March 6, 2006

Review of Origins' "Blade Runner" Shaving Cream

When I first learned there was a shaving cream called Blade Runner, my inner sci-fi geek was overcome with joy. Finally, my odd demographic had gained enough cred to warrant a shaving/movie cross-promotion. Alas, Harrison Ford meets Gillette will have to wait. Instead we simply have Blade Runner Shaving Cream from Origins, filled with herbal extracts and exotic oils to free your face of unwanted hair. After several weeks' use and between 10 and 15 shaves, I'm ready to pronounce it... pretty good.

Smell
The most outstanding characteristic of this shaving cream is its smell. Somewhere between lemon and 1800s medicinal balm. If a covered wagon came through your town selling something called Dr. Sorenson's Stunningly Smooth Shaving Salve, you'd expect it to smell something like this. Now don't get me wrong, Blade Runner is not a placebo scam. It's just that the smell is something you really want to make sure you like. Aside from the hint of citrus, Blade Runner is scented with Coriander, Australian Eucalyptus, and French Peppermint. Breathe deeply and feel your congestion clear. I'd recommend stopping by your local mall's Origins store and asking for a whiff.

Feel
The feel and experience of applying Blade Runner is great. You scoop this light and fluffy cream out of a tub, smooth it into your face, and feel a slight tingle as it softens up your skin. Some other shaving creams I've used recently have been too soapy. Blade Runner is like cake-frosting - light, creamy goodness. And it doesn't completely obscure your facial hair so you can see where you need to shave.

The Shave
The shave is... well... average. A little above average maybe, but not anything to write home about. Honestly I'm a fan of a more oily shaving cream. Even though Blade Runner has both Kukui Nut Oil and Soybean Oil in it, I kept wishing it were just a little more slick and lubricating, so the razor would glide a little more easily over my face.

Wrap Up
So Blade Runner wasn't ideal for me, but Origins is a respectable brand and produces some great products. If you're a fan of their other products you might want to check this out. Blade Runner is available on the Origin's website in a 5 oz. tube for $14.00, and also in their omnipresent retail stores. Blade Runner used to be available in a 16.9 oz tub (which is what I used), however it appears they might be phasing that packaging out. If you can find it in the tub it will be significantly discounted. I saw references to sale prices as low as $22.50 (down from $47.25), however they were all sold out. Look for the tub.

Other Opinions
Finally, I found this great review of Blade Runner on Epinions from a woman's perspective, written by gatorgirlie. Definitely worth a read if you're on the fence, or thinking about using it anywhere else than on your face.

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 1, 2006

Gillette vs. Schick - Why Must They Fight?

boxingGloves.jpegA while back we reported on the lawsuit between Gillette and Schick over the number of blades in a razor. Seems Gillette filed a patent for a ''progressive blade geometry" razor system which they claim covers three or more blades, so that when Schick came out with the four-bladed Quattro, Gillette sued them for patent infringement. Hmm.... Then Schick countersued Gillette on false advertising claims based on Gillette's ads, which say that the shave from a Gillette razor is, questionably, "'The Best a Man Can Get." Oh please...

Well, a couple weeks ago the companies quietly decided to forgo a lengthy trial before the case went to a jury.

''Both companies have resolved the vast majority of litigation between them," said Eric Kraus, a Gillette spokesman. ''While Gillette and Schick will remain competitors, we'll compete in the marketplace, not in the courtroom."

It's kind of like that time when Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik decided to stop their verbal sparring and step into the ring. (I think I might be dating myself here.) The upshot is that both companies are placing their bets on the fairness of the pure capitalist marketplace. Letting a jury of your piers decide whether three or four or now even five blades is the right number of blades is ridiculous. Especially because some of the jurists probably had beards and don't shave much. Or some of the jurists are women and don't shave their face with a Quattro. Let's let America decide who has the better razor. Game on!

Read more in this Boston Globe article or this one from Reuters

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

February 23, 2006

The Art of Shaving - Now in Book Form

theartofshavingbook.jpgBooks, books, and more books. I'm in to books lately. Here's another book worth checking out from our friends at The Art of Shaving, called, conveniently, The Art of Shaving. It's about the art of shaving.

The average man will shave approximately 20,000 times over the course of his life, spending the equivalent of 139 full days doing it. He will shave off 27 feet of hair, from a total of 30,000 whiskers on his face. And he will probably be doing something wrong. So he’ll suffer nicks and cuts, ingrown hairs, and rashes; his five-o’clock shadow will arrive before lunch, his neck will be irritated and red, and he’ll get razor burn. Instead of reaping the benefits of a daily grooming regimen, he’ll only suffer. Needlessly.

Imagine 112 pages of that, plus pictures, and now you're talking. The Art of Shaving book is available in hardcover at Amazon for $11.56. Don't forget you can "search inside this book" to see what it's really like. Kind of like previewing songs on iTunes, only not as passive.

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 21, 2006

L'Oreal for Men

L'Oreal has a new line of products geared specifically for men. What caught my eye was their Comfort Max after shave balm which also acts as an SPF 15 sunblock. Now I know you don't want to admit it, but you really should be putting some SPF on your face. Every day! Women's products have had it in there for years, and women generally look pretty darn good. It's about time we men saw some solar protection in our aftershave. After all, we don't want to end up with dry and wrinkled skin any more than the ladies.

And while you're chewing on that you may want to check out L'Oreal's men's website www.lorealmen.com for some other health, beauty, and shaving tips. There's a short quiz on skin type which diagnoses problems and recommends products. There are also three video tips from Queer Eye's own Kyan Douglas on you and your moisturizer. Helpful Tip - the button to turn off the music is in the lower right corner. Always tough to look at websites with sound at work.

L'Oreal's Comfort Max After Shave is available at most major drug stores and supermarkets, or online. Amazon's current price is $7.99 for a 3.3 oz bottle.

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 20, 2006

Review: Gillette Fusion from Shaving Stuff.com

FusionPowerSm.jpgI know you all have been eagerly awaiting this, so without further ado...

If you've been reading the articles about the new Gillette Fusion you'll know there have been several new innovations with this razor. Five blades for regular shaving and a lone sixth on the back for tough spots like under the nose and sideburns. More densely packed microfins under the blades to help whiskers stand up for a closer shave. And in the powered department, auto-shutoff after eight minutes, a low battery warning light, and an easier opening/closing to the compartment which houses the battery. All of these are truly quality improvements, but in the end all you really care about it is a better shave, right? The new Fusion does shave better than the Mach3, but with some caveats, so keep reading and see if you agree by the end.

FusionUnpowered.jpgFusion vs. Fusion Power:
I don't think there a noticeable difference in the resulting shave between the powered and the non-powered version of the Fusion. Where I do think there is a difference is in the act of shaving. I like power, and if you haven't tried it, I think you're missing out. The powered version vibrates, and that vibration somehow translates into less drag against your face. When you pull the unpowered version of the Fusion across your face, you feel a slight tug against your skin. With the powered Fusion, it's a smooth glide. I suppose it's a matter of personal preference, and the thickness of your beard, but I would strongly recommend trying a powered razor at least once before poopoo-ing it at your next party.

Now the other difference that people always talk about when comparing these razors is the fact that with the unpowered Fusion you get two cartridges along with the razor and with the Fusion Power you only get one. The cartridges are expensive and no doubt there's savings to factor in here, but seriously, the cost of one additional cartridge over the course of a year is really insignificant. I agree Gillette should have packaged the Fusion Power with two cartridges, but they didn't. End of story.

FusionPowerSm.jpgFusion Power vs. Mach3 Power:
Sounds like I'm repeating myself here but I don't think there's a noticeable difference in the resulting shave between the Mach3 Power and the Fusion Power. Where I do think there is a difference is in the act of shaving, and in the razor itself. The vibrations on the Fusion Power seem tighter and more powerful. I made sure to replace the battery in my old Mach3 before testing these head to head, and I think there's a slight improvement in the Fusion. Both give a seemingly frictionless shave, and both perform admirably after one, two, and three days' worth of growth, but somehow the Fusion Power's vibrations seem to stack up better. I'm sure they spent quite a bit time on the vibration mechanism and it shows.

Battery replacement on the Fusion is much easier than on the Mach3. With the Fusion it's a simple twist and the compartment locks and unlocks. With the Mach3 you feel like you're going to break the plastic when you're closing it up. Also, the auto-off feature it huge. You can finally travel with this razor and not have to worry about running down your battery accidentally.

Now let's talk about that sixth blade. Here's the most marked improvement in shaving. A return to the single blade. Shaving with the Mach3 can be a challenge in certain areas, such as under your nose and around your sideburns. It's hard to tell when in that paddle of a cartridge the aloe strip stops and the blades begin. You end up shoving this razor head up your nose to hopefully catch those errant hairs. With the single blade on the back, tough to reach spots are a snap. This single feature might just be the real reason to switch.

There was one area where the Fusion didn't hold up to its older brother, and that was in the life of the aloe and soap strip on the top of the cartridge. This is supposed to act as an indication of when you need to replace the cartridge, kind of like those toothbrushes with the blue bristles which lose their color with use. I found that the Fusion's aloe/soap strip wore off pretty darn quickly, after only three or four shave, while with the Mach3 I could go to five or six shaves and still have plently of that colored strip. Personally I don't think that strip adds much. As long as you're using a high quality shaving cream the effects of the strip are minimal. Just know that you've got a few more shaves in the cartridge once that strip is worn off.

FusionPowerBlades.jpgRecommendations:
So what should you do? Well, if you're a non-powered Mach3 fanatic who thinks the whole powered razor idea is a gimmick to sell more razors and batteries, stick with what you've got. However if you're at all interested in that sixth blade for the tough to reach spots, it might be worth the ten bucks to see what all the fuss is about. Then you can poopoo with first hand experience.

If you're a Mach3 Power user, I think you should check out the Fusion Power. The cartridges are not compatible, so use up your current stock before switching, but I think you'll be happy with the upgrade. Again, the vibrations are better, the auto-off is a welcome addition, and oh that sixth blade!

FusionBlades.jpgAnd remember, now that the Fusion is the premium brand, the prices on Mach3 blades will likely fall. It's a win win for everyone!

Last check on Amazon the Gillette Fusion unpowered was $7.99, the Gillette Fusion Power was $8.99, an 8-pack of Fusion blades was $24.99, and an 8-pack of Fusion Power blades was $27.69. Oh yeah, and I don't think there's any difference between the two types of blades.

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (27) | social bookmarking

February 14, 2006

It's The Microfins, Not The Blades

There's no doubt the Fusion cartridge is bigger than the Mach3 cartridge, which was already big to begin with. But what's interesting is that the Fusion isn't big because of the extra blades, it's bigger because of the microfins. You can see in the picture on the right that while the actual razor section of the cartridge is roughly the same size, the razors themselves in the Fusion are smaller. This is how they manage to fit in five razors in virtually the same space as three. Also, notice the aloe/soap strip on the top - again, roughly the same size. It's those blue microfins on the bottom which really make the Fusion cartridge bigger.

The microfins seem to be the unsung hero in the shaving world. While blade count gets all the marketing buzz, the microfin may be the real work-horse. Consider this - when the original Mach3 cartridge came out it have five microfins. When the Mach3 Turbo cartridge came out it had ten microfins. When the Mach3 Power cartridge came out it have 15 microfins. Now the Fusion has roughly twice the space for microfins as the Mach3, so I'm guessing we're somewhere near 30. (My eyes glaze over when I try to count them, and I haven't been able to confirm the exact number.)

So what do these little guys do? From Gillette's Mach3 Grooming Site, they

precede the blades and smooth out the skin, gently lifting even stubborn hairs before the first blade cuts them.

Here's another quote from the Sensor section of Gillette's history:

The microfins gently stretch the skin, causing beard hairs to spring upward so they can be cut more closely, with greater comfort, than ever before.

So they may not be as glamorous as the blades, but I think the microfins are getting the short end of the stick. It's time these little guys got their proper respect. My suggestion - let's start with an Onion article about a new razor with 75 microfins. Or is Gillette already working on that too?

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

February 13, 2006

A Parade of Razors

Here's a progression of razor growth throughout the years. On the left we have the Gillette Sensor (1990) with its measily two blades. Who knew back then we'd need more than two? Next we have the Mach3 (1998), shown in unpowered "Turbo" form, followed by it's genre-busting brother the Mach3 Power (2004), each with three blades. Who knew back then we'd need more than three? Next we have the Schick Quattro (2003), four blades of patent-busting leap-frogging fury. Who knew back then we'd need more than four? And lastly on the right we have the new Gillette Fusion and the Fusion Power (2006) - five bold and beautiful blades, with a sixth on the back for good measure.

Update (1/17/2008): Who knew back then we'd need more than six?

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

February 7, 2006

The Official Gillette Fusion Website

fusion.jpgI just spent some time on www.gillettefusion.com, Gillette's new site devoted to the Fusion razor. It's a study in Flash - interactive, full motion video and sound, and lots of long "rendering" transitions to hide the fact that Flash is so darn slow.

If you saw the commercials during the Superbowl, you'll know that the Gillette Fusion was developed at a top secret research facility deep in the desert by a bunch of people in white lab coats. And now you can enter that top secret facility with your host, a sexy hologram named Cassandra. Does anyone remember the short-lived 80s TV series Automan, and his trusty sidekick Cursor? Cassandra is what Cursor should have been drawing, not some random brick wall in the middle of a road to stop a bad guy.

cassandra.jpgAnyway, here's a little info about Cassandra from her PDA:

EDUCATION:
PhD in physics, including a published thesis on the distribution of force and its relativity to pressure exerted on smooth surfaces.

INTERESTS:
Advanced chemistry, baseball, modeling stints in Milan, and martial arts (6 forms).

BIGGEST SECRET:
Her middle name, as well as the top secret dossier on her desk at the lab. Any rumors about either will be promptly denied.

MORE IRRITATING TURN-OFF:
One word: Scruff.

MOST EXCITING TURN-ON:
Wouldn't you like to know?

Quote from ShavingStuff wife as I spend entirely too much time with Cassandra:

Gillette has discovered that men who have time to read about shaving are under-sexed and in need of this kind of thing. Or that "advanced scientific technology sells razors," but only as long as there's a pair of long legs under that lab coat.

Whatever... Bonus points for figuring out how to get Cassandra to take off her lab coat. (Hint: it's under the Fusion Manual menu.)

Here's something for all you privacy fans. They cookie your browser so the next time you return to the site Cassandra greats you with a "Hi. I'm so glad you stopped by again." Freaky! And yet I like it. Straight out of Minority Report.

So does anyone else think Cassandra is an odd choice of name? I seem to remember Cassandra from Greek mythology as being blessed to see the future and cursed so that no one would believe her. When Gillette's Cassandra says the future of shaving is here, are we supposed to disagree?

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

February 6, 2006

Gillette Fusion - What's in the Box?

Got my Gillette Fusion and Gillette Fusion Power yesterday at Target. The Fusion was marked $8.99 and the Fusion Power was $9.99, however I found another display in the store that held something called the Gillette Fusion Starter Kit (pictured, right), which, for $9.99, contained a Gillette Fusion (un-powered), an extra cartridge, a 2.5oz container of the new Gillette Fusion Hydra Gel, a shaving tips pamphlet, and a handy travel case (pictured, left, sans case). For an extra buck, it's a no-brainer. If you live near a Target, hunt around for the display with the starter kit. And if you don't live near a Target, one will be opening near you within the week.

As people have been reporting, the Fusion Power only comes with one cartridge. Kind of lame. If memory serves, the Mach3 Power came with an extra cartridge. There is a $2.00 dollar off coupon in the Fusion Power packaging, and it's easy to miss. It's taped to the clear plastic wrap which holds the razor to the case. Make sure you snag that thing. Blades ain't cheap.

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 30, 2006

More Gillette Fusion Reader Reviews

Blog-o-sphere Gillette Fusion update - fellow blogger Terry of TADspot has posted his first experience with the new Gillette Fusion Power, which he bought for only $9 at his local Safeway supermarket.

Can I tell any difference in the quality of the shave? Hell no, but now I do have the sexiest, most powerful, most bladiest razor known to man. Apparently putting all of those blades onto one cartridge has caused some sort of shortage because Gillette didn’t package even one extra cartridge...

OK, that's kind of lame. The Mach3 came with an extra blade, and so did Sensors before that.

Read all of Terry's review, and see the hot shaving action shots, at TADspot.com.

Russell Neufeld at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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