Men’s Razor Comparison

I’ve tested six different men’s razors from Gillette and Schick over the past few months. My favorite is the Gillette Mach 3, with the Schick Quattro Titanium coming in second.

Executive Summary

  • More blades isn’t strictly better—there are trade-offs.
  • More blades means less pressure-per-blade. You’re less likely to cut yourself, but there is an increased sandpaper effect where the razor tugs at the hair instead of quickly slicing through. The sandpaper effect is neutralized if you shave regularly, but can be irritating if you typically go a few days between shaves.
  • More blades means the blades must be packed closer together to keep the razor head manageably narrow. This causes increased clogging—it’s more difficult to rinse out hair.
  • Not all swivel designs are equal. The older Gillette SensorExcel razor heads pivot in the middle whereas the newer Gillette Mach 3 and Fusion pivot closer to the bottom. The newer design allows the razor head to swing away from your face, which seems to reduce accidental cuts. It also means less pressure on the top-most blade which means a less-close shave around edges. The many-bladed Gillette razors include a single trimmer razor on the back side intended to allay this problem. The Schick Hydro 5 allows folding the gel reservoir out of the way.
  • The Schick Quattro Titanium blades seemed to stay sharp a little longer. Aside from that I couldn’t discern any difference in blade life.

Comparison Table

# blades Ability to shave close under nose Rinsability (water flow through the blades)
Gillette SensorExcel 3 great poor
Gillette Mach 3 (winner!) 3 average great
Gillette Fusion 5 below average—swivel design reduces pressure at top-most blade (alternatively: great if you like using the single trimmer razor on the back side) great
Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power 5 below average—swivel design reduces pressure at top-most blade (alternatively: great if you like using the single trimmer razor on the back side) great
Schick Quattro Titanium (runner up!) 4 average average
Schick Hydro 5 5 poor—gel reservoir above blades is very wide average

Details

Gillette SensorExcel

Average. Basic but works well. Three blades. Slight swivel. Not a clear water flow path so it’s a little difficult to rinse/unclog. Close shave, but easy to cut yourself if you’re not careful. Only three blades means the head is small which makes it easier to shave around my mouth and under my nose.

Gillette Mach 3 (winner!)

Pretty great. Three blades. Maybe not as close as the SensorExcel. The swivel design is different than the SensorExcel: The downside is that it’s a little harder to shave around my mouth and under my nose, but the upsides are 1) it’s extremely easy to rinse/unclog and 2) less likely to cut myself, which means I can shave faster. It has a slight “paddle effect” (I think of it like holding a ping pong paddle to your face and sliding), but it’s not bad.

Gillette Fusion

Bad. The razor felt dull—like it was catching on my hair rather than cutting it. Severe sandpaper effect, and I thought it was hard to shave around my mouth and under my nose. To compensate for the top of the blade pivoting away from your face, the Fusion razors include an extra “trimming” blade, which terrifies me.

Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power

Good. Similar to Gillette Fusion, but maybe with better blades? This is the “powered” version. It has a battery and an on/off button, which causes it to vibrate. The vibration seemed silly. I couldn’t tell if it helped, and I definitely found it distracting. It made me nervous.

Schick Quattro Titanium (runner up!)

Pretty good. Similar to the three blade Gillette SensorExcel. Does seem like the blade lasts longer than other razors. Slightly more obstructed water flow path than the Gillette Mach 3, so a little harder to rinse/unclog.

Schick Hydro 5

All in all pretty similar to the Gillette Mach 3. Differences: Slightly more obstructed water flow path, so a little harder to rinse/unclog. Slightly harder to shave around mouth and nose. The “Hydro” means it has “Hydrating Gel Reservoirs.” I don’t like hydrating gel. It feels like a lot of work to make sure I rinse all of it off.

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24 Responses to Men’s Razor Comparison

  1. Alex says:

    Call me old school, but I prefer the old 2-bladed Sensor. (Actually, I use the Sensor Excel; I think the 3-blade one is called the Sensor3, not the Sensor Excel. The only difference between the Sensor and the Excel is the extra strip of useless rubber, but I don’t think they make the plain Sensor anymore.)

    I find that the extra blades don’t really ever add anything except annoyance. Also, I don’t shave everyday, so I guess this helps avoid the sandpaper feeling you mention. And as someone with thick facial hair, the bigger razors make me look really silly with a strip of hair under my nose.

    Perhaps I’m just used to the Sensor, but I don’t have any trouble with accidental cuts (whereas with the spring-loaded blades like the Mach3, I’m always worried about that where my face curves).

    I’ve also never really had a problem with clogging, but maybe the two blades versus 3 make a difference (and I don’t have as much to compare to). I also don’t use thick gels, and I use my thumb when I’m rinsing to wipe the blades.

  2. Brandon says:

    You forgot to include in the review that the Schick hlHydro 5 Gel Reservoir folds back to allow the closest shave to the nose as well as clean lines for your sideburns, also if using a shave oil instead of a thick cream, it easily eliminates the clogging, I suggest shave secre shaving oil. Of all these blades the Hydro 5 is easily the all around best selection of these razors.

    • Quinton Hoyter says:

      Brandon – I am only now, 11/10/15, reading your statement, and having tried every razor mentioned, I remain in total agreement with you. It really looks like Gillette pays for these comparisons…why would they not mention the foldback- a huge undeniable difference. Schick Hydro 5 Gel Reservoir is the best, hands down, and no, I don’t work for Schick.

  3. Albert says:

    what about the Dollar shave club. I have considered doing it and going with the twin blade. only $3.00 a month. are those blades good.

    • Nitesh says:

      Dollar Shave Club is just rebranded Dorco blades at a markup. And I didn’t find Dorco blades very sharp and they clogged too easily, at least the 6 and 7 blade ones.

  4. Mark Doliner says:

    Hi Albert. I haven’t tried Dollar Shave Club and haven’t heard from anyone who has. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

    • sean says:

      i have tried dollar shave club, the blades feel like an old BIC disposable. shaves ok but blades dull quickly and i went with the middle of the road blade they offered

  5. Gunn says:

    +1

    Schick Hydro 5 is easily the best razor I have used. I use it in conjunction with Art of Shave pre-shave oil & shaving cream. Cleans easily & stays sharp for months

  6. Steve says:

    I believe the Dollar Shave Club handle and blades are Schick replicants, if not exact duplicates. Until trying DSC, all my adult shaving life, I preferred and used Gillette razors, so changing has been an adjustment. My point is the DSC system provides an adequate shave for the price.

  7. Larry says:

    I have been a Gillette Fusion user since the five blade solution was introduced years ago. Paying an arm and a leg for the privilege! I did get a very good shave, for a very steep price!! Recently I have tried the Schick Hydro 5 and have found it to be a better shave for significantly less money. I am Converting to Schick permanently or until Gillette reduces their price 30%!!

  8. Peter says:

    schick have no additional blades/separate blades available you must buy “kit”
    why is the blades not available you can not buy whole ” kit” every time

    • Robert S. says:

      Schick hydro 5 has seperate blades you can buy. They have the reusable and the disposable version.
      As far asDorco blades, the 6 plus (not the standard 6) the blade gaps are wider on it, but the head is a bit bigger. Its the best Dorco, great blades. The 7 blades not so great. But for me the Dorco blades do last for at least 7-10 shaves. Not bad considering the blades are alot cheaper.

      The Schick Hydro 5 has the longest lasting blades at 15 to 20 shaves!

  9. Suzy Q says:

    The refills for my old Gilette sensor razor are so expensive that I thought I’d treat myself to a new razor. I am a not quite golden girl who isn’t tempted by pastel colors and brand name moisterizer strips. My main interest is a comfortable close shave at a competitive price. After mulling over at two varieties of the Gillette Venus at Costco, I decided to buy combo pack of the Schick Hydro 5 w/17 refills. I was uncertain if my choice was correct since the ratings at Amazon for these razors was pretty much neck in neck. Your reviews have assured me that I made a good choice! Thanks!!!

  10. Nitesh says:

    “poor—gel reservoir above blades is very wide”

    Er, isn’t that the entire point of the flip-back resovoire? I find the under the nose ability great, flip back the top like it’s designed, then you get the upper “V” of the blades right into the area under your nose.

    Ignoring that is like ignoring the rear trimmer on the Fusion.

    • Mark Doliner says:

      Woah, I must not have realized that was possible. Thanks for pointing it out. I updated the post to be a little more fair.

      Regarding the trimmer on the Fusion… I could see that as bit of personal preference. Whether someone has the desire to put in a little extra effort and use the trimmer blade, or settle for a slightly scruffier shave with slightly less work. I added a note to the table to hopefully be a little more fair.

  11. John says:

    I would like you to review the various options for shaving the Chihauhaua

  12. agentorange says:

    I would way rather use the schick extreme3 over the gillette 5 blade any day!

  13. A I Liebson says:

    I once owned a beautiful black titanium Gillette Sensor handle, just slightly heavier than the original. What a razor! Dropped it; broke. Would LOVE to get another–anyone have any ideas? Can’t find anywhere online; originally bought at Bigelow’s, NYC.

  14. Jua says:

    You forgot the Hydro 3

  15. Mark Fisher says:

    Thank you Mark for providing a helpful comparison.

    THANKs to all the guys and gals who responded with their own observations. Your comments helped me to make my selection. Will let everyone know how it goes once I’ve had some months using it.

    Mark Fisher

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