Wilkinsons Sword Hydro 5 Review: Vs the Quattro and Gillette Fusion
Let the Battle Commence
As it seems to be unclear, this review is based on personal experience and may not apply to your past, present or future experience or experiences with this razor. This does not constitute an instruction not to purchase this razor or to use this or any other razor. It is entirely your choice.
I've used the Gillette Fusion Power pretty much since it came out and never found anything better. So when I saw the Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5, I was about as excited as one can get over a razor. Despite having just bought a pack of 20 Fusion blades, I immediately bought one to try. I did a previous review of the Quattro Energy versus the Fusion Power and found Wilkinson lacking in almost everything but price and ergonomics. The Fusion did everything of substance better. So when the chance to try the Wilkinson apple against the Gillette apple came along, I expected a fair fight.
As an aside, just to make things confusing, Schick is the company name when marketed in America and Australia. When marketed in the UK, the company is called Wilkinson Sword.
The first blood went to the Hydro 5 before I'd got it out of the shop. The price is still noticeably cheaper for the Hydro 5 cartridges than the Fusion blades. The Achilles heel of Gillette has always been the ridiculous price for replacement blades. We pay but we aren't happy and the moment a comparable product comes along with a better price, I'd dump Gillette faster than you can say razor burn.
As the Quattro and the Hydro 5 are similar beasts, this is more about what’s better on the new model as well as a product review and comparison to the Fusion. I should point out that I'm using the Fusion Power. While there are two minds as to whether vibrations are gimmicky or not, I firmly believe they help and I see the results every day. Vibrating types give me less razor burn, a cleaner shave and less overall skin soreness. The reason I'm mentioning this is because it appears there isn't yet a vibrating version of the Hydro 5. I expect I'll get one just to try it out when it finally arrives, but for now we're stuck with the lo-tech version.
Here is a full comparison between the Quattro and Fusion.
This product now has five blades in the cartridge. As such, they've altered the layout. It no longer has the strange wire in the back of the cartridge case and it has a much more open design. Although it still clogged up with hair and foam, it's much easier to clean than the Quattro.
They've also improved the gel strip on the razor, turning it into a water activated reservoir, a solid lump of putty that turns into gel when you wet it. This actually does give a much better delivery of the gel, which is supposed to sooth the area you've just shaved.
It is quite bulky, however, so they've made it to flip up to expose just the razor blades when you want to shave the area around your lips or trim around a beard with greater precision. This is a fantastic system and beats the single blade in the top of the razor as both Gillette and Wilkinson have tried before. The gel doesn't get used while it's in this position, which is maybe a loss, provided the gel actually works, which is something I've never been able to discern.
There is a marked improvement in the smoothness as you are shaving. I always felt the Quattro tugged quite a bit when shaving and this was backed up by tiny cuts consistent with the razor bumping along on my skin. The tug is definitely gone with the Hydro 5, and for the most part, so are the cuts.
Unfortunately, that's it for me. The nuts and bolts of a razor, the feel of the shave immediately after and when your skin has settled a bit are substantially lacking. For some reason, it just doesn’t give an even shave. I still had a major problem with a patchy shave that just doesn't happen with the Gillette Fusion.
I had a worse problem with my skin, worse than the Quattro even, and with a brand new blade! When I use a razor my skin doesn't like, I not only get razor burn but acne as well. Perhaps it's because I'm not using a vibrating version (I couldn't find one or I would have been using it) but I genuinely found the after effects of this razor to be one of the worse I've ever used. My skin was sore for days and I ditched moisturizer in favor of aloe gel an hour after shaving. I don't start seeing effects like that until I've accidentally used a fusion cartridge for a month! The verdict is quite simple: bleeding awful!
As if to add insult to injury, they've changed the way the cartridge clips onto the razor so you can't use your old Quattro version with the new blades, you have to buy the razor. I mention this partly because examination of the two different heads shows them to be not dissimilar, so only a small change could have made them compatible and also because I saw an advert from Wilkinson saying that all of their cartridges were compatible with each other. Of course, this was before the Hydro series.
My advice is think carefully, especially if you've had problems with Wilkinson products before. It is pretty cheap though. As a final word and the ultimate test, my girlfriend, who used the Quattro for about a week before giving up, declared the "new one" a potato peeler after one try. We used a lot of Aloe gel that week thanks to to this thing. Frankly, I'd rate the Quattro as slightly better at actually removing hair although feels more painful when you're doing it, but the after effects of this razor was a la Airplane! Neither are a patch on the Fusion, which gives me an even, relatively pain-free shave without a mirror.
I consider Gillette to be the Apple of the shaving world, but until somebody can match them, I'm sticking with them.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.