Pros: Cheaper yet less irritation than Fusion, releases conditioner, smooth, comfortable shave
Cons: More expensive than double-edge shaving, less control and more irritation than double-edge
Over a year ago I switched from using electric shavers (which I have used for decades and achieved less than perfect shave) to double-edge (safety razor) shaving. In the interim, I tried Gillette Fusion, and a battery-powered vibrating Gillette Fusion power razor and was not impressed with the skin irritation they gave me. The shave itself was good and fast though. Skin irritation from shaving is very difficult to avoid and although various Panasonic electric shavers worked well for me in this regard, I always wanted a closer shave. After trying the Gillette Fusions, I gave a try to both the Schick Hydro 5 and the Schick Hydro 3. I liked the former better than either of the Gillettes. This review is about the latter.
As a teenager, I used 2-blade Gillette Sensor razors, but had to stop because of the skin irritation. Now, after decades of using electric shavers, I discovered that a close shave was within my grasp, if only I could do something about the resultant irritation. Electric shavers have other disadvantages in addition to lack of close shave: cleaning, charging, bulk and blades that would get dull after 1-2 years and require now screens and cutters that cost as much as a new shaver, resulting in waste and additional expenses.
Quite recently, used the following shavers: Panasonic ES8101S Electric Shaver and Panasonic Pro-Curve ES7037. In any case, after trying the Gillette Fusion, it was, to avoid irritation, a time to try something new. Or rather something old. The old-fashioned shaving with double-edge safety razor and blades. I bought the Parker 86R safety razor and 100 Shark Super Chrome double edge safety blades. Long story short, the old-school double-edge shaving worked rather well. Close shave and very little irritation were the result.
The DE shaving is a slow process though. I find it soothing and it is so relaxing that it helps me fall asleep faster, so I shave before going to bed. But sometimes a faster shave would be beneficial. So I decided to try the Gillette Fusion's competitors: Schick Hydro 5 and Schick Hydro 3. The former has 5 blades and the latter 3.
About Schick Hydro 3
Unlike the Hydro 5 with its 5 blades that try to prove that more is better, the Schick Hydro 3 is has only 3 blades. It is a shaving "system" that uses cartridges with 3 "Ultra Glide" blades with skin guards, flip trimmer and a reservoir with aloe-enriched liquid conditioner. Aside from the number of blades, the features seem identical to the Hydro 5. But the results are pretty surprising.
The Hydro 3 itself has less high-tech appearance than any of the Fusion models. But it is comfortable in your hand and is nicely-weighted. Comparing to the Fusions, the shaving has been very impressive. The Hydro 3 cuts my beard better than any Fusion (including vibrating Fusion ProGlide) and does not irritate as much. Furthermore, unlike Fusion that uses a lubricating strip, the Hydro 3 uses a reservoir that is filled with a substance that is actually released and provides excellent lubrication.
The water-activated aloe-enriched liquid conditioner works extremely well. It mixes with the shaving foam and helps the blade glide. The result is smooth shave and low irritation. And the shaving speed and efficiency seem to be comparable between the Hydro 5 with 5 blades and this Hydro 3.
The Hydro 3 shaves faster than with a double-edge razor. I did not have to re-lather (shaving with DE, I have to lather 2-3 times) because of the conditioner released from the cartridge. The only issue I have (aside from the cost of cartridges) is the fact that it is difficult to cut the beard in difficult to reach areas: under the nose is one example. This is a problem with any cartridge system, whereas with a DE blade, you get precise control and easier access. The flip trimmer worked well in this area though, in fact even better than a DE blade and much better than the useless Fusion's trimmer (which is a joke).
The Schick Hydro 3 provides close shave (just as Fusion), but with less irritation and less pull. The cartridges also last somewhat longer and the liquid conditioner release is great. The cartridges cost less than Fusion's. Whereas I can't bring myself to use Fusion again, the Hydro 3 might get some use when I am traveling or in a hurry. I will still keep using my double-edge razor most of the time (with Derby Extra blades or Shark blades).