Gillette Mach 3 vs Fusion: The Ultimate Test
When it comes to cartridge razors, Gillette really seems to rule the world, as both the Gillette Mach 3 and Gillette Fusion remain amongst the most popular razors on the market. Although those in the know will tell you that a double-edge safety razor or a straight razor (check out our articles on which are the best safety razors and best straight razors) are the only ways to go if you want a close shave without the irritation, these razors can take a longer time to use so if you are always in a rush, one of these cartridge razors may be right for you. If you are interested in exploring the world of traditional wet shaving, check out the Benefits of Shaving with a Safety Razor and Safety Razor vs. Cartridge articles.
So, for those of you who insist on sticking with cartridge razors, you definitely can’t go wrong with either of these two razors. That being said, you’re probably wondering which of the two is better, which is why we’ve come up with a full comparison of Mach 3 vs Fusion to help you decide which is best for you.
All You Need to Know About Gillette Cartridge Razors
Gillette is definitely one of the world leaders in shaving equipment and has spent millions of dollars researching and developing their various lines of cartridge razors. Although the company’s slogan is “The Best a Man Can Get,” we’ve already discussed in detail how using either a safety or straight razor can give you the closest shave possible without all the irritation.
Still, we’re not here to call Gillette out for false advertising—although neither the Mach 3 or Fusion may actually be “the best a man can get,” there is no doubt that they remain head and shoulders above most of the competition when it comes to multiple blade cartridge razors. While a high quality single blade razor may give you the closest shave and cause the least irritation, a high quality multiple blade razor like either the Mach 3 or Fusion can provide nearly as close of a shave if used properly.
However, in terms of irritation, most people still experience quite a bit more with either of these razors than they would with a quality single blade razor. This is down to the fact that the more times a razor blade scrapes across your face, the more irritated the skin will become—whether or not this is because of using a multi-blade razor or simply taking multiple passes over the skin. Either way, the key to lessening the amount of irritation post-shave is to limit the times the blade passes over the skin. Check out our awesome infographic on the science of shaving for more details.
No matter whether its three blades in the Mach 3 vs Fusion’s five blades, you’re obviously going to experience a bit more irritation than you would with only one quality blade, for the simple fact that you’ll basically be going over your face three to five times as much with each stroke. However, the good part about having the extra blades is it allows you to get a closer shave in one pass, usually eliminating the need for extra strokes.
So, if we were to compare either of these razors to your basic single blade disposable razor, the multiple blade razors definitely offer much more value, as they can provide a closer shave in much less time. In addition, by cutting down on the number of strokes you need to get a close shave, they can reduce the amount of irritation when compared to using a cheap disposable razor.
However, the real difference comes when you compare the Mach 3 or Fusion to a straight razor or safety razor, but considering the huge differences in the quality of steel and the sharpness of the blades, that’s really like comparing apples to oranges. Still, for a quick, decently close shave, either the Mach 3 or Fusion usually does the trick for most men.
Introducing the Gillette Mach 3
The Mach 3 was Gillette’s revolutionary entry into the multiple blade cartridge razor market, which was finally released in 1998, but only after the company had spent more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in research and development. The three advanced anti-friction blades and five comfort guard microfins help to provide a smooth, effortless shave, while the lubrication strip helps ensure the blades gently glide over the face.
Upon its release, the Mach 3 truly revolutionized the field of cartridge razors and has since made many man a convert. There are plenty of men who swear by it and won’t use anything else—and in truth, they have good reason, as the Mach 3 definitely remains one of the top multiple blade razors around, both in terms of price and performance.
Although it started off with the original Mach 3 manual cartridge razor, Gillette eventually expanded the line to include two different Mach 3 disposable razors, the Mach 3 Turbo power razor and Mach 3 Sensitive manual or power razors. You can check out the current prices of each version on Amazon below:
- Mach 3 Original Current Price on Amazon
- Mach 3 Turbo Current Price on Amazon
- Mach 3 Sensitive Power Current Price on Amazon
The 5 Blade Gillette Fusion
Several years after the success of the Mach 3, Gillette decided to further push the envelope with its five blade Fusion line of razors. Generally speaking, there’s actually very little difference between the standard Mach 3 vs. Fusion, other than the number of blades. Both feature comfortable ergonomically designed handle and grips, the comfort guard microfins and the lubrication strip, which fades to white to show you when it’s time to change to a new blade.
Considering that you get two extra blades, it’s probably not that surprising that the Fusion is slightly more expensive than the Mach 3—and like the Mach 3, the Fusion is available in several different manual and power versions, including the popular Fusion ProGlide, which features Gillette’s patented FlexBall technology.
Mach 3 vs Fusion- Comparing the Standard Models
In terms of price and performance, both the Mach 3 and Fusion favor comparably to most other razors on the market, which is why it’s no surprise that they continually outsell most of their competitors. However, while they definitely stack up well to their competitors, perhaps it’s more interesting to see how the two models compare to each other.
For our purposes, we’ll start by looking at the basic versions of each model, as most of what applies to these versions also applies to the various other versions as well. However, we’ll have to cover the Fusion ProGlide and Fusion Power separately, as these models have a few features that really set them apart from the other two. You can check out other unbiased user reviews of these two razors below:
To make it easier to compare the two, we’ve broken it down into several important categories. So, without further ado, let’s get on to the results of our testing.
As we’ve already said, both models are definitely on the higher end of the price scale for cartridge razors. However, the good news is that the price of both has come down quite a bit in recent years. You can usually find all of the various Mach 3 and Fusion incarnations available for somewhere between $8 and $15 for the razor, while a pack of replacement cartridges usually runs somewhere from $15 to $40. While the Mach 3 is typically a bit cheaper than the Fusion, especially for replacement cartridges, the price difference generally isn’t big enough to be a major deciding factor between the two.
Winner: Too Close to Call
Ease of Use
During our testing, we generally found that the Mach 3 is a bit easier to use and feels more comfortable in the hand. The Mach 3 is a bit heavier than the Fusion, which maybe accounts for this result, as it seems to glide much easier over the face. On the other hand, the lightness of the Fusion makes it tough to not apply too much pressure. The Mach 3 also has a slightly smaller cartridge, which probably helps to account for it being easier to control. The other issue many people continually have with the Fusion is that the blades quickly become clogged up due the small amount of space in between them. This isn’t to say that the Mach 3 blades also don’t get clogged with hair from time to time, but it typically doesn’t happen nearly as frequently.
Winner: Mach 3
Closeness of the Shave
Both the Fusion and the Mach 3 typically provide a fairly close shave, without the need to go back over spots multiple times. However, considering the fact that you have an additional two extra blades shaving with each pass, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that most people find they get a closer shave with the Fusion.
Level of Comfort/Irritation
Just as the five blades of the Fusion provide a closer shave, the two added blades also tends to increase the amount of irritation you’ll experience afterwards—making it really something of a trade-off. While you may not feel quite as smooth after using the Mach 3, your skin will also probably not feel nearly as irritated. This seems to be especially true for people who suffer from razor bumps or irritation on their neck, as the five blades on the Fusion can really wreak havoc on more sensitive skin.
Winner: Mach 3
Mach 3 vs Fusion: Final Outcome
Considering all the above factors, the Mach 3 generally outperforms the Fusion in all but the closeness of the shave. Not only is it slightly cheaper, but you’ll also typically experience much less irritation. Still, deciding between the two was actually a close call, as there’s really very little that separates the two.
For instance, while we chose the Mach 3 for ease of use and control, we purposely didn’t mention the so-called precision trimmer that the Fusion features. The precision trimmer is actually a single blade razor on the back side of the cartridge, which comes in quite handy for touching up or trimming the more delicate or precise areas, such as around your sideburns or facial hair. In simple terms, the precision trimmer is definitely a great idea and can be fairly useful at times. However, considering you could just use a different single blade razor or a facial hair trimmer for these tasks, we didn’t feel that it was enough to warrant putting the Fusion above the Mach 3 in this category.
Overall, if we had to choose between the two, we’d probably be more likely to recommend the Mach 3. However, if you’re willing to fork out a bit more money on the Fusion ProGlide, then the picture becomes a lot murkier, as the FlexBall technology eliminates some of the control and handling issues that are present with the standard Fusion model. The Fusion ProGlide also features thinner blades than the standard Fusion, which helps to eliminate the clogging problems as well. That being said, we still don’t find that the additional closeness you get with the Fusion outweighs the extra price or irritation issues, even despite the fancy FlexBall technology. In terms of the Fusion Power, the less said about this gimmicky razor the better in our opinion. While the razor itself works just fine, there’s no reason you need a battery powered manual razor, as it really doesn’t provide any closer of a shave.
At the end of the day, there’s very little to choose between the Mach 3 vs Fusion, and you definitely can’t go wrong with either one. Although we ranked the Mach 3 slightly higher, it probably really depends on what is more important to you—closeness or comfort. If you said comfort, you’d be better with the Mach 3 (which is why it made our list of the best razors for shaving your head), but for closeness, nothing but a safety razor or straight razor outperforms the Fusion. We have reviewed a lot of razors and have found which ones are the best so be sure to check out the best disposable razor article for a complete list.
Just as important or possibly even more important than the razor you choose is the the type of shaving cream you use and how you apply it. We have done copious amounts of research and testing and found which are the best shaving creams for men as well as the best shaving brushes. So be sure to check those out as well so you can take your shaving routine to the next level. You will notice the difference and so will the ladies!
Bonus: 4 Tips on How to Preserve the Life of Your Cartridge Razor!
One of the biggest downsides of using cartridge razors is that the replacement cartridges are very expensive! You can end up spending hundreds of dollars a year on replacement cartridges. Not surprisingly, these companies, including Gillette, don’t provide any instruction on the packaging on how to store and care for your razor to maximize its longevity as this would severely cut into their profits. Well luckily for you, I have all the secrets to preserving the life of your cartridge razor so you can spend your hard earned money on something more worthwhile. Just follow the tips below and you will be amazed at how much longer your cartridge razors will last.
#1 Dry Your Razor After Every Use
Water that sits on the blade will corrode them through the process of oxidation (i.e rust) as well as leave mineral deposits that will build up and hinder the blade from smoothly cutting the hair. Simply dry your razor with by either blotting it with a towel or using a blow dryer after every use.
#2 Coat the Razor with Alcohol or Oil
Oxidation that causes the blade to dull and flake is not only caused by water but by air itself. To further protect the blade from such exposure, dip the blade into some form of alcohol (e.g. rubbing alcohol) or an oil (e.g. mineral oil) after drying it.
#3 Store Your Razor in a Dry Place
Your bathroom is the perfect environment for metals to oxidize as it is so commonly humid due to hot showers, etc. I would recommend storing your razor in a plastic bag and placing it within one of your bathroom drawers to prevent the blades from being exposed to a humid climate that is all so prevalent in your bathroom.
#4 Alternative Method
If you really want to take your cartridge razor maintenance to the next level, there is supposedly a very effective method that consists of rubbing your razor across a pair of blue jeans which will preserve and sharpen the blades. I have not tested this myself, but many live by it! Check out this article for a complete breakdown of the process.
Ben Rose is the founder and senior editor at Prim&Prep, the definitive guide to male grooming. He is a wet shaving expert, body grooming aficionado, and skincare guru. His work has been featured on many other prominent men’s publications including AskMen, Men’s Health, and GQ.