One of the most disputed topics among shaving enthusiasts has to be the electric shavers vs manual razors debate.
There are undeniable benefits and shortcomings with both and there are no definitive rights or wrongs here.
That’s why in this article we’ll take a step back and present an objective overview of the advantages and drawbacks of electric and traditional shaving.
If you’re on the fence about which one will better suit your needs, this post is for you.
Let’s get right to it.
Pros of Electric Shavers
1. Convenience and speed.
One of the main reasons for switching to electric shavers is the practical side 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 grab your electric shaver and get straight to shaving.
After that, you can simply toss it into the automatic cleaning and charging station and that’s about it.
And even if the shaver doesn’t come with a cleaning station, most modern shavers can be easily cleaned by simply rinsing them under the tap.
Electric shavers are also more convenient for shaving on the go.
Traditional shaving implies the use of an exposed sharp blade and that inherently comes with some risks.
Careful prep work and proper technique can greatly diminish these risks, but only up to a point and for some less fortunate men a razor blade just isn’t an option.
Normally, using an electric shaver will provide more comfort, less irritation, and no nicks and cuts. All of these while still offering an adequately close shave.
3. You don’t have to give up wet shaving.
In fact, you really shouldn’t as the addition of a nice shaving cream 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 defying the whole purpose of an electric razor, and that’s completely legit.
After all, one of the main advantages of electric shavers is not having to deal with the messy lathering and cleaning that are usually associated with traditional shaving.
But if you got an electric shaver just for the extra comfort, a wet shave can further improve your experience. You can also check out my extensive guide on how to choose a quality shaving cream.
Wet shaving gives you that barbershop feeling and you can still enjoy that on weekends for example if you’re constrained by time during the week.
The best part is that you’ll still be able to enjoy your favorite shaving creams, soaps, oils, aftershave and so on plus the added comfort of an electric razor.
4. Electric shavers can be economical.
The initial purchase cost is usually pretty high (even though you can find excellent razors at a very reasonable price), but in the long run, it will definitely be a good investment.
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.
However, as far as costs go, an electric shaver can’t match a double-edge razor that runs on dirt cheap single blades. But those do come with their own specific shortcomings as we’ll see later on.
Cons of Electric Shaving
1. Electric shavers don’t shave as close as a blade.
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 and that’s also beneficial (it’s recommended to exfoliate your skin twice a week if you’re using an electric razor).
However, the closeness of the shave is part of a compromise you’ll be accepting when switching to electric shaving. And getting comfort for a slightly less close shave 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 somewhat underwhelmed by the results (you may even experience some razor burn, patches of hair left behind, etc.).
But before sending it back or returning to your old manual razor you should allow your skin at least 3 weeks to adapt before making that decision.
3. Purchase price and upkeep can be expensive.
Also, the replacement parts and cleaning cartridges can be pretty costly.
Pros of Traditional Shaving
1. The closest possible shave.
Regardless if you’re using a straight, double edge or even a cartridge razor, a blade will almost always shave closer to the skin compared to an electric shaver.
Also, proper prep work, quality shaving products, and the right technique can yield great results in terms of both comfort and closeness.
This mainly holds true for double-edge razors that use a single blade.
They are sharp, inexpensive and will last longer compared to refill multi-blade cartridges.
3. There’s something unique about old-school shaving with a blade.
Hot water, a soft badger brush, a vintage DE 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 flashy 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, especially when using DE and straight razors. And this leads us to the next point.
3. Traditional wet shaving increases the chances of getting nicks, cuts and razor burn.
Shaving with a blade 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 shavers are the only viable option.
4. Refill cartridges are expensive and you need plenty as the blades tend to go dull pretty quickly.
If traditional is your preferred way of shaving, I think the use of DE razors and blades that work well with your skin and technique is far superior to any manual razors with cartridge refills.
They’re a lot cheaper in the long run and once you learn how to properly shave with one, the results will also be better.
A DE razor is not as forgiving as a cartridge razor like the Mach 3, so you must always be careful and thorough.
The electric shavers vs razors battle seems to have segregated the shaving community into two camps.
However, the best shaving method is ultimately 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 comfort and closeness or it can be traditional shaving for the best closeness and pure enjoyment (if your skin can handle it).
Pick your poison and enjoy your shave!
If you’d like to share your experience, please leave a comment below.