How Do Electric Shavers Work? [Benefits of Electric Shavers]

Electric shavers, like any other device, have a basic design and a unique working principle that allows them to execute their functions and the associated benefits and cons. There are two basic electric shavers designs: foil and rotary. 

The presence of different basic designs means that there will be different working principles and, in turn, different results. 

electric rotary shaver
Rotary Electric Shaver

Electric Shaver, How It Works?

In both foil and rotary shavers, hair is fed into foils or circular openings, as the case may be, then the oscillating blades cut them down in foil shavers, while in rotary shavers, the rotating blades cut down the hair. 

Both dry shaving and wet shaving can be carried out, albeit with varied results.

Electric shavers can be powered by a wire connected to a socket or by rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries. Both forms of shavers (foil and rotary) use blades powered by a small DC motor or an AC-powered solenoid.

However, one of the fundamental differences between foil and rotary shavers is the direction of motion of the blades when cutting. This will be discussed in full detail as we progress.

How Does A Foil Shaver Work?

Mechanism of a foil shavers is different from other electric shavers. Foil shavers or reciprocating electric shavers use blades placed beneath thin metal foils to cut the hair. 

These blades oscillate at a very high frequency and move sideways below the foil. The foil serves two important functions: it protects the skin from direct contact with the blades and acts as a sort of fine mesh that captures strands of hair within its tiny holes, straightens them, and directs them towards the oscillating blades to offer a close shave. 

However, a major downside to all the power that this device possesses is the generation of heat and noise. The powerful motors used in foil shavers tend to heat up the machine after a period of use, causing discomfort. This heat is accompanied by noise from the motor.

Due to the basic design of foil shavers, shaving motion can only be made in straight lines—either horizontally or vertically. There may be 3 or more foils, each with varying patterns. This makes it possible for the electric razor to cut different hair types.

Foil shavers are generally easy to clean. This is because they are easy to disassemble and fix. However, not all foil shavers are waterproof. Hence, different methods may be adopted for cleaning the waterproof and non-waterproof variants.

How Does A Rotary Shaver Work? 

Rotary shavers make use of rotating blades in cutting hair. While rotary shavers may possess 2–5 heads, the 3-head electric shaver variant is the most common. The heads move independently of each other. 

This makes it easy to maneuver the shaver around the head, face, chin, and neck contours. Hair is fed towards the rotating blades by the circular groove present on each shaving head.

In order to get the best from rotary shavers, move them in revolving motions. Sometimes you may need to go over the same area several times to get the desired results. 

Although rotary shavers do not provide as clean a shave as oscillating shavers, they are easier to maneuver around the contours of the face and other difficult-to-reach spots. Also, rotary shavers produce much less noise than foil shavers while generating less heat. Cleaning rotary shavers is a bit more complex and rigorous than cleaning foil shavers, as more components require attention.

Is Electric Shaver Better Than Manual?

The electric shaver vs manual razor argument has raged for a long time, especially among those who have tried out and witnessed the performance of the two. It is difficult to give a straight forward answer to this question.

In most of the cases, you will find that an electric shaver is better than a manual one in terms of flexibility and user friendliness. But manual shavers also have some it’s own benefits. So, before converting from one approach to another, you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each as mentioned below. .

Benefits of Electric Razor

The likelihood of being cut is lessened because electric shaver’s blades are located behind protective screens.

  • It is faster in speed

Electric shavers can be used for dry shaving with minimal risks, this is a much faster method of shaving while manual razors are constrained to wet shaving alone to avoid razor burn and cuts. 

  • It is easier to clean

Most electric shavers can be readily cleaned by placing them under running water. You may apply some alcohol to disinfectant the shaver.

Benefits of Electric Razor
  • Minimal running cost

Unlike manual razor, electric razor needs minimum running cost. It does not require regular change of blade and even uses of shaving cream is also optional. Application of aftershave is not that much important like manual shaving.

  • It is long lasting

The life of an electric shaver could be as long as 15 years to 20 years. This is pretty high, is not it? So you forget the hassle of buying shaving products once you move to electric shaving.

  • A solution to ingrown hair

Electric shavers are normally a better choice for those who suffers from ingrown hair problem. Not only ingrown hair, if you have sensitive skin with acne and pimples, you might think of electric razor.

Disadvantages of Electric Shaver

  • It is unable to exfoliate

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, dust, and other impurities from the skin’s surface which gives a fresh and younger look. It is a natural process in traditional shaving that is missing in electric shaving.

  • Hair pulling in some cases

A painful dragging of hair may occur when an electric shaver pulls hair. A dying battery mostly causes this, but it may also result from a defective product or simply because the device is clogged. When an electric razor pulls hair, the feeling of discomfort that comes along can make one consider his options

  • It can be expensive 

The best electric shavers are pretty expensive, and so are their spare parts.

  • Not suitable for long hair 

Electric razor not going to be a perfect choice for shaving long hair specially if you are shaving for the first time in a while. Shaving head with long hair also might not be possible with electric shaver.

Advantages of Manual Shaving

  • It provides the closest possible shave 

Due to the fact that they come in direct contact with the skin, manual shavers provide the closest shave one can get.

  • It gives room for exfoliation

Along with shaving, manual razors also remove dead cells from the skin.

  • It is less expensive 

The initial cost of manual razor as well as razor blades are much more affordable than electric shavers.

safety double edge razor
Traditional Double Edge Safety Razor

Disadvantages Of Manual Shaving

  • It is time-consuming 

The extensive prep-work that needs to be done before manual shaving can be carried out consumes more time than electric shaving.

  • It is more likely to cause razor burns, nicks, and cuts 

Shaving with a razor can cause skin irritation for people with sensitive skin.

  • It takes a while to master 

People often have to learn from experience; a steady hand is most often developed well after taking a lot of nicks and cuts.

  • Blades dull too quickly 

It is quite obvious that in some aspects, the electric shaver outperforms the manual shavers, while in others, the manual shaver outshines it.


Can Electric Shavers Get A Close Shave?

High-end electric shavers, particularly foil shavers, can produce results that are comparable to manual razors. While the foils shield the skin from direct contact with the blade, they are also made to be thin, so that they do not serve as a barrier for close shaves.

Also, the results could be amazing when these electric shavers are used in conjunction with proper shaving procedures such as shaving against the grain, using shaving cream, and so on.

When it is electric razor vs blade, rest assured that there are some pretty good electric foil shavers which would give similar results as blades. So, it is essentially a foil shaver vs razor debate when it comes to electric shaving vs traditional razor shaving as foil electric shavers generally give a closer shave than rotary shavers but not maybe like manual razors.

Can You Cut Yourself With An Electric Shaver?

One of the perks of an electric razor in the electric razor vs safety razor debate is that it does not cut. Electric shavers, in theory, should not injure you, but nicks and cuts may develop if you apply too much pressure and push your skin inwards towards the blades. 

Furthermore, if the device’s cover is damaged or cracked, you may get cut using an electric shaver since your skin may come into contact with the fast-rotating blades.

Final note

When using grooming devices, it is critical to understand the working principles, benefits, and drawbacks of the numerous alternatives available, or else you may purchase a device that doesn’t suit your skin or is not intended for the type of hair you are grooming, or you may make other costly blunders.

Also, in the electric shaver vs razor argument, we’ve seen that both have advantages and disadvantages, and neither completely eliminates the other.

Leave a Comment