The era of the ultra-comfortable safety razor shave may have finally arrived! In this article I contrast both the Winning Razor versus the Henson razor, and I review the why’s and wherefores which make these the easiest double edge razors to work with, hands down.
The secret of the new, easy and uniquely comfortable double edge shave here lies in the geometry. Both razors feature neutral or minimally positive blade exposure coupled with very full support of the blade nearly to the cutting edge. Because there is very little extended length of the blade edge, blade chatter and flexure during the cutting process reduces to near absolute zero, and the resultant irritation all but evaporates. Consider:
This means both the Winning Razor and the Henson are ultra-smooth and easy to shave with. Indeed, almost too easy.
The shaving grace here is this style of DE razor requires you to press in slightly and apply moderate pressure to get a smooth finish, much like any old cartridge razor. Unlike your traditional double edge, these razors have a very wide margin of comfort and safety relative to applied pressure. If you need a closer finish, you simply press in a little bit more to get a tighter clean up. If your skin gets slightly irritated, you use less pressure and get a Damn Fine Shave [DFS]. Once you comprehend this fact you get stellar results. My first shave or two with the Winning Razor was disappointing and resulted in poor cleanup and stubble until I realized this secret.
Because of this, I see these two shavers as one brief port of call on the learning spectrum of sustainable wet shaving. The “Spectrum of Shaving Progress” is:
How We Get from There to Here
Where you end up is entirely up to you, as long as you make the initial effort to begin the journey.
Introductions aside, now let’s introduce today’s wet shaving contestants to the studio audience.
Welcome to the Winning Razor:
In keeping with the message of ecologically sound personal grooming, the Winning Razor arrives at your doorstep in a wax paper bundle complete with a tuck of Tatra blades and QR-code instructions, all neatly secured with a twine string. The Razor is 304 stainless steel with a bare machined finish, and the stainless razor stand is an extra option. The vendor thoughtfully added a magnet to the bottom of the handle for safe pickup of fallen blades, which is a nice plus.
The Winning Package
The razor works well enough out of the box, however upon further inspiration I acquired some polishing compound bars from Amazon.com and buffed the razor head, baseplate and handle a mirror-like finish. Here are some results:
“Let Your Razor Shine On Me”
This polished finish has the added bonus of slightly increasing glide and reducing drag when the razor works the shave magic.
Sadly I find this razor is not an entirely unalloyed benefit, but thankfully the complaints here are only three in number and they are minimal. To wit: When doing a head shave after several days of growth, I notice the Winning Razor tends to clog. I frequently needed to stop and unscrew the handle to clear out the coagulated hair and shave soap before I could begin again.
The problem lies in the series of drain holes in the baseplate, which are a simple series of drilled holes. This keeps manufacturing costs low and works well enough when shaving a few whiskers after a day or two of growth, but these holes quickly become obstructed when mowing down mass quantities of thinner head hair on the initial pass.
However, being a chap who works to provide more solutions than mere complaints, I quickly generated a 3D model with alternate geometry which might solve this problem.
A Proposed Baseplatefor the Winning Razor
This is merely a “Christmas wish list” idea on my part, and whereas an open comb or machined slots have a greater cross-sectional area and lower flow resistance than an array of holes, these improvements would make machining this baseplate more expensive and thus prices would rise slightly. However this would be a nice future option, depending on the manufacturer capacity and inclinations.
Personally I would spring for this style razor with these baseplate features almost regardless of price because of how positively delightful this razor is to shave with.
Second minor complaint: while this style razor is exceedingly forgiving to work with, I find I must ride the cap ever so slightly slightly because the shape of the baseplate tends to “shovel aside” almost all of the lather before the blade contacts the skin, thus my suggestion of an open comb variety like pictured above. Even a slightly serrated safety bar would be an improvement in shave lubricity. You work around this by adding slightly more hydration to your soap lather.
Finally, I also noticed some looser tolerances on the Winning razor vs. the Henson, and I sometimes have to manually align the blade when loading depending on the blade brand, but this is easy since the top cap has concave reliefs which allow access to the blade ends. Unlike the majority of other razors in the market sphere, these thoughtful crescent-moon reliefs in the cap make loading and unloading the blade easier and safer.
In spite of these minuscule detractions this is a wonderful addition to every dedicated wet shaver’s rotation, and the $55 price is quite decent for what you get. There are few other stainless razors on the market at this price point. Hands down this is my favorite go-to razor in the shave den, and you’ll doubtlessly be impressed once you try it as well.
Say Hello to Henson:
Sharpologist has previously reviewed the Henson razor, so I shall not retread old ground. Instead let’s look at some of the technical details which make this a unique and new style wet shaver.
Henson Shaving brings the technical and manufacturing know-how and ultra-high precision tolerances required for heaving lifting rockets and satellites and applies this knowledge to the problem of eliminating discomfort from shaving, while additionally removing the huge waste stream of traditional cartridge and disposable razors. Machining and manufacturing tolerances are routinely held to less than the width of a human hair.
Some Scenes from the Manufacturing and Inspection of Henson Razors
You can see how well this works in practice by reviewing this video:
Sadly, the Henson only comes in the medium or mild varieties at present – the aggressive versions are no longer for sale, and I used the medium Henson for this review. Thus, if you need a closer finish from this shaver, you are limited to either buying a used aggressive model Henson, pressing in harder, using a sharper blade, or using the Winning razor instead.
How Do the Shavers Stack Up?
Because of the differences in weight between these two razors, I swapped out the OEM handles and replaced them with handles of a different weight and material, to better align the weights with one another.
The Winning Razor tips the scales at a hefty 119 grams with the stock handle, whereas the medium-aggression Henson weighs in at a mere 38 grams. This heavyweight vs. featherweight shave sparring contest would make objective contrast difficult, so for purposes of this review I replaced the stainless steel Winning handle with a lighter titanium one to reduce the weight, then swapped the Henson handle with a long stainless steel handgrip from Maggard’s Razors. The final statistics are as follows:
Razor Contestant #1: Henson Razor w/ Maggards Colorized SS Handle (81g)
Razor Contestant #2: Winning Razor w/ Timeless TRH8 Crown Titanium Handle (91g)
There is a noticeable bias in the center of gravity between these two shave setups, but this nothing I can’t, well… handle!
For review purposes, I did 5 face shaves using both razors, using 1 razor each for 1 side of the face. The next day I would switch which face side was shaved by which razor, and I kept the brand of shave soap consistent throughout. After shave #3 I switched from the middling-sharp Voskhod blade to the extremely sharp Bic Chrome Platinum blade, and noted just a negligible increase in irritation but greater ease in whisker reduction. So plus 1 for both razors there.
And because the shave finishes smooth with less irritation, I’ve noticed I don’t need to reach for the aftershave splash or balm as much as I may with a regular DE razor. Yet another crowning achievement!
Both the Henson and Winning razors make fantastic finishing razors. In his distinguished and all-encompassing guide to wet shaving, Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving the Double-Edge Way, author Michael Ham wrote about using different razors each for the initial With the Grain [WTG], the second Across the Grain [XTG], and the final Against the Grain [ATG] passes to maximize comfort and help address difficulties some newer wet shavers initially experience. Ham suggested using a milder Weishi razor to minimize irritation when doing the final pass along with any touch up work, but I say here the Weishi can be shelved in favor of either the Henson or Winning razors. Both work excellently when conducting the final pass, yet are well-behaved enough to get sensational results using just one razor for the complete operation, plus they are an absolute breeze in sensitive neck regions.
The direct contrast between these two razors
I find the Winning Razor does finish slightly closer than the medium Henson does. The skin shaved with the Winning Razor is smoother for a longer time period than I get from a Henson shave. The contact feel of both razors is roughly equivalent, although I think the glide is slightly smoother with the anodized Henson vs. the Winning Razor, but these differences are negligible.
The corners on the Henson top cap are slightly sharper than on the Winning Razor, but not so much that you end up with marks or scars from this. They could use a bit more of an edge break on this razor as I see it. Thankfully the geometry and gaps between the top cap and base plate do not pluck out whiskers or stray hair as the razor glides by, unlike what I’ve painfully noticed from some previous Merkur products. Gentlemen with goatees or beards can safely rejoice in this knowledge.
Subie does an informative and wonderfully high-energy contrast shave video review between (the sadly now-defunct aggressive titanium) Henson razor and the Winning Razor here:
Subie concludes the Winning Razor has an ever so slightly more aggressive feel to it than the Henson, and I agree with his assessment. The differences are minor enough you may not notice, except for how long your BBS finish lasts you. As always, remember: Your Shave Will Vary.
- Almost foolproof shave: prep, place, pull and whiskers / hair simply disappear!
- Unparalleled comfort when the shave concludes. Lesser need for aftershave splash or balm.
- Zero or minimal irritation, even when using sharper blades.
- Decent prices for both razors.
- No cheap cast Zamak pot metals to erode away later on.
- The cutting angle is rather narrow, but you adjust to this quickly.
- Slightly less lather delivery to the blade edge.
- The “Goldilocks Syndrome” if you have both razors: one razor seems somewhat heavy, and the other comes across as too light. You may wish to change out the handles.
- Be wary of over-torquing the handle on the aluminum Henson razor.
- Both handles are somewhat slippery when wet. A handle swap may be in order.
- These razors may annoy the Double Edge purists amongst the viewing audience.
Head towards the Henson Razor if:
You prefer ultra-light razors.
Your skin is ultra-sensitive.
The wide range of color choices appeals to you.
You shave less frequently, so the larger drain slots can easily whisk away the overgrowth.
You’re presently located in Canada, eh?
Walk towards the Winning Razor if:
Your skin is a tad more resilient.
You find the Henson to be a wee bit too mild.
You long for the feel of a cruiserweight razor in your hands.
You prefer to shave more frequently, daily or every other day.
The Winning Razor: