Man in a hurry? Got problem skin? Or maybe you simply fancy an alternative to expensive blades and a messy washbasin?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then it’s probably time you went electric. Practical, stylish and a sound investment (as long as you look after them properly), electric shavers are the ultimate grooming tool.
But which model should you reach for, and how do you get the most out of your shaver once you’ve opened the box and charged it up? Here’s a neatly trimmed guide on what you should know.
Electric Shaving: The Pros And Cons
In the same way wet shaving has its advantages (super-smooth results) and disadvantages (nicks, cuts and a plughole blocked with stubble), electric shaving has its pros and cons too:
Today’s electric shavers are designed to deliver the closest of shaves with the minimum of fuss, mess and irritation. Due to the fact that they get the job done with fewer passes and the blades never come into direct contact with the skin, electric shavers are a good option for guys with sensitive or blemish-prone skin and – since traditional razor blades prefer shavers with smoother complexions – older guys whose skin may be a little craggier too.
Electric shavers don’t slice hairs below the surface of the skin like blades either. Instead, they push the skin up ahead of the cutters to raise the hairs, meaning the risk of painful ingrown hairs is minimised.
What’s more, they’re safe and fast, virtually no prep is required and – because you don’t need water to use them – they’re perfect for on-the-go-grooming.
As with all high-tech grooming gadgets, an electric shaver means a significant initial investment – although entry-level options can often be picked up for under £50 and high-end models are frequently discounted.
Regardless of how much you spend, don’t expect your shave to be quite as close as with a regular razor and remember that electric models require maintenance and only work when sufficiently charged (if you’ve ever owned an electric toothbrush, you’ll know how easy it is to forget to charge them).
Foil Or Rotary?
Electric shavers come in two forms: foil and rotary. Both deliver great results but there are subtle differences between them and it’s worth bearing these in mind when deciding which type of shaver to go for:
These feature horizontal blades protected by a flexible, perforated foil which captures hairs in its tiny slots so they can be cleanly sliced by the blades. They’re great if you have soft or fine stubble, shave every day, or have a facial hair style to navigate.
They’re simple to use (you shave using a straightforward back and forth motion) and are ideal for guys who shave daily and want exceptionally close results. This ease of use also means they’re perfect for younger guys getting to grips with shaving and electric newbies.
Rotary fans will argue until their dying breath about which type is better but, of the two, foil shavers are generally thought to produce the closer shave.
As the name implies, rotary shavers consist of two or three separate rotating heads. These are designed to capture hairs growing in different directions and to hug the contours of the face.
They’re especially good at dealing with longer, tougher hairs and are ideal if you prefer to alternate between being clean-shaven and sporting stubble.
If you’re looking for a rotary shaver that goes the extra mile, then try the Philips Series 9000 shaver, which also features a facial cleansing brush head and a trimmer, making it the ultimate grooming tool.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Shaver
Much like learning to drive, using an electric shaver takes a little practice. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of yours:
Take The Heat Out Of Your Shave
Since shavers can generate heat as they go to work (and heat can irritate sensitive skin), it’s best to shave sensitive parts of your face first to avoid any discomfort or irritation.
That means starting with the neck and the area around the jawbone when the shaver is coolest and then moving on to the chin and upper lip where the skin is less sensitive.
Stretch The Skin
For super-smooth results, gently stretch the skin you’re about to shave with your fingertips. This will ensure that the stubble lifts off the skin, making it easier to cut, and will also enable you to get to those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
Take The Pressure Off
The whole point of electric shavers is that they should do all the work for you. For best results, don’t press yours too hard against the skin. Apply with gentle but even pressure, ensuring constant contact with the skin.
Use The Right Prep
Ideally, stubble needs to be stiff, dry and grease-free when using an electric shaver – and the best product to help achieve this is a pre-shave one like Lab Series’ Electric Shave Solution.
The advent of wet and dry shavers like Braun’s Series 3 380s means these kinds of solutions aren’t always necessary, but they still help if you’re dry shaving. Never use shavers with shaving oils though – they play havoc with your shaver’s blades.
Perfect Your Technique
How you use your shaver depends on whether it’s a foil or a rotary. If using a foil shaver, stick to sweeping back and forth motions to remove the hair; or if using a rotary shaver, shave using gentle circular motions.
Keep Things Clean
Modern shavers are designed to be as low-maintenance as possible but you do need to do some cleaning to keep the blades free of skin flakes and stubble.
To get the most out of your shaver, follow the cleaning instructions or, if you’re time poor/lazy, pay a little extra and get one like the Philips S9031 Shaver, which comes with its own ‘Smartclean’ cleaning unit.
As previously mentioned, unlike traditional razor blades, electric shavers don’t remove a layer or two of skin as they go to work and therefore won’t nick or cut – so you don’t necessarily need to apply a post-shave product.
However, it’s always a good idea to finish off your shave with a moisturiser or, if you have sensitive skin, a post-shave balm, to ensure skin remains supple and hydrated.
Since electric shaving doesn’t exfoliate skin in the same way as wet shaving, it’s also a good idea to use a face scrub twice weekly to remove any dead skin cells and keep skin bright and healthy-looking.
Keep In Trim
Many shavers (like Braun’s 340 Wet and Dry Shaver) are designed to deal with slightly longer stubble (the kind of stuff you get if you haven’t shaven all weekend). But if you’re switching from a beard to being clean-shaven, or have more than three day’s growth to tend to, it’s worth trimming stubble back with a beard trimmer before using your electric shaver.
Or, try a shaver like Remington’s Hyperflex Verso Rotary Shaver, which has a special beard trimming attachment.
Protect Your Assets
As with most gadgets, electric shavers have parts that require replacing occasionally. Check the instructions of your particular model for maintenance instructions but expect to replace the foil and cutter heads on a foil shaver and the heads on a rotary shaver every 18-24 months depending on use.
If you really love your particular model, however, it’s worth buying a couple of replacement heads at once as they have a nasty habit of being discontinued after a few years.
Since shavers work in a different way to razor blades, your skin needs time (often up to a fortnight) to adapt to the new cutting technique if you’re making the transition from a traditional clean shave to electric shaving
Use the shaver regularly and resist the temptation to swap between wet and electric shaving or you’ll just confuse your skin. Minor irritation in this crossover period is totally normal so don’t be put off – be patient and carry on shaving.
Are you a fan of electric? Got a favourite shaver you swear by or some tips on getting the most out of one?
Let us know using the comments box below.