What is an Electric Shaver?

wiseGEEK Writer

The electric shaver is a device meant to accomplish shaving with the use of electricity. It is often considered timesaving, since getting cuts from these razors is less likely. This means you can shave faster, and often shave without the use of water or shaving creams and lotions. The modern electric razor may have a plug or adapter but also runs on batteries.

Electric shavers produce less cuts and nicks than other kinds of shavers.
Electric shavers produce less cuts and nicks than other kinds of shavers.

The first electric razors were developed in the late 1920s and the 1930s. Two companies that still produce a variety of razors today were the innovators of electric razors, Schick and Remington. Over the years, there have been many different styles of powered razors developed. The two most common styles are rotary and foil shavers, and both are built on similar principles.

Electric shaver attachments might allow a man to leave some stubble behind after shaving.
Electric shaver attachments might allow a man to leave some stubble behind after shaving.

Both types of razors have an element called a foil that traps hair. This allows the blades inside the electric razor to then cut the trapped pieces of hair. In rotary razors, there are three foils, and three sets of cutters or blades. On the surface of the razor, this looks like three spinning heads.

Professional athletes who shave much of their bodies often prefer the closer shave provided by a razor.
Professional athletes who shave much of their bodies often prefer the closer shave provided by a razor.

A foil design electric shaver has only one foil and one head. It’s technically supposed to give a closer shave, but some people prefer the rotary design because it can cut longer hairs. Rotary shavers also tend to work better around curved areas of the face. There are plenty of fans of both types, and lots of recommendations on what kinds to buy.

Modern electric shavers use batteries.
Modern electric shavers use batteries.

There are now foil and rotary designed electric razors for women too. The rotary design may be better for shaving under the arms or over the knees, but the foil design may ultimately be preferred as giving a slightly closer shave.. If you do have trouble with razor burn, there are now styles of electric shavers that can be used with shaving cream or gel to help minimize skin irritation. However, the main advantage of the electric shaver may be that you can use it on dry skin.

When you first start using an electric shaver, you may not get as close a shave as you’d like. It can take a few weeks for your hair growth and skin to adjust to the way the razor works. Usually if you use electric razors over a period of time, they will actually work better due to this adjustment. A few weeks into use, you should have closer shaves. You can buy special shaving gel that hardens the hairs and makes them easier to cut, if a close shave remains elusive.

It’s important to make sure that you keep your electric shaver clean. Follow manufacturing guidelines for cleaning, and do watch the integrity of the foils on top of the blades. If the foils break or fall off, they or the electric shaver need to be replaced. Without foils, the blades are much more likely to cut you and the razor will not work as effectively.

Some electric shavers may be used with shaving cream to help minimize skin irritation.
Some electric shavers may be used with shaving cream to help minimize skin irritation.

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Discussion Comments

anon205629

A very nice summary about electric razors.

It seems Remington, despite being great innovators are now selling sub par quality electric razors when comparing them with Philips or Panasonic, and especially Braun. -- Avi

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