The science of shaving – setting the standard for razor innovation

Dr. Kristina Vanoosthuyze, Principal Scientist, P&G UK and Ireland

At P&G, we are world leaders in understanding consumers and we go to extraordinary lengths to achieve what consumers want. Up to 80 men come to our Reading Innovation Centre for their daily shave.

We serve about 4.2 billion of the 6.5 billion people on the planet today. Understanding our consumer is fundamental to everything that we do.

New product innovation focuses on identifying new, emerging consumer trends and opportunities

Currently, 600 million men from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds shave with Gillette every day. These men have different skin sensitivities, varied beard hair characteristics, unique shaving techniques and a wide array of lifestyles and values.

Our extensive consumer testing for Gillette Fusion ProGlide involved over 30,000 men around the world and up to 80 men coming to P&G’s Reading Innovation Centre (RIC) to shave every day. At RIC, diverse teams of experts from a rich variety of disciplines, including scientists, designers and engineers come together to study the science of shaving. It is the foundation for development of all P&G’s new razors.

Shaving may look straight-forward, but it is a complex process: beard hairs can be as strong as copper wire and are rooted in soft, jelly-like skin. For an optimal shave, the razor has to cut these hard hairs closely whilst avoiding damage to the delicate skin surface.

P&G scientists studied men’s shaving needs, their habits and their skin in exhaustive detail. These learnings were combined with scientific findings in how blades interact with skin and hair via state-of-the-art microscopic and high-speed imaging techniques.

All these insights are translated into new product ideas and prototypes via advanced engineering and high precision manufacturing processes.

Very few everyday products involve such a high degree of precision engineering in the design and manufacture. The tip of a blade at its cutting edge is thinner than a surgeon`s scalpel - scarcely more than a few hundred atoms. Misalignment of the blades by as little as the width of a hair can result in a bad shave.

Every detail of the razor is important in providing men with their ideal shave. This includes the different elements of the cartridge: the blades, their coatings, geometry and spacing, the comfort guard, lubrastrip and the precision trimmer blade at the back. A man`s daily shave is even impacted by the handle design.

Naturally, quality assurance is paramount. Every single cartridge is thoroughly inspected at the end of the manufacturing process to ensure it has the perfect ultra-precise geometry for an optimal shave.

The result, the new Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor, combines 7 cartridge and handle innovations to deliver tremendous comfort and Gillette`s best shaving performance to date.

You can find out more about how we can continue to engage with consumers for deeper insight and understanding through Twitter, Facebook or the P&G corporate press office.

Dr. Kristina Vanoosthuyze
Principal Scientist, P&G UK and Ireland

Our Science

  • Scientific studies to understand the biology of skin and hair
  • Sophisticated measurement instrumentation used in aerospace and medical imaging
  • Continued advances in ultra-high precision engineering and manufacturing processes

Our Consumer

  • Up to 80 men come for their shave at P&G’s Reading Innovation Centre every day
  • The daily test shavers assess razor prototypes, product developments and innovations
  • They are filmed and interviewed before the data is collated and scientifically analysed

Our Market

  • New product developments are measured against their current market competitors
  • P&G commits to innovations that help men look, feel and be their best
  • Product launch criteria dependent on enhancements which will deliver real improvement to consumers.

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