Ever since Adam was a boy, blokes have been trying to come up with the best way to remove unwanted facial hair. Although modern methods of hair removal such as waxing and laser are popular amongst a growing number of men, shaving is the preferred option. And it is so by a country mile.
With the constant advances in technology, the quality of electric razors has continually improved. Are they now equal to, or even better than a safety razor? Let’s dive into the manual vs electric razor debate and see if there’s a clear winner.
Living in the early 1900’s, if you wanted to dispatch the fur on your face, the only options available were a straight or safety razor. All that changed in 1928.
Retired army Colonel Jacob Schick came up with the idea of a cutting head driven by a handheld motor. Now for a number of reasons, it’s fair to say this early design had limited success. Looking ahead a few years later to 1937. After a bit of tweaking, more than 1.5 million units were sold. Yes, the dry shaving industry had well and truly made its mark, and was definitely here to stay.
Electric Shavers vs Safety Razors
In looking at this shaving showdown, I’m not going to debate the good or bad characteristics of the ever popular cartridge and disposable razors. After carefully weighing up the differences between double-edge razors and multi-blades, I personally prefer using a safety razor.
Back in my younger days when I first began shaving, my Dad was using a disposable razor. And in a moment of bonding, I naturally followed his lead. I watched as he sprayed shaving foam into his hand, then spread it over his whiskers. Finishing with the multi-blade razor making it’s way around his face.
Although I tried hard, the constant nicks in the early days were frustrating. Not to mention the ingrown hairs and shaving rash I was suffering. I thought a great way to get around that was to use an electric razor. I saved my dollars, and bought the best electric razor I could afford.
Using an electric razor had everything going for it. As a teenager, the thought of having to wet my face and lather up, was a huge waste of precious minutes I could dedicate to sleeping. The thought of using an electric razor was exciting, and my ticket to shaving nirvana.
I wanted to like it! I really did. I guess electric shavers were still in the process of improving, but my brand new Philips electric razor just wasn’t cutting it (no pun intended). Compared to using my multi-blade razor, the dry shaving was no where near as close or comfortable.
In 2016, the landscape is vastly different. Some electric razors self clean and lubricate. While others can be used wet for a more familiar shaving experience. Most however, are used on a dry face.
Let’s take a look at the good and bad of this generation of electric shavers.
If you are someone who finds it difficult to get moving of a morning, time is generally of the essence. With no face preparation required, you can whittle precious minutes off your shaving routine. Compared to using a safety razor, electric razors are incredibly time efficient.
You won’t need to worry about turning up to work holding a piece of toilet paper to your neck. Nicks are a thing of the past with an electric razor.
No Shaving Brushes or Soaps
Not only do you save time by not having to use brushes and soaps, but you save yourself the cost involved as well.
Although a one off investment, a decent electric razor will set you back between $200 and $400. The additional cost of electricity is also a factor that shouldn’t be ignored.
Not all, but many men who use electric shavers suffer skin itchiness and dryness. I found my skin to feel uncomfortably dry after using an electric razor.
If you’re used to shaving daily, then this really isn’t an issue. But the truth is, you have very little alternative. An electric razor has problems tackling longer hair, so shaving regularly is a must.
Wear & Tear
As the electric razor has plenty of moving parts, constant use will place stress on the motor and cutting head. Eventually leading to parts wearing out or breaking down.
The newer electric razors do a great job at shaving most of your beard. But even with today’s technology, whiskers in problem areas are still left behind. Many users get frustrated that even after numerous attempts, they still have to tidy up with their razor. Having to repeatedly revisit the same area on your face may also lead to redness and irritation.
No matter what the advertising may suggest, many gents find that they just don’t shave as close as a blade.
If by chance you have allowed your stubble to grow a little to long, the action of the electric razor tends to pull at the hair rather than cut it. Needles to say, it can leave you with a less than pleasant experience.
All razors require cleaning, but unfortunately, cleaning an electric shaver can be particularly fiddly and time-consuming.
Double-Edge Safety Razors
In a previous article, I highlighted the pros and cons of the double-edge safety razor. So rather than reinvent the wheel, I listed their much loved attributes and flaws below.
Great Quality & Design
The quality of an entry level safety razor, is often superior to the more expensive range of cartridge razors. And unlike an electric shaver, they have very few moving parts, which means they have less opportunity to malfunction.
Yep, you heard it! Less irritation; less razor burn, less shaving bumps, less ingrown hairs. When you’re navigating just one blade over your skin, it stands to reason that your face & neck are subjected to less trauma. Resulting in a more pleasant shaving experience.
There are a few things that really help minimise these common shaving problems. Often it can be as simple as water temperature.
Yes, you might spend around 30 bucks for a decent safety razor to begin with. After that however, the double-edge blades themselves are super cheap. The blades I’m using at the moment cost me around 18 cents per blade…awesome value!
Shaving with a double-edge razor is relaxing. I’d even go as far to say it’s Zen-like.
The preparation of your face; whipping the cream into just the right consistency and brushing it soothingly onto your face. Followed by the sound of a symphony of whiskers being sliced at just the right angle. A quick rinse, then finally, the massaging in of your favourite aftershave.
Good for the Planet
A single double-edge razor blade takes up a fraction of the space a disposable razor does. There are millions of men out there who shave. Now I’m no greenie, but I am mindful of our environment, & the use of safety razors definitely contribute to a cleaner planet.
Easy to Clean
Safety razors are incredibly easy to clean. Only one blade means no hair imprisoned between blades. A quick swish in the basin or squirt under the tap, will generally remove any whiskers from the razors head.
Be a Real Man
When your mates are waffling on, proclaiming the space age features of their new electric shaver, you just whip out your bad boy! Discussion over!
Some guys take to shaving with a safety razor very quickly, whilst others take a little longer. It can take time getting used to the weight of your razor, the correct angle, etc.
Most gents need to do 2 or 3 passes with their razor to achieve a baby butt smooth shave. Some blokes will be happy with one pass, although each pass (which is performed in different directions) is designed to capture the hair not fully shaved from the previous pass.
When you look at all the pros, and all the cons of both electric and safety razors, for me, they dovetail into two significant points. They are time versus experience.
We live in a world that demands instant gratification. Regardless of the quality of the shaving experience, the time required in preparation for wet shaving is just too long for some men.
If the most important factor of your shaving routine is getting it over with as quickly as possible, then it’s a no brainer. You really can’t go past the the convenience delivered by an electric shaver.
On the other hand, if you’re the type of bloke who is willing to sacrifice an extra few minutes for a closer and more comfortable shave, then look no further, than the zen-like experience of the safety razor.
Although it takes longer, I enjoy the relaxation and results I get from traditional shaving. It reminds me of a time not so long ago, when quality mattered more than convenience.
What are your experiences with electric and double-edge razors? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Time to get your shave on! 😉