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What I like
- Close, comfortable shave
- Low irritation
- "Extra" blade is useful in tight spots
What I don't like
- The Fusion represents a significant improvement over the Mach 3 line of razors
Like all Gillette razors, the Fusion begins it's life with massive hype and a huge marketing effort. Well before it was released, it was also the subject of some mockery because of the ever-increasing number of razor blades and the feeling by many (myself included) that things were getting a bit ridiculous.
My initial expectation was that the Fusion would be similar to the Mach 3 Turbo and M3Power: insiginificant improvements on an excellent product, designed to tease out more money from the shaving public. Fortunately, it appears I was overly cynical in that expectation.
The Fusion is the first 5-blade razor on the market. I suppose it's really a 5+1 blade razor; Gillette added a blade to the thin top edge of the razor cartridge for shaving in tight spaces. Gillette's ads suggest that the 5 main blades are spaced more closely than the Mach 3's blades, so they take up about the same space; that's almost true, but not the whole story. When I compare them visually, the Fusion's blades are closer together, but the 5 blades still take up a tiny bit more space than the Mach 3's 3 blades. Also, Gillette doubled the size of the 'microfins', resulting in a surface that's significantly larger than the Mach 3's cartridge.
That extra surface area may be why they added the 6th blade to the edge of the shaving cartridge. The regular blades are too wide to fit in certain spaces, but the 6th blade is on a very narrow surface, so it'll fit easily into tight spaces. For myself, I use it for shaving between my nose and my moustache, for instance. It's also useful around sideburns, where it's useful to know exactly where the edge of the blade is. Very handy.
I was concerned that crowding in extra blades would result in more 'gunking up', but that doesn't seem to be a problem. Even when shaving with a shaving oil with hair that's been growing for 3 days, I wasn't getting a lot of gunk, which is pretty good. The Fusion's blades wash out pretty easily.
The pivoting head on the Fusion is a little different than the Mach 3 as well. It appears the pivot is closer to the middle of the blade, which I find better than the pivot on the Mach 3. It makes it easier to apply pressure on areas where it's needed (though I don't recommend applying too much pressure when shaving; it will tend to increase irritation).
Shaving results have been excellent. The Fusion shaves very closely, and with little irritation. So far, no nicks at all, even with brand new blades. There's an area around my adam's apple which I generally find very difficult to get completely smooth. On my first shave with the Fusion, I got it completely smooth, and I was quite impressed. Subsequent shaves haven't gotten quite as close, so it may be a function of the brand new blade, but it's still closer than I normally get with other razors.
The biggest downside to the Fusion is the price. Like each of the previous Gillette razors, this one is yet more expensive. At this writing, Drugstore.com sells 8 replacement blades for $25; you can get 12 Mach 3 cartidges for $20.
Overall, I think the Gillette Fusion is a significant improvement in quality over its predecessors. Is it worth the money? If you're looking for the best possible shave, I'll say yes. If you're interested in value, I'll say no. It is an improvement over the Mach 3, but the Mach 3 remains an excellent razor. For myself, I probably won't buy any new Fusion blades once I've finished with the 2 that came with it; it's a little too pricey for me.
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