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Review of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide & ProGlide Power Razors
Razors featuring blade cartridges that pivot up and down on a vertical axis have been standard fare since Gillette invented the category in 1977 with the launch of its Atra men’s razor. Now, many, many brands — including Gillette and Schick — offer a wide variety of razors with pivoting cartridges, for both men and women, and the competition among razor blades has moved on to new features, including the number of blades in those cartridges and esoteric elements, such as the formulation of moisturizing strips built into the cartridges.
But razors have never matched the range of motion of high–end electric shavers from brands such as Braun and Panasonic, which have long offered heads (fitted with blades beneath outer foils) that move in all directions: up and down vertically, up and down horizontally, and side–to–side.
This important difference between razors and shavers has become much less distinct this month, however, with the launch of two new razors from Gillette that offer nearly the full range of articulation of a high–end shaver: updated versions of the company’s current high–end models, the Fusion ProGlide and AAA–battery–powered Fusion ProGlide Power.
Outfitted with new “FlexBall Technology,” the razors feature a movable ball in the handle that lets the vertically pivoting razor blade cartridge also rotate up left or right on an arc.
Gillette says the greater range of motion puts the blades in constant contact with the skin, resulting in a closer shave than was possible with prior–generation Fusion ProGlide razors. And to test the assertion, I recently requested and received samples of both the old and new models — power and manual, with and without FlexBall Technology — then pitted each against its counterpart to tackle a two–days stubble accumulation.
My conclusion: The new FlexBall Technology makes shaving safer as well as easier and more comfortable. Although it won't necessarily result in a closer shave, it’s an upgrade well worth the low cost of admission, and I strongly recommend these new razors to any man who hasn't made the move from a razor to a shaver.
Power is Better
Shaving through the transition from my lower face to below my jawbone and chin, and onto my neck, was where the FlexBall Technology benefited me most, eliminating the pulling and tugging I felt with the current generation Fusion ProGlide razors, and vastly reducing the risk of cutting my skin along the way.
The ProGlide Power with FlexBall Technology performed best. Its battery–powered handle vibrates the blade cartridge, which helps to stand up the whiskers and prepare them for cutting. In addition, the blade designed for the Power model includes an additional “comb” at the leading edge, which lifts and arranges the whiskers before the blades slice through them.
Feeling my face after each shave, it seemed to me that both Power models shaved closer than their non–power counterparts, and the razors with FlexBall Technology shaved nominally closer than those without.
Most significant, I found that the ProGlide Power with FlexBall Technology was also much more comfortable to hold than the prior–generation ProGlide Power. The FlexBall design separates the cartridge from the handle, so vibrations are only minimally transmitted from the cartridge to the handle. By contrast, there’s no such separation with the older model, which vibrated much more intensely in my hand.
Any razor is only as good as the blades that go on it, of course, and here Gillette has not made any changes. The new Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology razors utilize the same Fusion ProGlide cartridges that Gillette has already been selling for use with the prior–generation models. (It’s worth noting that the cartridges are interchangeable; the better, comb–equipped, ProGlide Power cartridges can be fitted to the non–power handle.)
Stroke style makes a difference, too
To be sure, there’s no difference between a razor with or without FlexBall Technology if you’re only shaving in a straight line. The benefits of the innovation emerge when you shave in a curve — which may require changing your own shaving style.
An unusual video by Gillette (see below) shows how it’s possible to use the FlexBall Technology all over the face and neck in a single stroke that maximizes curves.
Pricing and Availability
Prices for the Fusion ProGlide Power with FlexBall Technology is $10.99 on Amazon for a razor with one included blade cartridge and an included AAA battery.
Prices for the non–power Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology start at $11.49 on Amazon for a razor with two included cartridges.