Last week, I took a 24 hour trip to Boston to go behind the scenes at the Gillette World Shave Headquarters and take a tour of the facility. This was especially exciting for me since I’m from Boston and they were the first razor I ever bought. I’m also a loyalist today, especially with the Venus Snap which I’ve probably featured in every travel story and post since it has a permanent home in my travel case.
As we toured the facility, one of my highlights was walking the timeline wall that featured the evolution of the Gillette brand and the razors they developed along the way. It is there listed under the 1990s that I spotted her. The Sensor For Women, the first razor designed by a woman for women, and the first razor I ever owned. This razor was the start of Gillette getting serious about women’s razors and after 100 years of razor experience, the officially launched the Gillette Venus line in 2001. Since then Gillette Venus has become the #1 selling female razor brand in the world.
After a walk through the timeline gallery we had breakfast with the Gillette Venus team and took a deeper look at three of their top selling razors, the Venus Snap, Venus Swirl and Venus and Olay. Some key points:
The portable, mini-razor, with a full-size refillable Venus Embrace blade head offers an instant smoothness for anyone on the go. The Venus Embrace blade cartridge has 5 blades surrounded by protective ribbon of moisture for glide. I’ve been using the Venus Snap razor since it was in blue packaging, now it’s in pink with the included matching portable plastic compact. For anyone who used the blue in the past, it’s the same razor, just a new color. Compact in it’s case, this is the razor you want for your travel and gym bag.
With high precision engineering for the next generation of pivoting, the Venus Swirl features FLEXIBALL technology (the silver ball you see in the middle of the razor) that moves in multiple directions to give a unique multi-dimensional glide from side to side. It took 5 years and over 7,000 legs shaved to develop this razor, which moves with the contours of your body to help you effortlessly shave over tricky areas like knees and ankles. It also features thinner blades so it requires less force to cut more hair for a comfortable shave. And automatically adjusts to different levels of shaving pressure and body contours, helping to further increase shaving comfort.
Venus & Olay
Taking convenience to a whole new level, the Venus & Olay features five blades and a built-in Olay shave gel bar for the ultimate 2 in 1 razor that’s great for anyone that still just uses water to shave. This is actually the same blade used in the Venus Snap just with the added Olay Moisture Bar which has skin-conditioning elements found in Olay products: Petrolatum and Glycerin help lock in skin’s moisture. No other shave cream is required.
Gillette Venus also offers the Venus Breeze razor which is a similar concept to the Venus & Olay in that it has a built in shave gel bar. The main difference is the Venus Breeze has a 3 blade razor vs. Venus &Olay which has a 5 blade cartridge. General rule, more blades offer a smoother, safer shave. And the built in moisture bar doesn’t use the Olay technology. On the upside it’s a little more affordable than the Venus & Olay razor.
Some shaving tips I picked up…
- Change your razor heads every 10 to 12 shaves.
- Use moisturizer pre and post shave to prep skin. Some women even use mens pre-shave oil to loosen the hairs and prevent irritation.
- Thinner, finer blades like the one in the Venus Swirl are ideal for the bikini area
- Use shaving cream (or at the very least body wash, conditioner or something!) when shaving. Straight water does not give as close of a shave and isn’t as good for skin/hair removal.
- Store your razor outside the line of water (it can be in the shower but keep it out of direct contact with the shower head, especially the Venus & Olay razor).
- Going with the grain is recommended for shaving, but going against the grain results in a closer shave so it’s up to personal preference.
To develop any of these razors, there’s a lot that goes into the research phase — they actually go into women’s homes to watch how they shave. They also consider women and mens needs, which greatly vary. Men are more about precision, women are more about comfort. Women reach further down than men when shaving so they take into consideration the spring back and extra motion and how a woman interact with the product.
We also have about nine times more surface area and dryer skin to deal with than men do on their face. And slightly thinner skin so we’re more susceptible to irritation. We also have a lot more contours and our needs vary between our legs, bikini and armpit. So needless to say they have a lot to consider.
Some interesting stats, most men start shaving between 14-15 years old and shave more often as they get older. Women generally start between 11-13 years old and shave less often as they get older. We also shave don’t uniformly. Some women take a minute, others can take up to ten and apply all different levels of pressure and movement. More stats above in the person size infographic.
If there’s one thing I took away from touring the facility is how much goes into making a razor! They start with 3D printing as the first step from concept to finish for prototyping. They then make a silicone mold to create a more accurate prototype. We took a behind the scenes look on how everything was made, through the design and prototype studio. And were the first non-Gillette employees invited into the Virtual Reality Cave and 3D Lab. The best way I can describe that experience was it was like being in an episode of the Magic School Bus and our field trip was inside a razor so we could see all the inner workings and interact with it. It was very cool!
Thank you to Gillette Venus for having me!