Schick Hydro Power 5 Select Tested: Do You Need A Vibrating Razor?

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.



    I have thick, steel like hair, the best, by far razor for me has been the Mach 3. once you go Mach, you can never go back.

      Second the Mach 3, they do very well for me.

    I shave with a piece of broken glass or rusty tin lid so what would I know, but I do find this piece of satire from 2004 strangely prophetic:,11056/

      The gilette 3000 is what you guys with memories are recalling.

    Did you flip back the top of the head (the moisturising bit) when trimming the hairs near your nose? I do that and have no problem getting in nice and close (it even tells you on the box).

    I use a saftey razor.

    Which, does have a reasonable outlay you easily make your money back with the blades costing around seventeen cents each.

    I remember when fast forward was on tv and they did a sendup of a razor that had 15 blades or something like that (memory is a bit sketchy being that it was on approx 20yrs ago) I seem to remember it was a pretty funny skit

      Like the exact same one they embedded in the review?

    I used to shave regularly with an electric, but nowadays I just use a Schick twin-blade disposable. From time to time I give replaceable-cartridge razors a go - Mach 3, one of those 5-blade jobbies ... but I've never found them to be agile enough for the curves of my face and the quality of the shave is never any better.

    Used to be that my neck would get nicked every single time I shaved. Soft skin, I guess. The biggest difference I've found is the shaving goop. I've tried shaving oils, gels, hair conditioners, soaps and other things of all different formulations. Finally found a good one and as it happens it's also Australian made!

    (shameless plug)
    (/shameless plug)

    I've always suspected that the vibrating function is a gimmick. I really can't see any plausible physics based explanation for how vibrations would improve the shave. It could possible produce a closer shave but I can't see it being better than a few nanometers better.

    I had a Gillette vibrating razor. All the extra blades do r pull at hair before cutting it. Thus causing ingrown hairs. They had it right to begin with, a straight blade. If ur too scared to use that then use a double edged razor. A single sharp edge. Hurts less and better results. Plus blades r cheap as!! :)

    Another mention for double edge/safety razors.
    If you're really trying to save money, you can't beat the price for double edge blades.
    You can even buy a cheap safety razor with 11 blades for $11 off Ebay.

      I also use a double edged saftey razor. I have sensitive skin and is the only thing that gets good results along with Mitchells wool fat soap for a great shave instead of the chemical goop that comes out of a can.

    If you really want the best shave you can get you need to man up and learn to use a cut throat razor. You have to sharpen the blade before each time you shave. You have to lather your face and most importantly you need to stay focussed.

      You don't sharpen it every time, you strop it every time (to realign the edge).
      You should also have at least two to allow the edge to self align over a 48 hour period.
      You only need to hone (sharpen) it evey 3-6 months depending on use and hair thickness.

    Cut throat razors? I use lasers, just remember to wear safety eyewear.

    I also can't stand electric razors, they don't shave close enough and they are a pain to clean. That said i am a fan of my gillet brand (i think its the fusion) 5 blade razor. While the vibrating aspect of it doesn't do a damn thing, the handle is nice and heavy due to the batery. Not sure why, but I feel the weight gives me more control. Anyways, I like the open back to the blades, it makes it very easy to clean them out while you are shaving, and finally the gimicy single blade on the back works great for arround the nose or at the base of a beard.

    Anyways, I won't argue that most of the gymics aren't worth the cost. I got the razor on sale when it was the cheapest reuseable, and I buy the blades online in the US.

    I've had two versions of the Gilette 5 blade (both powered). The newer version (whatever the current one is named) is better because the hairs get stuck a lot less often between the blades. The first one sometimes took specific cleaning time to remove the hairs as they wouldn't wash out.

    I didn't believe the power thing but, apart from the weighting as mentioned by David K, I found that it was better with the power on than off. We're not talking a huge difference but noticable to touch.

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