Results Oriented: Exceptional Personal-Care Appliances

Manufacturers are designing their latest shavers for ultraprecise grooming. Meanwhile, powered toothbrushes now can be programmed to help you to clean particular parts of your mouth. Unfortunately, the latest blow dryers are so powerful that they might damage your hair.

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For men and women alike, personal grooming is an essential element of the typical morning routine.

Getting the best results takes good tools and proper technique, but we found that the latest personal-care appliances—shavers, powered toothbrushes and blow dryers—include innovations that are more notable for their claims than for their usefulness.

FINER SHAVE? All four of the major shaver manufacturers introduced premium lines in the past 13 months or plan to in the next 8 months.

Panasonic was the first with an introduction. Its ES-LV65 Arc5 ($500) is the first foil shaver to have five blades. The ES-LV65 Arc5 also has a motor that vibrates at a rate of 14,000 cycles per minute (others are rated at 10,000 cycles or fewer) and has the largest shaving head of any foil shaver that’s on the market. We found that the giant shaving head and the powerful motor makes the shaver a little difficult to handle, particularly when we try to trim small areas, such as the edges of our sideburns. The ES-LV65 Arc5 also is the most expensive shaver that’s on the market.

In September 2014, Philips Norelco introduced its 9700 rotary shaver ($350), which is the first model in its new premium 9000 Series. The 9700 has V-shape blades instead of flat blades. Philips says the new blades cut up to 30 percent closer to the skin. We haven’t tested it ourselves but, considering that the lowest priced model in the 8000 Series ($200) gives us the closest shave that we experienced from a rotary shaver, we’re skeptical that a shave can feel any closer.

Remington plans to debut in January 2015 its new SmartEdge ($99) foil-shaver line. The SmartEdge shavers trim longer hairs and then cut shorter hairs to create less overall pulling on the skin. Remington claims that this new configuration will yield a closer shave. We didn’t find any shaving experts who could comment on Remington’s claim.

Braun’s new CoolTec ($119) is the first shaver to include an electric aluminum cooling bar, which is located between the foil blades. Braun claims that the cooling bar falls in temperature by 68 degrees Fahrenheit in 2 minutes to counter the heat buildup from shaving and decrease skin irritation.

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We found that shaving with the cooling bar feels like dragging an ice cube across your face. The sensation is delightful, at first. However, keeping the chiller bar aligned against our skin is a struggle, and a struggle is the last thing that we want in the morning. We found that it takes longer to shave by using the CoolTec than it usually does and that the results are inconsistent. At press time, we haven’t heard of any other manufacturers who plan to introduce cooling-bar technology.

Beard trimmers also received some innovation. In January 2014, Philips introduced the BeardTrimmer 9100 ($90), which is the first laser-guided beard and stubble trimmer. The laser guide projects a red line on your face so you can determine how to align the BeardTrimmer’s blade for a straight trim. Steve Scarpa, who was a 2012 Gold Medal winner at the National Beard and Moustache Championships, tells us that the BeardTrimmer 9100 is similar to the laser-guided miter saw that he uses in his construction work. The BeardTrimmer 9100 and the miter saw laser guides allow him to line up his blade for precise trimming and cutting.

“I have very fine lines I have to cut on,” Scarpa says.

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