It seems like the razor wars keep heating up with more and more blades and more and more features being added. Six blades! It vibrates! Now it has a ball! When will it end? I’m not sure, but Gillette has upped the ante with its new Gillette Fusion ProShield Razor with Flexball Technology, which is similar to the Gillette Fusion ProGlide, except the added flexible and new lubrication strip before and after the blades. Here’s my complete review of the Gillette Fusion ProShield Razor with Flexball Technology.
The biggest advance for this particular incarnation of the Gillette Fusion is the addition of a lubrication strip before the blades. Why did this take so long!? For years, Gillette and others have placed pointless lubrication strips after the blades for reasons that never made sense to me. Placing the lubrication after the blades are about as smart as applying shaving cream after you have shaved. So, thanks, Gillette for finally getting this right.
And, yes, it does make a difference.
The next feature of the razor is their new Flexball which “responds to contours and gets virtually every hair.” On their website, there is an asterisk after that statement to indicate that it compares to other Fusion Razors. Whatever that means.
The razor accepts all Fusion Cartridges (and, if you like your current handle, you can use the Fusion ProShield cartridges with the one you already have). The new Fusion ProShield cartridges feature five blades on the cutting surface, a single trimmer blade on the back for edging up sideburns and getting under the nose, and a lubrication strip around the blades.
It is one of the best-looking razors they’ve designed, but it’s still not something I want to showcase on the counter (like the Art of Shaving version).
What I Love About This Razor
Like the original paintbrush style razor, the Mach3, I like the way the razor cartridge glides across the face with just the right amount of pressure (as long as you use just a little pressure and let the razor do the work for you). The size and weight of the razor feel just right and it is very comfortable to hold. There are plenty of rubberized surfaces on the handle to prevent slipping as well.
From a shaving standpoint, I found the Gillette Fusion ProShield Razor with Flexball Technology produced a shave that was quite comfortable with very little drag (which was further minimized by the lubrication strip before the blades). I have experienced very little irritation with this razor (although a bit more than my Mach3 razor). The blade on the backside of the cartridge is a nice touch as it allows you to easily trim sideburns (or shave the back of the neck) as well as get close under the nose. It is also perfect for detailing around beards and mustaches.
What I’m On The Fence About
That flexball which supposedly responds to all the contours of your face is, in my opinion, more marketing hype than useful feature. At the launch of the original Fusion ProGlide. Gillette called FlexBall technology “the biggest advance in the category since the introduction of five blades.” Neither advance, in my opinion, has brought anything meaningful to the table. It’s all just marketing hype designed to get you to buy a new razor.
The flexball is supposedly designed to allow the razor to move with the contours of your face and eliminating the need to tilt your head so much. I tried it, but I still tilt my head to get a better angle and stretch out the skin on my face. Old habits die hard, and my guess is that if you’ve been shaving for any length of time, you’re probably not going to change your habits either.
The fifth blade, which has been present since Gillette first introduced the Fusion is more marketing hype. You can get as close a shave with a single-blade double edge razor (which takes a little more patience), so adding more blades, is pointless, in my opinion. If this is “innovation,” then I think we need to stop trying.
What I Don’t Like About This Razor
Like most mass-market razors, I think this razor looks like it was designed for teenage boys with the excessive rubber fins and bright colors. I’m not sure why we haven’t figured out a way to produce something a man would be proud to display on the bathroom counter, instead of throwing it in a drawer when he’s finished.
While the razor does give me a good shave, I find the extra blades leave my skin feeling a little irritated (a problem I don’t have with the excellent three blade Mach3 razor from Gillette). The cartridge is also huge, which makes maneuvering it a bit of a hassle and getting into hard-to-reach spots under the nose and the corners of the mouth a bit difficult without flipping the razor over and using the trimmer blade.
I’m also not real crazy about how expensive the blades are for this thing. An 8 pack of Gillette Fusion ProShield Razor Blades is about $37 on Amazon or at drug stores (or about $4.62 per blade). You can also choose a subscription plan “shave plan” that will save you about 5% if you have the blades shipped to you on a regular schedule (every 1 to 6 months), but that’s not really much of a savings compared to shave clubs like Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club (about $1.88 and $2.25 per cartridge, respectively) which offer a comparable shave at about half the price.
Yes, the Gillette Fusion ProShield Razor with Flexball Technology, using proper shaving technique, will give you a fine shave and it’s a better-looking razor than some of their recent offerings. Most of the new “innovations” really don’t add much to the quality of the shave and I still see myself going back to using my beautiful Edwin Jager razor set (which accommodate Gillette Mach3 blades). If you are already a Fusion user, skip purchasing the new handle and start using the ProShield Blades (which are an improvement over the previous generation Fusion blades).
If you really want to save on razor blades (no matter which type of razor you use), proper blade care will greatly prolong the life of your blades. If you are even a little patient, you can also opt for a Double Edge Razor (such as the Merkur Heavy Duty Double Edge Razor) and purchase blades for as little as ten cents each.