Double Edge Safety Razor vs. Modern multi-blade marvel Gillette Fusion – head to head shootout

Double Edge Safety Razor vs. Modern multi-blade marvel – Gillette Fusion – which wins?

In this corner - Edwin Jagger DE89 safety razor with a Gillette Rubie Platinum Plus double edge razor blade - wet shaving shootout

In this corner - Edwin Jagger DE89 safety razor with a Gillette Rubie Platinum Plus double edge razor blade - wet shaving shootout


The Challenger - Gillette Fusion Power Razor multi blade cartridge razor for wet shaving

The Challenger - Gillette Fusion Power Razor multi blade cartridge razor for wet shaving

Old Skool vs New Skool – Safety Razor with Double Edge Razor Blade vs. Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor – who will be triumphant?

Being frustrated with my TSA forced travel razor option (Remington Electric), and being faced with the need to travel with only carry-on luggage on occasion (see FAQ ‘can I take my double edge razor on the plane‘), I decided to try a modern, TSA approved option – the Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide Power Razor (borrowed from SWMBO, who uses it as discussed here in “Close enough for a Man, but Shaved for a Woman”)

It occurred to me, however, that it would be more fun to try the Gillette Fusion if I compared it, head-to-head, with a safety razor.  I used the Gillette Fusion Power Razor with a brand new cartridge on one side of my face, and the Edwin Jagger DE89 with a 3 shave old Gillette Rubie Platinum Plus double edge razor blade (not my favorite or closest shaving blade choice, but I’ve not yet completed the blade review for that one, so I just kept going with the Rubie.

Let’s get ready to rumble!

In the right corner (right side of my face), measuring 5 3/4″ overall and weighing in at a svelte 1 5/8 oz our challenger sports 5 low cutting force blades with thinner edges, an improved blade suspension system, a Lubrastrip, a comfort guard, a low resistance blade coating, and an innovative microcomb.

In the left corner (the other side of my face), measuring just under 3 3/4″ and weighing in at a hefty 2 7/8 oz , the Edwin Jagger, DE89.

I had been unable to shave the previous day, so we started with a two-day growth for this contest.
The plan a 3 round battle (3 pass shave) pitting modern technology against the tried-and true double edge razor blade in a classic safety razor.

Round 1

Grabbing my Art of Shaving shaving cream (Lavender this time), and using the Art of Shaving Pure Badger Brush to whip up a nice lather in my Dirty Bird 1.5 Shaving Scuttle, I lathered up for round 1 of the bout.

I decided to use the Gillette Fusion ProGlide on my right side, since I’m right handed and I can see better when I shave that side.
The Fusion ProGlide was kind of rough…tugging quite a bit. After pass one, it was a pretty good start on the right side.  Seemed fairly smooth for pass one.
But the reigning champ came out of the corner for it’s shot on the left side.  Even with a 3 shave old Gillette Rubie double edge razor blade (not the sharpest or my favorite blade to begin with),  the DE razor blade was cutting nicely (and more comfortably) than the Fusion ProGlide.  Judges score this round a tie.

Round 2

Lathering up again for the XTG pass, the challenger came out swinging.  Making quick work of this pass, the Gillette Fusion ProGlide was less rough in this round.  (I noticed after each round, that the side shaved with the Fusion ProGlide felt slicker after the shave (before rinsing).  I think the lubricating strip on the cartridge leaves a film of lube after the shave.)  The Gillette Rubie also made quick work of the left side on this pass.  Another round scored as a tie.

Round 3

Back to the Dirty Bird Scuttle to reload the brush for round three (plenty of good lather left from the original whipping)…lathered up and both contestants came out of their corners swinging.
The ATG pass went quickly on both sides.  The veteran did cross over out of habit at the end to clean up the under-the-nose part that the challenger had missed (the referee having forgotten about the trimmer blade on the other side of the Fusion ProGlide cartridge), but on to the post fight analysis.  Final scoring is being tallied.

The Decision

No knockout here, so…after checking with the head judge (aka, the lovely SWMBO), the decision is in.

The challenger scored a BBS shave!

But, the winner and still champion, by unanimous decision of the judges…the 3 shave old Gillette Rubie Platinum Plus in the Edwin Jagger DE89.

This decision was based primarily on the fact that both razors delivered a BBS shave after 3 passes, but SWMBO, when asked to choose a winner (without being told which razor did which size) gave the nod ever so slightly to the left side.  Add to this the fact that we started with an ‘experienced’ blade, rather than a new one, and it wasn’t even my favorite blade, combined with the cost disparity ($0.34-$0.45 per blade for the Rubie in quantities of 5 – 100 vs  $3.64 and up for the Fusion ProGlide).

The only place the ProGlide was the clear winner was in the Alum Block test.  The Alum Block definitely stung more with the Rubie than with the Fusion ProGlide.  I also go the impression it would be pretty hard to cut yourself with the ProGlide without trying pretty hard.

The bottom line is, neither performed substantially better than the other.  The double edge razor wins on cost, cost per shave, environmental impact (recyclable blades vs. throwaway cartridges) and, of course on cool factor.  Also, with a better blade (Rapira Swedish Super Steel, Shark, Feather (if you’re tougher than me)), I think you’d get a clearer victory for the safety razor.  However, pick a crappy double edge razor blade (e.g. Trig, Crystal, etc.) and I think the Gillette wins on everything but price.

The other big win is, now I can relegate my electric razor to taming unruly eyebrows and nostril hairs and pack a real wetshaving kit when I fly – even when I’m carrying everything on the plane with me (vs. checking bags).  That’s a win for sure!

Also, I forgot to turn the power on on the Power razor…no soothing micro-pulses, so the stage is set for a rematch…maybe powered up, the challenger can dethrone our champion (or maybe the champion will hit the gym and come back stronger with a better, sharper blade?).  Stay tuned for the rematch!

UPDATE:  I repeated the challenge, two more times.  Power razor switched on for ‘micropulsing’ action…no appreciable difference.  The nod still goes slightly to the safety razor with the even-more-tired DE razor blade.

UPDATE 2:  Going with this experience, I used the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor as my travel razor.

UPDATE 3:  One feature where the Gillette Fusion ProGlide wins is in the trimming under the nose category.  There’s a ‘trimmer’ blade on the back side of the cartridge (opposite where the 5 or 6 blades are) that fits neatly under the nose to catch those tough to reach whiskers.  Way easier to get these than with the Edwin Jagger DE89 (or the Merkur 38C, or the Merkur Futur, or the Wilkinson Sword Classic, or the Weishi, or the Big Roc).  Advantage, challenger!

About John Gluth

I'm an engineer-turned-salesman living in the valley of the sun.
In my spare time, I like to work on old MOPARs and I blog about my experiences shaving with safety razors and all the assorted acoutrements (various double edge razor blades, shaving brushes, shaving soaps/creams, after shaves, alum blocks, styptic pencils, shaving scuttles, etc.)