Electric Razor vs. Blade: The Ultimate Battle

Electric Razor vs. Blade: What’s All the Fuss About

Other than choosing a partner, one of the biggest decisions in a man’s life is the battle between electric razor vs. blade. Luckily, while marriage means you’re supposed to stay with your partner for life, with razors you have the ability to keep playing the field until you’re satisfied, so in a way, maybe it’s more similar to dating.

Sticking with the dating analogy, while all girlfriends obviously have their good sides as well as their bad, electric razors and blades also have their advantages and drawbacks. So to help you out in your search for the perfect shave, in today’s post we’ll do a comparison of electric razor vs blade.

Electric Razor vs. Blade 2

Electric Razor vs. Blade: The Differences

Before we get into the pros and cons of each type of shaver, we’ll first look a bit more into each type so you know what all of your options are. As far as electric razors go, you’ve got the choice between a foil or rotary shaver, both of which have their own plusses and minuses. Still, we won’t get too much into the differences here, as you can learn all about them in our post on the best electric shavers.

When it comes to manual razors, you’ve got a ton of different options to choose from. Straight razors, safety razors, cartridges and disposables—virtually all manual razors offer a closer shave than an electric razor, but again, each definitely has its disadvantages. Since you’re reading this particular post, we can probably assume that you’re not ready to take the plunge and start using a straight razor yet, or else you’d already be reading our post on how to shave with a straight razor. Therefore, today we’ll focus only on a comparison between an electric razor vs. disposable/cartridge vs. safety razor.

Disposable/Cartridge Razors

Pros:

  • Disposable and cartridge razors are generally considered the easiest to use, which is why they are usually the first razor a man learns to shave with.
  • Provide a closer shave than electric razors.
  • No time wasted searching for hard to find replacement blades or heads like with electric razors.
  • Perfect for travelling or when on the go.
  • Can provide a close, smooth shave in a fairly short amount of time. Cartridge razors are obviously quicker than disposable due to the extra number of blades.
  • Can be one of the more cost effective shaving options, especially compared to some of the electric razors that sell for several hundred dollars. However, the cost of cartridge razors can quickly add up over time.
  • If the cartridge razor truly interests you be sure to check out our comparison of two of the best cartridge razors on the market today: Mach 3 vs Fusion.

   Cons:

  • Takes longer than shaving with an electric razor, but is still a bit quicker than shaving with a safety razor.
  • Shaving with cheap disposables increases the chances of nicks and cuts, as you’ll need to go over areas multiple times to get a close, smooth shave. Cartridge razors usually lessen the chances of cutting yourself compared to single blade disposables.
  • Increased irritation when compared to safety razors, due to having to go over areas multiple times. Cartridge razors are especially notorious for irritation, as each stroke is the equivalent of three, four or five passes with a single blade razor. Still, some men find they cause less irritation than electric razors.
  • The blades tend to dull very quickly and usually need to be replaced every few shaves—sometimes after every shave, depending on how hairy you are and how coarse your facial hair is.
  • Doesn’t provide as much freedom as an electric razor, as you’ll need to take the time to properly lather up and wet shave, whereas an electric razor can be used on the go.

Safety Razors

Pros:

  • Safety razors provide the closest shave of any method, save using a straight razor. No other method even comes close.
  • Probably the cheapest shaving method in the long term. Although some safety razor handles can be slightly expensive, even the best blades only cost a few pennies each.
  • Safety razor blades are made of a much higher quality steel than those found in disposable or cartridge razors, which not only makes them much sharper, but also means that the blades should last longer before going dull.
  • Decreased irritation and chance of ingrown hairs when compared disposable or cartridge razors.
  • Check out our article on the benefits of shaving with a safety razor for more details.

Cons:

  • Safety razors have a fairly steep learning curve, as they require a special technique. Since the blades are super sharp, you should be prepared to bleed for at least the first few shaves until you master the proper way to hold and shave with a safety razor. But don’t worry, this can be avoided, be sure to check out our article on how to shave with a safety razor for detailed instructions.
  • Takes more time that shaving with a manual or electric razor.

Electric Razors

Pros:

  • Hands down the quickest way to shave and the only way to go on those mornings when you overslept. A high quality electric razor forces the hairs up before slicing them off, which means you don’t have to go over areas many times to get an even shave.
  • Helps to reduce ingrown hairs and irritation and eliminates the chances of nicks or cuts. Still, not all men experience less irritation with electric shavers, so your mileage may vary.
  • Cordless models can be used anywhere—even in the car (just don’t do it like this woman)—making them perfect for the man on the go. Most models have anywhere up to an hour or more of battery life, so they don’t even need to be recharged all that often.
  • No need to purchase shaving cream, gel, soap or other shaving products, cutting down on the overall price.
  • Many models come with precision or detail trimmers that allow you to trim around your beard, mustache, sideburns or other facial hair styles.
  • Many of the newer models can be used in the shower and some even come with a built-in vacuum for easy clean up.
  • Although some models can be difficult to clean, some of the better electric shavers are self-cleaning, which is definitely a plus.

Cons:

  • Electric razors cannot provide nearly as close of a shave as a manual razors. It’s highly unlikely your face will ever be totally smooth, and if your beard grows fast, you may even end up having to shave more than once a day to keep from having some serious stubble showing.
  • Although it is generally considered quick and easy, it actually takes most men a bit of practice to get the hang of using it properly. You may experience a bit more pain or irritation at first, but this should fade as you learn the proper technique. Of course, this all depends on how sensitive your skin is.
  • The initial cost of electric razors can be quite high, with some of the best models costing several hundred dollars. Still, a high quality electric shaver should last you for quite a few years, and with few continuing costs, they could end up saving you some money in the long run compared to cartridge razors.
  • The electric razor could die in the middle of a shave and leave with you half a beard. Still, this is obviously not a problem with corded shavers, and on rechargeable models is only really a problem if you’re not near an electrical outlet or the power is off.
  • Some models can be quite loud and annoying, so not a good choice for those with sensitive ears or those mornings when you’re hungover.
  • Require a bit more maintenance to keep them in working order. It is important to always properly clean and dry (if it’s a wet/dry model) the shaver after each use, or you could choose a self-cleaning, self-drying model and save yourself the hassle.

      At the end of the day, choosing what type of razor to use is a matter of personal choice. Your decision should be based on what factors are most important to you, whether that be price, time, convenience or closeness of the shave. While we personally recommend that every man go full out and start wet shaving with a safety or straight razor, a quality shaving brush and one of the top shaving creams or soaps, there is nothing wrong with whatever method you choose—as long as you’re aware of the pros and cons of each.

 

10 thoughts on “Electric Razor vs. Blade: The Ultimate Battle”

  1. Thanks for a great post. You know, I’m going to swim against the tide (not only of this article, but the generally accepted wisdom). I actually find that an electric shaver provides a shave that is just as close as a blade. Really. Not wishful thinking.

    I have the classic tough beard / sensitive skin. I started shaving decades ago with a DE, and I am fully proficient at it. (Indeed, I still use my DE once a week or so.) I have also used cartridges. For me, while a blade might THEORETICALLY provide a closer shave, in REALITY I can’t (without shredding my face) do the multiple passes necessary to achieve a “BBS” shave with a razor blade. Whereas with my Braun Series 7, I shave directly into the grain on the first go, and I can repeat passes as necessary, without any ill effect, until my face is very, very smooth. (Probably in actuality smoother, for me, than with a blade).

    I also find the shaving comfort (comfort, mind, not closeness) of my electric shaver is improved by doing the full prep work that I would do for a blade shave, and then using the electric shaver in “Wet Shave” mode with lather.

    So my experience is that the conventional wisdom that “electrics will never shave as close as a blade” just doesn’t hold true for me in real-world shaving. Others, no doubt will disagree. But, for me personally, a Wet Shave with my Braun provides the best mix of speed, closeness and comfort. YMMV.

    1. Hey David,

      Thanks so much for sharing you personal insight with your wet shaving experiences. The Braun Series 7 is a very impressive electric shaver and I’m glad you have found it to get you that superior BBS shave!

      I really believe the wet shaving process is really the most important in achieving a very high quality shave versus the type of razor that you use.

  2. What is the best to use to get the closest shave possible? I essentially would like no stubble that will leave my face clean soft and smooth.

  3. Hi. Nice post. Some thoughts on electric razors.

    1 Electric razors cannot provide nearly as close of a shave as a manual razors.
    “Nearly”? Disagree. “Almost”, “Not quite”. Yes. When it comes up in conversation, invariably, someone says “…they don’t shave as close”. I counter with, “Do I look like I need a shave?” The answer they always say is no.

    2. “… a bit of practice to get the hang of using it properly.”
    Barely rates. “A” shave? Two or three? It’s not like learning to play violin.

    3. “The initial cost of electric razors can be quite high…”
    Doesn’t have to be. An old Braun I’ve had over ten years I think I paid $30 for on sale. Replacement heads and cutters — $9 on eBay. I currently use a Panasonic Arc 3. Paid $30, eBay, open box buy. There is a Remington that gets raves for $42 retail on Amazon. Deals are out there if you shop around, like anything else. Saves way more money in the long run over razors.

    4. “The electric razor could die in the middle of a shave and leave with you half a beard. ”

    Never had this happen in over 10 years since switching to an electric. Not once. The Braun is corded. The Panasonic has a battery meter on an LED display. If you forget to charge, 5 minutes will charge it enough for a full shave purportedly. But This never happens because — battery meter. Full charge takes about an hour. Lasts about 9-10 shaves.

    5. Some models can be quite loud and annoying

    Oh please. Very much an overstatement. They’re not like a buzz saw. Slight little hum. Hardly annoying unless you’re incredibly fussy like Felix on The Odd Couple.

    6. “Require a bit more maintenance to keep them in working order.”

    Completely disagree. So much less hassle than a razor. Cleaning them takes a minute. You don’t even have to do this every day. Once a week or so I spray a little “Shaver Saver” lubricant on them. No maintenance required at all.

    Other Pros

    1. Shave anywhere. In your living room, getting dressed. In the shower (some models). In the kitchen. Walk around the house. (Dare I say even when doing other duties in the bathroom.) Hair doesn’t fall on the floor. Is contained beneath the shave head. Huge time saver when in a rush. Not chained to the sink.

    2. Shave anywhere II. Anywhere on your head, that is. In the nostrils (yes), in and around the ear, behind the neck. The lower neck. Go places you won’t dare to go with a razor.

    3. Shave blind. No need to look at your much in the mirror. Just give yourself the “back of the finger test” to see if you need to go over any other spots.

    4. No “running to the store to buy razors” or forgetting and shaving with a dull razor that will cut your face up or give you razor burn. Or running out of shaving cream and shaving dry. Or skipping and looking like a hobo all day.

    5. No consumables to run out. Buy new cutters/heads, in my case every 18 mos or so (because, likely, I lubricate them often).

    6. No shaving off a micro-layer of skin.
    Why do razors shave closer? Because they shave off a micro layer of skin that gets filled with scar tissue. Yecch. (Look it up.)

    7. No 5 O’Clock Shadow. Never look like a hobo.

    Because it’s so easy and quick to shave with an electric razor, you can touch up later — no problem. Home from work? Going out at night? Get rid of that 5 o’clock shadow quick and easy. Always look fresh. Men are loathe to shave twice in the same day. No problem with an electric.

    8. No need to “give your face a break on the weekends”.

    9. Saves water.
    This might even pay for the razor itself over time since most people let the sink run, wasting gallons of water, when they shave.

    Because shaving with an electric is so quick and easy, shaving every day is not a chore, rather enjoyable actually.

    Honestly, in 2019 I have no idea why anyone would want to shave by dragging a razor over their face. Cuts, razor burn, expensive consumables to run out, a mess to clean every morning. This is one of the reasons, undoubtedly, more men today are walking around like cavemen and clean shaven men are in the minority, it seems. Just get a decent electric razor. No need to spend a bundle. Plenty of good budget ones out there that do just fine. There is no visible hair on your face after shaving with an electric. None. You will feel the tiniest bit of invisible stubble using the back of your finger. I’d say you “lose an hour” before the same amount of hair grows back when shaving with a new razor — if that. Small price to pay and the only legit “con” as I see it.

  4. I wouldn’t completely ignore the straight razor option, either. It takes more skill and time investment; but once mastered, it is the cheapest and most satisfying of all methods. You can get a handle for the blades for between $7 and $25, and enough blades to last you a year will be about $10.

    Not for everyone, I understand. But for those who are willing to invest 4-10 minutes of intention and focus instead of 30-60 seconds of careless swiping/rubbing, it is a world of difference.

  5. Good debate … Great points on each side of the topic, as much sure we can also chat for long about beard or no beard.

    Well, damn hair by the way !

  6. I’ve shaved with the conventional safety razor and cartridge razor for over 20 years until one day my thoughts converged round using an electric razor out of my need to shave quickly and smartly. This thought had also taken strength from my experience of watching in some English movies where the actor uses electric razor in outdoor situations and it does pretty well. Well, putting off all those thoughts a while, one day I bought a Philips electric razor and tried it. I felt amazingly good making a smooth shave with that. And of course, I prefer wet shave, not giving direct attack on dry hair on the face. I was happy with using the electric razor and it did make good smooth shave with no nicks and cuts and burns. Then one day I tried to come back on the traditional cartridge razor, thinking of what difference it made. And really I was sorry for it. You cannot help it with the burning sensation it causes, though I’m no novice in making shave with a safety razor or cartridge one. I had even used the cut throat razor to make shave several times, and that skill I still dote on. In nutshell to put it, electric razor is my best alternative in shaving experiences, which leaves me well satisfied, and as for a very close shave I don’t mind a double go for a smooth, hassle free shave. I have no worry for those old cuts and burns where I had to treat my facial skin with amalgum and Dettol and aftershave!

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