Schick's Hydro Power 5 Select razor is a strange combination of a high-end razor with disposable blades and the electric shaving experience. Does it make shaving any better? The Kidman brothers put it to the test.
LIFEHACKER: We're doing this as a combined review for a very simple reason: razor experiences vary. I'm a good case in point: I have never yet met an electric shaver I liked. Indeed, I've never met an electric shaver that didn't cut my face to ribbons. Blood invariably results. I've chosen to spare you the pictures.
For instance, a couple of years back, Philips sent out its very expensive SensoTouch 3D to journalists to test. Nick on Gizmodo was mildly enamoured with it, but I liked it a lot less. I found it painful and about as effective as rubbing my face with sandpaper. I got much closer and less painful results from a store brand disposable. I was very glad I hadn't paid $700 for the SensoTouch.
As a result of this and similar experiences, I'm automatically suspicious of anything designed to shave my face where power is involved. But not everybody is like that. Right Alex?
GIZMODO: Your ability to make gadgets do what they're not meant to do is unparalleled. I can't help but think we should be monetising it further, somehow. That being said: no, I've never cut myself open with a fully electric razor, although I'm equally no huge fan of them simply because I've yet to hit one that gave me a really satisfying shave. Which sounds like a line from a shaving commercial, but there it is; an electric is fine for if I just don't want to look too unkempt, but not for the close experience.
Also, I shave my head, and electric razors are woeful at that task, simply because they struggle with complex bumps and valleys. My head is a complex place, and not every razor is up to the task.
Still, the Schick Hydro Power 5 Select is meant to be a “premium" razor, what with its bevy of blades, vibrating head and gel strip. Slowly but surely, we are heading towards that future predicted by The Late Show nearly twenty years ago.
But satire aside, five cutting blades should provide a comfortable shaving experience from the get-go, right?
Wrong. Sorry, Shick, but I just didn't get on all that well with the Hydro 5 for two key reasons. There's a period where with any new razor you're likely to get a little irritation, and that's what the Hydro 5's gel strip is meant to at least partially combat. Except in my case it didn't; with the vibration off it did very little indeed, and with it on it tended to spurt out in long snotty globules; visually unimpressive but also poor at gripping to my face, which meant most of it ended up wasted in the sink.
The five blade arrangement also gave me some grief. It was a little too happy to get clogged with hair — especially when shaving my head — and despite careful shaving, it did manage to cut my head open in a very prominent spot. You bleed quite heavily from the scalp; it's hardly the sophisticated look that razor advertising would like to promote.
The one part of the package that I really did like? The Hydro Shaving Gel. That stuff is seriously nice. But it's not really what Shick's selling the experience on — what was Lifehacker's take on the Hyrdo blades?
LIFEHACKER: Let's start with the good news: I didn't cut myself, not once. So in that sense the product represents a first. But it's a qualified first, since it's not an entirely electric razor: it is a razor that vibrates thanks to a battery in the handle.
As a razor only dealing with my face, the Hydro 5 did an adequate job — I didn't have any irritation issues, so in that respect I was much happier than Alex. But there's two potential problems to point out. One: despite the multi-blade environment, I did find it couldn't deal with all the hairs on my lip near my nose, necessitating more than occasional tweezer follow-up. (Apologies again to the squeamish.)
Two: the vibrating didn't seem to have any impact on the actual shaving experience. Whether I was using one of the three speeds or leaving it switched off, I just couldn't see or feel any difference. So I ended up thinking of it as a novelty, not a useful enhancement. Like Alex, I thought the gel was great — better than what I currently use — but I'd really be just as happy using it with any conventional blade.
As a constant traveller, I've always disliked electric razors because they waste a lot of space in your bag, especially if you have to take the charger too. That's not an issue with the Hydro 5; it's small enough that I could have used it for the No Luggage At All experience without worries. So that's something to consider if you do find powered blades make you feel peachier.
I notice this week that Woolworths is selling the Hydro for half-price, which might make people more tempted to try it. I'm not sure my lukewarm endorsement will persuade you, though. Any last thoughts Alex?
GIZMODO: At that Woolies discount, it's actually OK — especially given that premium blades often attract really high prices. But OK is a distance from where a “premium" product should sit, and I certainly won't be rushing out to buy replacement blades for the Hydro Power 5 Select. Which means that in my opinion, the Schick Hydro's a bit damp, and not really a cut above the rest.
LIFEHACKER: Got a better pun? You know where the comments are.