Gillette through their GilletteLabs division has introduced a razor that heats up for your shave. I bought one to try for myself.
The GilletteLabs Heated Razor made its first appearance in a crowdfunding campaign last year. With all the financial resources Procter and Gamble have at their disposal it’s difficult for me to believe they “needed” a crowdfunding campaign. But they did meet their funding goal (in fact, surpassing it 5X).
- Instant heat at the touch of a button. The warming bar heats up in less than a second.
- Adjustable temperature between two levels of heat for optimal comfort.
- Intelligent Heat Control System – Four intelligent heat sensors consistently maintain even warmth through each shaving stroke.
- 5 blades for incredible comfort. Includes 2 cartridges of Gillette’s best blades.
- FlexDisc technology contours to your facial features to ensure contact with the warming bar on every stroke.
- Wireless magnetic charging ensures the heated razor is ready when you are – up to 6 shaves from a single charge, depending on usage. (Charging base must be plugged in)
- Premium Grade aluminum zinc handle adds an air of sophistication to the razor’s overall look and feel.
- Fully waterproof design ensures you can use it in the sink or the shower.
The Razor Handle And Charging Dock
The GilletteLabs Heated Razor handle is described as a “premium-grade, aluminum zinc handle.” It’s about 5.5 inches from the base of the handle to the cartridge connector (about 6.25 inches with cartridge) and it weighs about 2.6oz (75 grams) with cartridge and battery. I was a bit surprised when I weighed the razor because it “feels” heavier in my hand. And I think the razor’s balance is actually quite good–it feels comfortable and secure in my hand.
The Heated Razor’s heat has to come from somewhere, and in this case it’s from a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery inside the handle. By the way, the handle is sealed and “100% waterproof” according to the sales literature so you can run it under water or use it in the shower, but the instruction sheet that comes with the razor cautions it “must not be cleaned in a dishwasher!” (emphasis theirs).
So if the razor is sealed, how does the battery get charged? With “inductive coupling,” that’s how (you know how some smartphones charge by just laying it down on top of a charging pad? Same concept). The razor stands upright on the dock with magnets to hold it in place (you’ll want to keep this thing away from other things that may be magnetically sensitive) and the power indicators slowly pulse on and off to indicate charging.
Speaking of heat, there are two heat settings available: the “low” setting (the power indicator glows yellow) is about 110 degrees Fahrenheit and the “high” setting (power indicator glows orange) is about 120° F. I preferred the “high” setting but YMMV….
Although the razor and blade cartridge clearly takes its inspiration from the Gillette Fusion, in that the cartridge has five blades (with a trimmer blade in the back) and handle has a FlexBall-like side pivot (in addition to the usual front-facing pivot), it is NOT a standard Fusion cartridge. The head design has been modified to accommodate the razor’s heating element and it uses a completely different cartridge/handle mounting scheme.
Like the Gillette Fusion ProShield cartridge and the recent Gillette Fusion SkinGuard cartridge, the Heated Razor cartridge features “before and after” lubrication strips.
Replacement cartridges are available online (and perhaps at The Art Of Shaving shops): a pack of four is US $25 and an eight count is US $45. I doubt you will find these cartridges at your local Mega-mart’s shaving isle….
My Shaving Experience
Since this razor is promoted by (and I bought it from) The Art Of Shaving I decided to give this razor its maiden shave with a lathering shave cream, using a shave brush. I prepped with a shower then lathered up as I normally would. Since my face was already warm from the prep and I had warm(-ish) lather from the brush and cream, I felt very little heat from the razor itself during the shave. Further, the razor cartridge’s lubrication strip interacted with the cream in an odd way, producing “tendrils” of cream as I shaved and a bit of a “sloppy track” on my face. But the result of the shave was quite good: an easy, “darn fine” shave (DFS).
For my next shave with the heated razor I tried a good niche’ brush-less cream: Nancy Boy (“Replenishing” version). Again prepping with a shower before shaving but with a room temperature lather, I did notice more of the heating effect from the razor (and a better “track” on the face as well). A “DFS” shave was easily achievable but getting to that “baby’s butt smooth” (BBS) level was still elusive, even with five blades and two pivots. Maybe the cartridge design is a little milder than a Fusion?
On the following shave I did not shave immediately after showering but instead did a minimal face prep: a quick wash with a pre-shave soap then again lathering with Nancy Boy (I thought about using Gillette PURE shave cream but ultimately decided not to because I figured someone who spent the money on the razor would not “cheap out” on a mass market cream). This time the razor’s heating effect was more noticeable and, yes, even pleasant. Once again an easy DFS but BBS took a little more work.
OK, I’m realizing that the best results from this razor may come from the thinnest possible lubrication and minimal skin prep. So my next shaves with the GilletteLabs Heated Razor were with shave oil: I tried Pacific Shaving’s Natural Shave Oil and Village Barber Shaving Oil.
Ah haaaa…. Now I’m getting somewhere.
The heating effect of the razor was much more pronounced and getting that BBS shave feel was easier to achieve.
There are two cartridges included with the razor and I’m still using the first one. It’s still going pretty strong after a couple weeks of shaving, so I’m hopeful that the cartridge’s life will balance its replacement price on a per-shave basis. I’ll update this article when I have a better handle on the number of shaves a cartridge can handle.
Pricing of the razor and replacement cartridges aside, I think this razor does represent some interesting technological applications. However, in a practical sense, it seems to me “a hammer searching for a nail.”
If you’re a shaver who practices good preparation and uses lathering shave cream or soap with a shave brush I think you will probably find little additional benefit in the GilletteLabs Heated Razor. Similarly, if you use a thick brushless shaving product that “insulates” the razor’s heat bar from the skin, you may not experience much difference than the razor you are shaving with now.
If you use a thin lubrication product, like a gel or an oil on (relatively) cool skin, you will be much more likely to enjoy the feeling of the GilletteLabs Heated Razor.