By David Michael Newstead.
I tried the Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide with the intention of mocking it. After all, the razor does look weird. And Gillette seems a little too proud of their new product, inundating everyone with commercials as well as their motion activated display in some stores. The first time I saw that display, I was caught off guard when all of a sudden a contoured piece of plastic began rotating around, while two different razors raked over its surface: the old Gillette Fusion and the new Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide. At the time, I thought this was a strange approach, illustrating the inferiority of one product compared to another both made by the same company. That difference stems from the introduction of the new FlexBall, an orange orb set between the handle and the actual blade. In theory, this allows for better maneuvering as you shave your face with all of its various hills and valleys. And essentially, that’s what I wanted to find out: whether the Pro-Glide lived up to its ad campaign. Or was this just another gimmick?
For Gillette as a business, this is very much an arms race to stay relevant as men begin to shave less on average and as they increasingly explore cheaper options like the Dollar Shave Club. Recent efforts to diversify consist of the Pro-Glide, of course, along with the Gillette Body Razor and the Gillette Fusion Power Razor (battery included). Each one represents a company that is striving desperately to find ways to shave even closer in more places for new customers who will ideally purchase replacement blades in the millions. But marketing gimmicks aside, people are only going to buy expensive blade refills for a razor that they like. So, I went to see if the Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide was worth using.
Again, I was skeptical and maybe I still am to some degree. I personally don’t care for Fusion blades in general, being a Mach-3 owner. More specific to the Pro-Glide, however, is the FlexBall and its innovative potential. I realize that any movable part is also hypothetically a breakable part and that’s one issue, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with it nonetheless. The FlexBall basically extends the normal wrist motions of shaving from your hand to the top of the razor itself. This makes the process feel more natural and seamless, while also being slightly less work. These shifts and pivots follow the shape of your face and I think it’s subtle, but positive change. To contrast the Pro-Glide with my regular razor (a Gillette Mach-3), I shaved half my face with one and half my face with the other in the same sitting.
The results: the Pro-Glide half did seem slightly smoother. I did like the FlexBall for what that’s worth. And I have gone on to use this razor some since then. But was it so good that the shaving public should go buy a Pro-Glide this very instant? Not really. The difference in my opinion is subtle, not Earth shattering, and sales might come to reflect that overtime, especially as competitors gain momentum. Gillette wants to be proactive in defending its market share, but FlexBall technology or not, there’s only so many features that any man really cares when it comes to his razor.