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Wilkinsons Sword Hydro 5 Review vs. the Quattro and Gillette Fusion

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I like writing about a variety of topics, including personal hygiene and facial hair grooming.

Let the Battle Commence

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 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.

Hydro 5 Blades

Hydro 5 Blades

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.

A close-up view of the reservoir that flips up on the Hydro 5.

A close-up view of the reservoir that flips up on the Hydro 5.

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 soothe the area you've just shaved.

It is quite bulky, however, so they've made it so that it flips 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.

5 blades and better spaced.

5 blades and better spaced.

Unfortunately, that's it for me.

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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!

A different clip makes them incompatible with other handles.

A different clip makes them incompatible with other handles.

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 to 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 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.


Strong Horse on February 05, 2019:

The Fusion is idiot proof as it's hard to really carve up your face but it always gives me razor burn. In contrast the Quattro Titanium can cut you if you are not careful but if you master it you will rarely cut yourself. I find the Fusion 5 still randomly cuts me and gives me sore skin so I will not buy more blades after the blades I have run out. I tried shaving half my face with the quattro and half with the fusion and for me the quattro was a closer shave. I am haply with the quattro as long as they keep making blades but after hearing the positive comments about the hydro 3 I might give it a try. The Mach 3 is good also but it still leaves me with random cuts which I dont get with the Quattro.

Rob on November 06, 2018:

Tried the Hydro 5 with “Shock absorber” technology just to see how they compare to my Gillette Proshields I use and was disappointed on my first shave. It missed a lot of spots and I had to go over the same area several times, worse was it gave my bad irritation on my neck. Threw it out and kept my Gillette.

Eddie on October 30, 2017:

I think it's a great blade very comfortable shave great flip up design also and cheaper then gillette all round winner

graham on September 27, 2016:

to all those lads out there having problems with shaving ! just wait until you reach between 50 & older when you discover that you have a problem ? my beard is like steel & I would love to get more than one shave out of any blade ! blades ! I started with a safety razor over 50 years ago when you could buy blue star blades which my father always used & was able to get at least 4 -5 shaves out of one blade ! now it seams that the makers are driven by price only because its so lucrative now we are expected to pay a minimum of £20 to buy rubbish that don't last me for even one shave regardless of how many blades they put in the razor head its all just a con ? I bought an electric razor years ago & that's what I have used for years ! but they are doing the same thing with those as well the cost for batteries is extortion & replacement blades , so now I shave with electric & finish with a safety razor & get 3 shaves out of a double edge razor blade because the blades on the electric need renewing & you can buy a hundred blades for a fiver £5 --I for one refuse to pay the sums of money they are asking these days its a no brain -er ! I am thinking now is the time to go back to the cutthroat & to hell with them all & save at least £200.00 a year & remember we all get old & your beard gets tougher every year..............

Maroan on May 21, 2013:

Ive read this review with great interest, and I must say, I was a bit chocked by your shaving experience with the the Hydro 5. I too have a sensible skin, and i have managed to avoid soars and others bi effects by using another shave foam. The foam wich was delivered with my Hydro 5 wasn't good at all, I had burns and soars as well. Then I bought a cheapo gel foam from Lidl (Cien for sensible skins and I use a brush to apply the foam on my face) and it does the trick. Painless shaving, no problems at all! Now back to the Hydro 5: It is (for me) an excellent razor, buuut the Gillettes Fusion performs slightly better. I use less runs on my face with it. But I keep the Hydro, its cheaper! About your acne, I was thinking that maybe your bears grows inside your skin? My stepfather had the same problem, he couldn't use razor blades, he had to use an electric one because a blade razor shaved too close and his hair growed inside his skin... Sorry for my poor English!

Brendan on March 19, 2012:

Blogs like this are tricky when trying to assess products.

Classic has to be the King of Shaves blog where the designer/sales guy expresses the virtues of suspension technology....absolutely great on paper but anyone tried the darn things. Terrible. Wrong angle, massively cumbersome and will cut you to bits if you get it wrong.