Electric shavers are a modern innovation in the age-old routine of shaving, and they provide a variety of advantages and options which cannot be found in a traditional fixed-blade razor. To help you sort through the huge variety of shavers, attachments and accessories currently on the market, take a look at our electric shaver buying guide.
How do electric shavers work?
The basic principle behind an electric shaver is using electricity to move the cutting blade, rather than you doing it yourself as you would with a razor. Electric shavers consist of several small, fast-moving blades beneath a perforated metal cover; when placed on your skin, the hair passes through the mesh and is cut by the blades, whilst your skin remains untouched.
This principle means that electric shavers don’t cause the skin problems that razors can, such as accidental cuts and razor burn, and they don’t require nearly as much skill or care to get a good shave. The downside, however, is that electric shavers often can’t achieve the same close shave which results from using a razor – particularly single-blade models such as straight or safety razors. Electric shavers can easily be used to shave any area of the skin, and come in both men’s and women’s varieties. Prices can vary from as little as $50 to over $300, depending on the level of complexity and features.
What are the different types?
Electric shavers are divided into two main categories: rotary shavers and foil shavers.
- Rotary shavers have several small, circular blades with raised edges, each of which spins underneath a mesh cover. Having two or three blades arranged together allows rotary shavers to move more easily with the contours of the skin, and some models have flexible cutting heads to better facilitate this. As a result, rotary shavers are particularly useful for face and neck shaving, and are also better at coping with long hair.
- Foil shavers consist of straight, oscillating blades beneath a single mesh cover. Their larger surface area makes them more efficient at cutting hair, but it also means less mobility than rotary shavers – something which most manufacturers compensate for by fitting flexible heads. Due to their less powerful blades, foil shavers are better for short hair and regular shaves.
How are they powered?
There are four main power supply methods used in modern shavers:
- Corded shavers, which must be plugged in to a wall socket to operate;
- Battery-powered rechargeable shavers with power cords, which can be used while charging or on battery power;
- Rechargeable shavers with charging cradles, which can be used on battery power only;
- Disposable battery shavers, which need a new power supply when the current one runs out.
What features should I look for?
Shavers come in many different varieties, and each manufacturer offers unique accessories for their models.
- Waterproofing is a major consideration for many people, as a waterproof shaver can be used in the shower and is much easier to clean.
- Flexible cutting heads, as mentioned above, make shaving in hard-to-reach places much easier.
- Self-cleaning is a feature of some high-end shaver models, whereby the shaver’s charging dock has a built-in water or alcohol based cleaning system which removes hair and debris from the cutting blades.
- Battery life is another consideration for people who use their razors frequently, or who want to take their shaver away with them without a charging cradle. Many models also have low-battery indicators, and some have a cut-off feature which cuts power when the shaver is finished charging.
- Beard trimmers are a feature of some higher-end models, consisting of a separate blade attached on a hinge to the back of the main cutting head. This smaller, more precise blade is useful for careful facial hair styling.
For more information on electric shavers, check out our electric shaver ratings.