The Azor

So, for the last week I have been using the Azor, a multi-blade razor made by King of Shaves. They produce a whole line of shaving products, and have supplied me with a generous selection of their oils, gels, creams and balms (That's right, they included a balm!) to evaluate, free of charge.

Maybe I'm in the minority in being impressed by this kind of thing, but I am blown away by the design of this razor. Like every other cartridge razor I've ever used, it is made out of inexpensive materials. The difference is all the others have tried to disguise that fact. They coat them with fake chrome and cover them with ridges and neon accents. They try to keep you from noticing the cheap by distracting you with the ugly. My old Gillette Fusion and disposable Shick Xtreme3 are both prime examples.

The Azor is the one in the middle. The other two look like G.I. Joe toys from the late 80s.

The Azor is also made from inexpensive materials: rubber and plastic. Instead of disguising them, the Azor uses them in a way that looks good. It keeps you from caring about the cheap by distracting you with simplicity. All I know about manufacturing, I learned from watching How It's Made (from what I can tell, it involves making lots of molds), but I get the impression that building an Azor consists mostly of pouring the black hard-plastic parts, placing them in a second mold, then pouring the white rubber. The result is a striking two-tone razor that has the industry standard swiveling head, but without any moving parts. The rubber holding the head onto the handle has give built-in, and as such the head bends with the contour of your face just as easily as the mechanical hinge on other razors. The mechanical hinge's advantage is that it only bends in one axis, while a rubber hinge bends in all directions. King of Shaves worked around this by making two hinges, and moving them out to the ends of the head, forcing the head to only move along one axis. That's why the Azor is shaped like the slingshot of the future.

I'm blathering on about the design because I only have two points to make about using the Azor.

It shaves just as well, if not better than my Gillette Fusion did.

The blade seems to be keeping its edge longer than the Fusion did. King of Shaves would tell you that's because they've coated the blades with "Endurium," but I have trouble saying that with a straight face. I can say that after a week, the Fusion's blades would be noticeably duller. Not so with the Azor. I'll keep you posted on this.

I really can't think of anything important beyond those two points. If Azor refills are less expensive than Gillette Fusion cartridges in your area (and I'm told they are), I'd seriously consider switching. Failing that, if you're looking for a change in your shaving equipment, the Azor's definitely worth a look.

My wife has also used the Azor for her shaving needs, and wrote the following: "The Azor works incredibly well for the ladies, too. I was worried about my various concave areas (armpits, backs of knees), but the head bent perfectly in all of those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. There's a very small 'slime strip' on the Azor -- most ladyrazors have a huge 'soothing' bar of goo next to the blades that leaves your legs feeling like someone snotted all over them, but the Azor didn't leave much of a gooey film at all. And the best part: even though I shave my legs with all of the grace and finesse of a raccoon pawing at a garbage pail, I didn't get a single nick. I'm totally throwing Venus to the curb."

She is, indeed, three times a lady.

Sadly, the Azor has to go on the list I keep in my head that contains things like Spotify and Q.I. -- things that are readily available in England, but hard to get here. They plan to start distributing the Azor here in a few months, but right now Americans can only purchase it online.

One thing you can buy here in the States is their Alphagel shaving gel. I've been using it as well, and it's a solid product. The sample they sent me was labeled "For sensitive skin," and I can confirm that I've suffered no skin irritation. It's also labeled "unscented," which I assume means "no artificial scents," as the gel has a pleasant but noticeable eucalyptusy/mentholly smell. Okay, "eucalyptusy/mentholly" doesn't sound all that pleasant, but I never claimed to be a poet.

While I'm describing pleasant sensations in less than pleasant terms, the King of Shaves Men's Extra Sensitive Face Balm makes my face feel as if it has just eaten a mint. I will post more on the other oils, gels and cleansers they sent me as I have a chance to use them.

In honor of Halloween

In honor of the impending arrival of Halloween, I have replaced the first Basic Instructions Clip Art pack with the Basic Instructions Clip Art Pack Volume 2: “Monsters, Moon-Men and … Misc!” This pack features most of the monsters from my run of monster-themed comics from earlier this year, and Rocket-Hat, the Emperor of the moon and his Moon-Minion.

As before, the clip art pack is a small thank you gift for making a donation to help keep Basic Instructions afloat.

A brief note on shaving, and a couple of other things.

So, I've been shaving with the safety razor for about a week and a half (without changing blades), and am now getting as clean a shave as I used to get on the first shave with a fresh Fusion cartridge. It is taking longer though, and I do still nick myself in the neck region. That'll hopefully change with time. I've dropped the hot towel in favor of this technique a reader directed me to.

I have now finished the first draft of book 2. It will be entitled "Made with 90% Recycled Art." It has a lot more commentaries than the first book did.

The other day I was working on a drawing and Missy happened to look at my monitor. She suggested that I should post the art in its half finished state because it "looks cool." Here it is. I call it "Laser Wife."

Shaving Experiment: Part 2 (Non-Electric Boogaloo)

Just a quick update, and a little clarification, but first I'd like to thank everyone who commented on the previous post. It may be the most comments any post I've ever made has received. Shaving is unique as a subject in that most men do it almost every day, and I think most of us suspect we are doing it wrong.

I've shaved with an old Gillette safety razor handle and brand new (albeit generic) blades for the last three mornings.

Day one: Shaved using normal methods. Result: Close shave. Many nicks on my neck.

Day two: Shaved using normal methods, but more carefully. Result: Took longer. Even more nicks on my neck.

Day three: Applied a hot towel to my face five minutes before shaving. Only shaved with the grain (Usually I shave with the grain, then across, then against. I have very dark, thick, fast-growing facial hair. They say baldness is caused by too much testosterone. My beard seems to bear this theory out, even if my behavior doesn't.) Result: No nicks whatsoever, but it looked as if I had shaved a few hours earlier. By time I got done with work, I looked like a normal person who hadn't shaved at all that day.

Tomorrow I intend to try the hot towel, and shaving with and across the grain, but not against. I'll keep you posted.

To answer a couple of questions: I don't really shave my head anymore. I run over it with a pair of clipperts set to their shortest setting every two weeks. Seems to work pretty well for me.

I will not be trying a straight razor. The whole reason I use the art methods I do is that I am cursed with unsteady hands. if I used a straight razor, I'd most likely cut off my nose. No amount of toilet paper will stop that nick from bleeding.

I'm going to use the safety razor for at least two weeks, but at some point I should be receiving a package from a company called "King of Shaves." They generously offered to send me some of their products to try.  I'll let you all know what I think.

A technological leap backwards...

I've decided to experiment with a few shaving methods and tell you the results. So far I've tried:

Electrics- which can't stand up to the incredible stresses my beard subjects them to.

The Fusion- A five bladed monstrosity. It gave me a really good shave, but the cartridges are ridiculously expensive, and the handle has a vibrator built in, which is worse than useless.

Disposables- Shick Extreme3, to be exact. Cheaper than the Fusion, but they don't shave quite as well, and feel really wasteful.

Starting tomorrow I will spend at least a week shaving with a double-edged safety razor. I happened to have one lying around due to my mother’s love of antiques and lack of storage space. I had to hunt around for blades. I see you can buy them from amazon, including a sampler pack of blades from around the world.  I can’t help but wonder if razor blades are really that different from region to region. Do the Catalonians like their blades serrated?

I've used a safety razor before, long ago, but that was back when I was just shaving my neck. I've never used one on my whole face before, so this should be interesting.

I'll keep you posted.
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