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