Asking the question about whether electric shavers or manual shavers (razor blades) is best is like asking if Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper is best. There’s no “right” answer for the simple reason that both of these options have their own strong and weak points.
That being said, electric razors and razor blades are both amazing shaving tools, but simply better equipped for different things. So, in today’s Volt article, we want to help you tackle the pros and cons of these two shaving methods, and determine which is the best bet for you! For right now, let’s cut to the chase…;)
Types of Shaving Utensils
“Electric Shaver” and “Razor Blade” are honestly two very large blanket terms to describe the two main categories of shaving utensils. The truth is that each of these categories contains individual tools that are even more different from each other.
For example, the traditional straight razor is technically a “razor blade” but so is a multi-bladed safety razor! Obviously one will be better for safety than the other, but have weaknesses elsewhere.
So, for the sake of simplicity, today we are going to compare the pros and cons of only 3 types of shaving tools: Electric Shavers (anything electric), Cartridge Razors (Replaceable heads), and Dual-Edge Razors (Traditional Safety Razors).
Electric Shavers are called “shavers” because they don’t typically have actual razor blades in them. Instead, they will use what can only be described as “gates” or “foils” that allow hair through, and then sweep those gates across metal bars (or other gates) that sever the hair that enters the gate. Those gates are just small, perforated pieces of metal that allows hair to enter the device without allowing skin to enter. Often, electric shavers will lightly vibrate the skin, moving the actual skin and hair follicle to sever the hair, which avoids the typical pulling and tugging sensation that you may have experienced in the past from dull razor blades or old electric shavers.
Think of it this way, electric shavers use a scissor-like cutting/trimming method as opposed to a slicing method like actual razor blades do. So, what are the pros and cons of using electric shavers? let’s dive in.
- Quicker Shave Times: Because electric shavers force the hair inside the machine before severing them, you can often shave larger areas of hair more easily and quickly than any manual razor blade can.
- Reduces ingrown Hairs and Cuts: These are the benefits of a scissor-like cutting action.
- Portability: Electric shavers (if they’re charged) can be used anytime, anywhere.
- Dry or Wet: Most modern electric shavers can be used with or without shaving creams or butters, allowing for more versatility.
- Doesn’t shave as closely: The downside of scissor-like cutting action is that your shave isn’t as close as with traditional razors. Typically, this is due to the thickness of the “gate” that we talked about earlier.
- Not Completely Waterproof: Although the electric shavers may be water-resistant, allowing you to shave with shaving creams, etc., the majority are not fully waterproof for use in the shower or bath.
- Dead Batteries: The tradeoff for portability is that there is potential for the batteries to completely die in the middle of a shave.
- Maintenance: Electric shavers require far more maintenance and cleaning than traditional razors do.
- Expenses: Although the initial purchase is more expensive, over the long-run an electric shaver may pay for itself and become more economic than traditional razors. so this is a tie-point.
Cartridge razors have quickly become the go-to tool that everyone thinks of when you say the word “razor”. This is because cartridge razors are cheap, relatively safe, and by far the most popular shaving tool on the market. Often, cartridge razors have multi-blade designs. These multiple blades were intended to work in stages, with the first blades meant to lift the hair, and the blades behind meant to cut the hair as close to the skin as possible. This was created with the intended balance of getting the smoothest shave possible in a method that is still relatively safe.
Here are the pros and cons of this design!
- Closest Shave For The Longest Time: These razors will provide the closest shave for the longest amount of time because they are designed to shave hair below the skin line.
- Ease of Use: No complicated instructions, charging, buttons, or anything else. Just slap on some shaving cream and shave.
- Replaceable (cheap) Blades: The handle of the razor can be re-used with multiple blade heads, making the shaving experience customizable and relatively cheap.
- Easy to Clean: Cartridge blades are easy to clean and replace if need be.
- Longer Shaving Time: Process is lengthened due to having to apply shaving cream or other products.
- Blades Dull Quickly: Because of the slicing method of shaving, the blades dull rather quickly and will need to be replaced every 4-5 shaves.
- Increased chance of nicks, burn, or ingrown hairs: This is because you often have to pass over the same area multiple times to get an even shave.
- Less versatile: For a painless shave, you need water or some kind of lubricant, this, therefore, requires a sink or other access to water.
Expense: Although much less expensive to purchase for the first time (as opposed to electric shavers) Razor blades do require the continuous purchase of replaceable heads, making them more expensive over time. Therefore the tie.
Dual-Edged Razors (Traditional Safety Razors)
Dual-edged razors have been around for nearly 40 years before the electric shaver was even patented. and 80 years before the cartridge razor was invented! They were invented in the 1880s and are still used by many people today for their simplicity, and extremely low cost of operation, making them the oldest (and arguably most reliable) razors on the list.
Safety razors were invented strictly to replace straight razors, which were, quite literally, large razor-sharp knives that required lots of skill to be used for injury-free shaving. This allowed the common man to shave more frequently and inexpensively, and marked the era of the clean-shaven look in the early to mid-1900s.
- Cheapest Shaving Method: All that needs replacing on these razors are the actual razor blades themselves. For example, a surgical steel 50-count of these blades costs less than $10.
- Less Ingrown Hairs: Because the single-blade method doesn’t lift and cut your hair, it instead cuts them evenly along the surface of the skin, making ingrown hairs far less likely.
- Require Less-Replacing: Blades often stay extremely sharp for more shaving sessions before requiring blade changes. There are also two sides to each blade.
- Requires Practice: Shaving with a Dual-edged razor often still takes some practice to get consistent.
- Expensive Handles: Shaving handles tend to be more expensive for these razors, but will not require replacing. They are, however, harder to find.
- Not Suitable For Every Hair Type: These razors tend to be harder to use depending on how thick and course your facial hair is. For men with thick facial hair, this razor may take longer to use or become more difficult.
So there you have it! The cut-and-dry info on all your shaving tools (not sorry). Ultimately, what you look for in a shaving tool will come down to your needs and preferences! For those who work a job with strict dress codes (think military-strict) than a reliable cartridge razor that provides a close shave for a long period of time may be optimal.
For those with especially sensitive skin who suffer from ingrown hairs, redness, rashes, or burning may prefer electric shavers due to their relatively-close shave without the harsh or irritating affects of cartridge razors.
For those who are looking for a reliable, cheap, moderately safe middle-ground between the two options mentioned above, a dual-edged safety razor is a great choice.
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