Electric Shaver vs Razor
By Kings of Today | Updated Apr 03, 2019
To help tackle this highly-debated question, a detailed examination of the different types of razors/shavers must first be explored in order to better determine which is best suited for you. With the advent and speed of forward-thinking technology, electric shavers have since entered the fold, bombarding the marketplace with an extensive catalog of options to consider.
Even before the earliest version of the razor first hit the scene some centuries ago, men would manipulate clam shell exteriors to pull out unwanted facial hair. However, in the lead up to 3000 BC, society began to forge useful tools out of copper — one of which was the very first shaving instrument. Clearly one of the most functional devices in any one man’s arsenal, the present-day razor has come a long way since its prehistoric predecessors, now available in a series of styles, fits, and colors. With that said, how do you select the right one for your needs?
Before we dive into the benefits and pitfalls of each, allow us for a brief moment to nostalgically reflect on the art of shaving. Back in 1770, Jean-Jacques Perret penned “The Art of Learning to Shave Oneself – La Pogonotomie” — a book which as the name so poignantly suggests, offers tips and tricks at how to properly groom oneself.
Through this ingenious publication we now lay claim to the safety razor, proving crucial to present-day shaving regimens as bothersome face cuts and gashes were once a real and ever-present reality. William Henson, however, took the razor a step forward, fashioning a hoe-like structure placing the blade perpendicular to its handle. With increased grip and control now in tow, Henson’s 1847 prototype in essence became the blueprint to which all other razors were then measured to.
It wasn’t until 1895 when an American entrepreneur named King Camp Gillette hatched the disposable razor blade — a functional adaptation of the Kampfe Brothers wire skin guard safety razor creation. And so the story goes.
As far as manual shaves are concerned, straights razors and safety razors are the two main types, with the latter broken down into further subsections. Double-edged, single edge, injector razors, and disposable razors make up the safety razor category and are often considered the most popular tool used in the wet shave process. The single edge was the first safety razor widely accepted by the masses, which is essentially a flat 4cm blade that sits snugly on the end of a solid base handle. Years later, manufacturers began sanctioning double-edge razors, each of which contains two sharp edges on opposite sides of the blade. By the time 1920 rolled around, Schick Razors developed the injector razor, eventually capturing the attention of avid shavers for its safety benefits and was the first genre of blades to deviate from the rectangular dimensions adopted by the aforementioned styles. Narrow blades are inserted into the razor, eliminating the need to handle sharp edges. This leads us to Bic and its ingenious disposable razor which first broke ground in 1974. The French-based corporation hit its stride by manufacturing a fully disposable razor as opposed to individual blades that perpetually require physical swapping.
Straight razors, on the other hand, were used centuries before the first safety razor prototype was even introduced. Although early versions are believed to have initially surfaced in Ancient Egypt back in the 4th millennium BC, popular steel-edged variations were manufactured in Sheffield by 1680. Popular for its heritage aesthetic and barbershop quality cut, straight razors can be defined as a blade encased in a decorative sleeve. Such tools eventually became the principal method of manual shaving and remained as such until the safety razor revolutionized the industry in the mid-20th century.
- Disposable/cartridge razors are generally the easiest to use and is widely considered the entry level shaving tool
- Ideal for easy transport
- Provides a closer shave than its electric counterparts (the straight razor providing the cleanest cut of all)
- Cost effective in the short term when compared to electric shavers, however, can add up over time
- Blades and relative equipment easy to replace
- Simple to maintain and clean
- Straight razors in particular are believed to decrease skin irritation and growth of ingrown hairs
- A much more lengthy process involving the application of water and some form of cream/lubricant.
- Not as practical as an electric shaver that can be used on the go in any setting.
- Low quality blades increase the chance of cuts.
- Disposable razors are believed to cause the most irritation with the blade having to go over each area multiple times.
- Straight razors may be difficult to use and/or get used to, as a special technique is required to properly use.
- Blades in disposable razors can dull quickly and need to be replaced after 4-5 shaves.
As with most other household goods, technology elevated the commonplace shave to new heights with the invention of the electric shaver. Introduced in 1928 as a way to save time while also promoting an all-around consistent cut, men began gravitating towards this innovative instrument as their primary shave tool. With two main types to choose from — foil and rotary — a comprehensive understanding of each can help you make the right choice for your personal grooming needs.
Rotary shavers consist of three to four floating heads, each with a set of blades and an oscillating razor, which as its names so evidently alludes to — rotates. Differentiating ever-so slightly from its rotary cousin is the foil shaver. Unreliant on a rotating motion, foil shavers, instead, trap hairs in its lengthwise parallel heads as opposed to cutting via a sweeping swirl movement. Ideal for those whose hair grows straight, foil shavers best serve to treat hair in its early growing stages and is believed to be the optimal choice for users with sensitive skin.
- The quickest method of shaving with cordless versions able to be used anytime, anywhere without the need of supplementary products.
- High quality shavers encourage facial hair to stand up before slicing them off, eliminating the need to go over each area multiple times.
- Some models come equipped with precision trimmers to assist those who prefer stylish sculpting around the mustache, beard and sideburns.
- Relatively new to the market are types that can be used in the shower while containing its own built-in vacuum.
- Can last several years, eliminating the need to constantly replace blades
- Do not provide as close a shave as manual razors.
- Initial costs can be quite high, some reaching several hundred dollars.
- Relying on electricity leaves users to contend with power outages if they do occur.
- Electric razors can die while in mid shave, leaving users to deal with unfinished areas.
- Can be noisy and bothersome to those around you.
- Electric razors must be maintained and cleaned often
Choosing between an electric shaver and a manual razor can be a daunting task in its own right, however, becomes much more complex when examining the intricate sensitivities of each model when time to pull the trigger. Whichever side of the fence you currently stand on, it all boils down to personal preference while keeping your own personal grooming goals front and center. For instance, does speed and convenience pique your interest, or are you more inclined to want to the closest shave possible while willing to dedicate an 20 extra minutes to achieve such results? With that said, there is an ideal shaver/razor for each and every man out there. We suggest taking some time to look over our comprehensive comparisons in more detail to help determine which style and model is best suited for your grooming needs. Happy shaving.