A quick, unscientific poll of my female acquaintances just yielded a pretty cut-and-dried view of the feminine perspective: men should either have well-tended beards, or none at all. Anything in between, including scratchy stubble, just doesn’t work.
Proper grooming also serves numerous purposes aside from impressing the fairer sex. It may be shallow, but showing up half-shaven to a job interview, a meeting with your landlord, or even just a party will affect the way people treat you. At least subconsciously, people associate taking care of one’s appearance with self-respect.
For exactly this reason, most men who prefer to use their electric razor keep a traditional one in their bathroom cabinet for special occasions. As it turns out, this may not be necessary. If you know how to use this tool, you can indeed get a close shave with an electric razor.
Buy the Right Electric Razor to Begin With
Electric shavers can be pricey, all right. Some premium models push the $400 mark, which could otherwise keep you in disposable blades for years.
Price isn’t the only consideration, though. As long as it’s portable and rechargeable, an electric shaver is perfect for doing a quick touch-up in the middle of the day. Compared to the whole lathering ritual, shaving with an electric razor is significantly faster. Even people with very sensitive skin can use one without bumping up or using weird, expensive ointments.
That having been said, the most expensive shaver isn’t necessarily the best for getting the closest possible shave. This depends on your skin type and how you intend to use it. You should definitely read a couple of reviews to get the lay of the land before spending any cash.
In general, foil shavers are better than rotary in terms of buzzing off your stubble as close to the skin as possible. The exception to this is if you have very thick or curly beard hair. In this case, you’ll never really get baby-bottom-smooth cheeks without dragging a blade across your face, but a rotary-head shaver will get an adequate job done more quickly.
The other thing about foil-type electric shavers is that they’re known for causing irritation and rashes (exactly the reason why many people prefer an electric razor to begin with). If you have sensitive skin, consider getting one you can use with shaving cream or even in the shower, like the Panasonic ARC5.
Wake Up Completely Before You Shave
For most of us, part of the reason for getting an electric shaver is to cut down on the amount of time we spend preparing for the day. This is a valid point, but you should still hold off on shaving until about half an hour after getting out of bed.
Simply put, your skin needs time to assume its normal tone and tension.
Before this happens, hairs tend to lie flat, making it difficult for any type of razor to grip them. This applies to traditional wet shaving too. Rubbing your face vigorously may help, but unless you’re planning to use a shaving gel or cream, don’t shower beforehand. When using a dry electric razor, it expects your face to be completely dry before you start. Even an imperceptible layer of sweat will mean not getting the closest possible shave.
A pre-shave lotion or powder formulated to work with electric razors, on the other hand, will go a long way to conditioning your skin for a thorough, trouble-free shave.
Pay Attention to Your Shaving Technique
Though an electric razor, like a powered toothbrush, does a lot of the work for you, you still have to use it properly. For best results, glide it back and forth against/along the grain of your beard (this is less important with a rotary shaver).
Press it down firmly enough for the entire head to make contact with your skin, but no harder than that. You can also use your free hand to stretch the skin taut on softer areas like below the cheekbones.
Remember: it’s not really the cutting action that chafes your skin, but the vibration. If you’re continually mauling your face, chances are that you’re just pressing too hard at too high an intensity.
Keep the Head Clean and Sharp
No machine imaginable will keep performing well if it’s not maintained. Though the fact isn’t emphasized in their advertising, this certainly applies to electric shavers.
Unless you were smart enough to buy one with an automatic head cleaner built into its charging station, this means some extra work for you. Don’t neglect this task if a close shave is important to you, and make sure to buy a bottle of suitable oil made specifically to keep electric shavers working at peak efficiency.
Even with proper lubrication, the working parts of your razor are going to wear out sooner or later. In general, you’ll want to replace the head every year or so if it uses stainless steel blades, and once every 2 years if yours is made from the more durable titanium.
It May Be Time to Go with an Electric Shaver
Electric razors used to be pretty bad: functional, but nobody’s first choice. However, sometime between the moon landing and the release of the first iPhone, things changed completely. Technological advances have made electric razors a competitive option even for men who make an effort to look their best.
Some people will never accept them – a couple of guys still swear that nothing comes close to their straight, cut-throat razors. That may be true, but the improvement is only incremental, representing a couple of hours’ growth at best. The convenience of a portable, rechargeable shaver beats this edge by a mile. Invest in one that will go the distance, and you’ll never reach for a cartridge razor again.