How To Use An Electric Razor Effectively

Electric razor with some cut hair on the table

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Are you looking to switch from a blade shave to electric? Are you used to one type but are thinking about switching to a new electric razor? What kind of shave are you looking for? This article will address all these questions. When you have the answers, you will be able to maximize the benefits and value of your electric razor purchase.

What Kind of Shave Are You Looking For?

black electric razor

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So, you’ve decided that the old blade razor won’t cut it (pun intended) anymore. You’re tired of donating to the local blood bank when your razor gets a little dull. You are spending way too much on toilet paper to cover the cuts. You cringe at the environmental impact of disposing of blades and cans of shaving cream. So what do you do?

Invest in a sleek, manly, high-tech masterpiece of engineering: the electric razor. Now you have to ask yourself the question: which one do I buy?

Excellent Electric Razor Choices

There are two basic types of electric razors: foil and rotary. Some in each category are dry only; that is, you can’t submerge the razor head or use wet foam or gel products with it. Regardless of the closeness of the shave you’re wanting, we’d recommend you go with a razor that you can use in a wet environment.

There are plenty of great choices in both categories, but also some acknowledged leaders in the field. An excellent foil razor is the Braun Series 7 790cc-4 Electric Foil Shaver. You can use this razor wet or dry. It comes with a charging and cleaning station to keep the razor both clean and sterilized.

An equally excellent rotary razor is the Philips Norelco Electric Shaver 9700. This wet/dry rotary shaver comes with a facial cleaning attachment and a cleaning station.

Questions to Ask

When learning how to use an electric razor, the first question you should ask is, how good of a shave do I want? Most people agree that you’ll never get as close a shave with an electric razor as you will with a blade shave, but if you use the electric razor properly, you will get a shave almost as good, particularly if you don’t need to be perfectly clean-shaven until late into the night.

Some men aren’t really looking for that close a shave, though. They use an electric razor because it allows them to save time and they aren’t overly concerned with the closeness of the shave. This article will cover the basics of how to use an electric razor, then spend time on the guys who want to get the best shave possible.

There’s another question to ask besides how close a shave do you want: how much time do you have to devote to your shave each morning? We’re assuming you don’t want to waste any time on your shave, but ultimately it will all depend on your beard type.

“As Little Time as Possible”

Men in this category tend to have lighter beards or just want a quick touch-up before going to work or attending some event. Men in this category tend to prefer a dry shave, talking as little time as possible. For those men, see the ‘Dry Shave’ instructions below. Note that these instructions still apply to the latter categories as well. Think of this section as a beginner’s course in how to use an electric razor.


“A Medium Amount of Time”

Men in this category have heavier beards or want to take the time to get a very close shave. Those men should read the ‘Wet Shave’ instructions below. This is the advanced course in how to use an electric razor.


“As Much Time As It Takes”

For men who have set aside a lot of time for grooming and want to get a shave that rivals that of a bladed shaver, see the ‘Maximum Shave’ instructions below. You may think of this as the PhD course in how to use an electric razor.

Directions and Tips For Use

Dry Shave

The basics of how to use an electric razor are straightforward. Let’s go over some of them here (note: these instructions are where those with as little time as possible to shave should have all the information they need; at least until they’re ready to move on to the next level).

Trim Longer Hairs

The first thing you should do when preparing to shave with an electric razor is to make sure you don’t have any facial hair in your shaving area that is too long. Longer facial hair can get pinched in the blades rather than cut. This results in pain and irritation. You want to avoid those unsightly razor bumps if you can.


Be Patient

Realize that it will take about two weeks for your face to adjust to your new razor. Don’t expect too much right out of the box, and don’t judge your new razor too harshly until you’ve gotten used to using it.


Start on Sensitive Areas

The first tip when using your razor is to start on the more sensitive areas first. These include your neck, your upper lip and your chin. As razors are used, the shaving heads become hot. Heat on those sensitive areas can lead to irritation.


Go Against the Grain

Some shaving gurus recommend making the first pass over your skin with the grain (in the direction of your beard growth). We don’t. Shaving against the grain gives the closest shave in the quickest time and keeps the razor cooler.


Pull It Tight

You should use the hand not holding the razor to pull the skin tight, This allows your facial hair to become more vertical while pulling your skin away from the individual hairs, resulting in the closest shave in the shortest time.


Stroke Directions

If you are using a foil razor, then an up-and-down motion will yield the best results. To get into tough-to-shave places such as on your neck where your chin meets it, you can use a sideways stroke; that is, a stroke where the motion is in the direction of the long axis of the foil.

If you are using a rotary razor, the best motion is circular. You still will pull the skin tight, as with the foil razor, to get the best shave.

Wet Shave (A Bit Closer)

The first thing to know is that getting the closest shave requires the most passes of the razor over your face. Close shaves equal more time.

Depending on how much time you have, there are tricks you can use to get an even closer shave. The first of these involves conditioning your beard. If you have time to prepare your beard for the razor, do this:

Give your skin a thorough washing. This will remove dead skin that can partially plug your razor head as well as clearing away dirt and oil. Washing your face with warm or hot water will also soften your beard, making it easier to cut with fewer passes. Now, with certain types of beards, keeping your facial hair dry and stiff may give you better results, so you should experiment. But with most beards, a pre-washing will yield better results.

Maximum Shave

The final step you may consider if you want the closest shave involves using a shaving cream or gel. This can help if you have sensitive skin, and most times will result in a closer shave with less irritation.

Apply these products per the manufacturer’s directions. If you use these products, remember to clean your razor frequently under warm running water. Shaving cream, and particularly gels, can plug the shaving head and make the razor float over your beard.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Razor


A clean razor is a happy razor. You should clean your razor daily, following manufacturer’s instructions. A build-up of cut hair and other detritus can degrade the quality of your shave. If you have purchased an electric razor with a cleaning station, you must wash your razor before placing it in the station. Make sure you get all the cream or gel out of the razor before you machine-clean it.

Also remember that shaving heads don’t last forever. We’ve heard that, with a year of shaves, your shaving head covers as much area as an 18-hole golf course. Razor heads, as with any blade, get dull over time. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when determining when to replace your shaving head.


Now that you know how to use an electric razor, you’ll be able to maximize your return on investment. Keep the above tips in mind, and you’ll get the best shave next to a blade with far fewer cuts and irritations. Good shaving!

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