Review: Wilkinson Sword's new Hydro shaving system
Wilkinson Swordâ€™s new shaving system has been six years in the making â€“ and it has just hit Irish shelves. JOE trial-runs Hydro â€“ and is very much impressed.
By Robert Carry
Iâ€™ve always loved the Mach 3. It may have arrived way back in 1998 but it was so much better than anything that had gone before that Iâ€™ve been loath to even try any other shaving system. Whenever I did, my dogged loyalty was rewarded by confirmation that it was still the king.
It may have taken 12 years, but Hydro has comprehensively dethroned the old monarch.
As you can guess by the name, the Hydro places a large emphasis on hydration. While many razors include a lubrication strip of some description, the Hydro goes a lot further by incorporating what it has called an â€˜Advanced Hydrating Gel Reservoirâ€™. Basically, this is a cartridge containing a block of moisturizing gel which gradually feeds out onto your face as you shave.
It betters the lubrication strips on a number of fronts â€“ first off, the ingredients on lubrication strips have to be burnt on â€“ which damages them in the process and makes them less effective. The Hydro model doesnâ€™t do this, and because there is more of the actual product being transferred onto your face as you shave, it hydrates more effectively. When you actually use the blade, you can feel it zip across your face, helped by the gel reservoir.
Secondly, it lasts an awful lot longer than the lube strips â€“ up to twice as long as some.
The most oft-quoted beef men have with shaving is the issue of skin irritation. Systems aimed at reducing friction have been coming thick and fast for years, but not many have been all that effective. The designers at Wilkinson Sword noted that the further between the blades your skin is pushed as you shave, the more irritation occurs. So, theyâ€™ve included blade guards that run parallel to the blades which work by helping to keep your skin flat as you shave.
When JOE first used the system, the difference this made was immediately notable. The difference in how smoothly the blades run is the major breakthrough on the Hydro system. Itâ€™s so smooth that it feels a lot like youâ€™ve just run the back of a spoon across your cheek, and your immediate thought is that you couldnâ€™t possibly have actually cut any hair. Â Except you have â€“ and every bit as close as any other razor.
While Iâ€™ve always been a go-with-the-grain-type of chap for fear of breaking out in a shaving rash, the smoothness with which this system works emboldened me to start whipping the razor in more ambitious directions. While doing things like shaving upwards on my neck would have turned me into a whimpering, stinging, bright-red wreck in the past, Iâ€™ve been using the Hydro in this and various other brave ways for a week now without any bother whatsoever.
One of the things that I always loved about the Mach 3 was the fact that the blades had been spaced in such a way as to make them almost impossible to clog. Even if you attempted to shave through a weekâ€™s growth on one entire side of your face, a quick dip in the sink and it would be as clear as the day you bought it.
I raised this point with Denis Peterlin, the man who spent six years designing the Hydro. â€œIt wonâ€™t clog,â€ he said. Apparently they increased the flow-through. We tried it, and he was right â€“ it didnâ€™t.
Three vs five blade
The Hydro comes in both a three-blade and a five-blade. They are quite similar, in that they both have the blade guards and gel reservoir. They are both similarly smooth, although the five blade spreads the pressure over a wider area so it edges slightly ahead.
The other key difference is that the five-blade incorporates a trimmer feature â€“ the hydrating cartridge clicks back to reveal the cutting edge of the top blade â€“ which lets you get at all the awkward bits around under your nose. This is absent in the three-blade, and it suffers for it. The cartridge doesnâ€™t click back, and it does kind of get in the way in those hard-to-reach places.
We can only suggest that you gather up whatever stems you have and then fling them. It may have been six years in the making, but the Hydro five-blade is way, way ahead of the pack. The Wilkinson Sword Hyrdo 5 comes in at â‚¬8.99 while the Hydro 3 is priced at â‚¬6.99.