In the age of Google Glass, self-driving cars, and Bitcoin, manual razors are the stuff of ancient history. But Gillette's newest razor, the Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology, is making a bid for disruptive-technology status with a swiveling ball-and-socket joint that gives the blade multidirectional movement. There's even a battery-operated version that vibrates with "micro-pulses."
But if you've tried Gillette's original Fusion ProGlide, the addition of the FlexBall is more like a software update. It uses the same five-blade cartridge flanked by a precision trimmer and a strip of mineral oil and lubricating polymers. The company claims the ball helps the razor traverse all the contours of a man's face, resulting in a closer shave—even though the inflexible straight blades are the only things that touch your face. Still, if missing hairs is an issue for you, 8 out of 10 men who tested the new razor said it removed more whiskers per stroke. We're all for a faster shave, but what about the "micro-pulses"? Gillette says only that they'll feel "soothing."
"High-tech razor innovations do not make much of an impact on the quality of a shave," says Allan Peterkin, M.D., a Toronto-based physician and author of The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face. "If you ask most guys, they'll tell you the most comfortable and close shave they've ever gotten has been at the barbershop, and barbers use a single straight-edge razor."
That said, blade counts do make a difference—especially for guys with fast-growing facial hair. If you're a five-blade kind of guy, there's no reason not to test this razor firsthand. But if your skin is more sensitive, it's better to keep it simple. "Guys particularly prone to irritation should consider a two-blade design," Peterkin says. Sometimes low-tech is just the way to go.