Gillette has been designing razors since 1900, but last year the company began testing its very first assisted-shaving razor, created to help caregivers give a close shave to elderly or disabled men. It’s “a massive part of men’s dignity,” says Matt Hodgson, Gillette’s principal design engineer. For non-barbers, shaving another person presents unique challenges. Since most assisted shaving happens outside the bathroom, Hodgson and his team devised a razor handle with a built-in tube that dispenses a water-based gel. The team gave the blade a unique guard that reduces clogging (originally created for the Indian market, where men tend to shave less and use less water) and adjusted the angle between the blade and the handle so that caregivers can hold the razor like a paintbrush.
Hodgson and his U.K.-based technical development team visited a local nursing home and spoke to caregivers. Workers there tested five different prototypes over three months before Hodgson and his team arrived at a final version, with the tube handle and reoriented blade. The team then mailed 62,000 free razors to 21,000 individuals and dozens of caregiving facilities in the U.S. and U.K. to solicit feedback. Now Gillette is assessing the feasibility of a mainstream launch. “This isn’t just a new kind of razor,” Hodgson says. “It’s a completely new way to shave.”
Gillette is a finalist in the 2018 Innovation By Design Awards. Check out all the honorees here.