[Updated November, 2022] The Henson AL13 aluminum double edge razor has been making some waves in the wet shaving “nerd” community for its engineering design and its mild shave. Does it really deserve the praise? I bought one to try. Here is my Henson razor review for the AL13, (standard and “Medium” versions).
Henson AL13 Aluminum Double Edge Razor
From the Henson website:
The Henson AL13 puts an end to shaving irritation and cuts, while also making your skin feel comfortable and smooth. We created this to give you a whole new shaving experience unlike any other. Your skin will feel amazing after using this razor.
Our razors are manufactured with the same Aerospace processes and in the same facility that produces components for the Mars Rover, International Space station, and production style work on Low Earth Orbit Satellites. This razor is designed and manufactured with extreme precision in mind.
While most of our competition builds in allowance for casting and painting, Henson Shaving required and achieved remarkable less than five ten-thousandth of an inch (0.0005) tolerance on critical dimensions through the machining and anodizing process.
This means your blade sits straight every time. The blade support creates the most accurate blade exposure on the market. Accurate blade exposure combined with our unique design means no vibration in the blade (or chatter). Chatter is what causes razor burn and in-grown hairs.
What this means for you is a noticeably better shave that just feels different. It truly is one of a kind.
Our medium razor has slightly more blade exposure and a wider blade gap than the regular Henson AL13. This allows it to handle thicker hair but may be less suitable for shaving other areas of your body.
These razors are available in a number of different colors.
My Experience With The Henson AL13 Aluminum Double Edge Razor (Standard And Medium Versions)
The razor’s weight is a mere 38 grams (~1.3oz.) with blade on my digital kitchen scale. The handle is 95mm (~3.75″) without the head.
I think this is a really interesting-looking razor head. From the image above that may be a little difficult to see so here’s an image off the Henson Shaving website:
The blade-facing side looks like it would make the correct razor angle against the skin to be obvious but I think this is a bit misleading (more on that below).
I find the build fit-and-finish is exceptional and definitely relates back to their comment that the razor is “designed and manufactured with extreme precision in mind.” I found no head misalignment issues and the threads on the handle and cap screw together smoothly. There are lots of little things here that indicate a quality–albeit lightweight–razor to me
I find myself putting a bit more pressure on the razor than I otherwise might with heavier razors.
I tried both the ‘standard’ razor and the slightly more aggressive ‘medium’ version.
The most noticeable visual thing about the Standard head on the Henson AL13 aluminum double edge razor is the blade exposure: it’s a mere sliver of silver on each side. The Blade Gap is .68 mm and the Blade Exposure .001″ according to Henson. While the Blade Gap specification may indicate a more aggressive razor, Henson explains that “the nature of our design mitigates some of the effects of the unwanted aggression. This is why’ve chose a higher aggression blade gap. This allows more of the positive benefits of the aggressive blade gap while the unwanted byproducts are a bit tamed by the head design. This is one way they razor achieves good safety and high shaving performance simultaneously.”
Some razors have a generous “sweet spot” for handle hold angle. But for the Henson that ‘sliver of silver’ makes the razor hold angle quite critical for me. And I find it’s “steeper” than what the head design would indicate: it took a couple shaves for me to lock in the right hold.
I used my go-to blade for those first few shaves, a Parker. The shaves were very mild and comfortable and my standard three pass shave resulted in an easy “darn fine shave” (DFS) for me. Some extra effort was required to get to the “baby’s butt smooth” (BBS) point.
I switched to the famously assertive Feather blade and the Henson AL13 dealt with it quite nicely: BBS was much easier to get, with no irritation, for me.
I think this is a razor best suited to the daily face shaver who wants (or needs) a mild razor or the person shaving the more…ahem…delicate parts of the body.
As you might guess, the “Medium” version of the Henson AL13 aluminum razor has slightly more aggressive specifications: .85 mm Blade Gap and .002” Blade Exposure. But don’t let the Blade Gap number fool you: it’s still a pretty mild razor (visually it’s a bit more than that “sliver of silver” mentioned earlier).
Hold angle is still relatively steep (compared to other razors) but perhaps less critical than that of the Standard AL13.
For me a Feather blade wasn’t necessary on the Medium AL13: my go-to Parker blade worked fine and I was able to get a BBS shave with three passes, though with just a bit of irritation on my right jaw (a common weak link in my shaving chain–YMMV). I also get a more noticeable blade feel with the Medium version of the razor. Still, the Medium AL13 is in no way an “aggressive” razor.
June, 2022 Design Update
The AL-13 was given a slight “design tweak” in late June, 2022 and I was able to try one of the first units (“standard” style) off the assembly line. I would consider this an incremental, “evolutionary” change rather than anything dramatic.
I think the updated razor design is slightly more aggressive, getting a little closer to the “Medium” version. But, again, nothing dramatic.
I find the razor angle “sweet spot” noticeably wider on the updated version though. You should be able to get a good cut from this razor without having to pay overly-close attention to the exact angle at which you hold the razor.
Henson also offers the Ti22, made from Grade 5 Titanium.
The shave performance of the TI22 generally mirrors that of the AL13. It is available with a mild, medium, and a third, more aggressive, head option.
It’s no secret that I prefer mild razors generally. Either version of the Henson Shaving AL13 just isn’t an aggressive razor, which is fine by me–though it may be a deal-breaker for some. That said, this is a smooth, comfortable razor for me: I was particularly impressed with shaving against the grain with the AL13.
Right now the Henson Shaving AL13 aluminum double edge razor is available on the Henson website. Some wet shaving vendors, including Bullgoose, Maggard, and West Coast Shaving (affiliate link) among others may have versions available.