Most men turn to electric shaving out of necessity.
They either don’t have the time for the traditional blade & brush or the nicks, razor burn and ingrown hairs that some of us experience simply made electric shavers the only viable option.
But can you take your shave to the next level?
Yes, you can. It’s called a wet shave. With an electric razor.
It’s simple, effective and anyone can give it a try.
And in this article, you’ll find out precisely how to do it.
I’ll also address a few other related topics, like recommended shavers and shaving creams.
But let’s start by addressing one of the most common questions about electric razors.
Table of Contents
- Can you use shaving cream with an electric razor?
- How to wet shave with an electric razor and shaving cream
- 1. Preparation is key.
- 2. Use only a thin layer of slick, watery lather.
- 3. Massage the cream into your beard, lifting the stubble.
- 4. Shave against the grain.
- 5. Make sure your razor’s battery is not running low.
- 6. Don’t skip post-shave treatment.
- 7. Thoroughly clean and lubricate your shaver after every use.
- 8. Take your time and enjoy your shave.
- The best electric razors for wet shaving
- The best shaving creams for electric razors
- Final word
Can you use shaving cream with an electric razor?
The answer is yes, you certainly can use shaving cream with a suitable electric razor.
In fact, you probably should, because you’ll likely get a closer and more comfortable shave.
For me, shaving with a razor blade back in the day often ended up in a mess.
I tried lots of shaving creams, soaps, pre-shave oils, and mild DE razors, but for my type of skin and facial hair, none of them seemed to work.
I particularly suffered from razor burn on my neck and having a coarse beard didn’t make things any easier.
I switched to electric razors when I was a teenager after my parents bought me a dry-only, basic Braun shaver for my birthday.
That particular shaver was pretty terrible, the results were still far from great, the foils would get really hot, but for some reason, I kept using it.
After the foil finally gave in, I bought a wet/dry Panasonic that could be used in the shower or with shaving cream.
Without having any high expectations I decided to give wet shaving a try. And I’m so glad I did it because for me it was a massive revelation.
Once I started my wet shaving journey, I tried various techniques, shaving creams, and electric shavers, some of them very good and some pretty terrible ones as well.
After years of using electric razors with shaving creams, I’m glad to share with you what I’ve found so you won’t have to experience the bad stuff as well.
Without further ado, here are 8 simple tips for a close and pain-free wet shave with an electric razor.
How to wet shave with an electric razor and shaving cream
1. Preparation is key.
As it’s the case with traditional wet shaving, there are some things you should do prior to the actual shave: wash your face and neck with a cleansing or exfoliating gel and use plenty of warm water.
This will get rid of all the dirt, oils, dead skin and other nasty stuff. A hot shower beforehand is also highly recommended.
Warm water will prime the hairs for the shave, making them softer, plump and thus easier to cut.
For more information on this topic, you can check out my in-depth article on how to develop a simple and effective pre-electric shave routine.
You’ll see throughout this article that there’s a lot of overlap between traditional and electric wet shaving, except for one key area as you’ll see next.
Bonus tip: You can even use a pre-shave oil before applying the lather. I recommend it especially if you have sensitive, dry, flaky skin. I personally like the one from Truefitt & Hill (I don’t like that it’s pricey, but it lasts a really long time).
2. Use only a thin layer of slick, watery lather.
This is where shaving wet with an electric razor is different compared to traditional shaving.
And it’s the crucial detail that will make the difference between a mediocre and a fantastic shave.
With traditional shaving, lathering was one of the most important things to master.
The lather had to be not too dry, not too runny and you would use something like a badger or boar brush to build that thick, luxuriant lather.
With electric shavers, you don’t need that cushioning effect of the lather since there’s no blade touching the skin.
In fact, using too much lather will have a negative impact on your results.
Also, if the lather doesn’t have enough water or the layer is too thick, it will clog the shaver and you’ll just end up smearing it all over your face.
It will create a barrier between the shaver and the skin, so you won’t be able to get that very close shave.
Make sure your lather has a more watery consistency. You absolutely don’t want that fluffy, thick lather that you often see on the Badger & Blade forum.
Let’s see how you can get the right lather for your electric razor extremely fast and with minimal effort.
While you could use a shaving brush to build the lather, in this case, it’s not the ideal approach.
It takes more time (you must soak the brush beforehand, build the lather, then clean the brush) and again, you don’t need that kind of lather.
The fastest and easiest way is hand/palm lathering, but without a brush. I know it sounds strange, but you’ll have to trust me on this one.
Wet your palms, squeeze some shaving cream (about an almond size dollop) and start rubbing your hands together vigorously.
This is why soft creams that come in a tube work best.
Later on I’ll also share some of my favorite shaving creams that work great with electric razors.
Add a bit of water if needed and after 30 seconds or so you should get a very thin, slick, slightly pasty and creamy lather.
Check out the picture below. That’s what we’re after.
I know it doesn’t seem like enough product, but it is. Again, a little bit goes a long way and having this type of lather is key here.
3. Massage the cream into your beard, lifting the stubble.
With your face wet, start massaging the lather with both hands, pressing firmly (but not too hard) and going against the grain.
This will help lift the stubble and prime them for the shave.
Leave the shaving cream on your face for at least 2 minutes before actually shaving.
The hair has a very tough lining — the cuticle — and the alkaline components in the shaving cream must soften it. So allow the lather a couple of minutes to act on it.
This is one of the easiest and most important things you can do for a comfortable and close shave, especially if you have a coarse beard.
If the lather gets too dry, wet your hands with warm water and rehydrate the lather on your face before you start shaving.
Remember, it’s called wet shaving for a reason and the lather must be properly hydrated in order to get the best results.
4. Shave against the grain.
This is yet another area where wet shaving with an electric razor is different.
With traditional shaving, you would shave with the grain in order to avoid irritation and then a second pass across the grain for a closer shave.
With electric shavers, you’ll want to always go against the grain. This is key for an effective, close and comfortable shave.
If your beard grows in different directions, use your free hand and run it across small areas to determine the direction of growth.
After some time you’ll have a mental map of the grain and you’ll naturally adjust the direction of the strokes accordingly.
Do not use excessive pressure when shaving.
Reapply some lather/water over an area that needs multiple passes, but don’t overdo it as the razor may get clogged with lather. Again, a thin layer works best.
Try and experiment with different techniques to find the one that yields the best results for you.
For example, if you have a rotary shaver, you can use overlapping, clockwise and counter-clockwise circular motions, but also up and down and from left to right.
5. Make sure your razor’s battery is not running low.
When using an electric razor you’ll want to take advantage of its full cutting power, regardless of whether you prefer to shave wet or dry.
And since all wet/dry shavers can only be operated cordless due to safety concerns, having enough battery charge will ensure constant delivery of power for a smooth shave.
Pulling and tugging can be experienced as some electric shavers can’t maintain peak power if the battery is almost out of juice.
That’s usually the case with entry-level, basic wet/dry shavers, but even the high-end models can be affected by this.
The closeness of your shave will also suffer and you’ll be tempted to press harder and do unnecessary passes.
6. Don’t skip post-shave treatment.
Just because you ditched the blade doesn’t mean you should overlook this step.
After you’ve finished shaving, wash your face with cold water, pat dry with a clean towel and apply your favorite aftershave balm.
Unless you know from previous experience that you get along well with them, I would avoid the ones containing alcohol.
Some of my favorite aftershave balms are Tabac Original, Proraso Sensitive and Truefitt & Hill Authentic No 10.
7. Thoroughly clean and lubricate your shaver after every use.
This is always good practice, but it’s particularly important after using your electric razor with shaving cream.
If you want your shaver to last for a long time and to perform great, don’t neglect this part.
A wet/dry electric razor can be safely and easily cleaned with a bit of liquid soap and hot tap water. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
It’s also a good idea to lubricate the blades with a few drops of light oil or a spray lubricant.
The use of soap will remove any form of lubrication and that can lead to excessive heat and premature wear of the foils and blades.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to lubricate your electric shaver.
8. Take your time and enjoy your shave.
In my case, shaving has turned from something I loathed into an enjoyable experience that I actually look forward to.
And the use of a suitable wet/dry electric shaver and a quality shaving cream made a massive contribution to this.
The best electric razors for wet shaving
Selecting the right electric razor for the job is key in getting a close and comfortable wet shave.
You should only use a shaver that was specifically designed to be used wet & dry (with shaving cream or in the shower).
I personally find Panasonic foil shavers to perform outstandingly when used for wet shaving.
They’re some of the closest shaving razors out there, but tend to be a bit too aggressive when used dry.
So shaving with a Panasonic + shaving cream takes care of that and I can honestly say that I’m able to get some of the closest and most comfortable shaves in this manner.
There are lots of wet/dry Panasonic models out there, so I will only share 3 options at various price points, all of them perfectly suitable for wet shaving.
My entry-level pick would be the Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S (full review here).
This is an older model that is still my favorite Arc 3 after I’ve tried quite a few, including the newest generation.
It’s a 3-blade foil shaver, has a slim shaving head that’s easy to use and has plenty of cutting power.
The price is usually reasonable and would be a really good choice for someone just getting started with wet electric shaving.
For UK/European users, an equally good alternative would be the Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LL21-K (it uses the same foil/blades and basically shaves the same).
My favorite mid-range Panasonic would the Arc 4 series, precisely the ES-LA63 (full review here).
It’s a beefed-up Arc 3, with an extra blade and a slightly more powerful motor.
If you have a coarse, dense beard and want to get a really close shave without breaking the bank, I would strongly consider this one.
While it is a bit harsh during a dry shave, using it with shaving cream will make it perfectly comfortable and gentle.
The closeness of the shave is outstanding, especially in this price range.
Side note: the ES-LA63 comes in two colors: silver (ES-LA63-S) and blue (ES-LA63AA). The performance is identical.
Finally, in the high-end range of electric razors suitable for wet shaving, we have the Arc 5 line from Panasonic.
Considering its performance, price and availability, I think the Arc 5 is the best choice for users that want the best performance.
While there are lots of other newer Arc 5 versions, I think these two are the best picks.
The performance with shaving cream is outstanding.
Personally, I’m able to get the same closeness as in the case of a wet shave with a razor blade (minus the irritation).
There’s a new Arc 6 as well which is a 6-blade monster of a shaver. However, In my experience it is only marginally better than an Arc 5 when used for wet shaving.
Besides, it’s not widely available yet and costs a lot more than the two aforementioned Arc5s.
These 3 Panasonic families (Arc 3, Arc 4 and Arc 5) are in my opinion some of the best electric razors for use with shaving cream.
So why no Braun or Philips (Norelco) razors?
Well, I find Panasonic shavers to shave closer than Braun electric razors (even closer than their latest Series 9 Pro).
They’re also easier to clean manually.
As for Philips, I think most users will have a better chance of getting a great shave with a foil electric razor.
They’re usually more comfortable and easier to use.
That doesn’t however mean rotary razors can’t work great with shaving creams.
If you’re a long-time rotary user and you’re getting good results, definitely continue using one.
For more options, make sure to check out my wet/dry shaver reviews.
The best shaving creams for electric razors
First of all, I have to say that there’s no such thing as a shaving cream for electric razors.
The same stuff you’re using for shaving with a blade will also work with a wet/dry electric shaver.
That said, not all shaving creams are made equal.
If it came out of a spray can, it’s probably not that good.
Canned foam often contains harsh chemicals (synthetic fragrances, alcohol, preservation agents, paraffin, etc.) that can irritate the skin and their moisturizing and lubricating properties are generally poor.
Besides, the lather is really fluffy and cushiony which is not something we want here.
As we saw earlier, a quality shaving cream contains, among other ingredients, substances that act on the tough outer layer of the hair, causing it to swell and absorb water.
This makes it a lot easier for the shaver to cut the hairs. A good shaving cream also soothes, hydrates and conditions the skin.
And that’s important since flaky skin is much more prone to razor burn and irritation.
My favorite is by far Speick, an inexpensive and natural shaving cream that outperforms pretty much everything I’ve tried so far.
Speick Shaving Cream
Out of all the creams I’ve used with my electric razors, this one is the best.
It provides excellent lubrication and protection, making the shaver much more forgiving and allowing me to get the closest possible shave.
The post-shave sensation is incredible, with the skin feeling smooth, hydrated and most importantly, irritation-free.
They’re widely available and particularly well suited to be used with electric shavers since they’re soft and easy to palm-lather.
There are of course other great options out there and you can check out my detailed guide on finding the best shaving creams.
BONUS TIP: since originally posting this article I’ve come across another fantastic product that works incredibly well with electric shavers.
It’s a shaving balm from Jack Black called Beard Lube.
The Beard Lube has two key advantages over traditional shaving cream.
First of all, once you apply it to your (wet) face, it’s basically transparent.
That is a huge advantage and will allow you to see what you’re doing without any foam getting in the way or clogging your shaver.
Secondly, because it’s a balm, you don’t need to lather it, you just apply the product directly to the wet face. The slickness is also unlike anything I’ve ever used.
This will greatly reduce the overhead of using shaving cream with your electric razor.
And the best part is that you’ll also get one of the most enjoyable, comfortable and close shaves ever.
I know that this seems like a lot to be done, but it really isn’t so.
Yes, wet shaving does take a bit more time than a quick dry shave but in my opinion it’s totally worth it. I personally shave dry only when I’m in a hurry.
With wet electric shaving, you get the best of both worlds: a close shave that is almost as good as shaving with a blade and the comfortable and pain-free experience of an electric razor.
So give it a try and see how it goes.
You can check the reviews section if you’re on the look for a shaver that can be used for both wet & dry shaving.
It goes without saying that you should only use a razor that was designed with that in mind.
Over to you now: have you tried using a shaving cream/balm with your electric shaver? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.