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Considering that Gillette five-bladed cartridges can cost a pretty penny — around $24 for a pack of eight — one of the biggest questions is how long do the blades last?
After all, if you pay $3 a cartridge and it’s only good for a few shaves, then it would be a rip-off. Meanwhile, if the cartridge lasts for dozens and dozens of shaves, it could be that you save a ton of money by going with the higher-priced Gillette razor instead of cheaper blades that wear out more quickly.
So how long do the Gillette Fusion blades — it’s lineup of five-bladed razor cartridges — actually last? How many shaves can you get from each cartridge?
To give you the definitive answer, we shaved with a single cartridge over and over again for months to see how long it would last in a real-world test.
The Fusion family encompasses all of Gillette’s five-bladed razors. Within this group there are multiple different options, including the Fusion5, the Fusion5 ProGlide, ProGlide Shield, and ProGlide Chill.
We’ve already reviewed each of these razors in full after using them multiple times over a span of one to two weeks. In this scenario, we took the base razor — the Gillette Fusion5 (sometimes simply known as the Fusion) — to see how long it would last.
In our initial review, this was one of our favorite razors. It contains five blades, a lubrication strip, a wide micro-fin area (to pull skin tight as the razor passes), and a pivoting head. In short, all the features you’d expect from a high-end razor are there.
The Fusion5 provided a great shave in our initial review. We even dubbed it as a “great all-around razor.” It was nice and stable in the hand and gave a comfortable shave.
As with other Gillette razors, it can be a bit pricey. We paid about $15 on Amazon for a handle with four blades. Refills run $3-4 dollars each.
The Setup & Test
The setup for our test was simple. We just shaved with a single Fusion5 cartridge for as long as it would last us.
We followed our regular shaving routine. In most cases, this means shaving in the shower, as the last step before getting out. (The warm water helps to soften facial hair, making shaving much easier. If you aren’t shaving in the shower, you’re missing out.) Although here and there we also shaved at the sink in the morning.
While we don’t use shaving cream, we do lather up with a glycerin-based soap, which doesn’t leave our skin feeling dry but helps to keep the shave smooth.
As for our facial hair, it is fairly light. The growth is thick under the chin and down the neck, but light along the sides. We normally shave every 2-3 days, at which point the stubble has started to itch and irritate our skin.
If you are someone who grows a full, heavy beard, then we’d suggest dividing our results in half to make up for the extra growth compared to what we shave. With more hair to cut, the razor will dull more quickly than what we experienced.
After each shave, we tallied our results, along with making any notes whenever a shave felt different to us from previously.
How Long the Razor Lasted
So how many shaves did the Gillette razor last?
In total, we shaved 42 times before the Fusion five-bladed razor began to feel uncomfortable to use. Given our pace of shaving, the razor lasted from September until December — about four months in total.
For that time, the vast majority of our shaves were uneventful. As we explained in our initial review of the Fusion5, the shave is extremely smooth. It breezes through facial hair, including spots that are thick or around the curves of the face. And that feeling continued for dozens of shaves. Even several months into using the razor, there was still no pulling or tugging of hair when shaving.
One thing to note is that the lubrication strip on the razor did quickly lose its magic. On the first couple of shaves, you could feel it working as it provided a slickness to the razor. Beyond that, the effect quickly went away, but there was still no issue with the razor catching or pulling.
That said, there were a few notable shaves during the test:
Shave #7: Early into our test, we took a camping trip for five days. During that time, we left the razor at home, opting to shave when we returned. It’s rare we go that long without shaving, so our facial hair was longer than we are used to.
Following our trip, the shave was great. Despite having let the hair grow, the razor breezed through it. We did notice however, that some hairs here and there were missed that normally weren’t. If you shave less regularly, it may take a few more passes to ensure you shave everything.
Shave #13: Here we noticed something odd. On most shaves the Fusion5 razor had no feeling at all; you simply run it across your face and the hair is cut. It feels effortless. On this shave, however, we felt more of a scraping on our skin. It didn’t hurt, but certainly felt different than normal.
At first we thought the blades were beginning to dull. However, later shaves went back to the regular feeling. Our only guess is that we didn’t soften the hair enough on our face by taking a longer shower. Because of that, the shave wasn’t as smooth as normal.
Shave #20: For this shave, it was one of the rare times we broke routine and shaved at the sink. While we ran warm water and tried to soak our face before shaving, the result simply wasn’t the same as shaving after a shower. In this case, shaving the stiff facial hair wasn’t near as comfortable. Instead of gliding smoothly, there seemed to be more pulling. Thankfully on future shaves in the shower, the comfort we expected returned.
Shave #42: It was shave #42 that ended up being our last with the razor before deciding to replace the cartridge. By this time we started to notice some pulling and tugging on hairs when shaving against the grain on the lower neck.
While hair on most of the face was still shaved easily when shaved with the grain, we started to feel discomfort with the hair at the base of the neck that grows upward. Considering we didn’t used to feel that difference, it seemed a good time to put in a fresh razor to get back to shaving comfortably.
After our test, you should have no worries about getting your money’s worth. With 42 shaves and a price of about $3.00 per cartridge, that comes to roughly seven cents per shave.
Gillette Fusion5 Test Results
As we mentioned, our facial hair isn’t the heaviest, but we had no issue shaving dozens of times. Below, we’ve laid out how long we think you can expect the Gillette razor to last for you, based on our test:
Keep in mind that the number of shaves will vary based on your specific facial hair, shave frequency, and routine. For instance, we could have shaved longer with this blade, but felt that it was time for a switch as we were started to feel discomfort in certain areas.
One tip to get more out of your razor — we can’t emphasize enough the difference in our testing of shaving at the sink versus shaving at the end of a shower.
The warm water and steam of the shower did wonders in softening the hair on our face. That resulted in a much smoother and more comfortable shave. There was less (more like none) pulling and tugging as we shaved dozens of times. We even noticed the difference when shaving after a shorter or cooler shower versus a longer and warmer one.
Bottom line: To get the most from your razor, softening up the hair on your face can make a big difference.
You can find the Gillette Fusion5 razor on Amazon. It costs around $15 for a handle and four blades.
Also, be sure to see our favorite razors that we’ve tested here.