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 have experienced simply made electric shavers the only viable option.
But can you take electric shaving to the next level?
Well, you can. And in this article, you’ll find out precisely how to do it.
But first, a little bit of background story about yours truly.
For me, shaving with a razor blade back in the day often ended up in carnage.
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 after my parents bought me a dry-only, basic Braun foil shaver for my birthday.
The results were still far from great, but for some reason I kept using it.
After the foil of my old Braun razor 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 aha moment.
Once I started my wet shaving journey, I tried various techniques, shaving creams, and electric razors, some of them very good and some pretty terrible ones as well.
After years of using electric razors along 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 my 10 simple tips for a close and pain-free wet shave with an electric razor.
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, check out my in-depth article on how to develop a simple and effective pre-electric shave routine.
2. Use a quality shaving cream.
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.
A quality shaving cream contains, among other ingredients, substances that act on the tough outer layer of the hair called the cuticle, causing it to swell and absorb water.
This makes it a lot easier for the shaver to cut through 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 as you’ll see next.
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 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.
3. Use only a thin layer of slick, watery lather.
But let’s get back to using shaving cream.
This is where shaving wet with an electric razor is different compared to traditional wet 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 get that thick, luxuriant lather.
With electric shavers, you don’t need that cushioning effect of the lather since there’s no razor 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, it will just clog the shaver and you’ll just end up smearing it all over your face and it will actually create a barrier between the shaver and the skin, so you won’t be able to get that very close shave.
The solution? 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 forums.
Let’s see how you can get that 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.
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.
4. Massage the cream into your beard, rubbing against the grain and 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 2 – 5 minutes before actually shaving. Remember, the hair has a very tough lining that the alkaline components in the shaving cream must soften. Give it some time to do 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 (it likely will), wet your hands with warm water and run them across your face.
Remember, it’s called wet shaving for a reason and the lather must be properly hydrated to get the best results.
You can follow the same process if you’re using the Beard Lube balm.
5. Shave against the grain.
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. 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.
6. Use the right electric shaver.
Some shavers are simply better than others and selecting the right one for the job is key in getting a close and comfortable shave.
You should only use an electric razor 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.
For more options, you can check out my comprehensive guide on choosing the best electric razor for your needs.
7. Make sure your razor is not running low on battery.
When using an electric razor you’ll want to take advantage of its full power, regardless if 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.
The closeness of your shave will also suffer and you’ll be tempted to press harder and do unnecessary passes.
8. Don’t skip post-shave treatment.
Just because you ditched the blade it doesn’t mean you should skip this step.
After you’ve finished shaving, wash your face with cold water, pat dry with clean towel and apply your favorite aftershave balm.
Stay away from products that contain alcohol, they just sting and dry your skin.
9. Thoroughly clean and lubricate your shaver after every use.
This is 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; using soap will remove any form of lubrication and that can lead to excessive heat and wear of the foils and blades.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to lubricate your electric shaver.
10. Take your time and enjoy your shave.
In my case, shaving has turned from something I loathed into an enjoyable ritual that I actually look forward to.
And the use of a suitable wet/dry electric shaver and a quality shaving cream have contributed massively to this.
My current favorite setup involves a Panasonic Arc 5 shaver and the Jack Black Beard Lube.
I actually prefer the Beard Lube balm over traditional shaving cream mainly because it takes a lot less time to complete my shave and the results in terms of closeness and comfort are at least as good.
I highly recommend giving it a try despite being a bit pricy.
I know that this seems like a lot to be done, but it really isn’t so.
Yes, it 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 our 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.