The Gillette Heated Razor is something genuinely new in the world of men's shaving. Gillette hasn't added any new blades this time – five is as many as you can fit on a usable razor, it seems. Instead this is a razor... that is heated.
This remarkable feat of engineering targets a luxury shaving 'experience' reminiscent of a hot towel shave at a barber… and charges you accordingly. We've been trying it out and the reaction has gone from, 'Surely nobody is going to pay that,' to, 'I would definitely buy one of these.'
Let me talk you through the wonder and the, if you will, magic of the Gillette Heated Razor. It might just change your life. Or at least 10 minutes or so every morning of your life.
The science part of the Gillette Heated Razor is pretty clever. First up, it's not the blade itself that heats up, it's a bar immediately beneath it.
You might assume it's a straightforward matter to make (part of) a razor heat up. However, doing so and keeping a consistent, constant, safe heat, that's reached quickly enough that you don't get impatient and then lasts long enough to shave? That's hard. And of course, the razor needs to be waterproof, so as you don't electrocute yourself in the face.
Gillette has pulled all this off with some élan. The hot bar on the GHR comes up to temperature in no more than a second – short enough that you don't need to think about it. A glowing, firey LED blinks then turns solid, letting you know it's ready.
At that point the bar is at a constant 50º Centigrade. Rinse it under a cold tap after a stroke across your face and it almost immediately returns to that temperature. If you find that is too hot, a long press of the button reduces it to a constant 43ºC.
As Dr Kristina Vanoosthuyze, Gillette's Senior Manager of Scientific Communications tells it, these settings have been reached after many, many long hours of testing with Gillette's huge panel of razor testers. At their R&D labs in funky Reading, Gillette actually pays dozens of men to come in and shave in front of two-way mirrors every day, while people in white coats take notes and point infra-red cameras and the like at them. What a lovely way to start the day; where do I sign up?
The rechargeable battery in the GHR is good for about 6 days and then recharges via a magnetic pad-cum-stand (sadly it's non-Qi so you can't top up your Apple Watch while you shave).
The blades are a variation on the ProGlide Fusion5, Gillette's most – aha ha ha – 'cutting edge' cartridge. It pivots up and down and side to side, to give an incredibly comfortable, smooth, expensive shave. No, you can't use normal ProGlide blades.
This is the first ever product from GilletteLabs, a new black ops division of the razor brand. Gary Coombe says several other Labs products are in development, but was not at liberty to tell us what. It might take a while as well. "We had the idea for a heated razor in the 1960s," says Gary,"but it's taken till now for the technology to be available."
You're looking at AU$299 for the device and at least AU$10 per blade which, if you follow instructions, need to be replaced every couple of weeks (the same as standard Gillette blades). Surely, it would be crazy to pay so much? Surely?
The intention is to make every morning offer, 'the pleasure of a hot towel shave.' It doesn't quite does that. But woah boy, it is a very goddamn pleasing feeling. I would not happily go back to a boring old, lukewarm shave now.
True to Dr Vanoosthuyze's word, the 50ºC temperature chosen seems spot on. It's a very noticeable warmth, but not a harsh one. Those with more sensitive skin can opt for the 43ºC setting with confidence, I expect. It feels luxurious.
We are not sure if there's any 'real' physical benefit to that – the premium ProGlide blades do a great job even without the addition of heat – but it sure as hell feels like a smoother shave as a result. One suggested reason for this, beyond 'it feels nice', is that the heat stimulates the nerves in your face in such a way that any sensation of tugging is removed entirely.
There is a slight downside to the design. The size of the razor head and its framing surrounds is quite huge, so huge that we couldn't quite get the blades to mow the hair right under one's nose. The technique, then, is to grab hold of your nose, and wrench it up a bit to give the blade head enough travel to get all the face lawn. That detracts from the premium experience a little, but isn't a deal-breaker.
The GHR looks and feels expensive. And, to be fair, it is expensive. I've done the sums though, and it's definitely cheaper and more convenient than going to a Turkish barber every morning.
The Gillette Heated Razor is a classic 'nice to have' product that will improve your life if you have it. Your life certainly won't be ruined by not owning one. Get someone to buy you one as a present.