The camp is divided between those men who prefer to use a manual blade or an electric razor. Sometimes it purely comes down to what they started using when growing out their first stubble and other times it has more to do with their nervousness of using a sharp metal blade on the side of their face.
While it’s possible to shave with a blade and not cut your face several times in their haste to be finished before rushing out to work in the morning, the reality is that there’s nothing as amateur as sporting a fresh cut that’s been bleeding on the way to work. No plaster or other temporary covering does it justice. It just screams “amateur.” By contrast, no such accident, regular or otherwise, occurs when using an electric razor to shave in the morning.
It used to be that the best electric razors didn’t shave very well, left plenty of stubble on the face and weren’t any good at getting those sideburns just right, but times have changed. Technological innovation in shaver technology has long surpassed that of razor blades where the number of blades is about as far advanced as that’s gotten in the last four decades. Now electric razors have gone upmarket, with improved features, closer shaves, and still none of those nasty cuts to contend with.
Just like with a manual shaver, there are plenty of choices to make when going electric. Some of these options include:
- Foil or rotary
- Flex motion or precision heads
- Sideburn pop-up tool or no tool
- Recharge time
- Wet or dry shave
- Charging base or cord
- Self-clean or manual clean
We’re here to help, though, so please delve first into the various types of electric razors and let us assist you in deciding what suits you best.
Types of Electric Razors
There are a few different types of electric razors on the market. Each type offers a few benefits and restrictions with what it does best, what it does poorly, and what it cannot do at all. Here are the main types of electric razors:
- Electric foil razor
- Electric rotary razor
- Beard clipper
- Nose and ear hair clipper
Let’s look a little deeper.
Electric foil razor
The electric foil shaver has one or more foil layers that lay over the rotating blades below. The oscillating action both lifts the hair up from the skin to make it easier to cut and ensures that the blade doesn’t touch the skin directly to avoid skin cuts or abrasions.
The idea of foil razors is that they’re kinder on the skin than a rotary blade is. With foil shavers, they are usually available in either three-blade or four-blade versions. Rather than being a gimmick, the four-blade foil electric razor does deliver a closer cut than the three-blade variety. This is the case if the shaving motion is in a straight line to get the best cut with this type of shaver. A pivoting head is needed for the shaver to contour successfully to the shape of the face for the closest cut; the more angular the face, the less successful an electric foil razor is likely to be.
Electric rotary razor
A rotary electric shaver works differently to an electric foil shaver. With this type, there are typically three or four round heads that rotate and move independently of each other. The heads help to lift and catch facial hair and then cuts it inside the shaving head itself.
Given the rotating, circular nature of the shaving action with a rotary shaver, one doesn’t have only to shave in a straight line. Typically, each head is flexible and supported in a way that lets it contour to the face independent of the other 3-4 heads allowing for a smoother action and a closer cut. One can move the shaver around in any direction one likes to run over an area a second time or focus on the part of the face at a time.
Electric rotary blades are excellent for substantial growth, uneven hair growth, and an angular jawline. When needing precision for a goatee, a beard, a mustache, or just someone with sensitive skin may find the rough and ready nature of the rotary shaver less ideal for them, a foil shaver might be a better choice.
A beard clipper is a separate tool to keep the beard looking well-groomed and even. The distinction here is that if one wants an all-day, rough ‘n’ ready stubble look rather than an actual beard; in which case, buying some beard clippers like what a barber uses in the hairdressers is what to get.
Nose and ear hair clipper
For the person who finds they grow a fair amount of hair in their nose that pokes out or has hair growing along the sides, just inside or throughout the interior of their ears, then a nose and ear hair clipper is a good solution.
These tools tend to be long and slim, as opposed to more rectangular, which facilitates inserting the shaver inside even smaller size ears without any difficulties. There is a minor buzzing sound experienced during the trimming process, but it is not unpleasant.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing an Electric Razor
Electric razors save time over manual blades because there is no need to lather up first, check that every area has been perfectly shaved, etc. It is the modern way to deal with the daily chore of shaving to stay well-groomed and presentable for work and home life.
The choice of shaver product category is dictated initially by the objective of this personal care tool. Is there a need to have the ideal close shaver and sculpt a goatee perfectly every morning? Do you have a beard that requires careful trimming but doesn’t need to be perfectly presented daily? Does your facial hair grow roughly, unevenly and multi-directionally making it difficult to shave with a blade without cutting oneself?
All the above questions are perfectly valid and indicate whether one should be considering an electric foil shaver, a rotary electric shaver or a trimmer. A foil shaver suits someone with sensitive skin who needs a closer shave and to grow hair fairly evenly. A rotary shaver is a better choice for people who have angular faces, facial moles, substantial uneven facial hair growth, or who don’t wish to shave daily. With a trimmer, it’s all about maintaining what’s there rather than a complete overhaul or clean shave.
Getting the right purpose cuts down the field of shaving products that will suit your needs well.
Power – Rechargeable, Plugged-in, or Corded
Electric shavers work come with many power supply options.
There are electric travel shavers that run-on AA or AAA batteries to allow for shaving off the grid. Some shavers need a constant flow of electricity and plug into a shaver socket to get the juice they require.
Other shavers have rechargeable batteries built into their bodies which allow a certain amount of shaving time per charge before having to be turned off and recharged for several hours. With recharging time, the more expensive the model, the shorter the recharge time and quite likely the in-use time is greater too. Battery energy efficiency continues to improve in leaps and bounds making shavers lighter and operate longer on a single charge.
Wet or Dry
Some people prefer to shave while in the shower to get the skin moist first to avoid razor burn or simply to be efficient in the morning. Sufferers of acne or who have sensitive skin might also benefit from using a shaving cream or gel even though they’re using an electric razor.
Not every electric razor is designed to work with creams or liquids. Some will get clogged up when trying to do so and others it could be dangerous to try. What’s important is to look for a Wet/Dry shaver model when shopping for a razor as these are in their special category.
Given that liquids are being used with them, Wet/Dry shavers will not operate when they are being charged. Therefore, one must be careful to keep them charged up between uses.
Anyone who is new to using an electric razor, be aware that the pop-up trimmer that is included with most, but not all, electric shavers is necessary unless you have a beard with no plans to change.
Trimming down sideburns or making other adjustments requires a pop-up trimmer with the electric shaver model. Make sure it has one as cheaper models sometimes skip this feature entirely. A few shavers also come with beard trimmers as a free extra.
For anyone with sensitive skin, keeping the razor clean is as important for electric razors as it is for manual blades. It is all too easy to experience an infection from bacteria built up on the razor, so it’s important to clean it properly between uses.
Foil razors are faster and easier to clean than their rotary razor cousins. With rotary shavers, the heads need to be removed individually and cut hairs removed; then the shaving parts get reassembled.
The more expensive models now sometimes have self-cleaning features with adjustable settings for how heavy a cleaning cycle to put the shaver through. A few models at the very top end even disinfect the shaver too.
It is possible to walk around while shaving without having to always watch yourself in the mirror, unlike with a blade shaving experience. One of the main advantages of electric razors is their mobility.
The ability to move around the room while shaving is partly dependent on the type of electric shaver one buys. A corded model that doesn’t have an internal battery (or one with a small charging capacity) is very restrictive. Battery powered shavers are useful for short trips, but the batteries do run out quickly, and sometimes, at inconvenient times! They’re also not the most powerful models.
The ability for a reliable electric shaver to hold a good charge and run for 20-30+ minutes off the cord or away from the charging unit is what one should ideally look for.
How Price Affects Quality & Features
Good brands and a higher price do equate to a better shaving experience. The design of the body is more ergonomic with the pricier shavers. The battery is a greater capacity and likely to hold a charge longer before needing to replace the razor itself. Charging time is also considerably reduced with more expensive models that use the latest battery technology seen in fast-charging cell phones.
Charging units are a lovely addition to having to lay the shaver on a table-top and plug in the cord manually. Self-cleaning and Wet/Dry shave options also only come with the premium models.
A good electric shaver becomes an extension of your hand when holding it comfortably and moving fluidly with it. A model with soft contours is easier to hold for 10-15 minutes at a stretch when shaving after several days of not getting around to it.
The electric shaver body often outlasts the rotary blades that take most of the punishment. Individual rotaries get blunted or come apart and get lost. On occasion, the fittings that hold the multiple rotating blades in place can break through extended wear over the years. Replacement parts are available when buying a respected brand that’s been making and selling electric razors for decades.
Features of Electric Razors
Several key features are important to an electric shaver. Below is our rundown:
Whether looking for a foil shaver or a rotating shaver, both work on a similar principal of sharp cutting blades and rapid movement to cut hair.
The number of blades used within a foil shaver (indeed, whether the foil shaver has a single or dual foil system) and the number of rotating shaver heads with an electric shaver make a material difference on results. More blades, more precision.
The ability of shaver heads to be multi-directional is key to enabling the shaver to contour the face during the shaving process accurately. The stiffer the heads, the less close the shave will result leaving stubble in some places or clean-shaven in others.
In almost all cases now, battery power is supplied by lithium ion batteries. Sometimes travel razors use multiple AA or AAA batteries to power the razor, and these can also be rechargeable ones to reduce the cost of ownership.
A charging station is a base that plugs into the power supply. The owner just slots the shaver into the base holder, and the charging cycle begins. Indicators on the station confirm the level of charge present in the electric shaver at any given time.
With both foil and rotating electric shavers, it’s necessary to clean them on a regular basis. For the best results, cleaning between each shave is ideal, though time-consuming.
Some more expensive models include charging stations and a self-cleaning option with various levels of severity. The self-cleaning modes avoid the need to take apart the foil or rotating heads to manually clean out the hair that’s been caught, cut and is now clogging up the machine slowing down its operational efficiency. A self-lubricating and disinfecting mode is an option at the very top-end of the product ranges which often use alcohol as a cleaning base.
A few shavers are waterproof enough to press a single button to open them up and leave them running under the tap to clean out the hair without risk of eroding the battery or electronics.
A wet/dry shaving system is offered with a few models, usually the electric rotating shaver models.
With a few models, they handle faces that have shaving cream or an ointment already applied liberally without either clogging up or slowing down the shaving process. With other models, there is a place to add shaving lotion inside the shaver body which is then fed out near the shaving heads during the shave.
Depending on the model, there is often 2-3 modes for the speed of the rotation or vibrating blades. The different speed options are ideal for people who either wish to finish the shaving task in record time or who have sensitive skin and need to shave more careful.
A pop-up trimmer is a tool that most electric shavers include. The tool uses the vibrating action to help cut stray hairs, sideburns, mole hairs, and other elements that are tricky to trim or eliminate any other way.
Budget models don’t always include a pop-up trimmer or a decent one that won’t break easily. Without this type of trimmer tool, trimming sideburns to an acceptable level are nearly impossible when using a rotary electric shaver.
Some brands include a separate padded travel case to pack the shaver, spare parts and any lotions along with it. The quality and durability of the case usually dependent on the cost of the primary product.
Best Electric Razor Brands
There are only a few brands of electric razors which have been producing this type of product for decades. The following companies continue to innovate by bringing new products to market, with features like wet/dry shaving and alcohol-based cleaning modes.
Braun is a huge multi-national company that produces many consumer essentials for men and women. Among their products is a foil and rotary shaver range that begins with basic models and ends at the top of the heap with best-in-class features.
Philips has been making their electric rotary and foil electric shavers for decades. Many people trust the quality and durability of their rotary shavers with spare parts easy to order.
Panasonic isn’t as well known for their shavers as some of their other consumer goods product lines. Nonetheless, their shavers are selling well in the marketplace with a respected range of models and options available.
Remington as a brand that goes back decades with the original figurehead starring in his own TV advertising for many years. The company is the oldest producer of shaving products. Their products have continued to evolve over the years to keep up with both new technologies and changing market trends. They do particularly well with their budget models.
Wahl is a home products maker with a substantial range of shavers, beard trimmers, and ear trimmers for consumers. Their products cater not only for home users, but they also have a professional barber line, hair care for pets, and electric massagers too. A reliable brand and one to watch.
What Consumers Say
Some models are noisier than others. Cheaper shavers do tend to be louder than pricier models where more effort goes into both design and production quality.
Plastic Parts Do Break
With shavers that have many plastic parts, not all of them are that strong with budget models and tend to break more easily. It is usually possible to replace broken parts with new ones, but they will only be as durable as the initial part of that shaver model that it’s replacing.
The number of waves that the shaver generates has a significant impact on the success of the shaver. Top models vibrate 40,000 times every minute using sonic technology to help access every hair.
Cleaning Station Kits
The self-cleaning feature with docking stations requires replacement kits that contain the alcohol or other cleaning mixtures with premium models. Many of the kits only last about a month with regular cleaning, which adds ongoing costs to clean and disinfect the electric shaver on a regular basis.
Charging Time vs. Usage Time
With some rechargeable rotating shavers, they only offer 30 minutes of usage and require 8 hours of charging time. This ratio seems excessive but is only brought down by moving up the product range to models that offer reduced charging times through better battery technologies.
Won’t Operate While Still Charging
If you have plans to continue charging the shaver while using it, think again. Almost all products don’t allow you to shave while still charging it. As a result, it’s only possible to use the electric shaver when it already has a sufficient charge to rotate the blades fast enough for a close shave.