I'm a bit of a shave geek. It seems I've tried just about every razor on the market and I'm always in search of a smoother shave. Recently, I had the opportunity to review the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Razor and it proved to be one of the best shaves I've had at home. After reading my review, a reader suggested that I give the new Schick Hydro 5 a whack and see how it stacks up. I was impressed.
It's not going to replace my Gillette Fusion ProGlide, but its a very worthy challenger and a great value.
For those who have used the Gillette Fusion or even the Mach 3, you'll be familiar with the Schick's "paintbrush" style head. Like the Fusion, the Hydro 5 features a 5 blade cutting surface and a trimmer function. On the Fusion, the trimmer is a single blade on the backside of the cartridge, while the Hydro 5's lubricating strip clicks out of the way to allow the shaving surface to get closer in tight spaces. Both razors have a section of rubber fins which precede the blade to help lift hairs and channel off shaving cream. On each razor, the blades are followed by a lubricating strip. Why they put the lubricating strip after the blades is beyond me -- lubrication should come before the blades, but a great shave cream renders these strips virtually pointless anyway. The blades on the Hydro are a bit farther apart than they are in the Fusion and each of the Hydro's blades has a "skin guard" bar designed to help smooth the skin between blades.
The handle on the Schick Hydro 5 looks a little sleeker than the Fusion and feels more refined. I found the grip on the Fusion a bit, well, "grippier" and easier to hold on to with slick shaving cream. The Hydro does have a bit more heft and better balance than the Fusion manual razor and felt better in my hand. The Fusion also comes in a powered version while the Hydro does not -- it sounds gimmicky, but the high frequency vibrations of the powered razor does make a difference. The Hydro also comes in a 3 blade version sans trimmer. For the purpose of this review, I compared the manual version of the Fusion ProGlide to the Hydro 5.
In comparing the two, I give the Fusion ProGlide a bit of an advantage -- the Hydro 5 didn't shave quite as close as the Fusion, but it came in a very close second. On the first pass, the Hydro 5 slid over my face effortlessly, but also didn't seem to take off much of my beard either. The second pass seemed to be where the shaving really began. Both razors gave me a close shave with no irritation -- a huge complement for me to give. My beard is fairly average, but my skin is so sensitive that it turns red if you look at it the wrong way.
In terms of comfort during the shave, I'd give the edge to the Hydro -- there was almost no drag. I did have to go over the area an extra pass, so it's really a toss up here. The end result for both was a close shave with very little razor burn or irritation.
Both razors were fairly easy to maneuver around the curves of my face and both were easy to hold on to. I liked the weight and balance of the Hydro, but preferred the grip of the Fusion. The head of each razor is quite large, making it hard to reach tight spaces like the corners of the mouth and under the nose -- both razors address this issue with the addition of a trimmer feature. On the Schick Hydro 5, there's not an extra blade, but the top of the head snaps out of the way of the shaving surface. This allows that top blade to get right up under the nose. On the Gillette Fusion ProGlide, the trimmer is on the backside of the blade. I like the execution of this feature on the Fusion much better. I found both worked well for getting close under the nose, but the Fusion's design makes it a little easier to see where you're trimming -- especially when maneuvering around facial hair. Perhaps I'm simply more accustomed to the Fusion's design, but I just like it better.
The cartridges on each razor were easy enough to eject, but the Hydro's heads took me a moment or so to figure out how to install properly and they feel a bit cheap. Overall, the Fusion cartridge feels more solid than the Hydro.
Cost is where the Schick Hydro 5 clearly beats the Gillette Fusion ProGlide. The Hydro 5 handle is a few bucks cheaper than the Fusion ProGlide, but I've found the Hydro 5 cartridges online for nearly half the cost of the Fusion ProGlide -- that's enough to make some choose one over the other. While I enjoyed (as much as one can enjoy shaving) the Fusion a bit more than the Hydro, the latter gives the Fusion a run for its money -- especially when you consider the savings.
Both razors will give you a great shave and I can highly recommend both -- the Gillette Fusion ProGlide wins for closeness and overall design, while the Schick Hydro 5 is the clear winner for value (and it looks a little sleeker). Choose the one that fits your budget and style -- either way, you'll end up with a good shave.