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Gillette Labs Heated Razor review: Toasty luxury or just hot air?

Gillette Labs Heated Razor rev...
New Atlas tests out the Gillette Labs Heated Razor
New Atlas tests out the Gillette Labs Heated Razor
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The Gillette Labs Heated Razor is a very well-designed, but perhaps over-engineered, piece of equipment
1/5
The Gillette Labs Heated Razor is a very well-designed, but perhaps over-engineered, piece of equipment
The Gillette Labs Heated Razor gets its name from the warming bar – the gold-colored strip below the blades
2/5
The Gillette Labs Heated Razor gets its name from the warming bar – the gold-colored strip below the blades
The Gillette Labs Heated Razor stands proudly up in its magnetic charger
3/5
The Gillette Labs Heated Razor stands proudly up in its magnetic charger
Before and after using the Gillette Labs Heated Razor (with some help from an electric razor first)
4/5
Before and after using the Gillette Labs Heated Razor (with some help from an electric razor first)
New Atlas tests out the Gillette Labs Heated Razor
5/5
New Atlas tests out the Gillette Labs Heated Razor
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Between razors that use ultra-thin white sapphire blades to trim with surgical precision, and those that zap the hair off with laser beams, you’d be forgiven for thinking that razor companies have the research budgets of NASA or Tesla. We were curious about just how well what seem like innovations-for-innovation’s-sake actually stand up, so we grabbed the Gillette Labs Heated Razor and headed for the bathroom.

As you’d expect from the name, the Heated Razor’s gimmick is that it’s heated. How? There’s a small, stainless steel bar embedded beneath the blades that warms up once turned on. Why? Gillette says it’s purely a luxury thing, promising “the comfort of a hot towel with every stroke.”

The Gillette Labs Heated Razor gets its name from the warming bar – the gold-colored strip below the blades
The Gillette Labs Heated Razor gets its name from the warming bar – the gold-colored strip below the blades

Sure, it sounds nice, but you can’t believe everything you read on a label, especially in the grooming aisle. After all, this is coming from a company that wants us to believe that in the making of this razor, its researchers traveled the world to “immerse themselves in the culture of heat and warmth.”

So, is it actually a worthwhile luxury, or just another example of over-engineering in the name of unnecessary innovation?

Quarantine makeover

I normally have a short, neat little beard going, but after a few weeks of not leaving the house it had gotten a bit out of control. A global pandemic seemed like the perfect time for a bit of facial experimentation – if it doesn’t work out ... well, it’s not like anybody’s going to see it. So I decided to go completely clean-shaven, for the first time in about four years.

First I trimmed off the long bits with an electric shaver, then kept my face baby-smooth using the Gillette Heated Razor every second day or so for a week. The end result was a transformation that would make Jonathan Van Ness proud – although, honestly, I’m not really sure how much of that credit goes to the heatedness of the Heated Razor.

Before and after using the Gillette Labs Heated Razor (with some help from an electric razor first)
Before and after using the Gillette Labs Heated Razor (with some help from an electric razor first)

Credit where credit’s due though, it did feel much nicer than my usual razor. The heating bar is a nice touch, and it definitely feels pleasantly warm to your face – at least sometimes. The shaving cream and water seems to dissipate much of that heat, so for half of each shave it didn’t really feel like anything new.

Thinking this was because I was on the lower of the two settings, I went to crank up the heat – only to realize I’d been using the highest setting already.

Slightly disappointed, I kept going – and then I burned myself. Gillette says it has unspecified “built-in safety features” to prevent exactly that happening. It wasn’t a bad burn, but it left me with a small red mark that felt tender for a few hours. And it wasn’t like I was doing anything extreme with it – I just went over the same spot a few too many times, trying to get those stubborn little hairs under my nose.

I only did that the first time though. After that I was a bit more careful with it, but either way, the fact it can happen is a bit of a worry.

Then came the most painful part – the price.

Price of luxury

The Gillette Labs Heated Razor retails for US$200 (AU$300), and a four-pack of replacement heads runs you $25 (AU$39). For that price, I’d pretty much want it to be giving massages and shaving away the extra chins revealed by my newfound beardlessness.

But as much as it pains us to say this, it’s not hard to see where that price comes from. This razor is a slick piece of machinery. Every aspect has been meticulously designed to look and feel great, from the hefty handle to the glowing orange/red LED to the swiveling head – sorry, the “FlexDiscTM Technology.” And of course the warming bar itself, which is apparently kitted out with “four intelligent heat sensors” to maintain consistent warmth.

The Gillette Labs Heated Razor stands proudly up in its magnetic charger
The Gillette Labs Heated Razor stands proudly up in its magnetic charger

Even the way it proudly stands upright in its magnetic charging dock looks cool, like it’s vying to be the star attraction on your bathroom countertop. But the thing is, shaving isn’t really a problem that needs to be approached with a Moon landing level of engineering.

The Heated Razor does the job as well as any fancy razor should, and the warming bar makes the whole experience marginally more pleasant than usual. Whether that’s worth upwards of 200 bucks is up to you, but for us it’s a bit hard to see the whole thing as much more than an unnecessary exercise in keeping the boffins busy in the "Gillette Labs."

Product page: Gillette Labs Heated Razor

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7 comments
Drjohnf
Have been using mine for 6 months and love it. It's the real deal. The razors last about 4-5 months easily. Very much worth the money. Liked it so much, we bought one for our daughter's BF. He also loves it. Highly recommended - and I'm an ornery old goat that is hard to please, so if I like it.....it's got to be really good.
pmshah
Do the American males fall for this kind of hard sell? Does anybody really need this ? I have been a daily shaver for nearly 58 years. All I need is to warm up the razor under hot water immediately after a shower. Don't even need soap of foam. Just wet face is good enough.

BTW my personal preference for razors falls on BIC. Any day a far better choice than any other competing brand like Gillette of Schick.
Baker Steve
Some of us are old enough to remember the utterly fascinating but commercially unsuccessful self-heating shaving foam (also I think a Gillette product), aka 'The Hot One'. I suspect that this will go the same way. What's wrong with just splashing hot water on your face?
paul314
For razor companies, research budget and marketing budget are close to the same thing. Just being able to get their name in a review is worth serious cash.
JDC1
New take on an old game. Years ago I had a small heater that you snapped onto your shave foam can and it gave you heated lather to shave with. Worked well, but was a mess to clean which is why I eventually quit using it.

$200 for a razor you have to replace every 4-5 months? No thanks. To each his own.
aksdad
Let's see, you can get disposable, two-blade safety razors with a pivot head for just under $1 each and they last for a couple weeks to a couple months depending on how often and how much you shave. If you used them for only 2 weeks, you could buy...lemme see...razors for about 8 years for the price of one of these lovely works of art. Of course that's not the point, but just sayin'...
Signguy
The Barbershop shave started by placing a heated wet towel around the face to soften the hair/face; then you got a great smooth shave. I run hot water over my face & even less sharp blades work well.