Manual vs Electric Razor – Is Quicker Better?

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.

Schick_20_electric_shaver_1953_adRetired 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.

==> Click here for my shaving showdown: Safety Razor vs Multi Blade <==

Electric Shavers

Rotary-Electric-Shaver

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.

Pros

Convenient

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.

No Bleeders

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.

Cons

Expensive

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.

Skin Irritation

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.

Shave Daily

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.

Misses Hair

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.

Performance

No matter what the advertising may suggest, many gents find that they just don’t shave as close as a blade.

Pulling

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.

Cleaning

All razors require cleaning, but unfortunately, cleaning an electric shaver can be particularly fiddly and time-consuming.

Double-Edge Safety Razors

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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.

Pros

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.

==> Click here for my review: Safety Razors for Beginners <==

Less Irritation

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.

Bloody Cheap

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!

==> Click here for my review: Derby Razor Blades <==

The Process

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.

==> Click here for tips on How to Clean a Safety Razor <==

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!

Cons

Learning Curve

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.

Slower Process

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.

Conclusion

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! 😉


24 thoughts on “Manual vs Electric Razor – Is Quicker Better?

  1. Larry

    I currently use a double edge razor, but it is not a very good one. I have cut myself with it a few times. I could never use an electric. They never seem to shave close enough for me. I am interested in your recommendations for a good double edge.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Larry

      It’s hard to go past the Edwin Jagger DE89 or Merkur 34C. They are both excellent double-edge razors. You can check out my review on them here.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  2. carl

    Andrew,
    You have presented quite a compelling argument to drop the electric razor in favour of a better quality shave with a wet razor.

    All your points are valid and I can not offer a counter argument. My only reason for sticking with my Philips electric is convenience and habit, perhaps I am one of those guys that don’t like change :0)

    But seriously, I think the method of shaving goes beyond all the pros and cons that are offered for either one or the other, and it will always come down to one thing. Preference.

    Preference is something you develop in your early years of shaving, and will most likely stay with you throughout your life.

    If would take a great leap forward in shaving technology and culture to change this deeply personal choice.

    That being said, I love your post and like the details that really made me think about the subject like never before.

    cheers

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      Thanks for your considered comments Carl.

      I fully agree with what you say. Many choices we make throughout our life stem from our early influences, and deeply rooted habits. Change is not easy, but if it results in a better experience, it’s certainly worthwhile.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  3. Jeff C

    Thanks a bunch! I actually own both types of razors and never really thought about their pro’s and cons. I keep that in mind when I need to make my next purchase of either of these products. Cheers!

    Reply
  4. Dennis

    I am so lazy I just use an electric razor all the time. But I am not a man with much facial hair so no complaint here. Still good to learn about the differences!

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      The great thing about shaving Dennis is choice.

      Everyone is different, and if an electric shaver gives you no irritation and suits your beard growth, that’s great. I’d stick with what works for you.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  5. Stuart

    Hi Andrew, I’ve been using an electric razor for years, then a month ago, that razor died on me. I had to use a disposal razor for a couple of weeks and I have to say, the shave was much better but the time it took plus the little nicks here and there had my purchasing an electric razor again.

    I would definitely say the manual razor gives a better shave but you can’t beat the convenience of an electric.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Stuart

      I agree that convenience is a big deal in today’s society. We live in a world where instant gratification is expected. Disposable razors are OK. However, if you want a better shave and bring your experience to a whole new level, you can’t beat the solid feel and performance of a safety razor!

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  6. Jaron

    I love my double edge safety razor! I’ll never go back to disposable or electric razors. Nothing compares! and it’s cheaper. I have not had to buy blades in almost a year since I bough a pack of 100 for about $10-15

    Reply
  7. mohd azeezy

    Great review! I’d rather use a blade razor than electric razor. I had purchased an electric razor back then, but as you said, electric razors leave hair behind, making me clean that same particular area many times. Not to mention cleaning up the hair in that electric razor. I just stick to the blade razor until now.

    Reply
  8. Stelica Dan

    Very informative article with detailed specifications on both types of razors. I personally use manual razors but I am thinking to buy an electric one to be faster and to do the job easier.

    Now I need to do some research and choose the right electric shaver for my type of face and skin.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      Thanks for your comments.

      Good luck with your razor search. At the bottom of this post I have listed two electric razors that are popular at Amazon.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  9. Shawn

    Bro,
    I HATE electric razors. They rip my hair out, hurt my skin, and give me a horrible experience. I have been a MACH 3 guy since I was 18. I have tried others, but any more razors than 3 seems to rip and pull my hair, so I have stuck with the MACH. I have even tried getting a professional shave from a local shave place and found the experience to be not nearly as good as I was hoping it would be.
    Overall I am a MACH 3 guy that usually uses soap or conditioner for lather. Love this blog man!! Gonna stay in touch for sure!!

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Shawn

      Finding the razor is a tough search sometimes. I’m glad you’re having success with your Mach 3 razors. If however you want to save money, and experience a whole new level with your shaving, you should look into getting yourself a good safety razor.

      I explain what exactly is a safety razor in one of my previous posts here!

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply
  10. Yunier

    I personally enjoy manual razors a lot better than electric . I myself have a thick beard which to customise it how I like it and my lady likes it I must use a manual one. I feel that I just get a better all around shave.

    Reply
  11. Mike

    You can’t beat a good old wet shave with a razor in my opinion. As you say it is very zen like; the soothing lather and the careful strokes with the blade. Almost like a skilled craftsmen or painter with their work of art. Great article, enjoyed reading thanks!

    Reply
  12. Kym

    Great article Andrew. I’ve watched my husband use both electric and blades for shaving. As he is balding, he’s decided to take the final plunge and shave it head! He usually uses a blade razor for his head as he likes the smooth finish.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Post author

      G’Day Kym

      Thanks very much for your comments. Yes if your hubby wants that nice smooth finish, a bladed razor is the way to go!

      Cheers
      Andrew

      Reply

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