We just got our hands on one of the first Philips Norelco Cool Skin Model 840 razors, set to release in July. With its streamlined blue body and gray trim, along with its tripleheader cutters mounted atop a crazy looking stalk, this is a razor whose appearance is quite different from any we've ever seen.
Since we're long-time electric razor users around here, we'll be able to compare this $79.99 Cool Skin directly to Norelco's earlier models, seeing if its design is just a pretty face or if it can actually outperform its predecessors. Blade users, this may not interest you much, but if you like electric razors, you'll want to hear about what it's like to use this new Cool Skin product. The Cool Skin is designed to work with Nivea shaving conditioner, lubing up your skin and whiskers for easier cutting. You can either fill up the razor with a week's worth of the goo, or there's an optional $149.99 recharging station that also takes care of the lotion situation, too. Of course, you'll need to fill up that fancy optional recharging station with lotion once it's empty, but we didn't get one of those to test.
The standard charging station is a big improvement over its predecessors. The two little prongs on the razor have to merely touch the two contacts in the charging stand, and there's no awkward plugging in necessary. You just set it down on the stand and it's charged up and ready after a four-hour initial charge. That's good for about 45 minutes of shaving. After that initial charging, in a pinch, a quick nine-minute electro-blast is good for a three-minute shave.
First, I wanted to try using the razor without the lotion, since I'm not a big fan of spreading smelly slime all over my face just to do a quick shave. That's right, I am one of those lazy electric razor users, and we don't like messing with any liquids. So, I defiantly shaved one side of my face without using the Nivea lotion, and the razor performed admirably, doing a splendid job of removing facial hair and giving me a smooth shave without any lotion at all. It was even able to easily remove those stubborn neck hairs that grow close to the skin and usually resist cutting. And, the razor's slim profile fit perfectly in my hand, better than Norelco's fatter predecessors.
One drawback I immediately noticed was the whiskers falling on the front of my shirt and onto the countertop, unlike other Norelco razors that hold the trimmed hairs inside until you release them. I also don't care for the sideburn trimmer, which doesn't just pop out—you have to remove the cutting heads and replace them with the trimmer. Not good.
Besides those drawbacks, it shaved every bit as well as the three-year-old Norelco electric I've been using. That's saying a lot, because that previous model cost well over $200. But then, its blades may not be as new and sharp as these.
Next it was time to put some lotion into the razor and see what difference it made to spread that on the other half of my face as I shaved. To fill the razor with lotion, it's an action that reminds me of an FA-18 fighter refueling from a B-52, or maybe a John Holmes movie. But unlike Holmes, it takes just a few seconds to fill this hole up with spunk, and then you're good to go.
To release the goo, I pushed the blue button which squirts a small amount of the lotion onto the two top cutting heads. It looked kinda gross, as if the heads were having some sort of ejaculatory climax. This whole thing is so phallic. But hey, let's see if it lubes up the shave. Undaunted, I began shaving the other half of my face.
This is some slippery stuff, and it actually smelled good—not too strong at all. However, all that jizzy slime didn't improve the closeness of the shave, and actually made it harder to cut the facial hair. It felt as if the blades didn't have anything to grab onto, because this stuff was so slippery. Perhaps I used too much, so I tried using just a tiny bit of the lotion on a different part of my face, with the same result. In my opinion, this razor works better without the lotion, but on the other hand, when you use the lotion, the resulting whiskers don't fall all over you and the countertop.
Using the trimmer, it works extremely well, but it's just inconvenient to install it each time you want to use it. It's also quite noisy, and holding it right next to your ear to trim your sideburns is a lot noisier than the razor when it's using its triple heads.
Those complaints aside, I like the Norelco Cool Skin razor. I can certainly do without its Nivea lotion, the inclusion of which I think may have to do with more with selling lotion than enhancing an electric shave. I'm looking forward to testing out the high-end version of this razor, which Norelco has dubbed Arcitec. It doesn't use this gooey concoction, and has a prettier carbon fiber finish, but uses the same cutter head technology. However, it costs nearly $200 more than this Cool Skin razor, which at $79.99, turns out to be cool, indeed, and an excellent value.