Ultimate Guide to Electric Shaving

Electric shaving has come a long way since the first electric shaver was developed in 1928. The healthy competition between Braun, Panasonic, Philips, and others has resulted in a modern electric shaver that is affordable and delivers a high-quality shave.

It can be overwhelming to go through all of the shavers on the market today. Nearly every brand offers a shaver that can fit into any budget, but the major differences lie in the shaving technology and the included features.

After reading this guide you should have all of the information you need to choose the right electric shaver and use it successfully!

Table of Contents

Electric Shaving Pros & Cons

Buying an electric shaver is an investment that can save you both time and dollars. Many of the best electric shavers can last five or more years and require little maintenance or upkeep. As the price of disposable razors and cartridges continues to increase, your investment will continue to pay off.

Unlike a traditional razor, all cutting elements in an electric shaver are covered reducing or removing the risk for most cuts and nicks while shaving. The most impressive advancement in the last 20 years has been the closeness of the shave most electric shavers are able to provide. Even budget shavers are now delivering a shave that is close enough to last through the whole day without having a 5 o’clock shadow showing up in the morning.

While the closeness of the shave has been improved across the board, the shaving comfort is something that most brands have reserved for their most advanced models. If you have sensitive skin, the best shavers on the market today are designed to prevent cuts, razor burn, irritation and other common problems that may have plagued you in the past.

Pros

Shaving Comfort – Because the blades on the shaver don’t come into contact with the skin, there’s almost no risk of cuts, nicks, or razor burn. 

Convenience – Electric shavers are easy to use and practical to carry around. Electric shaving allows you to just pick up the shaver, shave as normal, and leave it in the cleaning station to charge ready for the next use. 

Close Shave – Modern shavers have made great strides in offering a close shave while still being comfortable to use. 

Cost Effective –  When taken care of properly, electric shavers can last several years.

Cons

Not Quite as Close – Some electric shavers can get pretty close, but there’s no getting around that perforated foil. A manual razor will still shave closer.

Initial Cost – There’s a lot of affordable electric razors on the market, but you get what you pay for. They’ll pay for themselves over time, but the initial upfront cost is enough to put people off. 

Time to Adjust – It sounds strange, but it could take a few weeks for the comfort of an electric razor to kick in. It’s common to experience discomfort and irritation when switching to an electric razor.  Stick with it for a while and see how much better things get after a few weeks.

 

Who Should Use an Electric Shaver?

Electric shavers can provide a great shave for most people, but they aren’t for everyone. Once you get a routine down shaving with an electric shaver can be just as fast as using a razor, but it will take time for your skin and beard to adjust.

We believe electric shavers are ideal for someone who is focused on a speedy shaving routine that shaves every day or every other day. They are also great for frequent travelers as you don’t have to worry about bringing any liquids or additional blades. 

Which Type of Shaver – Rotary or Foil?

Choosing between the two shaving technologies is more of a personal preference than anything else. It’s about which one you believe feels better on your skin and delivers the performance you care the most about.
For most people, we recommend foil shavers. They provide a closer shave, are better for sensitive skin, and we find them easier to use than their rotary shaver competitors.

Foil Shavers

Foil Shaving Head
Foil shaving head (Braun Series 9)

Foil shavers have a very thin, perforated piece of metal that covers the cutting blades and acts as protection for your skin. As you go up the Braun and Panasonic product lines, you will find that both manufacturers add additional cutting elements to better cut all hair in one pass. We have found that the most effective foil shavers utilize between four and five cutting elements which each capture hair of different lengths.

When shaving with a foil shaver, it is important to tilt the shaver at a 90-degree angle and make straight passes up and down or across your face. By following this technique, you will ensure that the cutting elements behind the foils can capture all hairs and cut them evenly.

People with sensitive skin should strongly consider using a foil shaver. The foil screen protects your skin, minimizing razor burn and ingrown hairs. Foil shavers provide the best shave when they are used every day or every other day. If you typically go more than a couple of days without shaving, we recommend trimming before shaving or considering a rotary shaver instead.

Foil shavers are good for people:

  • Who shaves regularly 
  • Want a close shave 
  • Aren’t concerned about noise 
  • Want a more precise shave – such as to shave around goatees and mustaches 
  • Who have sensitive skin 

Rotary Shavers

Rotary shaving head (Philips Shaver 9000 Prestige)

Rotary shavers utilize spinning cutting blades inside three shaving heads. Each of these heads can move independently allowing the shavers to contour better to your face and neck. 

The difference between cheaper and more expensive Philips Norelco models is mostly in the speed and the range of motion that the shaving heads include. Rotary shavers typically perform better than foil shavers when shaving growth of more than a day.

Shaving with a rotary shaver requires a different technique than shaving with foil shavers. To get the best performance and shaving comfort, you should shave in circular motions around your face with moderate pressure. 

Rotary shavers are for people: 

  • Who don’t shave every day 
  • Have facial hair that grows in different directions
  • Need a quiet razor 
  • Plan on shaving their head as well – the circular motions of a rotary razor are better for shaving heads

How to Shave With an Electric Shaver

Preparing to Shave

Developing healthy pre-shave habits and preparing to shave is key to getting a comfortable and close shave. The pre-shave routine for electric shavers isn’t as important as shaving with a razor but it can still make a real difference.

Start with using a beard trimmer to trim your face if it has been a few days since your last save. Electric shavers can have trouble getting through long hairs and you could be in for a painful shave if you don’t prepare.

A fully charged and dry shaver is going to deliver a much better shave than a shaver that is almost out of battery and wet from cleaning. Keeping your shaver charged and cleaned after each shave makes the next shave much easier.

If you have been using your shaver for a few weeks or months and are still struggling to capture hair falling in multiple directions you may want to try a pre-shave product like Lectric Shave. This is a completely optional step but it helps ensure that hair is standing away from the skin and can make the shave more effective.

Should I Wet or Dry Shave With an Electric Shaver?

The question of whether to go with a wet or dry shave is worth looking at. We have found that the most effective shaving method is to use a dry shaver and face, but many shavers are now designed to be used in both wet and dry environments.

Most people choose to go with electric shavers to avoid having to deal with shaving cream and wet shaving, but there are benefits to still using a wet shave. We have found that using shaving cream or gel can make the shave more comfortable if you have sensitive skin. 

  • Lathering with shaving cream adds lubrication and makes it easier for razors to glide over skin 
  • Shaving cream lubricates the blade and foil of the shaver, reducing friction for a cooler shave

While many shavers are capable of being used in a wet environment, not all are designed to be used with shaving cream or gel. Make sure you confirm your shaver is able to be used with shaving cream.

For most people, we would recommend sticking with shaving your face before washing it and ensuring that your shaver is dry to get the best possible shave.

Shaving Technique for Foil Shavers

Foil head razors contain oscillating blades that move back and forth. One of the main drawbacks of using a foil razor is that they have trouble maneuvering around the contours of your face due to their bulkier shaving heads. 

Follow these steps to get the best shave from your foil shaver:

  1. Your shaver performs best when it is clean, dry, and charged. Use that to your advantage and shave difficult and sensitive areas first
  2. Use short strokes with the shaver at a 90-degree angle to the skin and light pressure. As you move, the foils and shaving head should move along the contours of your face. 
  3. It may take a few passes over the same area to cut hair of different lengths or that falls in different directions. Use sweeping or overlapping passes to capture and cut all of the hair. 
  4. Some areas will require you to shave against the grain and others with the grain. Use a side to side or up and down motion to do both at the same time.
  5. Many shavers include a pop-up or attachable trimmer to clean up around the nose, sideburns, mustache or other areas that are difficult to shave with the shaving head.

Shaving Technique for Rotary Shavers

Unlike foil shavers that use an oscillating blade, rotary razors have disks that spin to cut through hair, similar to a weed whacker. There are some slight differences to shaving with a rotary shaver to ensure you get the best shave.

Follow these steps to get the best shave from your rotary shaver:

  1. Just like foil shavers, rotary shavers perform best when it is clean, dry, and charged. Use that to your advantage and shave difficult and sensitive areas first
  2. With rotary shavers, you should use circular motions, both clockwise and counterclockwise with light pressure.
  3. You may need to use different amounts of pressure and motion to best shave against your skin. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  4. Many shavers include a pop-up or attachable trimmer to clean up around the nose, sideburns, mustache or other areas that are difficult to shave with the shaving head. 

How to Clean Your Electric Shaver

Braun Cleaning Station
Braun Cleaning Station

There are two ways to clean a razor after using it; you can clean it manually or you can use an automatic cleaning station. Either way, make sure that you are cleaning your shaver regularly to maximize its performance.

If you have a shaver that includes a clean and charge station the process is very straight forward. Some stations automatically sense and begin the cleaning cycle while others require you to manually select a cleaning cycle. The only maintenance you usually need to perform is replacing or refilling the cleaning solution.

But what if you don’t have a cleaning station? Fortunately, most shavers are designed to be cleaned easily.

How to Clean an Electric Shaver Without a Cleaning Station

Waterproof Shaver

If your shaver is designed to be used wet or dry, the cleaning process is simple. Always verify that your shaver is waterproof before going through this process.

We are not responsible for damage if you introduce water to your shaver if it is only designed for dry use.

  1. Remove the shaving head and shake over a sink to remove any loose debris and hair from the foils and cutting elements. Most shaving heads are removed by pulling it from the body or pressing a small latch to release the head.
  2. Re-attach the shaving head and put a small amount of liquid soap on the foils.
  3. Start the shaver and use warm water to rinse the shaver while it is running. Let the shaver run for 15-20 seconds.
  4. Remove the shaving head and rinse separately to ensure all soap residue is rinsed off from the shaving head.
  5. After the shaving head is rinsed lightly shake the shaving head to remove excess water and allow the shaving head to dry detached from the shaver body.

While this process can seem intensive, you will likely be able to complete the cleaning in 1-2 minutes. This will dramatically increase your shaver performance if you do it consistently.

Non-Waterproof Shaver

While many shavers on the market today are sold for both wet and dry use, many cheaper and older models were engineered to only be used in dry conditions. Just because they are not designed to be used with water doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be cleaned regularly.

  1. Remove the shaving head and shake over a sink to remove any loose debris and hair from the foils and cutting elements. Most shaving heads are removed by pulling it from the body or pressing a small latch to release the head.
  2. Use a brush to remove any hair or debris built up in the shaving head or body. Many shavers include a brush or a nail brush can be used.
  3. Compressed air or a shaver cleaner and lubricant can be used to further clean the shaver from time to time.
  4. Re-attach the shaving head to the shaver body.

Maintaining Your Electric Shaver

Given how much an electric shaver can cost, it’s important to know how to properly care for your shaver to get the most out of it. Good maintenance will make sure your shaver performs its best for each shave and is important for the longevity. 

The good news is that it’s actually pretty simple to care for your shaver and properly maintain it. Here are some tips on periodic maintenance and care for electric shavers; 

  1. Clean the shaver after every use. Don’t forget to leave the shaving head long enough to dry before putting the shaver back together if you are cleaning it manually. The shaver should have dried off before you attach the shaving head again. 
  2. Lubricate blades and foil regularly. You should lubricate the razor more often if you use soap and water to clean it. Most automatic cleaning stations clean and lubricate the shaving head.
  3. Replace worn blades and foils on a regular basis. Most brands recommend replacing blades or shaving heads every 12-18 months.
  4. Only use the shaver for its intended purpose. If your electric shaver says it’s for dry use only then stick to that and don’t use it with shaving cream/gel or in the shower. 

As with most things, common sense goes a long way. You don’t need to do anything super special to maintain your shaver and ensure it lives a long life. Outside of the initial investment, an electric shaver can save money in the long term by lasting for a surprisingly long amount of time. Take care of your shaver and it should last for years to come. 

Final Thoughts 

By now you’ll have a great understanding of electric shavers, including the differences between foil and rotary shavers and which one is right for you. With this understanding of what it takes to successfully use an electric shaver, you should be able to decide which shaver is best for you.