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Frequently Asked Questions

Using electric shavers Types and maintenance

Electric shavers

There are 2 main types of electric shaver: foil and rotary. The foil design uses a set of layered metal bands for shaving, that partially pull out the hair before cutting off the extracted length, and then allowing the remainder of the hair to retract below the skin. The rotary design has a circular blade structure, usually 3 in a triangular arrangement, which shaves in a similar manner to the foil design.

Advantages

Photo of different electric shavers
  • Inexpensive form of hair removal
  • Quick method of shaving
  • Pretty safe to use
  • Usually painless
  • Can be used at home and whilst travelling
  • Available almost anywhere

Disadvantages

  • Short-term effects (a few hours to several days)
  • Hairs can still be visible under the skin of some dark-haired users
  • Typically, shaving requires daily use
  • Electric shavers can cause cuts and skin irritation
  • Can also cause ingrown hairs


Background

Some of the very early mechanical shavers did not use electricity and had to be powered by hand. It wasn't until as recently as 1928 that an American, Jacob Schick patented the electric razor. The Remington Rand Corporation developed the electric shaver further, producing the first commercial brand in 1937. And it was the Philips Corporation that later invented the very successful concept of the revolving electric razor.

A typical electric shaver uses a small direct current (DC) motor, and is usually powered by rechargeable batteries, or less commonly now by mains current. Early versions were meant to be used on dry skin only. More recently shavers have been designed which allow for shaving cream and moisture.

Treatment

Modern electric shaving products offer excellent results for most people, given the time to adjust and bed the shaver in. Simply decide whether you want a mains powered or a rechargeable device, or a model with both of these features.

When properly used, most devices can offer the user a shave that is nearly or just as close as with a razor. This is possible because they roll up the skin ahead of the hair, forcing the hair up above what would be considered the skin line, where it is then cut off. The hair then retracts below the skin's surface.

An electric shaver is easy to use and is ideal for the first time user; if used properly, it is very rare to receive a cut or razor burns when using one. Another advantage is that a person can shave when on the move. The device catches most of the hairs and, as no lubrication is required, there is no mess to clean up.

When looking at a range of shavers from the same manufacturer you will find that you often get the same quality of shave, as they often share common parts. The price difference is largely due to the additional features and overall finish of the product. The more basic models do not have features such as charge displays, and usually have shorter running times and longer recharging times (if rechargeable). Some of the more modern electrical shavers now come with their own lubricating gel. These tend to offer the best shaves, but you do need to clean up afterwards.

Techniques

First you need to choose an appropriate type based on the hair you wish to shave. For fine and sparse beards, a single head or single foil model will perform adequately and provide excellent close shaves. Fine facial hairs are easier to remove so the user should not suffer from any skin irritation.

If you have a coarse beard, this will be a bit harder to remove using a single foil shaver. In this situation, you will need a dual action or dual foil shaver. For those with really coarse hairs then there are always the triple and quadruple headed models to try. There should be a suitable device for everyone.

One of the best techniques for using a foil shaver is to get the device's head on the beard at the point where it is most acutely against the grain - always shave against the grain. If you have sensitive skin then don't go over the same area many times or press too hard as it will irritate your skin. The best electric shavers don't need to go over the same area more than once and don't need much effort at all.

Technique is important when shaving but the most important factor by far is the quality of the device. A high quality product doesn't need you to work hard and can be used by a novice very effectively.

Make sure that you maintain your shaver by cleaning it regularly to keep those blades in optimal condition. If the blades get damaged (even slightly) then they will tug rather than cut your hair which may lead to irritation or ingrown hairs.

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