Mantic59’s Razor Blade Search Update: Crystal

blade

As I have previously written, my favorite brand of razor blade appears to be out of production and now that I am almost out I have been trying other brands. I had been told that the Crystal brand was the same blade as my beloved blue label “Israeli Personna” blades so they were the first I tried.  I used three different razors with this brand so I could see a variety of performance.

Crystal Blades

Unlike my beloved “Israeli Personnal Blue” (IP) blades, Crystal blades were less forgiving and a bit more harsh in most environments.  My first few shaves with the Merkur Progress and Parker 92R resulted in a number of small nicks.  Interestingly, shaves using Crystal blades in my Merkur HD were much closer to what I experienced with IP blades.  This may be why some people say they are equivalent products.

Viewing IP and Crystal blades under a scanning electron microscope (SEM) shows the dramatically different manufacturing (the blade edge is near the top of these pictures):

Unused IP:

personna blade

 

Unused Crystal:

unused crystal blade

The SEM operator and I puzzled over this image for a while until we realized the cloud-like look coming in and out of focus was an exceptionally thick non-stick coating.  By the fourth shave this coating was largely worn away:

used crystal blade

Interestingly, the edge still looks in pretty good shape!  I could have easily gotten a few more shaves out of it.

Thanks to John at West Coast Shaving for his help obtaining the blades for this series of posts.  Special thanks to Omkar at myshavingclub.com for providing additional samples of the Crystal brand.

mantic59 mantic59 (530 Posts)

also known as "Mantic59." Shave tutor and sharpologist.


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Comments

  1. I have some of the newer “black” label Crystal blades and IMO they are far rougher than the Israeli “Reds”. I don’t like them at all.

    Mantic, IMO for the money there is no smoother/sharper blade for the money than the Bluebird blades. It’s like the accountants let a metallurgist alone with the Derby blade to tweak/perfect it!!

  2. Astrobufff says:

    I would like you to try some of the Indian Supermax range. They are not quite Feather class but are capable of giving you a pleasant surprise.
    Try out the Platinum Plus, Stainless Plus and the low budget Zorrik Platinum (darling of the saloons).

  3. This just goes to show that YMMV. Still a relative newbie, Crystals are the front runners for me from a group that includes Bic, Feather, Astra, Red Personna, Derby and Shark. Feathers provide me the most effortless BBS shave, but leave my skin more tender than the others. Crystal, for me are very smooth, and along with the Bics, are sharper than the others I’ve tried. I read somewhere that the Crystals are teflon coated. And lastly, in my experience they can go a long way. My currently blade hs clocked well over 5 shaves, not including shaving the back of my neck inbetween haircuts, and it is still smooth and sharp enough.

    • I found each razor works best with certain blades. Sharper and less forgiving blades than Astra, like Feather, Red IP and Crystal head to the Weishi. Blades wimpier than Astra like Derby or Merkur head to the EJ.
      The Weber eats only Astra. I have given up on finding the one right blade. There’s no one blade for all razors (I think).Wonder what the Parker’s head will prefer?

  4. I’m confused. Are you saying that these two blades are NOT the same …. that crystal and the IP blades are different? They (crystals) look the same as the original IP blades many of us discovered from that superb little shave shop in Austin. We paid handsomely for them for years before better internet suppliers came along. Are you saying they are different now? I did stop using blue super plus p crystals because of irritation, but assumed it was my mug changing (seasons/age/soap) and not the blades. Hmmmm.

  5. Mr. Mantic.

    Have you tried the Viking Sword, Q-Ball and Tomy blades?
    As far as I know, all of these are made at the Israeli Personna plant.
    For instance, I suspect that the Q-Ball blade is the same as the Crystal Personna blade. Perhaps on of the others can be the same blade as the IP blue?

    (Disclaimer: I do not know all that much about the confusion that is Personna blades, so I might be mistaken in my assumptions)

  6. Hi Mark, my favourite blades are German made Wilkinson Sword, smooth and close with minimal scrapes. I’d be interested in knowing if you’ve tried these?
    As someone who lives on the under side of the planet, I enjoy your posts very much. Keep up the great work.

  7. GDCarrington says:

    Mark,

    Good fortune on your search. I know the testing can be fun and not fun at the same time.

  8. I always enjoy your reviews and it was you that got me to start researching blades two years ago. After 50+ years of wet shaving I have settled on two different blades for my old wrinkled skin, the Personna Med Prep and the Polsilver Super Iridium. Thankfully my search is over.

    • I thought my search was over too…until they stopped making the blades. :(

      • Bearded Dragon says:

        Stockpile!

        Products almost invariably fail to evade the ravages of time. They will either fall out of popular favor, they will be ‘improved’ or otherwise altered, or they will be unceremoniously and unfathomably retired — essentially sealing the fate of someone’s cherished staple, whether through its disappearance from the market or by its permutation into a feeble semblance of its former self. There’s no accounting for taste, or for corporate ‘common sense’.

        Original NOS supplies will dwindle. Aficionado demand and seller extortion will drive prices exorbitantly high. Freakish, deep-pocketed hoarders will do their bidding — and win. Sounds like doomsday prophecy, doesn’t it? Try locating vintage, original-formulation men’s fragrances.

        Sadly, even great products inevitably acquiesce to change. They become ‘sought-after’, ‘collectible’, ‘rare’, and eventually prove to be ostensibly impossible to find or ludicrously expensive.

        Become a ‘prepper’, with your darling shaving essentials and any other goods which you esteem greatly. As is said, change is the one thing which remains constant. Stockplile!

  9. I’ll be quite interested in monitoring your assessments of “the list”. I was under the impression that the Israeli blue was either the Crystal or the IP Red in another package. But Personna sure doesn’t’ make it easy for us to know for sure.

    I find the Crystal works fairly well in all of my razors. Not my favorite blade in any of them, but I can’t complain about its performance in any or them either. But out of my razors, it probably performs the best im my Merkur, too.

    When I first started DE shaving I also liked my experience with the IP Red blade. But I revisited it again and I was not thrilled. Could be just a bad blade/lather/poor shaving day/etc. I’ll give it another go sometime in the future.

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