My Electric Shaver Doesn’t Shave — How To Fix It

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My Electric Shaver Doesn’t Shave – What to do?

I’ve seen this question pop-up on message boards and comment sections quite often and it usually leads to an unfair, collective bashing of all electric shavers.

And I say unfair because in the vast majority of these cases, the culprit for the sub-par performance of the shaver can be objectively pinpointed and addressed.

The typical scenario involves a recently bought electric shaver that fails to perform as expected: hairs left behind, not shaving close enough, razor burn and so on. Quite often this also happens to be the user’s first experience with an electric razor, but that’s not always the case.

So if your electric shaver doesn’t shave, there can be few factors at play. Let’s check them out and see what we can do.

5 reasons why your electric shaver doesn’t shave

1. Your shaver is just plain bad.

I know this sounds pretty blunt and radical, but that’s the main cause in most of these my shaver doesn’t shave situations.

There are a plethora of electric shavers out there: different types, different manufacturers and different price categories. And some of them simply perform poorly.

For example, I mostly had bad experiences with Remington shavers and in a recent review I came across the worst performing Panasonic I have ever used.

And Panasonic is probably my personal favorite manufacturer, but this only goes to show that one should always evaluate specific models or at least a series and not the manufacturer as a whole.

The Panasonic ES-SL41-S gets two thumbs down. There are simply better shavers out there for the same money.

In this case, my recommendation would be to return the shaver and buy a better one that will better suit your beard/skin type and shaving habits. You can check out our reviews section to get you started.

Here are a few additional resources you may find useful:

2. Your technique is not on point.

If you’re just starting out with electric shaving, don’t be so quick in judging the performance of your electric razor.

Electric shaving is completely different from traditional shaving, be it with a cartridge, safety or straight razor.

Your skin also needs time to adapt to the new shaving method.

Assuming your shaver is suitable for the job, some prep work and a few technique adjustments can really transform your shaving experience.

Here are a few useful guides to help you up your electric shaving game:

3. Your facial hair is too long.

Trimming the beardAll electric shavers, even high-end models, perform best when your facial hair has a reasonable, manageable length.

Also, entry-level electric shavers are best suited for shaving daily, when the stubble is short, while the more advanced ones can handle longer hairs decently.

But if it’s too long, the shaver can pull and yank the hairs and will also miss some of them, particularly the ones that lie flat on the skin. Attempting to go over those areas multiple times while applying more pressure will likely result in discomfort and more frustration.

A solution would be to shave more often or to use a regular trimmer beforehand and reduce the length of your beard.

Also, some electric shavers are better than others at shaving longer, flat-lying hairs. You can read more about them here.

4. You’re using the wrong shaver for your beard type.

Even if your shaver is of high quality and you bought it based on other men’s experience with that particular model, it may still not be the right one for you.

And I’m not strictly referring to the foil vs rotary decision. For example, there are foil shavers that are better suited for coarse, thick beards than others. Some work better for sensitive skin. Others can handle longer, wiry hairs better.

A good place to start in picking the right shaver is our in-depth electric shaver buying guide and our recommended shavers chart.

5. You need to clean and lubricate your shaver.

Finally, if you went through the checklist until this point and your shaver fails to perform as it used to, it’s time to show it some love.

Hair clippings, dirt, dead skin or lather buildups can seriously impact the performance of a shaver.

Depending on how you use your shaver (wet or dry), you may need to thoroughly clean your shaver more often.

This of course doesn’t apply to the ones that come with an automatic cleaning station — assuming you’re using it regularly.

Most modern electric shavers can be safely cleaned with liquid soap and warm tap water. Just make sure to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning.

You will also need to lubricate your shaver on a regular basis. You can use either a light oil (like clipper oil or sewing machine oil) or a spray cleaner & lubricant. Here‘s how and when should you do it.

Depending on a few factors like shaving frequency, coarseness of the beard and the quality of your shaver’s foils and blades, you may need to replace them more often.

If you notice a significant drop in performance and shaver has a tendency to pull on the hairs, you should definitely buy new ones.

Final word

Regardless of your preference, all shaving methods have their pros and cons and you’ll be making some compromises either way.

However, a radical stance resulting from a bad experience will certainly not help you in finding the cause of the problem and addressing it.

In the case of electric shaving, most of the time it’s just a matter of choosing a suitable electric shaver and making a few adjustments to your technique.

Hopefully this post will help you improve your shaving experience with an electric razor and actually benefit from what they have to offer compared to traditional shaving: speed, comfort, and an adequately close shave.

12 comments on “My Electric Shaver Doesn’t Shave — How To Fix It

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  1. Peter Baily

    I bought a new series 5 some 3 months ago and it stopped working.If I try to turn it on a little alarm with 3 signals goes off with an orange display of what seems to be a symbol of a small orange lock

    What is this mean?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Peter,

      You have accidentally activated the travel lock on your Series 5. To unlock it, press and hold the power button for 5 seconds.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  2. Christian Langis

    Just like a car only sticks to road as well as its tires allow it, a rasor can only shave as well as its foil & cutter does.

    I bought a Braun 3050 recently and found it works marvelously well. Then I got excited and started to shop ahead of time for replacement parts. I found the replacement Braun foil (32B) a bit expensive so I went on eBay to find cheaper generic options. And I found items there 2x to 3x cheaper. But you know what? They require also 2x to 3x longer shaving time to get to the same result.

    When it comes to replacement foils & cutters, cheap chinese knockoffs are not worth it.

    Sad but rasors follow the same patterns as any other industry (cars, printers…): the initial item is sold cheap. But replacement parts are way overpriced.

    In fact, replacement part prices should be the object of a comparison survey on this site 😉

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Christian,

      Thank you for your comment.

      That is true, the availability and the cost of replacement parts are important. In fact, it is a topic that I cover in every review and comparison on this website.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  3. Robbie George

    I’ve been using a Braun Series 5 (5190cc) razor for several years. Nine months ago, it stopped shaving as close, at times pulling hair as it tried to cut. I replaced the foil and cutter, but the performance was not much better. It still took me 2-3 times as long, was much rougher, and someone painful to shave; problems I never had during my first couple years with the shaver. I recently replaced the foil and cutter again, but the performance is as bad, if not worse. Both times, I used Braun replacement part 51S, but neither cut my facial hair anymore. What is happening??

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Robbie,

      At this point it’s clear that the replacement head wasn’t the culprit. I think it may be related to the motor; precisely, it is held in place by a couple of brackets and if a screw becomes loose or something breaks, the motor cannot move the blades efficiently and the performance suffers quite a bit. Also, some of the plastic parts that connect the shaft of the motor to the blades may break or wear out (although it rarely happens). If you have some experience, you could try to take it apart and have a look. If that’s not an option, you should send it to a Braun service center, but it may be a costly option since your shaver it’s probably out of warranty.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  4. Ron Kieley

    I have a Phillips 9000 series rotary shaver (exact model S9311/27). I’ve been using it daily for full face and neck shaves for about 6 months. I regularly clean this shaver.
    So, I’m over 50 and I have a lot of grey hairs in my facial hair. Lately I’ve noticed that, for some reason, the black hairs on my face are clipped first and then the grey hairs. In order to get all of the grey hairs I have to pass the shaver several dozen times over my face. This is frustrating for me and doubles the time for a shave. Maybe it has something to do with coarseness difference between black and grey hairs. It’s weird because I don’t remember having this issue in the early days and months of using my shaver. I have always used a Philips rotary shaver and was previously happy with the shaving performance of these products. Any suggestions?
    You have written a great article, Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Ron,

      Many thanks for the comment, glad you found the article useful.

      Grey hairs are simply depleted of pigment, so they aren’t necessarily coarser and more difficult to cut. In my opinion the length, direction of growth and the area where they grow affect shaving to a higher degree. It’s the outer shell (cuticle) that gives the hair its strength and the general consensus is that grey hairs aren’t any different than dark hairs in this regard.

      Also, during those six months, it is unlikely that your facial hair has suffered significant changes; on the other hand, the blades of the shaver do wear out in time, so that may also be the cause of the problem (some of the newer products don’t last as long as the older ones according to some users).

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  5. Allan Hancock

    Excellent synopsis – and I would add, reading on many DE forums, the vintage of the shaver. Multiple comments to the effect “I tried an electric in 1954, and it was awful.” No doubt.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Absolutely, I’ve come across them as well. And it’s unfortunate because these comments can make someone steer clear of electric shavers without even trying one.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  6. Ken Balfour

    My Braun series 5 has just gone completely dead it won’t charge or sow any lights is this the lead or razor. I have had it quite a few years. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Ken,

      Sorry to hear that. In these situations it’s usually more advantageous to just get a new one — repairings in Braun service centers are usually very pricey and since you’ve had your Series 5 for several years, the warranty will not cover the costs.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply

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