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Sharpest isn't always best
on May 30, 2013
TL;DR — I wish I could give 3.5 stars. These are the sharpest blades around, yet they don't provide the best shave in my experience. Wilkinson Sword Classic is in the same class but provides a far better shave for less money. Astra SP Platinum is a good medium-sharp blade for cheap. That said, with good technique you can avoid nicks using Feather blades.
Here is my review of the blades I've tried. There are a lot of sampler packs on Amazon, but after doing some research I chose to order around 30 each of just a few different blades to try, avoiding all of the lesser-quality "filler". I'll compare here and there to Mach-3 blades since that's what I previously used before switching to electric, and now this.
First off, Derby is what came with my razor. These you can practically rake across your face any way you see fit. They aren't very sharp, on par with a Mach-3 that's been used a few times. Shaving requires more strokes which leads to more irritation, especially on the neck. That said, I'd say these are a good blade if you're super worried about cutting yourself, because it's practically impossible. But even beginners might want to look elsewhere as these blades kind of ruin the "shaving experience". Don't be disappointed if you just bought this razor and have only tried these blades! Keep reading...
I ordered a 100-pack of Astra SP Platinum (that's Astra Superior Premium Platinum, not the regular stainless) since it's under ten bucks at the time of this writing. These are great. Beginners, start here. They're sharp enough that you don't have to press the razor against your skin—which you shouldn't have to! You're supposed to let the weight of your razor do the work as you guide it along your face in short strokes. So naturally, these are sharper than Mach-3 blades, but if you do press a little, you probably won't nick yourself. I love these blades because for me, they're comfortable enough for everyday use and provide good, close shaves at a very inexpensive price. Easy on my neck with care. My go-to blade. Great for beginners and pros alike, and eligible for Subscribe & Save!
Wilkinson Sword Classic seem to be great blades for people who have their technique down pretty well. Compared to Astra SP Platinum, they are sharper. They provided the best shave of the lot, but I did nick myself here and there on my neck and below my chin the first time around. Do not push these blades against your skin. It doesn't take much mastery to use these, and they're worth working up to. Downside: more than twice the price of Astra SP Platinum. I'll keep some of these around for days when I want the closest shave possible, or I just feel like something different. If you're new to traditional shaving or think Mach-3 blades are sharp, maybe don't start here, but definitely try them out.
Feather "New Hi Stainless" Platinum Coated blades are exactly what the reviews say: sharp. My first shave I got a good amount of nicks, but my second I had almost none. I adapted well, and you have to; each brand is a little different and the best require good technique, but some are more forgiving than others. These are negligibly sharper than the Wilkinson Sword Classic but they aren't forgiving at all and I didn't achieve any better of a shave. They're incredibly sharp compared to a Mach-3 blade. At 2x the price of the aforementioned and more than 3x the price of Astra SP Platinum, I won't be keeping these on hand, but your mileage may vary. If you only want the sharpest blade around, this is it. Fun fact: these come ten to a pack instead of five.
In conclusion, I'm sticking with Astra SP Platinum for regular use and Wilkinson Sword Classic when I'm up for something sharper. I shave every other day, and either is priced reasonably enough that if I want, I can use each side of a blade just once for a fresh edge every shave. That's about a 100-pack every year, so do the maths on price. Of course, both brands last much longer than this if you're looking for even better value.