Mantic59′s Razor Blade Search: Astra (Green Box)

astra box

As I have mentioned previously (links at the bottom of this article), I have been trying different brands of razor blades in an attempt to find a suitable replacement(s) for the blade I had been using and had been discontinued.  Here are my comments on the Astra blade (green box).

Astra Green

I am making a distinction here between the blades that come in a green box vs. the blades that come in a blue box.  I found these “green” blades did not work very well for me.  Using three different Astra blades in three different razors (a Merkur Progress, a Parker 92R, and a Merkur HD) yielded the same results: numerious small nicks on the skin and a relatively short blade life.  Here is the edge of a new Astra blade as seen through a scanning electron microscope (SEM), with the blade edge at the top of the picture:

astra unused

And here is a blade after four shaves (again, with the edge at the top of the image):

astra used

You can see the edge degradation quite clearly.  But out of curiousity I cranked up the magnification of the SEM for a closer look (blade edge at top of image):

astra used 3kx mag

This particular blade is just not for me.

Thanks to John at West Coast Shaving for his help with this series of articles.

Related Posts:

Mantic59′s Blade Search Begins

Blade Search: Crystal

 

Mark H Mark H (482 Posts)

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


Comments

  1. Jack McClosky says:

    For what it’s worth, I use the Astra greens and in my unscientific and not complete test I found them to be the best and most cost effective blades for me. I wonder if you got a bad batch or if skin composition plays that large of a role in how well a razor blade works.

    What’s the little bug looking thing on the second sem photograph?

    • All I can say is that I tried 3 different blades in 3 different razors and none of them really worked out for me. I suppose a bad batch is possible but knowing the quantities these things are made in I would think a lot more people would be complaining if it was a bad batch. YMMV. :) As for the thing in the 2nd image it could be anything: a tiny bit of wax paper that I stored the blade in, a spec of dust, maybe a mineral deposit.

      • allan debono says:

        Mantic,
        I think what you are looking at is indeed wax. The only way to know is to melt it – increase zoom, then decrease zoom. You should see the wax melting. The blade edge did not look very good to start with, however it looks terrible after your 4 or 5 shaves.

  2. Thanks for the info, I’m currently undergoing a similar process and have been keeping my data in a google docs spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ah9edV7xpsqwdG5ScXRWN3BtUnJRTWFpeVlTY0t2WGc&usp=sharing
    I’ve been using Feathers for the last year and ordered a blade sampler out of curiosity. When I started wet shaving I sampled maybe 6 brands initially. I’ve only tried a couple blades so far but I’ve really been surprised by the Treet blades. The shave doesn’t seem to be as close but they are really hanging in there. I normally get 4-5 shaves out of the Feathers. The SEM pictures are very interesting, wish I had access to one.

    • OldManDon says:

      Kudos to you! Love the spreadsheet comparison. I’ll look forward to more data as you experiment. Please update and post as you go. As a returned old-timer to wet/blade shaving, I’m most interested in the comments of others. So far, I’ve used only the Mercur and Personna blades but have some Derby, Gillette 7, and Wiikinson blades coming. Thanks!

      • No problem, I will be updating it as I progress. I’ve tried the Merkur and Wilkinsons blades before. It was ages ago, I vaguely recall the Merkurs were almost as good as the Feathers and the Wilkinsons gave me about 3 okayish shaves. I may have a few kicking around, I’ll revisit them if so. I typically shave 2-3 times a week so it will probably take me quite a while to test all the blades in my list.

        • OldManDon says:

          Re: . . .”shave two three times a week.” I’m on a similar schedule – every other day. Actually, now looking forward to shave day. You mentioned the Merkur blade. I used the one that came with my Progress and wasn’t overly impressed. Perhaps I need to give them a more than ‘one blade’ test before final judgement.

    • Kudos for this!

  3. Mark,

    I sell a decent amount of these blades, 80,000 – 100,000 per year and people seem to really like them. That said, for my own personal use they are just “average” with “below average” blade life. I can’t get more than 2 good shaves with them, the edge seems to degrade faster than most. I much prefer the Lord Platinum blades and the Shark super chromes in the same price range.

    • OldManDon says:

      Joe,
      I’d be interested in what you consider to be ‘the best’ DE blade for a sensitive face, all other factors aside?

  4. Jean-Michel says:

    I like the astra greens in my sampler pack but they’re far from the best.
    They seem to work well in my feather popular, but I’ve only ever tried 4 different blades/brands.

    I got unlucky and I’ve had a few astra blades with glue on the edge itself, let me tell you that it does not make for a comfortable shave.

  5. I’ve tried the Astra SP’s a number of times, myself. With the same results. Given my technique, they are more eager to bite or irritate, and they just don’t last. On the plus side, they’re pretty cheap in bulk. But for the same outlay, even Derbys treat me better in the initial comfort/durability department.

    • And this shows how everyone is different. I started with the Astras and then tried Derbys (Futur & DE89). Wasn’t that I was dissatisfied with the Astras, just wanted to try something different. The Derbys felt like tweezers to me-like it was ripping the hair out. I tried 3 different ones just to make sure and all had the same results…for me. Though I did like them better in the Futur.
      It’s all about your skin & your razor-there is no ‘best’.

  6. To be honest, can we be getting a bit too pedantic. If you greatly magnify anything it can look terrible. In almost every interest I have had there are always a temptation for some to take it far to seriously.

    Just use the bloody thing! If it feels right, its right for you, if not than its not. Unless you are a manufacturer of the blades why on earth bother to put them under a microscope?

    Since I got into traditional saving, what was once a painful chore became something I look forward to. However there comes a point where one can bring it to an unhealthy obsession and that is not enjoyable. Just my thoughts.

  7. A couple of months ago my barber gave me a couple of packages of Astra blades in the green packaging. After using a few of them, also in different razors, I came away saying, “no wonder the were giving them away”. This last time, he gave me several Personna blue blades. Much, much, better. I think it is becoming my favorite blade.

  8. The images only show the coating and oil on the blade, the edge is not visible.

  9. I remember when I tried my sampler pack a few years ago that I also was pretty dissatisfied with the green Astras. The blue ones, however, were the brand I chose to buy in bulk. The blue razors were much less harsh and gave great shaves. That said, once I run out of this 100 pack in a few more years (it’s already been 3), I plan on upgrading to Feathers. They were my favorite overall, but were a bit pricier and seemed to take a bit more skill to use properly. Now that I’m not a total DE noob they work great for me on the couple occasions I’ve used them recently.

  10. What a great reminder this post is about how YMMV with DE shaving gear.

    The green Astras are my go-to for BBS shave with hardy ever any nicks or irritation. And yet, I believe Mantiac is being genuine about his experiences with them.

    Go figure.

    • Agree. It’s the only blade I’ve found so far that gives a good shave in all my razors! Still experimenting though.

      • After trying many other brands, (red IP, Crystal, Pol silver Super Iridium,Derby, & Merkur, ) it’s still my go to blade. It’s a tad aggressive in the EJ89, but is serviceable. It’s a tad unaggressive in the Weishi, but you can still get an acceptable shave in one. It works spot on for me in Parker, Weber, and Merkur. I have not found another brand that has that range. I don’t consider durability in my assessments. Dorco is durable but I hate the shave it delivers on all my platforms.
        I can use a Feather in all, but my EJ89 due to razor burn, they work in the other razors, but not as comfortably as the Astra.
        I cannot tell the difference between the blue and the green.

  11. I have never understood all the raves about the green Astra SPs. They don’t work for me at all.

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