimeo.

 

To buy the RazorPit click here.

Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine. 

 

Grooming Guru Essentials: Geo F Trumper Block of Alum

Like the wheel, the hamburger and the Wonderbra there are some inventions that are a true gift to mankind. The Alum block is one of them. Used by man since Egyptian times as a cure for cuts, nicks and razor burn and popular with traditional barbers for hundreds of years, it’s now something of a grooming curio, having fallen out of favour with the advent of aftershave balms. But believe me, you’ll never have a more useful grooming tool. Moistened with cold water and rubbed on the face after shaving alum acts as a natural antiseptic, calming irritation and redness, and also as a styptic, stopping bleeding and helping heal nicks a cuts. It’s simple, cost-effective and, frankly, pure genius.


To buy Geo F Trumper’s Block of Alum click here

Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.

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.

 

Gillette Fusion ProGlide on its way to UK?

Quite often we bloggers get accused of all kinds of ‘industry misdemeanours’, most notable breaking embargoes and pre-empting product release news. Sometimes we just can’t resist spilling the beans and sometimes we simply keep out ears to the ground and see what’s happening overseas, because much of the time what happens in other markets eventually happens here too.

So, it doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out that, having recently announced its launch in the US, Gillette will eventually launch its all-singing, all-dancing Fusion ProGlide razor in the UK. Billed as a significant advancement in shaving performance and comfort, it features re-engineered, finer blades, a unique Microcomb to guide hairs towards the blade, larger Lubrastrip, improved precision trimmer and a streamlined ‘Snowplow’ Comfort Guard to help maintain optimum contact with the skin. Judging by this pic it looks nice too.

Seemingly it’s been tested on over 30,000 men (Gillette are famous for their ‘human testing”) so I’m expecting great things. The razors will appear in the US at the beginning of the summer. As for over here? Watch this space.

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Insider interview: ‘Mr Azor’, King of Shaves head honcho Will King

King of Shaves Supremo Will King is a man on a mission – he wants to shake up the razor market forever. And to a degree the launch of the bendy Azor razor has done that – triggering, if not quite the tectonic shift in the market promised, then debate about the cost of shaving and how razors are marketed at least.

And he truly loves his products. In fact, he’s so good at bigging them up that I truly believe that had he been our Prime Minister he’d have talked the country out of recession about eight months  ago.

And today he has something new to talk about: the brand new Azor M razor –  a weightier, deluxe, hybrid metal alloy version of the Azor and Azor S. I caught up with him to find out a little more about the Azor M, his views on the shaving market and the impact of social media on male grooming.  Oh, and just for fun, what fragrances he likes to wear too.

GG: The original Azor launched 2008. What so you think is the single biggest change it’s made to the wet razor market in the UK?

WK: I introduced genuine competition in a monopoly (sorry, cosy duopoly) to the consumer’s advantage.

GG: Best shaving tip?

WK: Shave in the shower.

GG: What are your favourite three men’s fragrances and why?
WK: Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme. Directional, classic, cool – makes me feel good. Thierry Mugler A*Men. Sexy, original, sensual. Ted Baker Skinwear. Fresh, uplifting & I headed up its design!

GG: What effect has the internet had on male grooming in the last few years?

WK: It’s been absolutely huge. Men’s magazines were big enough in the 90’s, but now you can pretty much get any knowledge you need about ‘shaving great, smelling great, styling great, looking great’ online. Word of mouth has become word of mouse; ‘hard to get hold of’ brands can be delivered to your home, and with all the forums/blog posts/bulletin boards, you’re spoilt for choice for knowledge, information and advice.

GG: You’re a prolific blogger and user of user of social media. How important is that to you personally and to the King of Shaves brand as a whole?

WK: It’s critical. We’ve shifted from an era of ‘brand broadcast’ (via TV advertising) to ‘digital dialogue’ (consumers interacting and being interacted with). I’ve blogged since 2001, watched twitter grow from 2006, been on facebook for years. I don’t use the social media much personally (ie i’m actually quite private) from from a brandcomms perspective, I’m able to imbue KoS with a genuine personality, and serve up content I hope people enjoy reading and acting on, responding to.

GG: I once called you ‘The Simon Cowell of Social Media’ in one of my blogs. What do you say to that accusation?
WK: Flattered. OMG! LOL.

GG: The new Azor M is quite different from it’s predecessors. Describe it in one word.

WK: Future.

GG: If you could have any celebrity ambassador for Azor M who would it be?
WK: Obama

GG: Desert island grooming product?
WK: SPF30 Lancaster sun tan cream…

GG: Finally, what kind of technology will we be using to shave with in 20 years time? Or will we still be using blades?
WK: Watch out for the NanoRazor. Not 4 blades, but 4,000,000 individual stubble slicers working away and self sharpening in between shaves. Don’t laugh.

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The Azor – a sensitive subject

Having recently (and only temporarily) shed by trademark beardage I thought now would be as good a time as any to road test the new AZOR S Sensitive  Skin System razor – you know, the one from King of Shaves that looks a bit like one of those flossing tools with with a blade attached?

I must say, it was a road test that had me trembling more than Jordan in a Bushtucker Trial. I say this because when I  used the original Azor there was a bit of unpleasant bloodletting. Maybe it was my technique, or the fact that I struggled to handle it very well. Or maybe it was just rubbish, I don’t know.

But anyway, I am pleased to report no such problems with the Sensitive version (£4.49 from wwww.kmishop.com). I actually  used it three or four times to test whether my nick-free shave was just a fluke.  But no! Maybe this considerable leap in performance is because of its softer flex, which requires slightly less pressure from the hand to get the job done. Whatever it is, it’s a distinct improvement on the standard Azor.

Mind you, it’s still not going near any part of my body other than my chin….

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Insider Interview – Sally Penford, Education Manager, International Dermal Institute.

sallyOf all the ‘industry’ people worth seeking skincare advice from Sally Penford, Education Manager, International Dermal Institute is, without doubt, one of the most knowledgeable (not to mention one of the nicest) experts around. Over the years she’s be an invaluable source of information for  journalists like me so this week I asked her to shave a few of her favourite tips for men…

GG: What’s the biggest mistake men make when it comes to grooming?

SP: Following in their father’s footsteps! Things have moved on considerably in the world of shaving and the old fashioned alkaline shaving foam and splash it all over after shave, should now be laid to rest. Alkaline shave foams sensitise skin and leave it vulnerable to shaving nicks and an irritating rash. Aftershave is alcohol based, which is the reason it stings when you apply it to freshly shaved skin. The final greatest sin is shaving against the direction of hair growth to achieve a close shave. A close shave you may get but you may also get ingrown hairs and sensitivity to boot.

GG: What’s your best tip for the perfect shave?

derm copySP: Scrub skin gently the evening before a shave to lift hair and loosen dead cells in preparation for shaving the next day. Use an acidic shave cream or gel over damp skin (The Grooming Guru recommends Dermalogica’s excellent Soothing Shave Cream) and always use a sharp razor. Always follow with a protective post shave balm to soothe and guard against the environment.

GG: What’s men’s biggest skincare issue would you say? And what’s the solution?

SP: Shaving irritation. So it’s essential to invest in good products to shave with, use a sharp razor, shave with the hair and always apply a soothing balm post shave.

GG: What would you say has been the biggest change in male grooming in the past 5 years?

SP: The mediums used for shaving; now ranging from shaving oils great for the lighter beard growth to acidic gels for medium growth and creams for heavier growth and more sensitized skins. And the fact that men now have credible skin care ranges suited to their skin care needs rather than having to use female orientated lines behind closed doors.

n48053204038_1473942_1020GG: What’s your favorite men’s fragrance?

SP: Thierry Mugler’s A*Men- my partner’s chosen fragrance, just lovely!

GG: Next big thing in male grooming?

SP: As the male grooming market continues to be one of the fastest growing areas in the cosmetics arena it seems logical that men will continue to evolve in their use of skin care products beyond simply shave. As manufacturers realize that men have wider concerns than simply shaving, their offerings will expand and unisex brands will benefit in being able to offer solutions to a wide range of concerns from ageing to acne.

For more info on the International Dermal Institute click here.

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Shave a few pounds off your grooming bill!

consortP20packP20shotTimes might be hard but if there’s one thing you certainly shouldn’t skimp on right now it’s the quality of your shave. With the workplace more competitive than ever, a clean, sharp shave has never been more important.  And if you’re looking for the ultimate grooming tool, the sleek, award winning Wilkinson Sword Quattro Titanium Precision Razoris it!

The world’s first razor that shaves, edges and trims, its four titanium-coated blades deliver a suberb, super-close, irritation-free shave, while its nifty trim facility, with four adjustable levels, allows you to maintain sideburns (and any other fancy facial furniture you might be sporting) with perfect precision.

Of course, a great razor needs great blades. And if you fancy saving yourself some dosh, click here and you’ll get £1 off your next Wilkinson Sword Quattro Titanium blades purchase! Happy shaving (and saving!).

 

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