Absolute heresy and an unholy experiment

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Absolute heresy and an unholy experiment

Post by jlmwrite » Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:52 pm

During a recent extended trip back east, I discovered that among other things I'd left behind my Feather blades AND my Proraso soap. The only store I could find in small town northern Connecticut was a rather depressing K-Mart with a severely limited selection of shaving supplies.

My fallback on trips with carry on luggage has been Bic single blades disposable razors but this K-mart didn't have them. After much debate, I decided on a Gillette Fusion Proglide with 2 cartridges on sale for $7.99. With some trepidation I picked one up along with a can of Proglide Sensitive canned goo. The dark stormy afternoon matched my mood, thinking about just how badly my face would fare.

Was I in for a surprise!

The canned goo seemed much moister than I remember from years and years ago, lathered up very well, and held water well for a thick and slick lather. Even more of a surprise during the WTG pass; most of the whiskers were gone, with no weepers and no irritation on my neck. Did an ATG pass next due to time constraints and found that my face was clean shaved close with no irritation or redness anywhere. After washing the rest of the goo off of my face, my skin felt reasonably hydrated.

OK, this had to be a fluke, right?

For the next 6 days I continued to use the razor and canned goo with exactly the same results. I even tried putting a bit of extra pressure on my face and no weepers. No ingrown hairs, no redness or irritation, and no breakouts. I did note that on the fifth shave I felt some pulling so I replaced the cartridge mid-shave with the same good results. On my last day, I tossed out the Gillette stuff without any hesitation.

Flash forward to my return home. Day one with a new Feather and I got two weepers, one distal to my lower lip and the other on the margin of my chin. Just out of practice, I thought. Through the rest of the week, I got my usual good shaves with my summer routine (Proraso pre, Proraso green, and Feather blades in my HD.

For reasons unknown (being too close to the summer sun in the Colorado foothills?) I decided to try an experiment. Warning: My long-term peers on SMF may wish to press 'back' on their browsers now and not read any further. It's not pretty. What I'm about to write goes against everything I've learned about wetshaving over the years.

With a coupon and a sale, I purchased a Proglide Fusion Power and 4 cartridges for a grand total of $5. Yep, only five bucks -- please note that replacement cartridges normally go for about $4 EACH. To be fair I also bought another can of Proglide sensitive goo. The powered razor handle was only nominally larger than I'd remembered the non-powered version and the blades appeared identical (Gillette says all Fusion blades work on all Fusion handles).

30 seconds into the shave I knew I'd made a mistake. Hah! Score another one for us dedicated DE wetshavers! The vibration in the razor was akin to holding an adult, battery-operated toy, and I couldn't feel my face at all with the razor. Turned off the power switch and continued with my shave. Another big surprise; the razor performed just as well as the non-powered version and I ended up with as smooth a shave as I've ever had.

Over the past week, I continued to experiment. My face LOVES Proraso green soap with this razor, even with all three passes. Proraso Pre doesn't seem to make any difference, and my face has remained irritation and bump free.

So does this mean I'm willing to trade in my silvertip brushes, my collection of new and vintage DE razors, my veritable marketplace of blades, and a bloated cabinet of soaps and creams? Oh, no! Not even! The price of the refill cartridges alone (still well over $3 each in a family back at Costco) is daunting. But I'm going to stop blindly blasting multi-blade disposable horrors and the accompanying goo. I do feel like Gillette is absolutely bilking modern men on the cost of refills, but that was really King Gillette's idea of how to get rich anyway.
"What? Over? Did you say 'over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? H** no!" -- Animal House, 1978

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Post by Sam » Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:59 pm

I have used Edge Gel in a pinch and it does fine. I have even used my wife's three-bladed razors in a pinch, and get maybe the same shave as with my DE's. I have noticed that these new, old stock Gillette Super Silver Stainless DE blades (i have a 5 pack and used one this week) have given me a tremendous close shave and so easy, maybe better than my Feather blades.

I am like you, I hate paying $3 a blade and my shaves are great with the Feather blades at 20 cents a blade or so. Now, the creams, it is as much the smell and tactile sensation of the brush as it is the efficacy of the shave.

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Post by franz » Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:51 pm

I don't think that's heretical or unholy. I do think goo is just yucky though. :lol:

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Post by SmallTank » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:40 pm

my dad buys Mach3 from Costco..$25/14blades..not too bad..in his army days DE was his only option..but now eye n hand coordination isnt what it used to be..so...he shaves onward :P

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Post by gsgo » Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:42 pm

I've been using a Mach 3 Turbo for several weeks with great results whether I use good old Barbasol or my favorite brush and soap/cream.
Good shaving,


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Post by Straight Arrow » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:16 pm

I think the modern multi-bladed cartridge razors work great. They just aren't nearly as much fun. I'll stick with my DEs.

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Post by Craig_From_Cincy » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:18 pm

I have a deep, dark confession to make; I occasionally use a Fusion to shave with :oops: , usually on the days that I'm running late because I've laid in bed until the last possible moment and have to rush to get out of the door as a result. You can always tell the days when I've used a Fusion- I don't post my SOTD on those days, out of shame. I do my usual prep, a brush and good shave soap or cream. I get a good, smooth and very close shave from the Fusion. But here's the catch: I can only shave with a Fusion for one day, if I try to shave a second day with it I invariably get ingrowns and irritation on my neck. I think it's the way the multiblade cuts by pulling the hair out of the skin before cutting it that causes the ingrowns, where the DE cuts above the skin level. I can't use the goo though, it's beyond useless for me, I can't manage to get a close shave with it and the goo leaves my skin feeling lousy too boot.

Please forgive me fellow SMFers.
Last edited by Craig_From_Cincy on Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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Post by bernards66 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:32 pm

Craig, That has always been my biggest issue with multi-blade cartridges of any kind ( and I've tried quite a few of them); I get ingrowns and other irritation. But like you, it doesn't always occur immediately. I used to be able to use the original Sensor several days in a row before the ingrowns appeared....but they always did. With other cartridges it happened faster. Like you also, I attribute this to the inherant design and cutting style of multi-blades. It eventually became inescapably obvious that I could not use them, any of them, without problems so I gave up on the whole thing and settled in permanently again with my trusty DE that I'd used for decades. And judging by the posts on these shave forums over the years I'm plainly not the only one who's had this experiance. As far as canned goo is concerned the only one I'd use, if forced to use any of them, would be the original Barbasol foam.

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Post by Craig_From_Cincy » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:37 pm

On a related note, has anyone noticed that when Gillette rolls out a new flagship cartridge that the previous brand degrades in quality? For example, when Fusion came out I noticed that the Mach3 blades suddenly no longer shaved quite as well as they had. Ditto for when Mach3 replaced its predecessor, the Sensor. Now that Fusion ProGlide is out, the older 'standard' Fusion blades don't seem quite as smooth and sharp as they once did. Is this Gillette's way of herding their customers to move up to the latest and greatest? Built in obsolescence??


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Post by bernards66 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:44 pm

Craig, Yes, it would seem so. The phenomenon that you describe has been also noted by others....including quite a ways back in the chain. Some seem to feel that the 'current model' actually begins to deteriorate somewhat BEFORE the next 'greatest' is introduced. Whatever. I don't use any of them and refuse to even try any more of them.

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Post by fallingwickets » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:00 am

yes!!!!!!! heresy and unholy wtf is wrong with you??? LOL j/k

btw, i use a fusion on my head all the time......best razor evah! BUT BUT BUT, the few times i got clever and used it to shave shave, worst idea known to mankind. I cant say what it was, but my face felt like i had tried to shave with hardcore sandpaper....weird 'cause on my dome its unbelievably good

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Post by brothers » Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:42 pm

Multi blade carts (Trac II) cause me to have ingrowns after about the second day. It happens every time. Single blades, whether DE, Gillette Guard, or other single blade disposables, on the other hand, never cause me any problems.

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Post by OldSaw » Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:59 pm

I occasionally use a Schick Hydro 3. It works fantastically well.
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Re: Absolute heresy and an unholy experiment

Post by Quarterstick » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:47 pm

In the short time I have been wet shaving I have come to the conclusion that good technique can help you overcome bad, or at least mediocre, tools. Otherwise, if the quality was truely equivelant wouldn't we all go in for the convenience of the mass market shave?
jlmwrite wrote:So does this mean I'm willing to trade in my silvertip brushes, my collection of new and vintage DE razors, my veritable marketplace of blades, and a bloated cabinet of soaps and creams? Oh, no! Not even!
Well there is something to be said about the process of collecting apparently. :D

When I started, I systematically changed each component to see if there was an impact. Shaved for several weeks then added another piece to the the set up. First changed from a cartridge to a DE, then traded up to proper shaving cream, and most recently added a brush. At each stage I saw an immediate and marked improvement in shave quality. Of course, I am at least partially to blame for the comfort of my previous shaves due to technique issues (e.g., rushing, too much pressure, not reapplying cream between passes). I am pretty confident it was not just me though, because I did not uncover many of my technique issues until well after I started the process.


If I have to go back to cartridges and goo, I am pretty confident I can knock out a decent shave. However, I will have to be stuck between a rock and a hard place to make me do it.

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Post by Squire » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:39 pm

Yes Andy, it's the difference between a good shave experience as opposed to an unpleasant daily chore.

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Post by brothers » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:21 am

I just get back from a road trip. Multi blade carts cause ingrowns 100% of the time when I use those. Because I know that, I used single blade disposable razors on this trip, one per shave and tossed. Only applied the SC w/o a brush once before each shave, then just splashed water on the face for lubrication during the shave, followed by a rinse and a splash of AS at the end. Got better and better at it by the end of the trip. No complaints from me. Sharing a little bathroom away from home with the wife didn't lend itself well to spending much time shaving, and eliminating much of my preferred bells and whistles worked out great for me.

Bottom line, I could easily go the fast and easy "humdrum" route every day. (And I did for oh, so many years!) I simply prefer the more enjoyable experience of the brushes and all of this and that, because I can, and it's way more fun.

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Post by Seamaster » Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:09 am

Squire wrote:Yes Andy, it's the difference between a good shave experience as opposed to an unpleasant daily chore.
Ingrowns and cost keep me on the right side of the tracks.

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Post by f308gt4 » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:52 pm

I use the fusion daily, along with proraso white (and an Omega syntex brush). I get a great shave. Do 2 passes, one with the grain, one across the grain. Baby smooth skin.

I use each cartridge for about a month.

Since I no longer spend money on various creams, etc, I don't mind the price at all.

I do need to pick up another jar of the Proraso pre-post cream though...

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Post by harper » Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:09 pm

I don't think using and finding a Fusion is heresy but unlike jlmwrite, I prefer the Power Fusion to the regular Fusion. I have gotten excellent shaves out of it but my beard or skin seems to change after about a month or less and it does not work as well. I have found the best solution for me is to use the DE for most of my shaving except for my neck where I use the Power Fusion because I always seem to get modest weepers if I shave my neck often with a DE too often. I love the sensation of those first strokes (not passes for me) going down my cheek with a DE but not for fine work around the corners of my mouth and my moustache. I also do not make passes because I have found that is the easiest way to nick myself so I tend to use a lot of fairly short strokes and that works best for me. I shave ATG, WTG and across the grain because my beard is unruly in how it grows. Maybe my techniques is not the best but I have been shaving for about 65 years now and if I have learned anything about shaving it is to do what works for me. What works for others is great for them but what works for me is all that counts.

As for gels and canned creams and various hand or bath soaps, their function is to hold water as a lubricant for the razor. Bath and hand soaps are the worst because they are not designed to stay wet but to dry quickly. I don't think any of them soften a beard much and I am not sure it is desirable to soften a beard anyway since a good blade and razor will cut the whiskers just as well -- and maybe better -- soft or not although not as comfortably. My skin will not feel as good after if I have not prepared it but the shave will likely be just as close.

Gillette and others have worked for years on a variety of razor designs using vibrations (there used to be an English razor as I recall that vibrated and you wound it up but I only saw ads for it, never an actual razor) plus foams that warmed in the hand (Gillette had one but never marketed it because while it stayed warm it had littlle else to recommend it; I tried it).

I am not sure and have seen no evidence other than heresay that Gillette cheapens its previous products when a new product comes along. Usually the new product has merits that people prefer to the earlier products. Theory would be that Gillete would do this to drive people away from using previous products but that makes no marketing sense since the replacement cartridge business for older razors is highly profitable for Gillette. It may not be as profitable as the replacement cartridges for a new razor and cartridge (always priced higher) but there are no develpment or marketing costs for an older product: it has a built in market.

There is also a theory that Gillettes razors and shaving foam and gels, etc. are sold as loss leaders to get people to buy Gillette blades. This is not true although some retailers will sell some products at less than apparent replacement cost in order to increase business. This may work occasionally but in almost every instance I know about (usually with supermarkets or volume chains) there is some kind of arrangment with the manufacturer that if a certain volume is reached a bonus of some kind is available. How else would car dealers sell some models at certain times below their actual cost to the dealer? They don't; it has to do with volume and a volume bonus with the car company, an arrangement which is legal and benefits the consumer although it is never apparent what is happening.

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final analysis

Post by malocchio » Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:18 pm

When I travel,I get good shaves from atra or sensor excel,and gillette gel...the one thing these type of shave goods can never give me is what I get most from my high quality DE arsenal....pride of ownership

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