Everywhere you look these days, you see a lot of bearded men. That's an interesting situation for a brand like Gillette that's built its entire existence on not having a beard. You may recall that its recent moves have been to target more sensitive men and those who like it hot and expensive.
Now, however, the kings of shaving are making a play for the beard market with a beard trimmer, a range of beard-related balms, beard oils and other beard-related stuff, as well as some more traditional razors for edging and shaping your beard. The name of the new range? King C Gillette.
- Best razors – if you prefer it smooth
- Best electric shavers – for shaving like your dad
- Best body groomers – manscape yourself, man!
The King C Gillette range is named after the founder of Gillette, who was quite literally called King C. Gillette – give your children a powerful name like that and they might be similarly successful. He invented the modern razor as we now know it but he also happened to rock a 'tache. He was, after all, running a kind of 'start-up' for hipsters of the time.
What Gillette is selling here is a beard trimmer developed in collaboration with brand stable-mates Braun, razors for shaping your face and shaving your neck, so as to enhance your overall beardiness, and some very nice toiletries.
I will now run through what's on offer.
- King C Gillette Beard Trimmer: this is quite like a Braun beard trimmer and works excellently. The shortest comb attachment, for doing a #1 crop is quite crap, but that is not unusual. A #1 beard is basically stubble.
- King C Gillette Double Edge Safety Razor: An updated version of the first ever Gillette razor – 'pioneered back in 1901 by King C. Gillette' – this is like something from a Western movie. It looks great but Gillette sadly did not include any blades with my one, so I can't tell you any more.
- King C Gillette Neck Razor: this is basically the sensitive shave razor Gillette already does, in a nicer box. It's an excellent product.
- King C Gillette Shave & Edging Razor: this is basically the five-blade Gillette Fusion, in a nicer box. It's an excellent product.
- King C Gillette Beard & Face Wash: a really nice face and beard wash that is comparable to L'Oreal's one – probably nicer smelling
- King C Gillette Beard Oil: similar scent to the above, quite a premium product for the price
- King C Gillette Beard balm: rub it into your beard and leave it there, or use it more like a conditioner and wash it out. Again, smells nice.
Gillette hasn't really dipped a toe in the beard market before, for obvious reasons, but I know from meeting them over the years that they are always looking at market trends and obviously, right now the trend is beardy.
Gary Coombe, who's Gillette's CEO, says, “We’re excited to announce the launch of the King C. Gillette range - the first complete line up of products & tools designed for men with facial hair. Our founder King C. Gillette revolutionised the male grooming experience more than a century ago, and so it is fitting that this new brand bears his name. All men have their own grooming styles and at home rituals which are personal to them, and so we’ve put all our years of shaving experience together with the very best razor, hair and skin care technologies to create this full range of tools, accessories and care products to meet all the grooming needs of all men. It’s the one-stop shop for grooming that men have been looking for.”
Okay, this is basically a rebranding exercise, but the branding is great, the balms and oils and whatnot feel and smell good, and the Gillette razors are hugely popular because they're really good. The slight outliers here are the double edge safety razor, which I haven't been able to try, and which seems like pure retro-hipster fan service, and the beard trimmer, which… is a perfectly competent beard trimmer.
The trimmer has a wide range of length settings, and only the shorter ones let it down – the #1 crop comb is more or less useless as there's nothing holding it on at the back, so you can't run it up and down your beard, only up – and I am a busy guy who does not have time for that. Other than the #1 comb, the trimmer is fine however.
As an overall range of high-street grooming products, King C. GIllette is as efficiently and brilliantly executed as you'd expect from Gillette.
I'd argue that the world's beardies probably want to buy products from brands they see as being their own, rather than coming from a brand synonymous with not having a beard. However from using them myself, I'd say there's no doubting the quality of the King C. Gillette products, for the price Gillette is selling them at.
All hail the King (C Gillette)!
• The King C. Gillette line launches in SuperDrug stores and online at SuperDrug.com and kingcgillette.co.uk from Wednesday May 20.
Please note that the King C Gillette site will not be live until Wednesday.
Something else for the weekend, sir?
- Make sure you're using it with the best shaving cream
- And then apply the best aftershave