Electric Shaver vs Razor | A 7 Step Guide in Determining Which Will Work for Your Morning Routine

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Bzzz, bzzzz.

It’s 7:00 am and you’re rushing for work.

You run to the bathroom and need to start shaving. Up until now, you have been using the Gillette Pro Fusion blade forever.

Let’s not get started on the cartridge; sure it says you should use a new one every week, but let’s be real–that thing is about three weeks past its prime.

Slosh on some shaving cream and you start hacking away at your face trying to go as quickly as possible while still keeping your nose attached to your face.

Then that awful feeling hits you like a sack of bricks…

…razor burn is starting to kick in.  Your neck feels like it’s about to go up in flames.

Basically you are feeling how this guy looks at the moment:

Razor Burn on Neck

You tell yourself, “That’s it! I am not putting up with this anymore.”

So here we are:

At the junction of deciding that you no longer want to put up with a crappy disposable razor and where to go next.

What do you decide between an electric shaver (like the latest and greatest on the market) or a razor?

What about the prices of them?

Do a bit of traveling and need one that will also be great to last while you’re on the road?  Great we will have all of that and more covered.

In addition we will also have a comparison of the best electric shavers vs razors (there are different types of razors – however we are focusing on the double edge safety razor).

So let’s get started…

1.  Electric Shaver vs Razor : Beginner’s Guide to Electric Shavers

There is much debate between electric shavers and double edge safety razors.

Before we deep dive into it, in our comparison I will give you a bit of history on how we got to where we are today.

Trust me, it’s important:

The first battery powered electric shaver was first introduced in the 1960s.  With it, of course, gave more options for men to shave with.

As seen below, the number one selling points for these electric shavers was the ability to shave for once without shaving cream, and also the close shave:



While we have come a long way over the past 100 years, when you really think about it, since the 1960s we haven’t changed that much at all.

What’s responsible for the stagnant evolution in razor blades?  Well, to be honest, cartridges are super profitable.

You literally buy an overpriced blade that you end up throwing out within a week’s time.  Great for the companies but not so much for you as the consumer.

Well, guess what?

That’s all about to change.

I mean, come on, who is made of money?  Honestly?  If it grew on trees, you wouldn’t be doing your research to figure out what one would work best for you.

So let’s take a look at them a bit more in detail.

First off, the electric shaver.  You see, there are a few really big players in the field, namely Norelco, Braun, and Panasonic.

In addition to the big players, there are two different types of electric shavers: foil and rotary.

So what’s the difference between foil and rotary?

It’s all about the cutting motion.

You see, a foil shaver works in an oscillating manner (like that of a desk fan going back and forth).

So therefore, when you are shaving with one, you have to go in an up and down pattern.

Foil Electric Shaver

Contrary to that is a rotary head shaver which works like a weedwhacker spinning around incredibly fast (in the neighborhood of 15,000 RPM!).

Also different from the foil head compared to that of a rotary shaver is that you go in a circular manner when shaving.

Rotary Electric Shaver

So those are the two main differential points with an electric shaver.

Now on to the double edge safety razor…

2.  Electric Shaver vs Razor: Beginner’s Guide to the Old Fashioned Double Edge Razor

So you may have been hearing about these more so as of late. They have certainly started to get a bit more popular due to the sheer affordability that they give.

You see, the double edge razor is the midpoint in regards to the history of the razor blade.

First men were donned with a single edge razor:

Single Blade Razor

Then the double edge razor came along with the first patent submitted in 1901 by King Camp Gillette:

Original Patent Double Edge Safety Razor


The patent was eventually approved in 1904.  Once mass-produced, men began to use safety razors instead of their straight razors. 

To help hasten the adoption of this new razor, the safety razor was a standard-issue grooming tool for Word War I troops.  Pretty neat!

Old gillette ad


Here is an actual set from World War I:

World War 1 Double Edge Safety Razor


Of course, with the razors going into the hands of so many men, long after the war they became the de facto tool for men when shaving, easily beating out the older single blade razor.

Here’s the deal:

With the replaceable blades that you can get at a super cheap price (which we will talk about in just a bit), men loved these things.

In addition, they were providing a tremendously close shave!

So where is this going?  Well, let’s compare it to the electric shaver to find out!

3. Electric Shaver vs Razor – How Much Will That Cost?


You see, when you purchase an electric shaver OR a double edge safety razor, you can actually pretty much buy it for quite the extended period of time.

In fact:

An electric shaver on average will last about 20 years.

On the other hand, the double edge safety razor will last for life.

So you can take the average lifespan into your decision making process, but the amount of weight it is given is relatively low.

So to break out the price comparison, you can get a great electric shaver for about $200.

In particular, if you go with this one from Braun, you not only get the ability to wet/dry shave but also enjoy the benefits of self-cleaning.

If we were to take a look at the long term costs of the electric shaver, you would have the base price of $200 plus new blades every 18 months (about $20 give or take).

The long term costs of ownership would be about $25 annually.

So it’s really not bad.

When you put that in comparison, the refill for a cartridge based razor is $20 for just a month’s supply.

For the double edge safety razor, on the other hand, if we look at the cost of ownership strictly for the blade itself without any of the shaving cream, shaving stand, etc., it works out as the following:

$30 for the handle (one time cost) + $8.5/yr for blades.

The double edge safety razor when compared to the electric shaver will be about $15 cheaper annually.

So here’s the deal:

When you compare an electric shaver vs. razor based on costs alone, they really aren’t that far apart from each other and shouldn’t be a huge factor in your purchasing decision.

How else can you tell them apart?  Convenience, of course!

4. Electric Shaver vs Razor – A Tale of Two Mornings

As we go through our morning routine, there is one thing that we have to consider when trying to decide which type of razor we want to apply to our face.

And it boils down to this:

How much time do you have?

An electric shaver will be the pound for pound champ when up against a double edge safety razor for speed.

There’s simply no comparison.  As much as the benefits of a double edge safety razor may be,  you cannot rush the process.

If there is ever an achilles heel in the electric shaver when it comes to the morning, it’s this:

Dead battery.

No one wants to ever experience that, especially when they are halfway done with their shave:

dead electric shaver

Yeah you definitely don’t want to be that guy at the office with half of their face shaved.  So make sure you get one with a dock.

You’ll be saving yourself the headache in the morning.

It’s Important to note, however, that most electric shavers nowadays can sit on the charger for no more than 5 minutes and be able to supply sufficient battery life in order for you to complete your morning routine.

While some may quip that a double edge safety razor isn’t that far behind on time, it’s worth noting how experienced they may be.

You see, when you start using a double edge safety razor, you will inadvertently nick yourself quite a few times.

Sure, there are definitely some men that can get it hammered away pretty quickly.  I’m not doubting that at all.

But what I AM saying is that it’s a skill that does require some getting used to.

However though, once you do get used to it, the benefits derived are tremendous!

Which gets us to our next point–the actual shave!

5.  Electric Shaver vs Razor: Testing What they are Designed to Do – Give a Close Shave

Of course, we couldn’t go the entire post and not actually speak to the actual shave!

When using electric shavers, you have two options as we discussed in section 1.

You have the foil or rotary head, remember?

In order to get the closest shave possible with an electric shaver, you want to go with a foil head.

Here’s the kicker:

In order to get that close shave, you do have to make a sacrifice.

The rotary head of an electric shaver does typically get closer around the nose and chin areas given its ability to pivot and tilt.

However, in order to compensate for that, you may need to go over your nose or chin a few times more with a foil-based razor in order to get the close shave.

Electric Shaver - Foil Head

In order to get an electric shave even closer, make sure you go for a foil-based shaver that can also be used in a wet shave environment.

You see, when you use a wet shave, the hair follicles thicken up and give your shaver a much cleaner cut of the hair.

However, if time is of the essence and you don’t have to report to your drill sergeant so they can inspect how close your shave is, you can skip the shaving cream altogether.

With that being said, you cannot, of course, skip the shaving cream with a double edge safety razor.

In fact, just the opposite.

If you plan on using a double edge razor, you’re going to want to make sure you invest in a decent shaving cream (not your typical Gillette or Edge creams).

Double Edge Safety Razor with Shaving Cream

You’re going to want to get a cream that gives a good padding and absorbs deep into the follicles so you get a nice close shave.

The last thing you need is to be cutting your face up to bits and pieces because you decided to save $2 on shaving cream.

Seriously, check out some decent creams if you’re investing in a double edge safety razor.

Now, on to the shave:

With a double edge safety razor, there is no comparison to closeness of shave.

If closeness is your utmost priority above all else, then you will want to get a double edge safety razor.

The double edge safety razor was so good before that they had to make a subpar replacement with the cartridge based razors just so they could improve their profit margins.

However, you just have to bear in mind the time that you will incur on a daily basis and, of course, travel restrictions…

6. Electric Shaver vs Razor: Which One Has Better Portability

With the tragedy that was 9/11, air travel has changed dramatically.

In fact, still to this day, razors are not allowed on the plane.  So if you plan on traveling for work and want to take your double edge safety razor, you’re going to have to check it.

However, if you’re the jetsetting professional that has a meeting next week in a different city or country…

…go with the electric shaver.

There will be no hassles with security when traveling with one of these.

7. Electric Shaver vs Razor: Which One To Go With

As you can see, electric shavers and razors have evolved over time and both come with their advantages and disadvantages.

With that being said, here are recommendations on the following electric shavers and razor:

RotaryFoilDouble Edge Safety Razor
ModelPhilips Norelco (1150X/46) Shaver 6100Braun Series 7- 790ccMerkur Long Handled Safety Razor
Our Rating4.55.04.0
Important NotesAdjusts to every curve, fast charge, not self cleaning.Cleans, charges, dries, lubricates.Chrome finish, long handle if you have bigger hands.
Important NotesWet or dry shaveWet or dry shaveWet shave only
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About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

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