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Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.

I’ve never used an electric shaver myself and must admit I was under the illusion that they’re slightly outdated and basically hair trimmers you use on your face.

Turns out I was wrong on both counts!

Electric shavers provide a convenient way to get a decent shave or even a great shave if you have the right tools and technique down.

Read on for everything a complete beginner would need to know about electric shavers; how they work, which type to choose, how to use it, some tips and a list of pros and cons.

I thought i’d start this post with the pros and cons so you can ascertain whether an electric shaver is something that you need or want to use.


  • They’re quick. Electric shavers pull up hairs before shaving so you get a thorough shave very quickly.
  • They’re easy. Possibly the biggest draw is that you don’t need any water, shaving cream, soaps or gels to use an electric razor. All you need is a power source and maybe a mirror. I can imagine this being pretty useful if you’re travelling with minimal luxuries or simply like to have as little fuss as possible when it comes to shaving.
  • They’re less irritating. Any kind of shaving can be non irritating as long as you have the proper technique. However electric shavers are probably the easiest and best shaving tools when it comes to avoiding the common problems of wet shaving like irritation, cuts and ingrown hairs.
  • Initial cost is more expensive but cheaper long-term. Other than buying the the actual shaver, the most you’ll need to do after that is replace the foils of the razor (more on those below) once a year. I have it on good authority that this works out cheaper than wet shaving in the long term because you’re not continually replacing bits.


  • The shave isn’t as close. As good as your electric razor is, it’s not going to be able to replicate the ultra smooth finish of a wet shave.
  • There’s a learning curve. You do have to get used to one of these before you feel out a way to use it properly but I guess that counts for any shaving method.
  • They’re loud. This one’s self explanatory, not great if your bathroom happens to be close to a sleeping person.
  • They run on electricity. This means your razor might die mid-shave if you haven’t charged it or replaced the batteries.
  • Maintenance. You have to keep this sucker clean and pay attention to its components far more than a regular razor.

Assuming the pros outweigh the cons for you, as it does for the millions of loyal electric shavers, there are two types of electric shavers for you to choose from:

Foil on the left and Rotary on the right.
  • Foil: These are the classic electric razors and look like a smooth roll of metal. They partially pluck out each hair which the razor section then cuts – the snipped hair then retracts back into your skin and is no longer visible from the outside. Sounds slightly painful but it’s not in the slightest.
  • Rotary : These are the ‘newer’ ones and they operate very similarly to foil razors except they have a different honey-comb layout.

Between the two, it is generally accepted that the foil razors give a much closer shave, they grip the hair better and shave closer. The only benefits the Rotary has over the Foil is that it’s easier to work around corners/your neck and it’s better at shaving longer facial hair – more on that later.

So, you’ve decided to buy an electric razor and you’ve settled on the type too – here are some important things to note.

Well, this guy seems to be pretty thrilled with electric shaving – right?
  • Foil razors are much more effective when they’re cutting short hair and might even yank out facial hair that’s too long. This shouldn’t be a problem if you shave regularly but it can be if you go for stretches where you allow your facial hair grow past short stubble. If you don’t shave frequently, you’ll probably be better off with a Rotary razor which handles longer facial hair very well.
  • Further to the previous point, keep your razor away from any longer hair on your head. If it catches a long hair it will yank it out.
  • Try to give your shaver a good clean after every few shaves. Every 4 to 6 weeks you’ll want to give it a more thorough clean, brushing out the blades and getting rid of any build up there. Most electric shavers come with cleaning instructions or even self-cleaning docks.
  • An electric razor shouldn’t cut your skin! If you’re bleeding you’re doing it wrong. Either your blades are knackered (‘worn out’ to you non-Brits) or you’re applying too much pressure. Figure out which one it is before you continue.
  • Check the foil of your razor after every shave for holes. Holes in the foil, though uncommon, can happen and they’ll give you a nice painful cut if you try shaving with one.
  • Replace your foils once a year.
  • Skin that’s used to manual shaving needs time to adapt to this new method of shaving so give it at least 2 weeks of use before you make a decision.
Now that you’re well and truly clued up on electric shavers, how can you use one to get the closest shave possible?

Guess i’m the only one who doesn’t grin whilst he shaves? Check those teeth!
Shaving methods with electric shavers tend to differ as much as wet shaving methods do. However here are some tips to get you started on your first dry shave:
  1. Prior to shaving you ideally need to wash your face with warm water and a cleanser to soften up the hairs and remove excess oil on your skin.
  2. Next you need to make the surface completely dry. If you need help on that front try using an alcohol-based toner like the Clinique Scruffing Lotion or a bit of baby powder to dry out the surface and get the hairs ready to be shaved.
  3. Now because electric shaving isn’t as close or as irritating as wet shaving, most people can easily shave against the grain when using out. Simple pull your skin slightly taught and drag the shaver across your skin with the other hand. If you’re using a rotary shave you want to use circular motions to ‘buff’ the razor against your skin rather than simply gliding it against the grain.
  4. Dry shaving is very convenient but it also means you need to be diligent with your post-shave routine. Make sure to apply a nice post shave treatment and a light moisturiser afterwards.

And what about the electric shavers you can use wet or the ones that contain moisturiser cartridges?
Well a glance through a few expert opinions would suggest that they don’t work as well as dry shaving. An electric shaver is best used on dry skin, preferably post-shower so that the hairs are nice and soft. However, wet shaving with an electric razor is the best method to use if you have sensitive skin. Which one applies best to you is your own choice. If you’re shaving wet with an electric shaver you want to follow a similar routine to the one you use to manually shave.

And that’s it, your beginners guide to electric shavers!

Hopefully that’s enough information to get you started with electric razors. Since I haven’t used one (yet!) I can’t recommend a particular model but the general consensus seems to be that Braun makes some of the best Foil-type razors and Philips does best with Rotary ones. I’ll be testing out electric shavers and posting reviews in the future so stay tuned for that!

Do you use or have you considered using an electric shaver? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
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Comments (2)

  1. jonny4 Sunday - 25 / 04 / 2010 Reply
    Another awesome guide. I am really interested in electric shavers now. I have very little facial hair and I currently wet shave only. Would an electric shaver be more suitable for me ?

    More guides please !
  2. The Razor Man Friday - 07 / 01 / 2011 Reply
    Great post, thank you. I a huge fan of the electric razor. They're much more convenient, and I love that I can use my wet-dry in the shower. It seems to save me more time in the morning. I also prefer foil over rotary heads as the foil seems to give a closer shave and less irritation - for me anyway. Electric razors rock! What more could you ask for? No facial hair, I suppose. Regards, The Razor Man

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Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.
Electric shavers: A guide for beginners.

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