The Pros & Cons of Electric Shavers

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The electric shaver isn’t for everyone.  However, there are some significant advantages that the electric shaver has over other types of razors.

Below, we will provide you with an objective overview of the key benefits and drawbacks of the electric shaver so you can determine if this is the right shaving tool for you.

Let’s begin.

Key Benefits

Electric shavers enjoy several benefits.  Here are the most notable advantages you should know about:

1. Speed

One of the most significant advantages that electric shavers enjoy over manual razors is speed.  Without the requirement of shaving cream or facial hair preparation, you can get smooth results in only a few minutes.

Should you be constantly short on time in the morning or simply don’t seek out a barbershop-like shave experience, you will find the electric shaver a good choice.

2. Learning Curve

Anyone can pick up an electric shaver and master it in only a few attempts.  For effective use, hold the razor perpendicular to the skin’s surface and shave against the grain – simple as that.  

3. Price

As we recently researched, electric shavers are significantly more expensive than manual razors upfrontHowever, electric shavers do enjoy lower long-term costs, especially when compared to cartridge razors.  

Here’s a breakdown of our analysis::

Initial Investment

On average, foil electric shavers cost $104, and rotary shavers cost $74:

Average Price of an Electric Shaver by Type

Despite the higher average cost for the device, you can find quality models for as little as $40.

Long Term Costs

You should replace the cutting head on electric shavers once every 12 months.  Replacement heads, on average, cost approximately $40.  When taking this into account, you can expect to pay the following costs over five years:

Initial Investment Costs + Long Term Costs

Note: The cutting head on electric shavers won’t require replacement until year two, hence the $0 costs associated with year one of ownership.

Here’s the supporting data:

Razor TypeInitial CostYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5Total
Safety Razor – Feather Blades$74.00$27.74$27.74$27.74$27.74$27.74$212.70
Safety Razor – Derby Blades$74.00$8.76$8.76$8.76$8.76$8.76$117.80
Cartridge Razor – Fusion5$10.00$91.25$91.25$91.25$91.25$91.25$466.25
Cartridge Razor – Mach3$8.50$68.44$68.44$68.44$68.44$68.44$350.69
Electric Shaver – Foil$104.00$0.00$44.00$44.00$44.00$44.00$280.00
Electric Shaver – Rotary$74.00$0.00$35.00$35.00$35.00$35.00$214.00

As you learned in the data above, electric shavers are a budget-friendly option when compared to modern cartridge razors.  

4. Wet & Dry Shaving

Many electric shavers, even baseline models, are capable of wet or dry shaving.  Wet shaving simply means that you can use the electric shaver with or without shaving cream.  However, most men prefer dry shaving when it comes to an electric shaver.

Wet shaving with an electric shaver may increase comfort as a well-made shaving cream can soften facial hair and help the skin to retain moisture.

Additionally, electric shavers capable of wet shaving may be waterproof; this makes it easy to clean the device regularly.  

5. Battery

Many electric shavers now rely on a modern Lithium-Ion battery.  This extends the battery life with an average running time of 45+ minutes – which should last for several weeks before needing a recharge.

Additionally, many models also offer quick charging.  Should your battery be dead, simply set it on the charger for only five minutes, and there should be more than enough power to get you through a single shave.

Note: Some cheap electric shavers may use NiMH batteries.  These batteries require several hours of charging for only a short run time (ex: 4+ hour charge for 20+ minutes run time).  It’s best to avoid this type of electric shaver.

6. Travel-Friendly

Whether traveling via plane or heading to your gym, the electric shaver makes for an excellent travel companion.  There is no reliance on shaving cream, so TSA-enforced container sizes aren’t a problem, and a single charge should be more than enough for your entire trip.

Select models come with a travel-lock option to prevent the device from accidentally turning on while in your luggage.  

7. Safer Than a Razor

With the cutting blade set behind a mesh grate, electric shavers make it nearly impossible for you to cut yourself accidentally.  Whether you are just learning to shave for the first time in your life or simply don’t like the idea of dragging a razor across your skin, the electric shaver can provide a safer alternative.

8. Shower Shaving

Waterproof electric shavers are capable of being used in the shower.  This allows for a more efficient shaving routine. Additionally, your skin will be more pliable, and the facial hair will be softer, which may lead to more comfortable results.

9. Cleaner Cutting Head

Cartridge razors are susceptible to holding onto dead skin and debris after you have finished shaving.  The bacterial growth trapped in the crevices of the blades may cause mild skin irritation for some men.  High-end electric shavers have cleaning stations that sanitize the razor head with alcohol after every use.  It is a more sanitary alternative to a used razor blade.

10. Safe Disposal of Razor Blades

Cartridge and safety razor blades must be disposed of properly for safety and sanitary reasons.  Electric shavers are not as likely to put yourself or others at risk when disposed of or recycled.  Regardless, always follow local regulations when disposing of electric shaver heads.

11. Razor Bumps (Ingrown Hairs)

Given that electric shavers do not experience the hysteresis (lift-and-cut) phenomenon, razor bumps are less likely to occur.  This is especially welcomed if you have naturally curly facial hair.

Limitations

Electric shavers do have some notable drawbacks.  Here are a few of the more common ones you should be aware of:

1. Skin Irritation & Hair Pulling

A common complaint about electric shavers is that they may pull hair or cause skin irritation.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to identify the primary reason for this as there are a few variables at play when shaving, such as the following:

  • Facial hair thickness
  • Facial hair density
  • The sharpness of the razor blades
  • Improper use
  • The speed at which the razor blades move in the device
  • The speed at which the device is moved along the shaving surface

To counteract some of the above reasons, take your time and be sure to change the blade once a year.  Electric shavers should be passed against the grain and held at a 90° angle against the skin.

Unfortunately, some electric shavers just don’t work well for some men; if you find that to be the case, then simply return the razor and get your money back.

2. Body Grooming

Electric shavers are intended for facial hair use only.  Using a shaver elsewhere on the body may cause irritation.  The reason behind this is that body hair is often longer and thicker.  If adventurous, try on a small area and see if you are happy with the results.

Unlike a body grooming device, electric shavers are designed to cut all the hair clean off.  So if you like to have some stubble, your options are limited.

3. Skin Type

Oily skin may be a problem if you are thinking about buying an electric shaver.  Whether a foil or rotary head, the device will spread around surface oils – which may cause shaving acne.  Cleaning stations for select models can combat this downside.  Having an electric shaver that is waterproof will also allow you to clean the device thoroughly after each use.

4. Navigation

The foil electric shaver, in particular, cannot navigate the contour of the face as well as a rotary shaver or cartridge razor.  This may lead to some missed areas that require repeated shaving.  

5. Smooth Results

The electric shaver cannot provide as smooth of results when compared to a manual razor as the blade is never in direct contact with the skin.  Of the two, a foil shaver can provide closer results when compared to a rotary shaver.

Know the Differences Between Foil & Rotary Shavers

Foil and rotary shavers provide a different shaving experience.  To learn more about these two devices, check out our head-to-head guide, where we compare foil and rotary shavers.

Conclusion

We hope that the above information provided you with a better understanding of electric shavers and if one should be added to your grooming routine.  Be sure to come back and check out our other expert advice here on the Tools of Men website.