Launched in part via Indiegogo, 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, it's targeting a luxury shaving 'experience' reminiscent of a hot towel shave at a barbe… and charging you accordingly – the Gillette Heated Razor will cost £200 when it goes on sale in a month's time. I've been trying it out, and my reaction has gone from, 'Surely nobody is going to pay that,' to, 'I would definitely buy one of these.'
That's easy for me to say, though; I got it for nothing. But 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.
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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. I haven't timed it because my reactions aren't quick enough but 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 UK launch attendee 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; they've had to be adapted to slot above the heated bar, and they will cost 'a 20% premium' above the standard blades – I got that straight from Gillette's British-born President of Global Grooming, Gary Coombe, at the launch – they wheeled out all the big guns for this one.
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."
Gillette Heated Razor: is it any good?
So okay, you're looking at £200 for the device and at least £3 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?
Having used the Gillette Heated Razor for a week, I'm not so sure. The intention is to make every morning offer, 'the pleasure of a hot towel shave.' Maybe I wouldn't say it 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.
I am 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.
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.
I'd spend £200 on this, although if I didn't have £200 handy, I'm not sure I'd save up for it. 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.
Gillette Heated Razor: release date and price
The Gillette Heated Razor is $200 in the USA and will provisionally cost £200 in the UK. GiIletteLabs Blades, specifically for the GHR, will cost 'a 20% premium' over normal ProGlide Fusion5 blades (so about £32-33 for a pack of 10, by our maths). It will only be available from Gillette and a limited number of selected partners, at least initially.
The Gillette Heated Razor is on sale in the US now and will be on sale in the UK in June or July by my guess. Technically the release date is still just 'soon' – you can sign up to get updates on a more specific timing.
We'll have a full review with a star rating in time for the full launch…