I use the Gillette Proglide Manual Razor + Flexball, which is a stupid name for a product. I’ve used Gillette razors for over 20 years, and find them to be terrific. The blades glide comfortably through my beard, and the swivel + flexball works well in keeping the blade properly adjusted to the contours of my face.
But, I’ve been hearing Harry’s ads on the radio for years, and recently a friend touted them to me as the best shave he’s had. He previously used an electric razor. I don’t think he’s ever used a Gillette razor. Since Harry’s is now available at Target, I bought their starter set for $10. It comes with a handle and 2 blades.
I used the Harry’s blade with a day & a half beard. With a Gillette blade, a one-day beard is fine, but a one & a half to two day beard is best. I think the extra half day or so gives the blade a little more to grab on to, but whatever, I get my closest shave with a day & a half to two day growth.
The experience with Harry’s blade on a day & a half beard was not good. Not terrible, but not good. I could feel the blade dragging on my beard immediately, rather than cutting through it. The resulting shave was not as close as my Gillette would have been, and nowhere near as comfortable. My face felt scraped. In fact, 12 hours later my face still feels the effects and I am delaying my next shave until my skin no longer feels like it’s rubbed with sandpaper.
The two blades use similar technology – 5 thin strips of metal in a cartridge. But where Gillette uses a swivel head and adds a ball so the head swivels both up and down and side to side, Harry’s has no swivel at all. Instead the Harry’s blade is on a flexible strap of plastic that bends as you shave.
The result is that Harry’s is much less precise. The Gillette razor provides more precision, and also has a single-blade on the back of the razor cartridge for getting into tight spots (like under your nose).
Harry’s plastic strap has no single-blade. (edit: I just found out that the Harry’s cartridge HAS a trimmer blade on the back. I hadn’t noticed it. Since I didn’t use it I can’t say how it compares to the Gillette trimmer blade).
Whatever coating or blade technology Gillette uses is superior to Harry’s. The Gillette blades cut smoothly and effortlessly. The Harry’s blades tug my beard and my face.
A year ago I tried Dorco razors. Dorco makes the razors used by Harry’s competitor Dollar Shaving Club. The Dorco razors were cheap knockoffs of the Gillette swivel system, and performed about the same as Harry’s.
I would say both Dorco and Harry’s are vastly superior to disposable razors, like the Bic. I have no idea how anyone uses those. But the hyperbole over the Harry’s razor, at least for me, is completely unwarranted.
The benefit of both Dorco and Harry’s over Gillette is cost. Using Target’s prices as a guide – 8 cartridges of Harry’s blades cost $16. 4 cartridges of Gillette’s blades cost $18. Which means Harry’s is $2.50 less per cartridge, or a savings of 66%.
But this is one example where saving money is not the sole determination. Assume both Gillette and Harry’s blades last an equal number of shaves (I don’t think that’s true since Harry’s blade felt about as coarse on the first shave as a Gillette blade on its tenth), but assume an equal longevity. Then the savings is about $2 a week.
If someone said to you “I’ll pay you $2 a week, and all you have to do is let me scrape your face every morning.” you’d say no way. Most people can afford the extra $2 a week. If both shaves were equivalent, then there would be no reason to spend more on Gillette. But this is one case where I can clearly feel where my money goes.
I tried the Harry’s razor again on a one-day beard. It was a little better, but not much. I needed the Gillette to finish the tight spots. It’s definitely not as smooth a shave as I usually get with Gillette. The Harry’s razor still hurts a bit, although not as much as with the day & a half beard.
I was thinking about just using the 2 Harry’s cartridges for the next 2 weeks rather than throw them away, but it’s not worth it. I’m just tossing the razor. $10 wasted.