One of the constant battles in the shaving world, apart from many others, has to be electric vs manual razors. And like many other battles, it is often unnecessary as there are no definitive rights or wrongs here.
In this article we’ll take a step back and present an objective and to the point overview of the advantages and drawbacks of each. Let’s get right to it!
Pros of Electric Shaving
1. Convenience and speed.
One of the main reasons for switching to electric shaving is for the pure practical aspect of it: no more lengthy, thorough prep work, no more lathering, and no more hassle to clean and take care of your shaving arsenal. You just pick up your electric shaver and get straight to shaving. After that you can just throw your shaver into the automated cleaning and charging station and that’s about it.
Traditional shaving implies the use of a sharp blade and that inherently comes with some risks. Of course that careful prep work and proper technique can greatly diminish these risks, but for some less fortunate men a manual razor just isn’t an option.
Normally, using an electric shaver will provide more comfort, less irritation and no nicks and cuts. Most men with sensitive skin, that is prone to irritation, razor burn, ingrown hairs and bumps will benefit from switching to an electric razor.
3. You don’t have to give up wet shaving.
In fact, you shouldn’t as it can greatly improve the closeness and comfort of your shave. Most of today’s electric shavers are waterproof and can be used with shaving creams and gels.
This may seem like it defies the purpose of an electric razor for some; and that’s completely legit. After all, one of the main advantages of electric shaving is not having to deal with all the messy stuff of traditional shaving.
But if you’re one of the men who went for an electric shaver just for the comfort part, this can further improve your shaving experience. We wrote an extensive guide on how to choose a quality shaving cream and we strongly recommend reading it.
Wet shaving has that barber shop luxury associated to it and you can still enjoy that on weekends for example if you’re constrained by time during the week.
4. It can be economical.
The initial purchase cost is usually pretty high (even though you can find excellent razors well bellow the $100 threshold), but in the long run it is definitely a good investment. A quality electric razor will last for many years, but will require replacing the blades and foils (usually once every year).
Even so, when compared to blade refill cartridges that are expensive and won’t last too long, you can easily see that you’ll be saving money. Unfortunately, as far as costs go, an electric shaver can’t match a double edge razor that runs on cheap as dirt single blades.
Cons of Electric Shaving
1. Electric shavers don’t shave as close as a blade.
Even though high-end shavers like the Panasonic ES-LA93-K and the Braun 9 Series get very close performance-wise to a blade, they still can’t match it. This is a personal and subjective matter to some extent, as many men claim to get shaves that are just as close by using an electric razor. Your mileage may and will, of course, vary.
Moreover, a blade will also exfoliate the skin by removing the top layer of cells. However, the closeness of the shave is a compromise you’re willing to make when switching to electric shaving. And getting comfort for closeness is not a bad deal at all.
2. It takes time for the skin to adapt to it.
When using an electric shaver for the first time, you will most likely be disappointed by the results (razor burn, patches of hair left behind etc.). But before sending it back or getting back to your old manual razor you should allow it at least 3 weeks before making that decision.
3. Purchase price and upkeep can be expensive.
High-end electric shavers are expensive. Also, the replacement parts and cleaning cartridges can be pretty costly. You don’t necessarily need a top of the line electric razor in order to get very satisfactory results, so make sure to check out the reviews section to help you find the right product.
Pros of Traditional Shaving
1. The closest possible shave.
Regardless if you’re using a straight, double edge or a even cartridge razor, a blade will almost always shave closer to the skin than an electric shaver. Also, proper prep work, quality products and the right technique can yield great results in terms of both comfort and closeness.
2. Cheap to buy and run.
This mainly holds true for double edge razors that use a single blade. They are sharp, inexpensive and will last for a longer period of time when compared to refill cartridges.
3. There’s something manly and pleasant about old-school shaving with a blade.
Hot water, a soft badger brush, a cool looking straight or vintage razor and wonderfully scented shaving cream – these are some of the things that make traditional wet shaving such an enjoyable ritual. You’ll never look this cool while shaving with your top of the line electric razor.
Cons of Traditional Shaving
1. It’s time consuming, it requires extensive prep work and a handful of tools that also need careful maintenance and cleaning.
Just think about traveling and having to deal with a sink full of water, razor, blades, shaving cream, shaving brush, pre-shave oil and alum as opposed to carrying just one item.
2. Manual razors have a steep learning curve.
Having a steady hand takes time. This especially holds true for DE razors and straight razors. And this leads to the next drawback.
3. It increases the chances of getting nicks, cuts and razor burn.
It can also lead to more serious issues for men with sensitive skin, like ingrown hairs and razor bumps. There are ways to vastly improve your experience (by using the right products and technique), but sometimes it’s simply not enough and electric shaving is the only viable option.
4. Refill cartridges are expensive and you need plenty as they tend to go dull pretty quickly.
Electric and traditional shaving seem to have segregated shaving enthusiasts into two camps.
The best method is actually the one that works best for you, regardless of your reasons for choosing one over the other. It can be dry electric shaving for its convenience and time efficiency, it can be wet electric shaving for the comfort, it can be traditional shaving for the closeness and pure enjoyment. Pick your poison and enjoy your shave!