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.


Comments

    Double edge safety razors from the 20th Century are the only way to go for any serious shaver. Cheaper, closer, safer and aesthetically pleasing - have you seen those Gillette Fat Boys? Puuurdy!

      +10 this. Closer shave, less irritation, and replacement blades are cents each (bought a 100 pack for $20 online). Each blade lasts 4-5 shaves. Never going back to gimmicky multiblade razors again, they're a marketing scam.

      seriously, I'm surprised the "DE" movement hasn't gone completely mainstream yet, its gathering a huge following on the Internet.

      having said that I'm looking forward to upgrading to a straight edge soon...

      100% agree, but not so much a fan of vintage unless they are unused. Love my Mühle R41 paired with an Iridium Super

      Agree 100%
      I've been using a double edge safety for 20 years now. During that time I've tried many alternatives but I always come back to the old faithful DE safety.
      And they are so cheap online too!

      I was given a Gillette gift set a couple of years ago that had a 5 blade razor. It was very good, but the cost of replacements meant it went straight in the bin when I was done.

      Aside from the razor you use, I think there's a lot to be said for how you lather up too. But that's a whole other discussion.

    I've been using the Gillette Fusion Power for quite some time and love it. Gets much closer than a typical electric razor, and with less hassle than a standard Gilette razor, especially in places like the chin, which can be a bit tricky after a few days without shaving.

    I like the vibration on my razor. I thought it was a gimmick but when I left it off one day I was shocked how much difference it made... it seems to help razor glide over my face better. I'm not saying it will be the same for everyone else, but for my skin it seems to help quite a bit.

    Maybe I'm retarded but those fancy 5 blade razors cut the shite out of my face, even with proper prep and proraso (arguably the best and 20 bucks a container) shaving cream.I'll stick to Mach 3

      I used to find that even with 3-blade razors (curse my soft, feminine skin), In the end I went to an electric shaver instead. The shave is less close but it's fast, easy, and I haven't cut myself in years - plus no more spending half my disposable income on fresh blades.

    Mad magazine aced this with the Microwave Razor, as well as the 76 blade too
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.03/play.html?pg=4

    Aldi now have a brilliant 5 blade razor and the blades are only $2.00ea much cheaper than premium Gillette. The shave is just as good. Tip always use a quality shaving cream as it makes a big difference.

    Electric for me. Not as close a shave as blades but my skin reacts badly to every known shaving soap/cream/foam/gel/oil.

      I feel your pain Davo. I tend to do a very gentle blade shave like, once a month, with special extra sensitive foam (crabtree evylyn stuff, I think). Electric the rest of the time. Unfortunately the electric does a crap job.

    BTW, how do you cut yourself with an electric?

    I really like this razor, it is a good price and I think that Gilette needs a good talking to for the price that they are now charging for their replacement blades. I use Ozeoil shaving oil and the Schick and their a winner.

    I actually really like this razor, and am glad I stocked up on blades when it came out. Obviously I don't use it for my face, but it does wonders for my legs with the vibration on. I leave it off for my bikini line etc though.

    I would personally just prefer they add more blades.

    +1 here. I am always on the lookout for a better shave. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the Gillette version is. I make a "blade"last 3 or 4 weeks but still very expensive, I think. Gillette has gradually been improving its design over the years while adding extra blades each time. I didn't imagine there was any more room for improvement but the mirrored fusion does add something. Tried a couple of other brands but I feel Gillette always seems to have the edge! :-)

    Motorized fusion, I meant. Not mirrored.

    I'm still a bit hesitant about having vibrating razors near my skin... I dont know why, but the concept doesnt really appeal!

    For all the blade users - of any type - you can save money by sharpening your blades with Razorpit
    http://www.feelunique.com/p/RazorPit-Razor-Blade-Sharpener
    I use disposable razors (whatever is on special). Normally I would get three weeks out of one razor. Using the Razorpit, I am now into the fifth week and it is still shaving like new. I purchased it from Feelunique in the UK as I found it had the cheapest price (AUD25). Rather than using shaving foam as suggested, I just sprinkle water on my Razorpit and the blade slides very smoothly. Give it a try if you are concerned about the (excessive) cost of blades.

    The vibration is very useful on older blades. In effect, it makes the blades last longer.
    In general, I prefer 3 to 5 blades. They clog less.

    An anyone spot the 5 or so posts form Schick employees?

    Vibrating razors are for @$$holes anyway you slice it(pun intended). They are a thinly veiled masterbatory toy. Much like your "facial massager" or even the Hitachi Wand(to work out those sore elbows). Men shave with Bowie Knives and wank with their hands.

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