Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Comparing the iKons X3 and 102, and a complete Van Yulay shave with Achilles

with 10 comments

SOTD 2016-07-22

I like Van Yulay’s Achilles so much I bought the aftershave to boot. The brush today is one of my H.L. Thäter brushes, both of which are excellent.

Van Yulay, like many vendors, provides the soap in partially empty containers so that the sidewalls, extending above the soap, can assist those still learning how to load the brush efficiently. In this case the container is so empty (or, equivalently, the sidewalls are so high) that I cannot stand the lid on the soap. (Truly, 1/4″ of sidewall plenty, but my influence with soapmakers on this point has proved to be minimal.) Thus the lid must sit flat in the photo.

This soap, like many Van Yulay soaps, contains clay, which makes for a very nice lather but also a very thirsty soap. I started with a damp brush and very quickly added water to the brush and continued loading. That water was quickly absorbed and loading slowed, so I added a little water again, and the same thing: more loading, but quickly needing more water. Twice more I added a small amount of water and worked it into the brush as I loaded.

As I worked the lather up on my face, I twice added a good driblet of water and worked it into the lather until I had the lather I wanted, and the lather was wonderful: fragrant and creamy and slick. I do like the Van Yulay soaps, and again I point out that the samples are nicely packaged for easy loading.

I wanted to compare the (production) X3 and the 102, so I used both during the shave. I could really detect no difference between them in terms of comfort or efficiency: both were at the top level in each category. If you already have the 102, you don’t “need” the X3, but OTOH, it’s always good to have a back-up, right? And the head-only price of the X3 is extremely reasonable.

If you do buy the head-only X3, /u/voltronic1 pointed out that the X3 head is very close to the weight of the Edwin Jagger head (28.0g for the X3, 29.2g for the EJ), so your EJ handle will work if you have one. The 102 head is somewhat heavier (42g) and I found that using an Edwin Jagger resin handle with the 102 made the razor feel top-heavy. (I use the 102 on the iKon Bulldog handle, so it’s not an issue—and as you see in the photo, I have the X3 on that same handle.)

These two razors are at least the equal of any razor I own, including some that cost far more. Highly recommended.

I just got the Achilles aftershave, and I like it. Ingredients (and I trust that you always read the ingredients in any shaving soap, shaving cream, or aftershave that you buy):

Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel, Abyssinian Seed-Emu-Red Castor-Evening Primrose-Rosehip Seed-Oils, Comfrey, Calendula, Tepezcohuite, Oat, Marshmallow, Green Tea Extracts, Liquid Silk, and Fragrance

So it’s witch-hazel based and, with the various oils, acts somewhat balmish for a splash. Very nice indeed.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2016 at 9:40 am

Posted in Shaving

10 Responses

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  1. Question – Whipped Dog has Black Pure Badger which intrigues me. What do you think of this type of Badger? Your input is always appreciated!


    22 July 2016 at 10:12 am

  2. Michael,
    Have you made a conscious decision not to mention your choice of blade? Once again, your review will cost me money as I see an X-3 head in my future.

    Sam Osnowitz

    22 July 2016 at 10:15 am

  3. My experience with pure badger has not been good overall, but the European Grey badger brushes are quite nice: a slightly coarser feel than silvertip, but not scratchy or prickly. I haven’t used the brush you cite, but my own preference these days strongly favors the synthetics.


    22 July 2016 at 10:43 am

  4. No, not really. The problem is that a brand of blade that works very well for me may not work at all for you. In the X3 I have an Astra Superior Platinum blade (a pack of those came with the razor) and in the 102 a Personna Lab Blue blade (which I’ve been favoring for my slants). But whether those will work for you can be determined only by trying them, and as I note in this post, I encourage trying one blade of a new brand once every month or two for a few years.


    22 July 2016 at 10:45 am

  5. I have, and greatly enjoy, the iKon 102. I especially like the fact that the sides of the head of the 102 extend beyond the blade. I see the same design feature is included on the X3.

    Having recently sliced my thumb and forefinger while unscrewing the head of a conventional design razor (I know, I know, what kind of idiot lets slip his grip on the sides of the razor head) I am curious why more razors are not designed to cover the sides/ends of the blade. Thoughts?

    P.S. I have again reverted to unscrewing razor heads by pressing the head into a towel and twisting the handle. Lessens the pre-morning-coffee drama levels in the house.


    22 July 2016 at 11:18 am

  6. iKon’s design covers the end tabs of the blades, as does the Standard and the Feather AS-D2. Others (e.g., RazoRock, Edwin Jagger, Maggard, and ATT) let the end tabs protrude with the idea that it makes removing or adjusting the blade easier. Like you, I prefer the tabs to be covered.


    22 July 2016 at 12:17 pm

  7. I have been using the X3 since last Monday and comparing it to my 102 with 5 different blades. Overall, I have found them both equally comfortable and smooth on skin but 102 is much more efficient for me. I have wiry hair and difficult circle grain pattern and I get consistent results with 102. 102 cuts more closer and gives longer lasting shaves compared to the X3. X3 requires one more extra pass to achieve BBS and even then its not as BBS as 102. Also, the 102 and the Wunderbar are the only two DE razors that I can use ATG on my neck to achieve BBS neck. 102 is of course way more comfortable to use. 102 still remains my #1 DE razor. Only one downside it has is that it quickly gets clogged. If Ikon ever produces 102 in Stainless Steel, I’ll be first to get it.

    Efficiency rating: Wunderbar>102>X3

    Chris Mo

    22 July 2016 at 12:18 pm

  8. Very interesting and useful to know. Thanks for posting that.


    22 July 2016 at 12:38 pm

  9. I appreciate the discussion of the #102 and X3. I have been using the #102 for about 6 months and I am inclined to think it would be pretty hard to beat. I have not timed myself but it seems the #102 just glides across my face in less time than with other razors? Thank you for the feedback on the Black Badger.


    22 July 2016 at 1:33 pm

  10. Thanks for the comparison and the woodwind analagy on another site. I began on clarinet, then sax and flute and now the Japanese shakuhachi. I have shaved with the 102/ Super Iridium blades for some time and have yet to better this combination for my daily shave. That’s not to say I’ve stopped looking.
    Best wishes.


    22 July 2016 at 6:53 pm

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