For me shaving is easy, quick, and dirt cheap, so for this product to be an alternative it has to offer something more. This is advertised as a simple two-step process with longer lasting results. The former is objectively not true and neither, in my experience, is the latter.
The first thing I learned after receiving the product is that "Hair must be 1/8-inch - 1/4-inch for product to work. Trim or grow as needed." (In case, like normal humans, you can't measure your hair at a resolution of 1/8-inch, this happens to be the diameter of the common headphone jack). There goes the "two-step" part. Instead, depending on how long your hair before you decide to remove it, you now have 3 or 4 steps. It's actually worse because no matter how diligent you plan to be, there is no way to maintain a smooth body since all the time since you always need to wait for it to grow back. One point for shaving!
The 2nd step on the bottle instructs that you apply a "thick, even layer." I never trust products like these when they say "thick" and "generous" since they always benefit from you over-using the product and having to buy more. For the first try, I applied a somewhat minimal layer, thin enough for my skin to be fairly visible and waited for the required 6-10 minutes. I ended up with a partial result, so I realized I needed a thicker layer.
Tip: unscrew the bottle head and use a ketchup-and-squeeze movement to get the lotion out more easily. Keeping the head on got me tired in no time, and I'm a rock climber, I pinch stuff for a workout.
I came out of the shower to re-apply and was already feeling some irritations here and there (one more point for shaving). I applied again to the surviving areas, waited, and got back to shower. Note that when I miss a spot after shaving, the fix is quick and easy (shaving scores again.) This time it worked (almost, I still had a small, yet visible patch of hair. Again, this wouldn't be a problem for shaving).
I should mention that the hair won't immediately come off just by rinsing. You need to gently remove it off using the supplied spatula or do something with that effect.
The final result was actually pretty good. My skin looked and felt very smooth and in all directions. I would need to shave my chest in at least two directions to get the same result. (SmoothTech finally scores).
Now it's fair to point out that the next time around I can do all the above in only two steps and far less time. Except that I'm not done yet. Now I need to apply the growth minimizer (which, by the way, will give a burning sensation if applied to irritated areas), namely "5 times within 40 hours of hair removal" and then once a day. That's a lot of maintenance!
At that point, I had already lost faith in the product, so I decided to do an experiment. I applied the minimizer as instructed but skipped one side of my chest to compare the effect. On day two, the hair growth was definitely less than after shaving, but I was already able to feel the hair. Day three was already like day two after shaving and with equal growth on both chests, so the minimizer didn't really make a difference.
You might think it's fair to claim one more point for SmoothTech since it lasted one day more than shaving. Not so fast! The warning section says that you should "avoid direct sun exposure or excessive physical activity" for 24 hours after hair removal. So I can't go to the gym, nor hang out at the beach, swimming pool, or park with my shirt off. What is this for, then? So, no, this does not count as an extra day as far as I'm concerned.
Compared to shaving, this product is expensive and cumbersome with results that last practically the same time, not to mention that it has minor side effects. What would make me buy an improved version of this product? Any of the following or a combination thereof:
A) If it's exactly as advertised (apply and rinse, period) and with no side effects.
B) If the results last at least one week and I can re-apply it immediately afterward without waiting for the hair to grow back.
C) If I can use it for my private parts (definitely no side effects allowed here).
Otherwise, I'll stick to shaving.
P.S. A week or so later I had a sudden bloom of pimples in some areas on my back. This could be just a coincidence, but all the clues point otherwise.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend