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