The 2 Different Types of Electric Shavers (Buying Guide)

Photo of a rotary style electric razor.

An electric razor or electric shaver is a razor that has an oscillating blade. The electric razor doesn’t require the use of any lubricant or shaving cream as well as water or soap. It’s usually powered by a small direct-current motor which is operated by either electric mains or a battery. The modern ones are usually powered by rechargeable batteries. Alternatively, there are electric shavers that run on electromechanical solenoid means.

The first electric razor was invented in 1898 by John F. O’Rouke, and after which others began to replicate the design. Jacob Schick, the name behind the famous Razor Brand, started to manufacture electric shavers in 1930. This went on until Professor Alexandre Horowitz from Philips Laboratories in the Netherlands invented the first rotary operated electric razor.

According to, the number of people in the US that use electric shavers is estimated to be at 74.86 million as of 2018. That number is projected to grow to 76.43 million in 2020, giving rise to the notion that the electric shaver market has a huge potential to grow in the United States.

Benefits of Electric Razors

Male with stubble and a razor under his lower lip.

There are a lot of arguments that present themselves when you have to buy a razor. If you’re wondering whether or not to buy an electric razor, you should narrow down a few things first.

The first thing to decide is whether your schedule is really packed. If that’s the case, then you should definitely consider buying an electric razor. It allows you to get over with shaving much faster than it takes to lather up and shave with a manual razor. Also, the fact that you can shave before a shower or literally anywhere without having to worry about washing up is very convenient.

If you have sensitive skin or are tired of razor cuts, then an electric razor will serve you well. Since they usually have precautions to separate the skin layers from the hair before they’re chopped off, you will generally be safe from cuts. And due to how electric shavers are designed, you’re much less likely to cut bumps and acne.

Another argument for an electric razor is that it doesn’t require nearly as much work as a standard razor. Most standard razors have to be replaced quite often, and you need to buy cartridges for refills. Not only is the electric razor much less “needy”, but it also presents an opportunity to save on buying refills all the time and repeated trips to the grocery store. Also, saving on shaving gel is a plus.

2 Main Types

1. Rotary Electric Shavers

Rotary Electric Shavers

Rotary shavers are easily recognizable due to their distinct design. They have three or four rotating heads, hence the name, and they’re good for people that want to completely get rid of their facial hair on a regular basis. The guys with boosted testosterone and quick growing beards will find it convenient to reach for their rotary electric shaver each time they feel their stubble is growing a little too rugged for their taste.

For those that don’t want to shave every day and just make quick work of their beard troubles will find the electric rotary shavers incredibly effective.

As with the design of the razor, you should remember to move it in a circular motion so that your face is completely covered through and through. The circular motion also makes sure that you get into the deep crevices that are hard to reach.

The circular motion should lift hair away from the face so that the rotating components cut them inside.

Selection Advice

If you want to buy a rotary razor that can do more without requiring much effort, you should get one with a rotatable head so that it can get the hairs in all the small nooks and crannies on your face. You should also not cheap out and should spend extra to get a good quality rotary shaver so that it lasts longer. Making your investment pay off in the long run.

Pros and Cons of Rotary Shavers

Rotary shaver with multiple heads.

Rotary shavers are best used for fast growing facial hair that grows unevenly in several directions. Thick beards and neckbeards especially require the finesse of a rotary razor to get rid of any existing hair.

As for the negatives, there is a careful motion to which you need to adhere to when operating the rotary shaver. If you’re not careful, you can irritate your skin, causing bruises or rashes. If you have particularly sensitive skin, you should avoid pressing the head of the razor into your skin. The gentle motion that pulls hair away from the face is preferred.

It is also not recommended if you want to style your beard into a particular shape such as a goatee. If you want to style sideburns and mutton chops, you’re better off using a manual razor since the circular motion of the rotary shaver isn’t conducive to precision beard styling.

2. Electric Foil Shavers

Electric Foil Shavers

Electric foil shavers have a thin layer of foil that covers its oscillating blades. This has two main reasons. It helps lift the hair away from the skin so that it can be cut neatly and so that the skin isn’t harmed during the shave. The limited blade on skin contact allows for the electric foil shaver to not irritate sensitive skin and not cause any cuts. Hence, it is a much gentler alternative to the electric rotary shaver.

The electric foil shaver usually comes in three or four blade options, and the four blade shaver will shave you faster and closer than a three blade shaver, simply because it is engineered to give you a closer shave with multiple blades going over a single hair follicle in quick succession.

Unlike the rotary shaver, you don’t need to go over your face using a circular motion. You can just adopt a linear motion and normally shave as you would with a standard razor. This allows you to get a close shave.

Pros and Cons of Foil Shavers

Classic Foil Shaver

The advantage of the foil shaver is that it gives you a very close shave and allows you to get a much better shave than with a rotary razor. Of course, it’s not better than shaving with a standard razor and some shaving foam or gel, but the result is hardly different, and you get rid of most of the hair on your face so that you can feel a smooth texture all around.

The foil shaver is also much kinder and gentler on the skin than a rotary shaver simply because it doesn’t need you to push gently into the skin with a circular motion. It causes less irritation and allows for a more precise shave.

The disadvantages include not being able to move in a circular motion if you are used to that type of shaving. You may also find it hard to shave with a foil shaver without a pivoting head. Without that, you’ll find it hard to get at the hair that is in hard to reach nooks and crannies. You may also run the risk of cutting or bruising parts of your face if you have an angular or slight spherical face structure. You may have to splurge a little more for a high-end foil shaver for this convenience.

Buying Tips

Stubble shaving with an electric razor.

Replaceable heads

What you need to know is that the only part that’s important about the Electric razor is the replaceable head. Like any disposable razor or disposable razor head, you will need to focus on the head of the electric razor. Most razors have the same few interchangeable heads, and the motors in the razors that drive these heads are almost identical. Hence, you need to shoot for the head, no pun intended.

LED interface?

For more high-end razors you may want to get ones that come with extra options like an LED or LCD interface. For electric razors that are plugged into mains to work or to charge, the LED panels would allow you to look into the razor’s status at any point in time. You’ll be informed immediately by checking the LED panel if the razor has been charged or not.

Cord vs. cordless

Then there are choices between cordless or corded razors. Honestly, this depends on how lazy and forgetful you are, or how much of your life is a mess. If you need quick fixes for interviews, business meetings, formal events, parties, and gatherings, then you should get a cordless electric razor that you can take anywhere and trim your beard.

If your life isn’t that busy and you can afford to spend a little more time grooming, get a corded razor so that you can stay in one place and shave without any distractions. Corded razors will also allow you to get full power at any time while battery powered or cordless razors can alternate between full and partial power depending on the battery levels and what mode the razor is in.

Battery Life and Warranty

Battery operated the rotary razor.

The battery life of an electric razor need not be much; after all, you need to use it nearly 10 minutes a day. However, if your schedule is uncharacteristically busy, then you need to get a razor that has long battery life and that you can count on to be charged and hold power for nearly a week.

As for the warranty, this is purely a monetary thing. However, you would want your investment to come with some assurances, would you not? Electric razors like any appliance can develop a fault or break or suffer a malfunction out of nowhere.

You can enjoy the razor for many years if you have a warranty, but if you buy a cheap one, you may not get what you wanted and instead will have to replace the entire razor after a year. That kind of investment needs to last much longer.

Electric razors are one of the modern conveniences afforded to the inhabitants of the twenty-first century. They are portable, reliable, replaceable, and cheap. They are readily available everywhere and serve a very important purpose, that of personal grooming.

If you would like to buy an electric razor, then follow this guide about the types of shavers and how to use them to get the best bang for your buck.

Vintage Electric Shavers

Vintage electric shaver

If you’re a collector or like vintage products, there are vintage shavers you can buy and collect. Above is such an example.


While not technically shavers, men use trimmers for grooming, whether it’s trim hair, facial hair, nose hair and even body hair. Consequently, there are 4 types of electric trimmers which are:

  • Hair trimmers: adjustable length electric tool for cutting hair.
  • Facial hair trimers: used for trimming/grooming facial hair.
  • Nose/ear trimmers: used to trim nose and ear hair.
  • Body trimmer: used to shorten body hair.

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