When shaving becomes a daily hassle it’s time to switch to an electric razor.

It’s far less messy, eliminates razor burns, causes less irritation (especially if your skin is sensitive) and gets the job done more quickly. Yes, it’s true—you can’t beat a safety razor for the closest of shaves but you can come pretty darn close if you buy a high quality shaver.

When it comes to shaving, you don’t want to use just any electric razor.

There really is a difference! Here’s what you need to look for:

Types of electric razors

Foil razors

They have a curved-shape, fine mesh cover over 4-5 blades that move up-and-down and, on some models, side-to-side as well. Hair passes through the foil and is then cut. Because the blades do not directly touch the skin, a foil razor is a good choice for sensitive skin as well as everyday use. Generally, shave in the same direction of hair growth. To get a closer shave, shave against the direction of hair growth but be careful, as it’s likely to cause more irritation. Although the blades’ maneuverability is limited, it’s a good choice for shaving large areas and trimming sideburns precisely.

Rotary razors

Rotary razors have 3-4 circular “heads,” each of which has blades that spin to cut hair. More flexible than a foil razor, it is able to get to small, hard-to-reach areas. However, you may want to apply more pressure than your skin can handle, resulting in some irritation. There’s also a tendency to go over the same spot repeatedly to get a closer shave. Rotary razors are better suited for guys who have thick hair, sport “stubble” and don’t shave every day.

Clippers

Clippers are good for stubble and beards as many have several comb attachments to achieve the desired length of hair. One drawback is that it can only be used in one direction but it does give a precise cut.

Head shavers

You’ll find some with separate attachments and others with built-in dials to adjust hair length. There are both foil and rotary versions but if you are going after a bald, smooth “Mr. Clean” look, the mobility of a rotary shaver may be more to your liking.

Tips when choosing an electric razor

  • Grab the display model and get a real feel for it. One that has a curve to the body may feel more comfortable than one that is straight.
  • Can it pivot in several directions or does it only move back-and-forth?
  • Is it water-resistant or waterproof? Water-resistant means it’s okay to rinse for cleaning but don’t take it in the shower if that’s where you like to shave. Go with a “wet/dry” model that is actually waterproof to withstand the moisture.
  • Prefer to still use a gel or shaving cream? The brand you choose should clearly state “wet/dry” on the package. Otherwise, stick to a quick, dry shave.
  • Most electric razors have plug-in chargers or batteries. Is there a “low battery” light indicator or attachable power cord…just in case? Can you expect several shaves with one charge?
  • Does a cleaning kit come with it or will running it under the tap do?

Razor roundup

The main thing in considering electric razors is to know your own grooming habits. Do you have to be clean-shaven 24/7 or is fashionable stubble more your thing. Is your skin super sensitive or can it take just a little abuse. Are you a shower shaver or an on-the-go shaver? Can you spare a few minutes to clean your razor?

Finally, expect to spend a fair amount for the convenience of less mess and razor burns. A high quality electric razor can cost over $200! The good news is that unlike safety razors that constantly need pricey replacement cartridges, foils and rotary heads can last up to 18 months, depending upon usage. You’ll know it’s time to replace them when you no longer get as close a shave, the blades start feeling warm and tug the hairs uncomfortably.

Sporting a beard? Check out our beard grooming tips

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