Gillette's business - sell the razor once and then get the customer to buy proprietary blades over and over again - has been so successful that economists and business consultants refer in awed tones to the "Gillette model". There have been many emulators and the latest is Neutrogena with Wave.

Wave is a battery-operated, vibrating thingy to which you attach a pre-saturated cotton pad for a "power cleanse". Throw the pad away at the end of every facial wash and buy some more from Neutrogena when the 14 pads that come with device are used up. The device (with the 14 pads) costs $13.99 and a month's supply of refill pads will set you back $8.49. Good for Neutrogena, but would it be good for me.

Wave is kind of cute and friendly, fits snugly in the hand and is waterproof enough to take a shower with you. Switch it on and it vibrates "gently" (in Neutrogena parlence). When using it against my face with the pad in place, I'd say it wasn't so much gentle as feeble. This is no Clarisonic brush.

So much for the 'razor'. What about the 'blade'? The pre-saturated cotton pads are where I start to have a real problem with Wave. There three preservatives (phenoxyethanol, methylparaben and propylparaben - all of which I'd rather avoid) amongst the ingredients. Yet it is hard to see what else is soaking these pads that you'd want to preserve.

Sodium laureth sulfate is a known irritant and is usualy only used in products that have fleeting contact with the body before being rinsed off. Many cleansers and shampoos these days proudly tout being 'sulfate-free'. There is PEG-8, which can (like other PEGs) be an irritant. To be avoided if you have broken or damaged skin. Lauryl methyl gluceth-10 hydroxypropyldimonium chloride is a chemical humectant that seems to be benign, but fairly pointless. Decyl glucoside is associated with contact allergies, according to a study published in Contact Dermatitis. Cocamidopropyl betaine is a semi-chemical surfecant that some studies have shown can lead to allergic reactions and it may, at the very least, be an irritant. Like PEGs, the irritations can be caused by impurities that responsible manufacturers (as I am sure Neutrogena is) would ensure are removed.

Neutrogena promised that my skin would feel very soft after cleansing my face with Wave. It did - for approximately 10 minutes, after which my skin felt very dry.

Unimpressed by the pads, I wondered whether I could cheat the 'Gillette model' and bring in my own supply of 'blades'. I soaked my own cotton pad with my favorite Tracie Martyn cleanser and found that it did stick - although somewhat precariously - to the attachment head of the Wave device. It didn't hold on too well, the cleanser didn't lather (I didn't get much foam from Neutrogena's either) and the ever-so gently vibrating Wave somehow seemed superfluous to requirements.

All in all, this is one wave that I won't be chasing.

Ingredients in foaming pads:

Glycerin, sodium laureth sulfate, PEG-8, cocamidopropyl betaine, decyl glucoside, lauryl methyl gluceth-10 hydroxypropyldimonium chloride, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, propylparaben, citric acid, salicylic acid, menthol, fragrance.