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News – Personna Blades Are Here to Stay

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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?

“They 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.

Chuck Falzone

Chuck Falzone

11 thoughts on “News – Personna Blades Are Here to Stay”

  1. For a few years I used the Matrix 3 (aka Matrix Triple ?) as sold in several major UK supermarket chains under own brand labels – exactly the same product, therefore widespread availability.
    Then these began to disappear from the shelves everywhere- luckily after a bit of detective work I discovered it was the Personna Matrix 3 as marketed in the USA.
    I was delighted to learn that the relatively new ALDI supermarkets (of German origin) stocked this as their own “Lacura” brand at very attractive prices.
    I’ve seen it online in a couple of other rather obscure identities in Europe, and I understand it is still available in the US, although possibly becoming increasingly difficult to find ?
    It gives me a really decent shave – better than Mach 3 and the other 3 blade usual suspects, so I’m pleased to hear Personna products are here to stay !!!

  2. The only Personna I’ve tried has been a Crystal. Left my face a bloody, irritated mess (using an ATT Slant/Kronos razor). So I’ll most likely pass on trying any other Personnas. Kai blades have worked best for me with PolSilver Super Iridium a close second. Then again, I have a thick beard and sensitive skin and it goes without saying, YMMV.
    But thanks for the article. It answers some questions I’ve had about the various Personna brands. I’m wondering if wiping a non-oiled Personna with a Q-Tip dipped in mineral oil would be the equivalent of an oiled Personna. Any thoughts?

  3. Thanks for the great coverage, Chuck! As you know, the Personna injector blades are VERY important to my company, since we designed our injector razor specifically for the Personna blades. And we’re proud to carry US made blades in our store! Really glad to read that they’re not going under.
    You’re right, the Personna labyrinth is very confusing. It’s refreshing to see someone (somewhat) clear it up for us. 🙂

  4. I am new to wet shaving, and I wanted to try Personna blades because they are made in the US. Amazon seems to only sell them in bulk, reasonable price, but what stopped me was a rash of complaints in the reviews about recent quality problems. Long time users were complaining about lousy blades that they had bought in the spring of 2015.
    I wonder if the talk of closing the plant, resale, etc had anything to do with the quality complaints. One would think with an automated plant that blade quality would remain constant, but perhaps morale problems due to the rumors led to this rash of quality complaints. I hope Personna gets it together under the new ownership and returns to a quality blade. I would like to try them.

  5. I purchased a 100 pack of the the Peronna Blue blades earlier this year. I had been using the Personna Reds for some time.
    No real difference in my opinion between the 2 types.
    I was disappointed however with the stamping on the U.S. made
    Blues, each and every one that I have unwrapped so far has smudge stamping.
    May be no big deal but a minor let down of the overall presentation of their product. Don’t bother stamping at all if you can’t get it right.
    I do find the shaves results to be very comfortable and smooth compared to other Brands I have used over the years.

    1. I use Gem PTFE-coated SE blades and Personna PTFE-coated injector blades (both of which are Personna Industrial/AccuTec products). They are fantastic for me. I really like their stiffness compared to a DE blade. Approximately half my shaves are with an SE or injector razor.
      For Personna DE blades, I prefer the U.S. made ones to the Israelis I’ve tried, and I am not able to tell a difference between the Labs and the Med Preps. But ultimately when I shave with a DE razor it’s almost always with blade made by Mostochlegmash in Moscow (Rapira Swedish Supersteel, Voskhod or Rapira Platinum Lux).
      But you know, my face is not your face, so please don’t go by my preferences.

  6. This is useful information, but I am curious…..what becomes of the Knoxville, Tenn facility. I believe it remains under Edgewell and continues to manufacture blades for disposables. But I believe it also runs double edge tooling. I work for a major tooling manufacturer and ASR, Shick, Personna, Wilkinson Sword and then the parent Energizer have been and are customers of ours. Beside disposable blade tooling we also build and service double edge tooling for them. Some of that tooling went to the Knoxville facility. And just an FYI we have recently retooled and manufactured new tooling for Gillette China, St. Petersburg, and Brazil.

    1. Thanks for that information, Ernie. I am not totally sure about Knoxville, but I can say that it was definitely not included in the sale to AccuTec, so it must still be an Edgewell facility. I’m not aware if DE blades are produced there currently; my contact at AccuTec mentioned that Edgewell will continue making DE blades at the Israel facility and did not mention Knoxville. Unfortunately I was not able to speak with anyone at Edgewell for this article.

  7. Thank you Chuck for explaining what has stumped me for years! I like the Med Preps, & the generics marked “made in Israel. I was concerned about access to them. This piece is a service to the wet shaving community!

  8. Great job sorting through the “Personna” labyrinth, Chuck. It seems with these blades, the more you know, the more confusing it becomes. And while I don’t currently have Personna blades in my rotation, it’s good to hear some will continue to be manufactured in the USA and remain available for those who really love them.

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