Whether you have been shaving for decades or just getting started, the question of which razor blades are best always comes up.
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In the "olden days", men did not have this choice. They used one blade, and dammit, they liked it. Whether it was shaving with a machete, a straight razor, or eventually, the "new and improved" safety razor that was introduced in the 1800's, there was only one blade to drag across your face to remove the stubble.
We men lived like this for centuries. It wasn't until plastics started to be used in manufacturing that the cartridge razor that we are familiar with were introduced in the 1960's. From this time on, one company, Gillette™, dominated the market for cartridge razors. For many of us men, it is the only way that we have ever shaved.
The first cartridge razors only had one blade, or cutting edge. This way of shaving was similar to shaving with a safety razor or a straight razor, but eliminated the need (or ability) to sharpen the blade. The used blade would simply be thrown out and replaced with a new, sharp blade.
Over time, competitors began to appear in the market and Gillette™, striving to discover ever-better ways of shaving, asked "If one blade is good, how about two?" and shortly after, the two-blade cartridge razor was developed.
Eventually, that was followed the the three-blade Mach3™ cartridge that we know today. But, never to be outdone, Gillette™ developed the pretentious five-blade Gillette™ Fusion™ for those of us that just have to have more.
Common sense would dictate that I can just switch between the 3-blade Mach3™ and the 5-blade Fusion™, right? Oh no, there is a lot more difference between these two than just the number of blades. The real difference between the Mach3™ and the Fusion™ is the platform it supports. This platform refers to the way in which it connects to a razor handle. The two are very different and not interchangeable.
The reason, at least by my guess, is that Gillette™ developed the Fusion™ platform not only to support the additional two blades, but also in order to give them more options in the future of their cartridge razor development. The Fusion™ platform has a much wider connect area than the Mach3™ and gives the razor cartridge more support for additional features, such as computerized sensors and vibration and perhaps even lubricants that will someday be dispensed from a handle reservoir. Some of these features are available today but who knows what they have planned for tomorrow.
So even though the razor cartridges are named Mach3™ for the three-blade and Fusion™ for the five-blade, the platform that the cartridge connects to is also referred to by those names. To make it even more confusing, it means that the Mach3™ platform and the Fusion™ platform can support more razor cartridge types than just the Mach3™ and the Fusion™ cartridges. However, as of today, the Mach3™ compatible cartridges all have three blades and the Fusion™ cartridges all have five blades.
Gillette™ continues to develop razor cartridges that not only have sharp blades, but also features that are developed for men (and women) with different skin types and skin conditions. A razor cartridge that may work great for you may not be the best one for me. The list below shows the cartridges available today and the platform they fit on.
Razor Cartridge Compatibility
Mach3™ Platform - Mach3™ Razor Cartridge
Fusion™ Platform - Fusion5™, ProGlide™, ProGlide Shield™, SkinGuard™, G5
As you can see, the Fusion™ platform offers a lot more options for razor blade cartridges and is the direction that Gillette™ will be staying with. It is also the most expensive option as Fusion™ compatible razor cartridges can be more than twice as expensive as the Mach3™ cartridges.
The good news, however, is that new competitors such as Harry's™ and Dollar Shave Club™ have developed products that are on par with the quality and durability of Gillette™ blades. This is prompting Gillette™ to be more responsive in the market to offer options catered to different types of skin and usage. This investment in development can't be matched by the competitors. This also means that cartridge prices are coming down to more affordable levels.
Which is Best?
All of the above explains the difference between the GIllette™ Mach3™ and Gillette™ Fusion™ platforms, so which one is best for you? The answer is always the same - it depends. If you are choosing based on price, the Mach3™ is hands-down the best choice. If you are choosing based on a better shave, the answer is much more complicated and depends on how you shave, how often, your skin type, what shave cream, oil or conditioner you use and a myriad of other factors. But if you want to explore your shave of the day #SOTD, then the Fusion™ platform is your best option.