For years I swore against brand name razors. I felt that I would get just as good a shave from a store brand razor at a fraction of the cost. My store brand razor of choice was the Triple Blade razor from CVS. My way of thinking changed when I found a massive coupon in the Sunday newspaper for Gillete’s Fusion line.
I tried the Gillette Fusion one morning and instantly fell in love. All of a sudden, I found myself spending as much as twice the amount on a name brand shaver as I would had I purchased the generic brand. This behavior was typically justified in my mind because I would buy the blades on sale and stack them with Gillette’s generous coupons. Well, the coupons stopped and the Save A Blade could work only so much magic. A year and some change later, I decided it was time to wander back into the generic side of the aisle.
I ventured out to CVS last night with my 4-day unshaven face on a mission to find a cheaper replacement blade. Enter the CVS 5 Blade + Trimmer. It seemed to have all the features of the Gillette Fusion – 5 blades and a trimmer on the end. It did not have the vibration feature, but, to tell you the truth, even when I would splurge on the ProGlide, I never used that functionality. With it being $4.50 cheaper than the Gillette Fusion starter pack, I figured, “What the heck! Let’s do this!”
The packaging looks sharp and professional. Unlike many store brands, CVS’ generic brands haven’t had an issue with packaging in quite some time. They learned this many moons ago and have a presentation on par with many of the top brands. If you weren’t hunting, you would think the CVS brand was just another national brand like Schick or Gillette.
The handle: Most guys will tell you that the handle on a razor is important. Gone are the days of those cheap 100 pack Bic razors with the super cheap plastic on it. Men want a handle that has some weight and as a result adds a little balance to the shaving experience. Comparing the CVS razor to the Gillette Fusion ProGlide, well, the CVS one is only a bit lighter than the Fusion ProGlide, even with the ProGlide’s battery installed.
The handle is shiny chrome with some rubberized texture in the middle where your thumb would typically rest. The top has an ejection switch for replacing cartridges.
Blades: As the name implies, there are 5 blades on this thing. The blades on the cartridge of the CVS brand are wider and longer than those on the Gillette Fusion. The blades on the cartridge are more rigid. The Gillette Fusion provides more flex to their blades. That flexibility would allow the blades to move with the curves on your face.
Like the Gillette Fusion, the CVS 5 blade razor includes an onboard trimmer blade. Unlike the Gillette Fusion, the trimmer blade is along the top of the cartridge, not the back edge. This presents a bit of an issue as it puts your hand at an awkward angle when you’re shaping up your beard, sideburns, goatee or mustache.
Cartridge: The cartridge, like its competitors, is constructed of plastic. There are some ridges on the top and bottom areas of the cartridge. I suppose this is there to help “comb” the hair towards the razors.
One of the issues I come across with these generic brands is that their cartridges tend to be easy to break. I bang my razor along the side of the sink to get out the hairs that are stuck between the blades. I have broken many cartridges throughout the years doing this. The majority of those broken cartridges are the generic brands. So, take it easy on the sink there, captain.
Performance: So, we’ve arrived to the most important part and, unfortunately, the most difficult area to rate. It is dependent upon your type of hair, your skin type, did you shave after a shower or before, do you use shaving cream, if so, what kind of shaving cream do you use, etc. etc.
I typically shave after a shower. I don’t shave in the shower, because that just seems to be a big waste of water. I don’t shave before a shower, because I like to let the hot water and steam open up my pores. This provides me with the most optimal scenario to tame the beast that is my facial hair. I use shaving gel, the super hydrating kind. Trust me, I’m an expert. I have been shaving since I was 12 years old. Seriously.
I found the overall performance of the CVS 5 blade to be very acceptable. The blades were smooth on the skin and gave me a close shave. The trimmer blade was pretty much useless. I could not find the right angle for shaping up my mustache and beard. The Gillette was much easier and I found myself reaching for the old Fusion for that purpose.
Overall: Good performance on the main blades. Poor performance on the trimmer blade. Nice balance from handle to blade. The price point is excellent.
If you don’t have a coupon for the name brand razor and it is not on sale to the point where it undercuts the price of the generic brand, well, consider getting the CVS 5 blade razor. You won’t regret it.