Hello and welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to choose the right shaver for you.
A shaver can be a big investment, not only in money, but in time as well.
Why time? Do you shave most days of the week? How long does it take? If you could do it 50% faster, how much time would that add up to each week? Or each month, each year?
That’s the difference the right shaver can make. But why do we make the point about it being right for you. Imagine, (or maybe something similar has happened already):
You tell your neighbor, Harry, you’re looking for a new shaver, and ask what he uses. Harry gets real excited. He’s so glad you asked, because the $300 electric shaver his wife bought as a birthday present is amazing. He’s never had such a smooth shave, and so fast!
Well, it’s hard to go past a recommendation like that. So, taking a deep breath you plunk down $300 at the local big box store and try out your fancy new shaver.
And it’s the worst. It makes your neck hurt. It doesn’t shave very close. Maybe it woke up everyone in the house when you used it early the next day.
Then Harry asks how you’re going with the new shaver. Now things get awkward…
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. Why would a shaver work so well for one guy, and terribly for another?
Let’s take a look at some of the factors that go into choosing your electric shaver.
Foil vs Rotary
Out of the thousands of electric shavers being promoted on the market, there’s really only two kinds: foil and rotary.
Here’s a diagram of the business end of a foil shaver:
As you can see it has a thin piece of metal full of holes, this is the foil. The foil covers the shaver’s blade, which wobbles back and forth beneath the foil. You hold the foil against your skin, your whiskers poke through the holes, and the blade chops them off. Simple!
A rotary shaver is a little more complicated than a foil shaver, but not that much:
As you can see, the idea is similar to the foil shaver, except the gaps for your hair to go through are arranged in a circle, and the blades spin in a circle as well.
So, how to choose the right shaver?
The design of the two shavers gives a clue about which might be best for you.
Rub your fingers against the grain of your beard. You’ll notice that the direction your beard grows in is different on different areas of your face. Maybe it grows straight down on your cheeks, and then grows sideways on your neck.
The beards of some men grow in whorls or circles.
Now, a foil shaver performs best when you push it against the grain of your beard. If your beard grows in circles, then you’re going to be driving a foil shaver in circles around your face.
Rotary shavers are designed to be moved over your face in circles, and in a specific direction. Clockwise is most common, but the direction should be marked on your shaver.
So we feel it’s best for men with beards that don’t grow in a straight direction to use rotary shavers. Men with beard hairs that grow in a straight pattern should be able to use either.
Men with beards that grow in whorls often have thicker, stronger beards as well. Rotary shavers are an even better recommendation in this case since they tend to be better at mowing through tough beards.
On the other hand, if you have sensitive skin then a foil shaver is going to be your best friend – many, many men find that they’re much less likely to get skin irritation with foil shavers.
The main problem is the neck, where it’s always hardest to get a close shave. The tendency is to push a little harder on the neck, and the harder edges of rotary shavers can cause some redness or rash here.
The test of time – don’t be too quick to judge
Specifically, the test of 30 days.
Read more here about this business of spending 30 days in the shaving wilderness, but the short version is: you need 30 days of shaving to know if a shaver is going to work for you or not.
Lucky for us the major manufacturers provide at least a 30 day money-back try out period on their shavers. If you’re considering a pricey shaver that doesn’t come with an offer like that, we suggest you move your considerations someplace that does.
All shavers need maintenance. The cutting blades of all shavers will wear out over time, and the shavers will need to be cleaned regularly.
Consider your morning routine carefully – do you have time to clean out a shaver every morning?
Manufacturers do as much as possible to make the cleaning process fast – from easy-rinse shave heads to automated cleaning bases that do the job for you.
If you choose a model that uses an automated cleaning base, know that you’ll need to buy a special cleaning solution for it. Cleaning fluid replacements can usually be bought from the same place you get your shaver. If you’re ordering an electric shaver online (as more people are doing to save money) consider getting some replacement fluid as well to cut down on postage costs.
As we mentioned, the shaving head will also need to be replaced. By shave head, we mean the blades and the foil or guard that covers the blades.
These components get rubbed all over your face every day, and as silky-soft as your face is, they’ll wear out. You can normally expect them to last at least 12 months, and maybe as long as 18 months.
As with the cleaning solution, make sure you can get a replacement shave head for your electric shaver before you buy. Again, you should be able to get them from the same place you buy your shaver.
On the road
Do you travel a lot?
If you need to take your electric shaver on your travels, there are a few things to consider. Not the least of these is size – are you going to be able to fit the thing in your bag? Some a way bigger than others.
Second – how much charge will it hold? If you can get a week of shaving out of a full charge, you know how long you can go away for without taking the charger with you. And if you have to pack the charger –
How big is the charger?
Some of them are huge. Really huge.
This is often because they incorporate an automated cleaning system as well, which is incredibly convenient at home, but these charging/cleaning bases can take up some serious space in your bag. Really, you don’t want to pack one of those.
The very best case is where you have an electric shaver that can be used both cordlessly and plugged in (not all do). This way you can just pack the shaver and cord and leave the charger at home. Perfect!
(Just make sure the shaver comes with a travel case, or at a minimum a cap to protect the shave heads.)
The Final Consideration – what else does it do?
Well, its abilities probably won’t extend past hair removal, but there are plenty of opportunities for that.
Do you need shave your head?
Some shavers designed for the face are also superbly suited to head shaving (and the opposite of course: see our recommended head shavers – some do double duty).
If you’re considering one electric shaver for you face and head, the two main things you’ll need to consider are: movement of the shave head, and the grip.
You’ll get the best results from shavers that have a lot of movement in the shave heads – they adapt better to the contours of your skull, keeping close contact to the skin to get a nice close shave.
And the grip – if it’s tough to hold the shaver comfortably against the back of your head, you’re not going to get far. Look for electric shavers that have rubber grips on their body, and don’t include buttons or switches you’ll bump accidentally as you maneuver the shaver around your noggin.
And the legs?
Well, maybe not yours, but if there’s a lady of the house, she might find an electric shaver a nice break from manual razors. The main thing to look out for here is an electric shaver that’s suited to wet shaving.
Wet shaving can mean the shaver can be used with shave foam or gel – not bad – but it can also mean you can use the shaver in the bath or shower, which is often best.
In the bath or shower is where hairs – on the face, legs or anywhere else – will be the softest and most easily cut, so a wet shaver can work out the best for everyone!
Well, we hope we’ve given you plenty to think about.
We don’t want to make a big hairy deal out of it (pardon the pun), but whether we like it or not, shaving is part of our everyday life, and if we can make that a better experience then we should.
This starts with choosing the right shaver. After choosing the shaver, of course you’ve got to use it right! Read more here for our advice on how to get the best performance out of your shaver.
Any considerations on choosing a shaver you’d like to add? If you do, please add them below!