In every aspect but one, my morning last Thursday was pretty standard. I woke up, made coffee with my boyfriend, figured out what I was going to wear and got in the shower. But when I shaved — a task that I’ve performed thousands of times using a myriad of different tools over the past 15 years — it was unlike any experience I’d ever had before.
That morning was my first time using the new heated razor from Gillette Labs, a new operation founded by the shaving behemoth that’s been making The Best a Man Can Get since 1901. This razor, limited quantities of which were made available to the public Tuesday via an Indiegogo campaign, has turned a somewhat annoying quotidian grooming chore into something I look forward to.
Because while a heated razor sounds like another silly gimmick that Big Shaving is using to separate you from more of your hard-earned money, it’s actually a carefully considered and surprisingly well-made product. And, more importantly, it’ll give you the most comfortable goddamned shave you’ve ever had.
The Good: You know the reassuring warmth of having a hot towel wrapped around your face before a straight-razor shave? The heated razor brings that same warmth to every stroke. The soothing sensation is so good it almost makes you forget you’re dragging razors against your face.
Who They’re For: If you’re the kind of guy who has to shave every day but you’re not thrilled about it, this razor can help take some of the sting out of the ritual. But the sensation is so decadent that if you default to business class or you’ve ever ordered bottle service, chances are you’ll like this, too.
Watch Out For: It’s only available with a five-blade razor (and a four-pack of cartridges costs $19.99), so if you’re susceptible to ingrown hairs or your skin gets irritated easily, this may not be for you.
Alternatives: There are none. There’s nothing else like this on the market right now.
Review: In my time shaving, I’ve tried everything from old-school double-aged safety razors to self-cleaning electric foil shavers. And I’ve used all of these devices out of a sense of obligation. Putting my best face forward means hiding my regrettable facial-hair pattern, so I shave more often than I don’t.
But from the first pass at the four days of scruff I accumulated to test the heated razor, I could tell that it was the kind of thing I’d actually want to use. And like all great products, it’s been carefully engineered that way.
The razor comes mounted on a heavy titanium charging base that feels solid and looks pretty luxe. Inside, a magnet keeps the razor upright and its lithium-ion battery full of juice: a full charge can last up to six shaves. It’s waterproof, so you can take it into the shower, or rinse the blades out under your sink faucet. And what’s more, the blades used in the special cartridges for this razor are the thinnest Gillette has ever machined.
While all of that is perfectly laudable, the prize-worthy innovation here is a heated bar positioned just underneath the blades that warm up in less than a second. Press the power button and the temperature goes from room temperature to 113 degrees. If that’s not warm enough for you, hold down the button again, and it increases to 122 degrees. Those numbers might seem arbitrary, but they were carefully selected after a global hunt for the right amount of heat.
“We know from all of our research that every face feels heat differently, and so we’ve optimized these two levels to address the greatest number of consumers that we could around the world,” said Steph Niezgoda Moss, senior engineer on Gillette’s product innovation team, in an interview. “So it’s not just in the U.S., but we’ve gone and done testing in other countries, and we hope that these are really the two optimal levels that will satisfy the most people.”
Gillette Labs has been working on this razor for at least two years (it filed a patent for a heated razor in March 2016), but it doesn’t seem quite finished innoventing just yet. One of the reasons the company is launching this product in Indiegogo is so it can collect feedback for other Gillette Labs products. (If you don’t manage to get your hands on razors from the first limited first shipment, don’t worry: more are coming to the market next spring.)
Verdict: Like guacamole and the iPhone Xs Max, Gillette’s heated razor is, as the kids might say, a little extra. But it’s a little extra in the best possible way, because its main feature makes it feel genuinely good. You can get a close shave without having the blades heated to a perfectly calibrated warmth, but it won’t feel like someone who cares about your well-being is hugging your face.
Simply put, this razor is what it feels like when finding pleasure in the little things gets taken to the nth degree. Or in my case, the 122nd degree.
Fast: The heated razor gets warm in less than a second.
Hot: Users can select from two temperatures: 113 or 122 degrees.
Slim: The special razor cartidges feature Gillette’s thinnest blades ever.
Powerful: The lithium ion battery will stay charged for up to six shaves.
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