A while back I ended up in a conversation online with King of Shaves founder Will King. He was asking folks on badgerandblade.com if they would be willing to try his new razor, the Azor. I’ve been trying Will’s other products, so I fired off an email to him straight away, and a week later I received a new razor from the UK. When you consider what Will is up against competing with Gillette, you’ve got to admire the guy.
I’ve been trying it for several weeks now, and I have a few observations:
- It is light and simple. There’s no heavy metal handle, just a plastic one. It can be a bit slick when hands are wet and oily (from using King of Shaves excellent shaving oil) but it has a u-shape to it that actually works very well. In fact, I’m tempted to cut some of the handle off for traveling. The downside is that the handle is likely to wear out. I wonder if KOS will warranty it?
- It has four blades. I tended to think this was at least one and probably two blades too many. However, I recently came back from a two-day business trip where I took a Gillette Good News disposable razor instead of the Azor, and I now believe there may be something to the extra blades.
- The blades are very sharp, and stay that way. I normally get three shaves from Gillette blade of any flavor before I notice a decrease in shave quality or comfort, if I’m keeping them on the counter. With KOS it’s seven shaves. I even leave the Azor in the shower (where I now shave) with no affect. The Mach 3 blades I’ve been comparing to the KOS blades go downhill very, very rapidly in the shower. The initial sharpness of the Azor makes it seem harsh. I have the same problem to a lesser degree with Gillette.
- I pay $12.99 for 5 Mach 3 cartridges at my local store. The Azor cartridges are available only online at present, $20.99 for 8 cartridges. This makes the Azor cartridges marginally more expensive per cartridge. However, as I said before, I get more shaves out of them. More than double by my experience. If the life I’ve seen over the first three cartridges proves to be reliable, the Azor will be cost competitive even with my Sensor, which had been my razor of choice.
- I tried some of the other gels and oils KOS make, and frankly, none of them works as well as their AlphaOil With Menthol. They either are so goopy they need to be rinsed off, or just don’t provide a comfortable shave. Their soothing balm provides a very strong cooling effect, and reasonable protection afterward. The face wash does a good job of cleaning my face without drying it out.
The Azor is supposed to be easier to recycle. I have no idea if it is or not, but it’s not really an issue for me. In the grand scheme of things the bulk of the razor products I toss out is just not enough to worry about relative to other stuff.
While it’s not as comfy at first as the Gillette products it lasts so much longer it’s a reasonable trade off. I suspect the difference is in coatings as well as blade grind, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. The KOS just lasts longer.
The Azor showed up just as I was beginning to use an old double edged safety razor, mug soap, and the whole ritual. I felt a bit like I was moving backwards as I went to the multiblade razor and the quick & dirty approach. No mug, no lather, just oil up and go. How could this possibly compete?
Pretty well as it turns out. I’m finding that shaving in the shower (Will suggested it) with the oil is working very well. I use a face wash before and a balm afterward. I get very, very few nicks and very little burn. The shave is closer than what I was getting with a double edged razor, although it’s well known that the DE requires some practice before you get top quality shaves. One pass with the grain, one more that’s a mix of cross & against and I’m done. A few touch up strokes may be needed, but that’s a function of my alertness, not the razor. For a while I’d thought the oil couldn’t compete with the mug & brush, but in the shower the oil works better than over the sink because the extra mist in the air makes it slipperier. The mug & brush feels nice and warm, but it doesn’t shave better and it does make it harder to see where I’m shaving.
Of course the real test of the product is whether I decided to continue using it by buying it. Today I ordered more cartridges along with oil, face wash and balm. You can buy King of Shaves oil and other products at your local drug store, but if you want the razor you’ll need to visit www.kmishop.com. They offer free shipping on orders of $40 or more, which makes buying online pain-free.
Now, a short message to the folks at KOS: Please, please market your products in 3oz sizes. Our Theatrical Security Agency’s policy doesn’t allow containers that hold more than 3oz, and they occasionally figure it out when folks take larger items. I’d really like to take your soothing balm and facial scrub when I travel, and without having to repackage them myself.