Battle of the Vibrating Cartridge Systems
Gillette VS Schick
Alright, so there isn't too much love for gents using "shaving systems" around these parts - but here at badger and blade, we welcome all. In that spirit i've taken upon myself (lord help me) to "experiment" with some of these "systems" and see if I could offer some tips/advice on methods and products for attaining better results with the latest and allegedly greatest cartridge razors from the two Goliath's - Gillette & Schick.
Before I get too in depth, let me just first say, these are the cheapest feeling razors I have ever experienced. Every bit as cheap feeling as a bic disposable. While this little article addresses the powered razors - Tip #1 is pass on the powered option, and get the razors non-powered. For one or two shaves they seemingly work better than their non-powered counterparts, but as the blades dull - it's really hard to feel what's going on, and the vibrations mask/numb feeling so you add more pressure to compensate, and you're left with ingrown hairs, irritation, etc. This article addresses the "powered" razors, to find out about the "unpowered" versions, stay tuned....
Method - each razor was used for 2 weeks straight using a wide array of products, ranging from canned goo, to high end shaving soaps/creams. Pictures of the razors/blades were taken after the tests - to show/prove I actually used these things
Razors - Gillette Fusion Power Phantom (or something) & Schick Quattro Titanium.....
First, lets discuss the razors themselves and compare the two before we start talking about their performance, etc.
The Schick looks and feels like it is significantly less expensive, and not nearly as nice as the Gillette. The fit/finish, ergonomics and the design of the Gillette Fusion are superior by an order of magnitude, and the two buttons on the Schick (for turning the vibration on/off) feel as if you are breaking the razor when pushed. On the other hand, the Gillettes one button is a lot slicker, and its inclusion of a "LED" battery indicator (which flashes when the battery gets low) is quite nifty. Other than the fact the Schick's handle doesn't vibrate your hand as much as the Gillettes (The Shicks vibrating mechanism is in the head of the razor, where as the Gillettes is in the handle, which vibrates your hand more than the razor head) - the handle of the Gillette is superior to that of the Schick by an order of magnitude.
Both companies use multiple blades with the intent on providing a closer shave with the need for only 1 quick with the grain pass, however they deign their cartridges with different methods/concepts - which both have their strengths and weaknesses. The Schick uses a cassette style cartridge which when viewed from the side is "triangular" which allows a greater accumulation of cut beard growth/shaving cream in the head, and allows greater spacing between the blades, thus combatting a clogged razor head in the best manner possible. The Gillette razor head on the other hand uses a box style cartridge head, which looks rectangular when viewed from the side. While the cartridge head itself is not nearly as wide/deep as that of the Schick, its design focuses on channeling cut beard growth and shaving cream past/behind the blade array, trapping beard refuse in the shaving cream resting on the flat/back of the cartridge head.
The Schick employs a widely spaced 4 bladed cassette style cartridge head, with 8 ultra thin vertical metal wires holding and further supporting the blade array. In front of the blades, the Schick uses an opposing V rubber pattern to raise beard hair - followed by a lubrication strip, and yet another strip (this one soothing/aloe based) AFTER the 4 blades.
The Gillette takes a different approach using 5 tightly spaced blades in a box style cartridge head - with an additional 6th single edged blade on the back of the cartridge head - which is more of a marketing pitch, than a valuable addition. In front of the 5 blades are a bunch of thin little rubber "fins" to aide in lifting beard growth, and behind the blades is a lubrication/aloe strip.
Of the two, the Schicks cartridge seems to be the better thought out and logical design. The opposing V rubber strip works better than the gillettes wimpy fins, and having a lubrication strip before the blades actually makes a bit of a difference. The soothing strip AFTER the blade (for both of them) seems to be pretty pointless, however I suppose for many fellas who don't use aftershave and are merely using canned goo, this is revolutionary. For me, it just adds a tacky/slimy feel after each stroke... I think this is what attracts the sexy models in the commercials - nothin' like some Gillette/Schick wonder-slime ladies!
Alright, back to business at hand.
Results - I'm really not a fan of either razor, regardless of what product(s) were used as pre-shaves, shaving cream, and aftershave. They both gave a superb shave for the first 2-3 shaves, but right after those first several super nice shaves would come the irritation, ingrown hairs, etc from adding pressure (as you have to do regardless with a cartridge razor) - too much pressure, as you cannot feel what the blades are doing. In fact... all you feel is vibration/numbness. As previously stated, their non-vibrating counterparts are much better in my opinion/experience - but thats another story/article.
If pressed, I'd probably pick the vibrating Gillette over the vibrating Schick, as I found it to be more forgiving, and a bit easier to use, however the Schick would provide a closer shave, albeit with more irritation.
Suggestions - Well, IF you're using a vibrating Gillette/Schick cartridge razor, there are a few tips/tricks to getting a better shave. I found the best results were attained using non-lathering products, as lathering products (regardless of whether it was canned goo, or super high end/expensive shaving cream/soap) would quickly clog the razor head, especially with the Gillette. 1 or 2 days beard growth with either razor and a lathering shaving cream resulted in just a mediocre at best shave. By changing things up - and using quite a few different non-lathering products, I found 2 that really stood out for me.
1.) Woody's. Woody's Grooming makes a "Foaming Shaving Gel" that is just outstanding. While it does foam a touch (which is helpful for tracking the parts of your face you have shaved) it doesn't foam much, and it provides a tremendous amount of lubrication, and does a bang up job moisturizing and protecting your face to boot. If you preface your shave with Woody's pre-shave (some kinda pineapple concoction) and aftershave, I submit you'll get the best, and most comfortable shave humanely possible with a vibrating cartridge razor. Woody's makes dragging a cartridge razor across your face each morning "pretty good" as opposed to "simply dreadful." This, coming from a fella with well into 5 figures in straight razors, hones, etc is as complementary as you can get.
2.) The only other product I could find which was even in the same realm in terms of efficacy was Billy Jealousy's Hydroplane. While not as nice as the woody's trio (I didn't/don't have the Billy Jealousy pre-shave) it is hands down the quickest option. Slapping some of this stuff on your mug and dragging a Fusion or Quattro across your face results in an exceptionally quick, easy, and acceptable shave with minimal irritation in literally 1 minute or so. While not as luxurious or efficacious as the Woody's option (especially when all three Woody's products were used) it is much, much faster, and still allows you to get a pretty irritation free shave with a marginally moisturized face. For a fella using Gillette or Edge shaving gel or the like - this would be an unbelievable shock in terms of being much better/easier on your face, more moisturizing and quicker. If you are really rushed in the morning and are looking for the fastest quality shave possible - this stuff is hard to beat.
Overall - for the third time, toss the battery versions, and stay tuned for the more detailed article on the standard Quattro and Fusion - with more in depth cartridge "product" suggestions.