Some of the most loved blades in the wet shaving world have the Personna brand on their labels, so many of us panicked a bit when news outlets reported that Energizer Holdings, Personna’s parent company, was looking to get out of the DE business and that blade production in Verona, Virginia as well as unnamed “international locations” could be slated for closure. If you’re one of those who has been feeling a little antsy, we have good news: Sharpologist has been able to confirm that the Verona plant is staying open (albeit under new ownership) and will continue producing DE blades, and that the Personna plant in Israel was never in danger. We also can clear up a lot of the confusion around the various blades made by Personna, though at least one mystery remains.
Personna has quite a convoluted history. The brand became part of American Safety Razor in the 1950s, and Energizer Holdings bought American Safety Razor out of bankruptcy in 2010. Earlier this year, Energizer spun off their personal care brands, including Personna, into a new company called Edgewell Personal Care Company. The industrial/professional Personna lines didn’t fit into Edgewell’s focus on personal care, and so were slated to be sold or shut down.
This left the wet shaving community in limbo. Though these brands and products are not aimed at wet shavers, we do use them: blades made for medical use, scientific lab work and the beauty/barber industry are some of our best loved blades. But just this week, Edgewell announced that it had found a buyer. An investor group purchased Personna Industrial, forming a new company called AccuTec Blades to be headed up by Rick Gagliano, who was already serving as the General Manager of Personna Industrial for Energizer and Edgewell. This means that the production facility in Verona, Virginia is no longer in danger of shutting down, and Lab Blues, Med Preps, GEM single edge blades and Personna injector blades are not in danger of going away. Somewhat confusingly, Edgewell will also continue to use the Personna brand for personal care products, and continues to operate the blade plant in Israel.
So who makes what?
AccuTec Blades is a new company formed when a group of investors purchased Personna Industrial from Edgewell. “Industrial” in this case encompasses products for the medical and scientific industry and products for the beauty/barber industry, as well as products irrelevant to wet shavers such as scalpels, carpet cutters, and many others. AccuTec also now owns the blade plant in Verona, Virginia, the source of all current production DE blades labeled “Made in the U.S.A.,” as well as a factory in Obregon, Mexico. As far as we can tell, the factory in Mexico does not produce any DE blades currently used in the wet shaving community.
The 2015 Personna Industrial (now AccuTec) catalogs list five different DE blades: coated, oiled blades; coated, unoiled blades; uncoated, oiled blades; and coated surgical prep blades. All the coated blades are billed as using Personna’s proprietary “Comfort Coating.”
- The blades we commonly know as “lab blues” are sold in boxes of 100 or 5-pack plastic dispensers and are oiled, Comfort Coated blades. The familiar blue wrappers have recently been replaced with plain white wrappers.
- The blades we commonly know as “med preps” are surgical prep blades. The catalog description of these blades is nearly identical to that of the “lab blues,” though it does not mention that surgical prep blades are oiled. These blades are stamped “for hospital use” and have also recently seen a change in packaging, now coming in lighter blue wrappers.
- The infamous “barber blades” are likely the uncoated blades, though these are not marketed to either the beauty salon/barber industry or as a medical product under the Personna name; they’re just available as a bulk product that the company is able to supply.
Edgewell, on the other hand, still produces wet shaving products under the Schick, Wilkinson Sword and Personna brands [Ed. Note: These brands for US and UK distribution. These brands in other parts of the world may be licensed from different partners and made to different specs]. Most of these products are cartridges, disposables and the like, but AccuTec marketing director Bob Senesac confirmed that even after AccuTec’s acquisition of Personna Industrial, Edgewell retains control of the blade production facility in Israel. Some of the blades produced there are sold under the Personna brand (the well known “Israeli Personnas”), but many are white label products made under contract to other companies. This results in a wide variety of brand names of DE blades coming out of the Israeli factory, but the blades themselves are quite similar. According to Lior Feller, whose Tierra Santa Shaving is based in Israel, the blades are all made on the same machines and the edges are ground the same way. The difference is just in what coatings are used (chrome, platinum, teflon, etc.)
So the Edgewell family of DE blades includes:
- Personna-branded blades made in Israel
- Various store-brand blades marked “Made in Israel”
- And other Israeli-made brands including Crystal, Eddison, Q-Ball, Royal, Tomy, and Viking’s Sword.
German-made Wilkinson Sword and Schick DE blades exist, as do blades made in India that include both “Wilkinson Sword” and “Gillette” on the packaging.
So that clears it all up, right?
Well, almost. There has recently been word on various shaving forums that some “Israeli” red-packaged Personnas were showing up with “Made in the U.S.A.” stamped on the blade itself. In fact, there’s even photographic evidence. Reddit user Abekon posted those photos, and had received the blades from the popular blade sampler clearinghouse TryABlade. Jason Bartholme, the owner of TryABlade, confirmed that the outer packaging claimed the blades were made in Israel. Where did these weird, dual-citizenship blades come from?
“The were purchased from a barber in Texas who was closing his doors,” said Bartholme. “I don’t know where he purchased them from originally.”
It sounds like these must have been NOS blades that perhaps were from a time in the past when ASR’s various blade production lines were more comingled. Probably a one-off mistake in packaging, but who knows?
What about single edge and injector blades?
AccuTec will continue making Gem, Pal and Personna branded SE and injector blades. As with their DE blades, these are produced for professional use in beauty salons, barber shops, laboratories, etc., but will continue to be widely available to wet shavers as well. If you’ve ever wondered the difference between SE scraper blades and those suitable for shaving, it’s that scraper blades are ground with only two facets for a more durable edge, while those for shaving have a three-faceted edge that is sharper and more precise.