Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cartridge shaving Part 1 - Schick Hydro 5

I followed my normal pre-shave, shave, and after-shave routine while using this razor. I performed my shave as normal as I could, to compare the razor as fairly as possible. Pre-shave routine consisted of a shower, washing face with a mild face wash, and shaving in the shower, not at the sink. I used my badger hair brush with a few of my favorite creams and soaps (C.O. Bigelow, D.R. Harris, Tabac, & Cyril R. Salter). The shave was my standard lather + with the grain pass, second lather + second with the grain pass. After-shave routine consisted of cold water splash, alum, cold water splash 2, Thayer's Witch Hazel, Nivea after shave Balm.

The Schick Hydro 5

Packaging - The first thing I noticed right off the bat, is that all of the packaging can be recycled. There's not anything that I can't easily throw into my recycle bins and take to the curb. Yes, it's plastic, but it really is hard to find anything packaged in anything that isn't plastic now-a-days. It's cheap and convenient. The inserts in the packaging are all paper and cardboard, and can be easily recycled, too. Good job Schick!

First Impression - After taking the razor out of the packaging, the first thing you notice is the weight of the razor. When I stopped using cartridge blades back in December, I was using a Mach 3 or Mach 3 disposable. Both of these are very lightweight and are cheaply made. The Schick Hydro 5 feels surprisingly hefty in your hand. The razor is alot heavier than I was expecting. Not so much where your arm gets tired of using it, but enough to feel as though it's not made of cheap plastic materials.

Handle - The website and packaging information says it's got a premium high gloss metal handle. I also noticed that it also has a lot of rubber on the handle for a better grip.The handle is supposedly "ergonomic"... While I'm not sure about that last one, you can definitely tell it's a quality handle. It's hefty and has a nice grip and feel to it. Not flimsy, cheap, or light.

Fins - This is where the advanced engineering and technology of today’s razors, I believe, fails. I’m not sure who first came up with the concept of little rubber fins on a razor, but in my opinion, that wasn’t the smartest move. The whole purpose of a comfortable shave is to avoid irritation and ingrown hairs. So why put rubber fins on the first part of the razor that goes over your skin first? The rubber will first swipe away the protective lather, and then “pull” and “straighten” the hair before it cuts. This causes the hair then to slightly go back into the skin. The result...a closer shave right? Genius!, not so much. This means that the hair has to grow back through a closed pore and skin. The result? Ingrown hairs! Bad move here. Not only that, but in my opinion, the rubber fins remove and sweep away the cushion of slick lather that protects your face from the blades isn't the best idea. Why do this? That’s like lathering your face, wiping it off, then shaving. Doesn’t make sense to me.

Lube strip - This is where this razor really shined! We’ve all seen the commercials. Water activated gel compartment for a smooth glide. This was by far the best thing about the razor. Not only did my lather create a layer of protection and comfort for the razor, but once the gel from the smooth strip hit my face, a slick, gooey substance was immediately created. I’m sure this stuff has got to be artificial, but It was definitely slicker than any cream, oil, or lube I could smear on my face. Amazing! After swiping with the razor and picking the razor up off my face to make another pass, you could see the lube and shaving cream mixed and literally “string” to the razor as I made another pass. It was pretty gross really. Kinda like snot, but it was the slickest stuff I’ve ever felt. It reminded me of that non-caloric silicone based kitchen lubricant that is 500x's more slippery than ordinary kitchen oil (Thanks Clark Grizwald).

Ultra guide blades - The Schick Hydro features unique skin guards on each of the blades. Doubling the point of impact the blade has with the skin, helping to reduce irritation. This is something that was hard for me to feel and pick up on because I’m not accustomed to how a normal cartridge blade feels on my skin. However, reverting back to my days of using the Mach 3, I can tell that my face was not irritated by the feel of these blades. I could hardly feel that the blades were even present. I believe this is what this technology was aiming for. I didn’t feel or get any irritation here, and that was good.

Pull back precision trimmer - This little feature was pretty cool. You flip back that goo strip on the top of the razor on a pivot and only the blades are visible on the head of the razor for precise trimming. While it sounds like a good idea and worked pretty well right under my nose, in that hard to get place, I’m not so sure this is necessary. Could be eliminated for less moving parts and easier to manufacture which could possibly be less cost.

Pivoting head - This is a pretty good idea here. It's old technology by cartridge razors standards. However, it allows the blade to pivot back and allow the razor to conform to the contours of your face. It's especially handy by the Adam's Apple and those hard to reach places on the neck. I have to admit, it got the hair on my neck better than I'm accustomed to. However, I am still learning how to get those places with my DE razor comfortably.

The Price - In comparison to the competition (Gillette Proglide), it's easier on the wallet. Replacement blades run about $2-3 a piece. This will still never beat the cost of DE blades, but a decent deal on good replacement cartridge blades.

Overall - While the fact that the non-eco-friendliness of the cartridge blade and the price of the razors may off put some of those in the traditional wet shaving community, the Schick Hydro 5 gave me a wonderful shave! I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. Although it missed a few spots here and there during the week, It honestly was very user friendly and easy to use. Pretty much dummy proof. I was very impressed by the hydro gel strip and the softness of the blades on my face. It also got those hard to reach places on my neck which was a great feeling.

Stay tuned for part 2 and 3 coming soon!

Happy Shaving!


Tuned In said...

I tossed one of these not too long ago. Since I started using a safety razor, I've had no razor burn or ingrown hairs. Although I do still have a Mach3, and that only gets used when I don't have time for a 3 pass shave. Anyways, nice blog

Brandon said...

I still have the handels for my M3 and Schick, but no blades. I might wanna pick me up a pack in the future sometime, so I didn't throw them away... ya never know.

Thanks for the comment.