Pros: Cheap, decent shaving, no pulling even with longer beard on first use
Cons: Sticky substance on blades requires wiping, get dull quick, skin irritation, packed in cardboard
Two years ago I switched from Panasonic electric shavers to double-edge shaving, briefly trying Schick Hydro 3 Blade Razor, Schick Hydro 5 Blade Razor, Gillette Fusion, Gillette Fusion Power and Gillette Fusion ProGlide. I discovered that I could get a much better shave with cartridge systems, but with some skin irritation and at cartridge prices that I was not willing to pay. To get a better shave than what an electric shaver gave me but with less irritation, I started using double-edge (DE) safety razors and have been using them with two blade kinds: Shark Super Chrome blades and Derby Extra Double Edge Razor Blades.
I use a Parker 86R, Edwin Jagger De89bl and Lord L6 razors, along with a badger hair brush and shaving soap. Note that different skin and beard types respond better to different blades. I had best results with Shark. Shark Super Chrome blades are sharper than Derby, last longer and pull less. I decided to try Astra. Although when I lived in Russia decades ago, people who used Russian-made Astra blades were constantly looking for better blades (from Finland or Sweden), the Astra blades are now completely different and are highly regarded on various shaving forums.
What is Astra Superior Premium Platinum Double Edge Razor Blade
The Astra Superior Platinum blades are double-edge blades made of “highest quality steel”. They are made in Russia.
I bought a 100-pack, which consists of 20 5-blade cardboard packs. Unlike Shark or Derby blades, that come in plastic 5-packs which can be used to safely dispose used blades, these don’t. So far I am using Derby and Shark intermittently and they fortunately fit more than 5 used blades so I can put some used Astras into them in addition to their own blades. But when I run out of Sharks, the question of safer disposal will have to be addressed.
Additionally, Astra blades have some sticky substance on them that holds them in place on the waxed paper envelope they come in. Other blades I used up to this point used none or some substance that was not as sticky and remained on paper. These Astra blades have this sticky stuff left on them in 4 places, and quite a lot of it, necessitating removal. I use the outer paper envelope the blade comes in to wipe off the stuff, and it takes only about 30 seconds, but it is annoying and pointless.
Astra blades came a long way in the last 20 or so years. Originally, I was very impressed by these Astra blades, but now not so much. The first shave I got gave me an impression that the blade was very sharp and I got a very close shave. Then I discovered I had skin irritation.
I have delicate skin yet tough beard, which is a difficult combination when it comes to shaving. I got best results with Shark Super Chrome in the past and turns out I still do as Astra blades result in skin irritation, which I don't get with either Shark or Derby. Alternatively, if I shave only enough to get a decent (not very close) shave, there is little to no irritation. So when using this blade, I have to compromise.
1. Astra blades pull less than Derby or Shark Super Chrome on first use.
2. Astra blades pull very little when the beard is longer than a day old.
3. The Astra blade seems to glide over the skin as well as the Derby blade when the beard is 1 day or shorter
4. The longevity of Astra blades seems to be similar to Derby
5. Overall, Astra blades provide me with a close shave, but take longer time to shave than better blades and irritate my skin, while geting dull quick.
The bottom line here is when the blade is new, it shaves very well, but produces skin irritation and after 1-2 uses, it starts pulling and leaves stubble behind. In the same use, razors and technique, Shark produces no irritation, results in a close shave and lasts much longer. Derby blade pulls more from the start and doesn't shave a closely as Shark, but it doesn't irritate my skin.
Be mindful that the results depend on the type of the beard and skin.
At about 10 cents per blade, which lasts 1-2 shaves, these blades are much cheaper than Gillette Fusion, Schick Hydro 5 or Schick Hydro 3. They are better for environment too. And they are cheaper than Shark or Derby per unit, but not necessarily per shave.
A Better Blade From the Same Company
I also use the Gillette 7 O'clock Sharp Edge blades made by the same company in St. Petersubrg, Russia under license from Gillette and those are much better (albeit much more expensive). They are sharper and smoother, plus longer-lasting.
Another Better Blade
I also use US-made Personna blades (a.k.a. "Lab Blue") and those are much better. Not only do they last me 6-8 shaves, they are sharp yet don't irritate my skin.
For me, Astra blades don't work as well as either Derby, Personna, Gillette 7 O'clock Sharp Edge or Shark blades. In fact, these are so far the worst blades I have used. And while they are slightly cheaper per blade, they are more expensive per use. There are inconveniences in their packaging as well. I will probably try Dorco ST301 and Feather next, but so far Shark blades, Personna and Gillette 7 O'Clock Sharp Edge work best for me.