I went to a barber for a shave & now appreciate my home razor much more

As British comedian David Mitchell observed, there is no skill to growing a beard. 

Either you can do it or you can’t, all it takes is a willful disregard for your physical appearance. 

And as for me: I can’t. 

My beard is terrible, I need to shave regularly or I end up with people asking me if I’ve given up on human interaction. 

I know this first hand because I grew out my facial hair to test GilletteLab’s Razor with Exfoliating Bar, and had family, friends, and colleagues all asking if I was hung over from the holiday party – for two weeks. 

This is actually the second time this year I’ve done it, so without meaning to, I now have two very comparable experiences to test this with. 

For the first time, I was on holiday and decided to see whether my face had learnt the secret of the beard (it hadn’t). 

To get rid of it, I decided to treat myself, and actually went to a proper barber. Straight razors, foam brushes, hot towels; the whole nine yards. 

The second time was for this article. I used GilletteLab’s Razor with Exfoliating bar, and I’m annoyed to say, it was a better shave, overall cheaper, and I literally got cut less. 

Straight razors and trust

When I was at the barbershop a few months back, it was my first shave in years at such a place. 

It was a great experience at first. Nice comfy chair, being under the hot face towel and feeling the razor scrape over your skin. 

But ultimately, it was not cost-effective – even quite expensive considering the fact that the price I paid was for that one shave – and rather inconvenient, since I had to travel quite out of my way to get to the barber.

Later on, I found out that the barber had nicked me (very slightly) on the side of my face, in between my eye and ear.

While it wasn’t serious, it was quite unsettling. 

So when I was offered the chance to test run the new GilletteLab’s Razor with Exfoliating bar a few weeks ago, there was a very low bar to clear: as long as I didn’t come away bleeding, it would be a win. 

The last razor you ever buy

When opening the razor’s packaging, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was delightfully elegant and simple. 

Image by Tan Min-Wei

The razor has a die-cast zinc metal handle that lends a nice solid heft to what is usually a very cheap, plasticky piece of equipment. 

Included in the package is a weighted stand, similarly built of the same zine metal that the handle is made from. 

There is a magnetised slot to secure and hold up the handle, helping it to dry better while also adding a little bit of aesthetic flair to your bathroom sink. 

There has been an undeniable level of craft and care put into the handle’s design. 

So much so that Gillettelabs feels confident enough in their work to offer a warranty for the lifetime of the handle, calling it the “last razor you might ever need to buy.” 

Image by Tan Min-Wei

The bottom of the handle is covered in a black, textured rubberized cover, which lends an air of confidence to the grip. 

But the ring dominates the design, and is the first indicator that the razor is different. 

What Gillette refers to as the 2D Flexdisc circular pivot allows the head to flex left and right to a fairly significant degree, making it easy for it to adhere to the contours of your face. 

Image by Tan Min-Wei

Gillette says the FlexDisc allows the razor to maximise its blade’s contact with the skin. 

But hidden on the other side is the deceptively simple exfoliating bar, the system’s true star. 

A textured pad that is integrated into the razor’s handle, it first runs over your skin as you shave. 

Gillette says that the Exfoliating bar will help remove dirt and debris before the blades make contact with your skin. 

Image by Tan Min-Wei

The replaceable razor blade cartridge also has its fair share of technology built in. 

It has what Gillette calls its iconic five-blade design, but they also go on to say that the blades are Gillette’s finest and thinnest blades, that are mounted on “highly responsive” springs. 

Reading this copy, there is a risk that this comes across as highly over-engineered, but shaving is, by definition, an act of fine margins. 

And ultimately, the proof is easy to come by. If I ended the day hacking through what is frankly merely a mildly overgrown field of stubble, then the whole endeavour would be a bust. 

In that case, no disc, metal handle, or very charmingly curved base plate would make the experience better. 

But there was no hacking. I used to believe that a good shave at home should be unremarkable. 

This was a remarkable shave. 

The blades gilded effortlessly over my face in one stroke, completing its task quickly and efficiently. 

Image by Tan Min-Wei

Where my fancy wet shave had me sitting down for ten minutes while the barber painstakingly went over it inch by inch, the GilletteLab’s razor was done in less than 2 minutes. 

And I didn’t need to take the bus to get to it. Or risk losing an eye. 

Thinking back over the experience, to be honest, I’m a little annoyed at how good the razor’s shave was. 

It was quick, it was comfortable, my skin felt great after, not itchy or scratchy. I used warm water, so it actually felt a lot like my barber experience. 

I even ended up doing that thing where you feel your chin after a good shave, so much so that someone asked me if there was something wrong with my jaw. 

Day to day

But let’s be real. The test of the razor is day to day use. I can’t go around only shaving twice a month forever. 

I’ve been using the razor for two weeks now, including a quick weekend trip to Malaysia. 

In addition to being a good, consistent shave; it also requires very little prep. I can, and often do, get away without using shaving foam. 

I really do appreciate the confidence a nice shave lends the day, a good way to display for yourself and the world that the day is to be taken seriously.

Like most well engineered items, the complexity is in the design, the simplicity is in the usage. I can see myself using this razor for a good long while. 

Top image via Tan Min-Wei

This sponsored article by Gillette made the writer think some things are better done at home.