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Bored to Tears Cartridge Experiment

Seeing that I'm on the road a lot, I got a bit bored this last couple of days and picked three of the "more popular" cartridge razors and figured I would give them a try. Understand that I am a SE/DE/Rolls kinda guy - but I was a bit curious how the mass market stuff would shave, now that I've honed my skills somewhat with SEs, DEs, Rolls, Straights and a Kamisori.

My first shave (yesterday) was with the non-powered Gillette Fusion ProGlide. I used their lotions for pre-shave and post-shave and used their Fusion ProGlide Hydra Smooth canned shaving gel along with my Semogue SOC 2 Band Badger. I managed to get a near BBS shave with very little problem - no weepers or nicks - the head and the angle of the ProGlide is considerably different than my SE, DE, Rolls tools. Very little if any feedback to speak of - a bit more difficult to frame my goatee. The best price I've seen on the cartridges is $4.16 each - to me, this should give a shave that is way beyond my Weber DLC/Classic or my Muhle R41 Grande - it does not. It does however, provide me with a closer shave than my Fat Handle Triangle Slot Tech loaded with a Feather. Now I really like my Tech - it's just that for this comparison - it doesn't shave as closely as the ProGlide. However, if I were to choose one to keep and use daily - it would be the Fat Handle Tech - hands down. Far easier to maneuver and far better feedback - just more fun to use.

I used the ProGlide for 3 passes plus touch up - as I do with all of my others razors. The touch up is usually for below my jaw line - everything above is easily taken care of with 3 passes.

The Gillette pre shave Thermal Face Scrub is very gritty - I suppose it's doing something, I just don't care for it.

The Gillette post shave Intense Cooling Lotion felt great - but leaves a somewhat sticky residue.

It was probably ill advised to fill my SOC 2 Band with Fusion ProGlide shaving gel - but nevertheless - it worked okay. I can't imagine having to use this stuff everyday though. Not even close to my current soaps, sticks or creams.

My second shave (today) was with the Schick Hydro 3. Seeing that it wasn't bundled with product as the Fusion ProGlide was, I used my Semogue SOC along with Euro Palmolive and proceeded to face lather as usual. The shave with the Hydro 3 was preferable to me over the Fusion ProGlide. The actual head of the Hydro and the ProGlide are virtually the same - even though the ProGlide has 5 blades versus the Hydro's 3. In any event, it seemed as if the Hydro 3 has a bit "stiffer" blades and provided me a bit closer shave with a bit better feedback (which is still very poor btw). Cartridge cost on the Hydro 3 is $2.27 each - which makes it a runaway winner for me over the Fusion ProGlide - a very easy decision actually as the Hydro 3 provided a closer and more enjoyable shave. Once again - 3 passes plus some light touch up. Very, very smooth results. I'm fairly confident that if ProGlide users would actually try the Hydro 3, they would quickly make the switch both for shave performance and the substantial cost savings.

Both the Fusion ProGlide and the Hydro 3 are pretty much "non-thinking" auto-pilot type of razors. There's really no danger of getting hurt (as opposed to a R41, Vison wide open or OCMM - where daydreaming can prove costly). There is also no real "involvement" in the shave as there is with my SE/DE/Rolls shavers. I think this may be due in part to the plastic handles, no real feedback and the general "detachment" from the whole process. The end result however is acceptable. Bottom line so far - cartridges can work - but - if you have ingrown hair issues, probably not your best bet. If you want to actually "enjoy" the shaving process - they are not going to do it for you.

Tomorrow I will be using my newly acquired Gillette Sensor Excel with the 2 blade cartridge. So far, 3 blades have proven better than 5; perhaps 2 blades will be better than 3. I'm guessing 1 blade will trump them all. :)



Current travel hardware:


Semogue SOC 2 Band Badger
BGS 2012 Horse
Semogue 2000 Boar


Gillette Fusion ProGlide
Schick Hydro 3
Gillette Sensor Excel
Muhle R41 Grande
Weber DLC/Classic
Gillette Fat Handle Tech Triangle
Gillette Old 1910 Model 102 OC


Palmolive Euro
Fusion ProGlide Hydra Smooth


Personna Lab Blue
Astra SP
Shark SC
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I hear you regarding the fun factor. I get great shaves with a Fusion Pro Glide, but I much prefer shaving with a DE razor. It is simply more fun!
Wow, thanks for doing that. Doesn't seem like I have enough shaves in my lifetime to shave with something I don't care about. I love my R41 + Feather combo and I don't think the cartridges can give as close as a shave and just as importantly they definitely can't be as smooth.
i could shave hung over and near dead with a gillette sensor or mach 3. However it's like driving an automatic. You're not really driving (my simple opinion).
I think a point should be made for the mass market and the apparent laziness of the general public. Companies make like easier for people and charge them heavily for it. We love it as well, I mean just look at cartridge sales. or 500 channels of cable!!! It is physically possible in this age to actually live in your house and never have to leave or talk to any human being - what with the internet and all. food for thought
Okay...today concludes this particular experiment. I used the Gillette Sensor along with the Sensor Excel 2 Blade cartridge - Semogue SOC 2 Band and Tabac.

The Sensor provides far more feedback than does the Fusion ProGlide or the Hydro 3 - substantially more. It is also far more "like" a conventional SE or DE than the other two in regards to how you angle it and in its actual shaving.

Note: Just an observation - my face stayed smoother - longer - after the Hydro 3 shave from yesterday than it did with the ProGlide shave (the day before) - no empirical evidence for this other than me feeling my face from yesterday's shave until today's.

The quality of shave with the Sensor Excel was easily as good or better than the Fusion ProGlide and was virtually identical to the Hydro 3 in regards to the final result. I'm pretty sure it took me just a bit longer to get a near BBS shave with the Sensor as opposed to the Hydro 3; but not enough to quibble about. Unlike the ProGlide and the Hydro 3, I did manage to get 2 very small weepers around the neckline with the Sensor - apparently the Sensor is not quite as "idiot-proof" as the other two - but I was glad to see it had at least a little "kick" to it.

The cartridges for the Sensor Excel razor are $1.87 each which is .40 cheaper than a Hydro 3 and $2.29 cheaper than a Fusion ProGlide cartridge. If picking one of these to be "stuck" with - it's not even a close call. The Sensor is by far more preferable for me as someone who actually "enjoys" the shaving experience. Much better handle - much easier to maneuver around my chin, goatee and sideburns, far better feedback and overall - a far more enjoyable and involved shaving experience with results every bit as good as the ProGlide or Hydro for considerably less money. My guess is - if you could put the Sensor/Excel blade on a bit better handle - it would be enhanced yet further - but I haven't looked into this.

In short - I see no reason for the mass market shavers to go with 3, 4 or 5+ blades. The Sensor (and I assume other razors similar to it) provides as close of a shave as you're likely to get - short of going to a true SE/DE/Rolls/Straight shaving experience.

In comparison to my DEs that are with me on this road trip - the Sensor once again outperforms my Fat Handle Tech (in terms of the final shaved result) and actually comes very close to my Weber DLC/Classic/Feather - which I like very, very much. To be honest, I'm not sure that I could tell the difference in regards to the final result. Is it a R41? Not hardly. Is it a pretty darn good plastic razor? Probably one of the better ones that you're likely to find.

The negatives:

Well...it's plastic.
The lube strip is actually more annoying than the stuff that comes out of the Hydro 3 - a bit more "slimy" - but not a deal breaker
You have to get used to the "clicking" sound that is pretty much non-stop due to the head pivot.
Cartridges are 6 to 15x more expensive than Astra SP or Feather DE blades.
Cartridge needs to be rinsed considerably more often than a conventional SE or DE while shaving.

If you need an "emergency" razor or a cheap "off the rack" backup - you are hard pressed to do any better than the Sensor. With that said, there's no danger of me selling my razor collection - but I was pleasantly surprised that the Sensor did as well as it did. My guess is; is that if more people would do proper face prep, grab a good brush and some cream or soap - they would enjoy far better results with the 2 blade system - as opposed to thinking more blades will offset their lack of "know how" in regards to proper shaving, technique and prep.

Tomorrow's shave? Well, it's back to the Weber or the R41...then when I get home...I've gotta try out my new Tradere OC. :)
When I was in my 20's I used a Sensor and totally loved it. I only switched to a Mach 3 after I got married so that I only had to buy one brand/model of cartridge (SWMBO uses a Mach 3 for her legs, etc). I then went to an electric for a couple years and now I've been DE shaving for just under a year.
Excellent review!! Any chance that you can be talked into trying a Trac II razor as well? It looks like the razors are getting better as you move backwards in time, so I'm wondering if the Trac II would continue this trend. Thanks.
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