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Ikon Razor Review

on January 10, 2011 12:17 pm

Shaving  each day is a chore that I do grudgingly.  To spice it up a bit I volunteered to review the Ikon Razor, which turned out to be a “back to the future” experience.  Shaving is not one of my top 10 fun things to do, but in the interest of providing the readers information and seeing if I could save money, I lathered up and offered my face as a test bed.  I was pleasantly surprised at what I learned.

When I was younger, the “safety” razor was the latest in a shaving appliance.  It looked similar to the  iKon, whch is called a sandwich razor, but the top opened like bulkhead doors and the double edged blade was slipped on from its dispenser and the handle was turned to hold the blade in place.  These are known as twist to open razors.  There were also some single edged razors and a few men used a straight razor.  I recall that electric razors were a novelty and the price put them out of my reach, so I was raised in the wet shaving fraternity.

Until I began this review, I thought that razors such as the iKon and double edged blades had gone the way of punched cards.  I was wrong!  Although I didn’t find any double edged blades or razors that use them at retail, there appears to be a thriving business online of merchants addressing all your wet shaving needs.  Just search for wet shaving.

For the next couple of weeks, I used the iKon razor and the supplied blades exclusively.  I had previously been using the Gillette Fusion razor, because I got it for free in some promotion.  I had just run out of cartridges for it, so the iKon came at a good time.  I wasn’t looking forward to paying up to $3 to $4 each for replacement cartridges.  Finally, my objective is not to start a religious war between the wet shave and dry shave groups.  Do what you feel comfortable with.

The shaving gear supplied included the razor, a shaving brush, some shaving soap and 3 different types of double edged razor blades.  The only thing I had to come up with, was a cup for the shave soap.  The razor itself is a solidly crafted device machined from stainless steel.  It has a nice “heft” and fits comfortably in my hand.

I got my gear together and as a precaution put 911 on speed dial.

Greg, the owner of  iKon was good enough to send me 3 different brands of blades.  I tried each of them for at least 5 shaves.  They all had something in common;  each blade was individually wrapped.  Because of  this I urge extreme caution when loading  the razor.  It is very easy to cut yourself when unwrapping the blades.

OK, I was ready to go and was considering doing a video of the whole process, but decided that no one needed to be subjected to my mug.  If you really want to see someone shave their face,  there are many YouTube videos for you to watch.

To make everything equal, I followed the same procedure that I’ve always done in the mornings, which is to take a shower and immediately shave afterwards while my face is still wet.  The only difference to the routine is that I now have to whip up some lather in the shaving cup rather than squirting it out of a can.  The rest is just a matter of smooth stokes over my bearded area and rinsing the razor occasionally.

I tried to remain objective, but let’s face it, this is a very subjective matter.  For example, Greg from iKon recommends the Personna blades, but I found the Feather brand to be far superior.  It’s alleged to be as sharp as a Samurai sword, but never having shaved with a Samurai sword I can’t compare.  The first time I used the Feather blade, I had to take the razor apart because I thought I forgot to put a blade in.  It was that smooth!   It is very sharp so you will need to use aftershave because it does burn a bit, but I never once cut myself.

All the blades were fine and in my opinion, did a much better job than the Fusion razor .  How did I come to this conclusion?  Simple, I asked the women in my life;  my wife, daugther and grand daughter to caress my cheeks and their verdict was unanimously smooth as a…. (you get the idea).  Let’s face it guys, if it were up to us we’d all be like the hirsute Grizzly Adams.  We shave to please others :)

As I mentioned, the receipt of the iKon razor came at an opportune time.  I was walking through Sams Club and was contemplating purchasing replacement cartridges for my Fusion razor when I noticed they were over $2.50 each.  I didn’t buy them because some simple math showed them to be 5 times as expensive as the most expensive double edge blade which also happened to by my favorite, the Feather.  So, assuming I use one blade per week, the annual cost of  the Fusion replacements would be $130 while the Feather option is $26.  With the $104 savings one can easily recoup the cost of the $80 for the iKon razor in less than a year.

If you’re not convinced, consider this.  If you purchase an iKon razor  it will last a lifetime and you can use many different brands of blades.  If you buy a cartridge razor it will break after a time and will have to be replaced.  You’re also locked into the manufacturer’s replacement blades.

I’m convinced.  The only reason I stopped using a double edged razor was because the major vendors stopped selling them, but now I’m back.   It may be a niche market, but if you look at the economics of using a double edge razor and the advantage of using multiple brands of blades, it has to grow.

 

Product Information

Price:$80
Manufacturer:iKonRazors
Requirements:
  • Hair to be removed from the body
Pros:
  • Inexpensive
Cons:
  • Blades only available via online stores

Comments

  1. 1
    Dmitriy says:

    it’s a kind of marketing miracle…
    get yourself a panasonic or philips shaver.

  2. 2
    Janet Cloninger says:

    @Bill Great review!

    @Dimitriy It’s no marketing miracle – you’ll probably never see an ad for double-edge razors.

    Just before Thanksgiving, my husband decided he wanted to try wet shaving again, but he refused to use those multi-blade monstrosities he that had to use while traveling. He’s found a wealth of information about double-edge wet shaving methods and products at the Badger and Blade forum. B&B is a community of wet-shavers who are happy to help with techniques and product recommendations. http://badgerandblade.com/

  3. 3
    Eric Watson says:

    Wow, you didn’t look hard enough. I shave with a twist-to-open Gillette safety razor made in 1968 that I bought at an antique store for $3. I use Personna blades that I buy in a 10-pack dispenser from a local grocery store (Hy-Vee). My local pharmacy sells blades as do stores like Walmart and Dollar General.

    The above razor looks nice. The stuff that accompanies it looks kind of cheap, especially the boar bristle brush. The picture of the baby shaving is a direct rip-off of a Gillette ad.

    For more information on wet shaving check out shavemyface.com or badgerandblade.com

    I can’t use electric razors because of the angle at which the hair grows out of my face. “Modern” cartridge razors are ridiculously priced. I get a great shave from my double-edged safety razor and encourage others to try them.

  4. 4
    Bill Kuch says:

    Eric,

    Thanks for the heads up. I only looked at the major drug store chains in my area and didn’t find any double edged blades or razors. I did find them a Walmart, but only online.

    As for the shaving brush, it was thoughtfully supplied by the owner of Ikon razors and he noted in his accompanying letter, “I am including a very basic (read cheap) new brush”. I have a very expensive brush somewhere in my house, but it got misplaced during one of my international moves.

    Here’s another site for wet shaving supplies: http://www.razoremporium.com. They’re an Ikon dealer too.

  5. 5
    Dmitriy says:

    @Janet

    look at panasonic electric shavers – they can both wet and dry shaving.

  6. 6
    P2Labs says:

    I switched to wet shaving a couple of months ago and have never looked back.
    Forget the cost savings, it’s just a better shave (the savings are a bonus)…

  7. 7
    Leisureguy says:

    The word that kept occurring to me as I shaved with the iKon was “comfort” — it’s the most comfortable razor I have. I note that you have the straight-bar head. I suggest that you spring for an additional head, the open comb. I actually prefer the shave on the open comb, but YMMV.

    For the best selection of traditional shaving supplies, I go to on-line vendors, of which there are many.

  8. 8
    Sandee Cohen says:

    While I have no need of this product in my life, thanks for the trip back in time to when I watched my Father shave with a twist-to-open razor.

    But after 30 years or so, he did use shaving creme instead of the brush and mug he had used when I was a kid.

  9. 9
    Mike says:

    Oh I LOVE this grip !

  10. 10
    Brian says:

    Crazy question from a young pup, does the mechanics of the shave change? I have only known of disposable razors, so please advise! ;-)

  11. 11
    Bill Kuch says:

    Brian,

    Yes it does. I found that short strokes work better. The iKon people suggested I google “Mantic59″ and watch his YouTube videos. Take a look and you will be enlightened :-)

  12. 12
    P2Labs says:

    @brian: It’s all about beard reduction. No need to try and expect each stroke to result in a smooth face. You shave completely with the grain first, then completely across the grain and when you do the last shave (yes it takes longer but the results are worth it) you will have an amazingly close and smooth shave. Like the article says, your loved ones will thank you.

  13. 13
    Leisureguy says:

    Two most common problems:

    Using too much pressure, with razor burn as the result. The reasons are typically (a) the shaver is accustomed to bearing down on his multiblade cartridge, especially as it dulled, and/or (b) the shaver feels his face after the first (with-the-grain) pass, still feels stubble, and thinks he needs to bear down more. Not so: as said in the earlier comment, it’s a matter of progressive beard reduction. The first pass is followed by a pass across the grain, sometimes two passes (each direction). An against-the-grain pass may or may not be advised.

    Other major problem: Incorrect blade angle, which results in nicks. The blade should be almost parallel to the skin at the point it’s being shaved, so the edge hits the stubble at almost a right angle. Unlike the multiblade cartridges, the standard double-edged safety razor’s head is NOT pivoted, so the pivoting has to be done by the shaver himself: like going from an automatic to a manual transmission.

  14. 14
    Janet Cloninger says:

    You should all listen to Leisureguy’s advice. He wrote the book on wet shaving – literally. He’s the author of “Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving”. We own that book, and it’s a great reference to wet shaving. (Yes, women wet shave, too. Both my daughter and I own 40-year-old Lady Gillette razors – a pink one and a blue one – badger brushes, and Taylor of Old Bond Street rose shaving cream.)

  15. 15
    Jay Schneider says:

    An accident waiting to happen.

  16. 16
    Valcon says:

    Great review!

    @Dmitriy: I’ve owned a dozen electric razors, the latest two where “wet” version, one of which even included a shaving lotion reservoir you could dispense while shaving. I always thought the old fashioned wet shaving to be slow and cumbersome. But a few years ago I decided to try wet shaving again, inspired by a fellow cigar forum member, who wrote a (Dutch) book about wet shaving. I bought a budget badger brush, several shaving creams, and several blade systems (double edge, and multi-blades like Gillette Fusion). Although the double edge give the smoothest shave, I don’t use it anymore because it takes up to much time in the morning. I switched to Gillette Fusion, on weekdays using a great creamy/fat soap in a spray can, and in the weekend I’ll use a classic shaving soap brush, and micro-wave heated wet towel.
    Dmitriy, none of the electrical shavers, even the wet ones, can even remotely match the result of the double edge or Fusion. To get a somewhat satisfying result with the electrical shavers, I have to shave for at least three to four minutes. Using the ready-made soap and Fusion, I can also shave in four minutes, but with a much better result.

  17. 17
    Anthony says:

    Interesting… Anyone use these types of razors to shave your head? I always shave in the shower, do these razors work for t hat?
    Thanks

  18. 18
    Leisureguy says:

    Quite a few are shower shavers with good success, and some use regular safety razors for head shaving. Try asking at one of the shaving forums—for example, Pogonotomy: http://fwd4.me/tdl

  19. 19
    Eric S says:

    I made the jump to a double edge razor some time ago, but it wasn’t stainless. It was a cast steel and broke when dropped one too many times.

    I was spoiled by the mug-and-brush experience, but didn’t want to risk spending $80, only to have it break again, so I spent $90 and went for the straight razor. I haven’t looked back since. I actually find it easier than other methods and other than soap, I have nothing to buy.

    http://www.ericsprojects.com/cpg/albums/userpics/10001/normal_P1010095-razor.JPG

  20. 20
    P2Labs says:

    @eric s: I had a straight razor (we used to call them cut-throats). I could never keep it sharp after the first time I used it. That first time I’d had a bit too much to drink and tried shaving to try out my new purchase. I’m left handed – could do the left side of my face perfectly – the right side of my face is another story – lost a lot of blood…

  21. 21
    Dmitriy says:

    @Valcon
    please check the panasonic shavers. electroshavers with “lotion reservoir” usually are only marketing tricks.

    shavers from panasonic can use your favourite cream like with blade shavers.

  22. 22
    Paul says:

    What’s the point of wet shaving with an electric? The reason I got an electric was to get a quick shave when I was running late and didn’t have time to wash my face first.

    Gillette has been buying up foreign manufacturers of double edge blades, such as Derby. They also bought Art of Shaving, which sells double edge razors and fancy handles for Mach 3 and Fusion.

    Energizer just bought American Safety Razor (Personna). Not too many years ago, they bought Schick and Wilkinson.

    India is perhaps the country with the most double edge razor users. (China is the only contender, but I don’t know what they use there. Gillette and local manufacturers do make a lot of double edge razors and blades there.) Recently, Gillette introduced a new razor in India called the Guard, which uses a pivoting cartridge with a single blade. It probably costs less than anything in India except disposables and double edge blades.

    In the USA, there are also a lot of injector razor aficionados. The razors aren’t made any more, but the blades are not hard to find. The blade is the same one used in a lot of hairdressing razors, so it will remain available. The injector razors sell for a wide range of prices on eBay. The injector blade is thicker, which has some advantages. Some people say it’s less likely to cause razor bumps than thinner blades. (The multi-blade razors are notorious for causing bumps.)

    Then there’s the single edge blade, which uses the same large blade that will fit in many paint scrapers. However, I strongly recommend you get a blade made for shaving, which, surprisingly, is still available in many drugstores.

    Why such a large blade? These razors have an ancestry that goes back before King Gillette invented the double edge razor. They originally used a blade that looks like a small piece of a straight razor, made to be and stropped and resharpened for years. When disposable blades caught on in the early 1900′s, disposable single edge blades were made that fit the large heads on these razors. Eventually, single edge razors were made that only could take the disposable blades.

    There’s even a twist-to-open single edge razor, called the Gem Micromatic.

  23. 23
    Ronald Gordon says:

    Double-edge is the way to go, especially if you have a curly beard or suffer from ingrown hairs. As for longevity, I bought my Merkur (German) razor for about $20 when I was in college in the late 1970s, and still use it. There’s nothing to break. Feather (Japanese) is my choice for blades, as they are much sharper — and therefore smoother to use — than the German and American blades I’ve tried. (BTW, you can buy Gilette and Wilkinson double-edge blades at most drugstores if you’re in a pinch, but the Feathers are WORTH IT.) And Cremo brand shaving cream ($9 for a tube that lasts at least three months) is the best and most cost-effective in the business. If you have a curly beard (and perhaps even if you don’t), you also should spring for a decent boar’s hair bristle shaving brush. You can spend hundreds on one, but you also can get a decent one for about $30. Cremo works with or without a brush, but is better “with.” As for online suppliers, I’m a repeat customer of ClassicShaving.com, which has great products, fair prices, and excellent service. They also sell several models of good safety razors for considerably less than the Ikon.

  24. 24
    Leisureguy says:

    There are indeed razors less expensive than the iKon, along with some that are more expensive. User preferences and razor quality vary quite a bit, obviously. My own experience with the iKon is that it is the most comfortable razor I own, but the reason I bought it (clearly I did not know beforehand that it would shave so well) was the artisanal aspect: not only high-quality workmanship, but the designer is in effect the maker. And the way that it is completely machined from stainless, with nothing die-cast—even the teeth are machined with CNC equipment.

    I bought one of the very first models, which to my taste were a tad bit harsh, in feel and in shave: the chequering on the handle was SHARP. But when I got this new model, it felt great. And when I shaved with it *I* felt great.

    I gold-plated the first new model I got, a slim handle open-comb, and immediately bought a second, the bulldog handle, also open-comb, and a second head (no handle), a straight bar. The bulldog so far is still just its original (and slightly austere/futuristic) brushed stainless.

    My view is that the iKon is a bargain. (I have no connection whatsoever with the company, other than as a highly satisfied customer.)

  25. 25
    semiauto says:

    Not impressed. Perhaps I’m not using the correcte technique, but quite a bit of stubble is left compared to a shave with a two-blade Gillette. $80 would have bought a LOT of those!

  26. 26
    Leisureguy says:

    @semiauto: With correct technique, you get a closer shave than with a 2-blade Gillette. That does require three passes: with the grain, across the grain, and their either across the grain in the other direction or against the grain. You apply lather before each pass. (Correct technique is developed gradually, through practice.)

  27. 27
    Ronald Gordon says:

    @semiauto: When you can walk the rice paper without breaking it, then it will be time for you to go. Give your skin a week or two to get used to the new method. Then you will be a man, my son. :-)

  28. 28
    semiauto says:

    @Ronald: Perhaps I should have started before I became a sexagenarian (that means in my 60s).

  29. 29
    Leisureguy says:

    I resumed shaving with a double-edged blade and safety razor in my 60s, but I did learn originally to shave that way (in the mid-1950′s). I’m a septuagenarian (that means in my 70s) and I have yet to receive the memo that we aren’t supposed to be learning new things. I just signed up at the local community college to learn Spanish. Just my luck the memo will arrive after I started class! :) (I’m also taking Pilates for the first time—very interesting.)

  30. 30
    Ronald Gordon says:

    Rock on, gentlemen! 100 is the new 65!

  31. 31
    semiauto says:

    @Leisure Guy: Good Lad! I’m quite active too, and always try new things. Hence the razor. I’ll keep practicing.

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