Why Electric Shavers?
Why would you want to buy an electric shaver when a razor could do the job of keeping your face, chin, and neck hair trimmed? The truth is that electric shavers offer a couple of important benefits:
Shave on the go. With a razor, you have to use soap and water and shave over a sink. With an electric razor, you can shave in your car, at your desk, or even standing in line at the supermarket. Battery-powered electric shavers are highly convenient and allow you to keep up with your grooming habits no matter where you are. Shaving is also much quicker with an electric shaver.
No cuts. Razor cuts are common, especially among men who shave in a hurry. However, with an electric shaver, you never need to worry about cuts and nicks. Even better, there's a very low risk of slicing pimples, skin bumps, and moles while shaving with an electric shaver. (Note: You can still get razor burn with electric shavers—in fact, some people insist that electric shavers INCREASE the risk of razor burn compared to regular razors.)
Less muss and fuss. To use a razor, you AT LEAST need water and a sink, not to mention the various soaps, lathers, foams, brushes, and other equipment required. With an electric shaver, however, you don't need anything else. It's just you and a shaver!
Five o'clock shadow. Electric shavers don't cut as close to the skin as a proper razor (straight edge or safety razor), so you get that stubbled five o'clock shadow look more easily. In fact, men who use electric razors develop the five o'clock shadow much earlier than men who use a razor.
As you can see, electric shavers have plenty of benefits to make them worth your time.
On the flip side, there is one main reason you may want to stick with a regular razor: you want a very close shave.
No electric razor will be able to offer you as close a shave as you'd get from a standard straight razor or safety razor. If you care more about trimming your facial hair as close to your skin as possible, electric shavers aren't your tool of choice.
Beard Trimmer vs. Electric Shaver
What is the difference between a beard trimmer and electric shaver? Simple:
A beard trimmer is designed to trim your beard hair, using a traditional buzzer/clipper design. Some trimmers will cut the hair as short as 0.5 to 1 mm in length, but it will never be a full shave.
An electric shaver is designed to slice your hair as close to the skin as possible, mimicking the action of a traditional razor. You will leave NO hair on your face when using an electric shaver.
Electric Shavers and Your Skin
One concern that many people have when using electric shavers is the potential irritation to their skin. Men with sensitive skin may end up developing red patches, rashes, or even razor burn when using electric shavers.
The truth is that your skin isn't accustomed to the friction and heat caused by electric shavers, so you're prone to irritation even if you don't have very sensitive skin. It's recommended that you give your skin 2-3 weeks to adjust to a new electric shaver. If the irritation still persists after the third week, you may want to return the shaver and try a different one.
When it comes to sensitive skin, it may be a good idea to try a foil shaver rather than a rotary shaver (see the differences in the next section). The foils are far less likely to irritate your skin or yank on your hair. However, you may find that rotary shavers do an efficient job without causing irritation. Test both types of razors to see which is the easiest on your sensitive skin.
Regardless of what type of razor you use, here is what you need in order to prevent damage to your skin:
- Sharp blades. The sharper the blade, the easier it will slice through hair. Dull blades can tug and pull on hairs, leading to an inefficient shave and greater friction/damage to your skin.
- Low heat. Electric shavers tend to produce a lot of heat, which can lead to irritation and damage to your skin. Low-heat shavers can reduce the risk of rashes or razor burn.
- Powerful motor. The higher the motor power, the faster the blades spin. A faster-spinning blade will slice through hair more efficiently and with far less pressure required.
- Wet/dry operation. To reduce irritation, it may be a good idea to shave using a soap, lather, cream, or gel. A wet/dry shaver is compatible with these liquids.
Rotary vs. Foil Shavers
There are two types of electric shavers currently available on the market:
Rotary shavers have round heads that feature spinning circular cutters. When you pass the shaver over your skin, the hairs sticking between the grooves in the cutters are sliced. There is a guard to protect your skin from being cut, at the same time lifting your facial hair and funneling it toward the clipper blades.
Most rotary shavers come with three heads, and their design tends to be more versatile and flexible—easily adapting to the contours of your face. Men with rough skin and thick, coarse beard hair should consider using rotary shavers.
Foil shavers have two or more thin, curved metal foils over a set of cutting blades. The foils help to lift the hair and push it through the holes in the metal toward the cutting blades to be sliced. The foils don't move, but the cutting blade (block) moves back and forth to slice the hair.
Foil shavers usually have two foils and a single cutting block, but some are designed with three foils. Men with sensitive, delicate skin and finer facial hair are better off with a foil shaver due to the reduced friction and irritation. There is less risk of razor burn and rashes when using foil shavers.
Electric Shaver Features to Consider
When shopping for your electric shaver, here are some of the most important features to look for:
Power source – Battery-powered shavers are more portable, therefore more convenient. However, they often lack the potency of corded shavers. Many of the modern shavers come with their own built-in rechargeable battery pack, but can also be plugged into wall power while you shave. These are the best choice, as they tend to have the longest battery life—both in terms of minutes per shave and number of recharges before the battery dies.
Charger – Whether your shaver uses regular rechargeable batteries or a built-in battery pack, you need to consider how long it takes to charge. Some can charge to full power in as little time as 45 to 55 minutes, while others take up to 10 or 12 hours for a full charge.
Wet or Dry – All electric shavers are built for dry shaving, but some can also be used for "wet shaving"—meaning with soap, water, lather, foam, or gel. A wet/dry shaver is very handy and worth paying a few more dollars for!
Low battery warning – This is a handy feature for battery-powered shavers, as the warning light, flashing LED light, or beep will let you know the shaver needs to be plugged in to recharge.
Auto shut-off – This isn't a feature to use while shaving, but while charging. If Lithium-Ion batteries get too hot, they could burn out. The automatic shut-off prevents the battery from overheating once it's fully charged.
Trimmer – Some electric shavers come with a pop-out trimmer included, or a built-in clipper/buzzer on the reverse end. This offers you the ability to tidy up your facial hair without the need to buy a separate beard trimmer.
Ease of cleaning – All shavers come with cleaning brushes, but it can be challenging to brush the little hairs out of the foils or rotary heads. The best shavers can be disassembled for easy cleaning, or some waterproof shavers can actually be washed under running water for maximum convenience. A few even have their own self-cleaning system that runs sanitizing liquid through the shaver blades to both lubricate and clean them.
How to Use an Electric Shaver
Using an electric shaver isn't like using a safety razor or straight razor. You have to approach the shaving process in its own unique way. Here's a step-by-step guide to shaving with an electric shaver:
Step 1: Wash your face. Use warm water, or take a hot shower. The heat will soften your facial hair, making it easier to slice through. A gentle cleanser or exfoliating cream will help to get rid of any dirt and grime that would prevent a close shave. If you're using a dry shaver, make sure you have thoroughly dried your face before moving on to the next step.
Step 2: Use a pre-shave cream, lotion, or gel. Alcohol-based pre-shave products help to remove any last traces of dirt and excess skin oil, and can help your facial hair stand up for easier shaving. Plus, they often contain nutrients like Vitamin E to protect your skin and reduce the risk of irritation/razor burn.
Step 3: Use the right technique. For foil shavers, you'll use long, straight, smooth strokes and carve through large swathes of hair at a time. For rotary shavers, you'll shave using smaller circular motions. If you're using a rotary shaver, be careful not to go over the same patches of skin too often—it could lead to irritation and razor burn.
Step 4: Shave against the grain, and follow the contours. Run your hand along your jawline, cheeks, chin, and neck to find the direction your hair is growing, and go AGAINST the grain for the closest possible shave. Make sure to follow the contours of your neck, jawbone, mouth, and lips. Rotary heads are more flexible, making them more effective than foil shavers at hitting those hard-to-reach spots. Make sure to pull the skin of your neck tight to give the shaver a flat, smooth surface to work with.
Step 5: Work from top to bottom. Start at your sideburns, the highest part of your face to shave. Work your way down one cheek at a time, trimming along the jaw, then move to the upper lip, around the mouth, and down the chin. Finish with your neck.
Note: If you have sensitive skin, you may want to start with your neck while the shaver is still cool. Shavers generate a lot of heat, which could irritate your skin.
Step 6: Rinse and repeat if necessary. Once you've finished the shaving, rinse your face with warm water. This will help to eliminate any remaining traces of shaving cream and wash away hairs stuck to your skin. Take a close look in the mirror. If there are any patches you missed, apply the shaver once more.
Step 7: Clean the shaver, dry, and store. After shaving, use the brush to clean out any hairs from the foils or rotary heads. Dismantle the shaver and give it a thorough cleaning. Make sure all the metallic parts are dry and well-oiled before returning the shaver to its charging dock or storage case.
- Always shave when your battery is at 100% charge. A full battery means more power to set those rotary and foil blades slicing.
- Shave at the right angle. For foil shavers, tilt the shaver at a right angle to your face. This will promote maximum contact with your skin, leading to more efficient shaving.
- Replace your blades as needed. Sharper blades are far more efficient at slicing hair without tugging or pulling.
- Clean and lubricate the shaver with every use. It extends the shaver's lifespan and keeps it running better.
- Shave regularly. Electric shavers work best on short hair, but will get caught or jammed with longer beard hair. Try to shave every 1-3 days for best results.