The team at Craft Pomade were WONDERFUL! Shipping was fast and the customer service was outstanding! I will be using Craft Pomade for all my shaving and hair needs in the future! It is wonderful to support Canadian businesses as well.
I already own an AL13 Medium that I had purchased directly from the Henson site, and find it a bit more aggressive that I would like. So I decided to purchase the base model of the AL13 Regular and give it a try. Since you provide free shipping on orders of that cost level, it was a better choice than ordering it from Henson again.
So now I'm a bit torn. I love the weight of the razor (super light), and the quality of the machining is excellent. However, I wish there was a middle ground between the two versions of the razor. The AL13 Medium, I find I have to be careful with. You have to let it do the work, because if you press on it, you'll end up with cuts. With the base model of the AL13, the blade is recessed a little bit more, and the angle of attack is less as well. The result is a very mild mannered shave, and with the AL13 regular, I find I do need to apply pressure to get a smooth shave. I get less cuts and nicks with the AL13 regular, but I have to work harder to get a smooth shave with it. This is why I'm struggling with which one I prefer. Because of the extra force I have to use with the AL13 Regular, that's why I'm giving it a 4 star rating.
The end result is that I think I'll use my AL13 Regular as my travel razor where I don't have my full regular brush and soap with me, and use the AL13 Medium for shaving at home.
In fairness, in testing both versions of the AL13, I'm using the exact same protocols. Same soap and brush, same water temperatures, and same type of blade. That way, the only difference is directly attributable to the razor itself.
If you have more sensitive skin and a lighter beard, then the AL13 Regular is probably your best choice. If you have a heavier beard and prefer a more aggressive shaving experience, then the AL13 Medium would be your better option. Both are good choices, so the decision as to which is best has to be based upon your personal circumstances.
In general terms, the Henson razors are a quality instrument offered at a reasonable price point. By the very nature of their edge shape, that defines the angle you use to glide the razor over your skin, as opposed to most razors that have a rounded edge and let you guess through trial and error how best to hold them. The handle feels good in the hand, and is textured to give it a nice grip, even when wet. The parts fit well together, which is another indicator of excellent machining. They come with a five pack of blades included from Henson, and I found another pack of five blades included with my package from Craft Pomade.
My recommendation however, it to purchase a variety pack of blades so you can try out a wide selection from various manufacturers and be able to determine which best aligns with your personal shaving style and needs. Blade quality and characteristics are a big part of the safety razor experience, so its worth the effort early on to figure out which works best for you. If you make the effort to do this, try to keep your shaving protocols as consistent as possible, and keep notes about your experience with each blade... and ensure you use the same razor for all your tests, as blade presentation (how it's held and edge exposed by the razor) matters a lot.
My understanding was that the Henson razors used to come with a 5-pack of these blades, but for whatever reason my Henson came with RK blades. RK blades felt like trying to shave with tweezers (more hair pulling than cutting), whereas slapping one of these blades on actually cut the hair (with only a mild resistance/tug prior to cut). So of course I ordered a 100 pack to tide me over for a while :)
I am fairly new to wet shaving and have created the odd tiny nick/bleed with these blades on my Henson... but I'm pretty sure after I master the right angle/stroke I'll likely eliminate them all together. Good news is that my DIY "razor relief" seals the tiny bleeds pretty much instantly.
35 years ago when I was first learning to shave with can foam and "disposable" razor heads I would occasionally gouge out a chunk of skin; which lead to my switch to electric razors. So far my Henson/Astra experience with shave soap and a boar brush is such a great experience, so I'm happy about that.
I am prone to nicks with shaving and this razor has been kinder to my face than many 5 blade cartridge razors. I. So happy I decided to give this Canadian product a chance.
Best shave I've ever had , smoothest razor you'll find