Should I use a traditional razor or an electric razor?

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Anyone who wants to shave has to choose between two types of shaving tools one is the traditional razor and the other is electric or battery-powered razors. If you are looking for a new razor to buy then you will have to choose between the blade and electric shaving before you can narrow your choice down to a specific brand. Both of these options have their plusses and minuses. So what should you decide to go with? A traditional razor or an electric razor?

Traditional shaving and electric shaving have their pros and cons. When making your choice amongst an electric razor or traditional razor you should consider:

  1. Cost of shaving
  2. How much time you want to spend on shaving
  3. Closeness of shave
  4. Maintenance

To pick the right type of razor for yourself, you have to know exactly how they work, their pros and cons. In this article, we are going to give you all the information you need to be able to decide between traditional razors and an electric razor.  

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What is the difference between electric and traditional razors?

The similarities between the two end with the word “razor”. Both electric razors and traditional razors share the word. However, both types of razors have completely different mechanisms for cutting hair. The most obvious difference between them is that traditional razors are not powered with electricity while electric razors require electricity and they have a motor that runs the blades. But if you want to pick either, one you have to know the key differences between how both types of razors work. Here are the main differences between traditional and electric razors:

Traditional razors

Traditional razors include safety razors and even straight razors that you find at barbershops. They are called traditional razors because blade shaving is the oldest form of shaving and this has been around before the invention of electric razors. Traditional razors are always used for wet shaving, where you have to prepare for shaving by lathering the hair you want to remove, using shaving cream or gel. Straight razors are difficult to use. For self shaving, safety razors are the go-to tool for shaving hair, for both men and women.

Safety razors and disposable razors are slightly different from one another as explained below:

Safety razors:

Safety razors have been around before plastic made disposable razors were introduced into the market. These types of razors can be made out of metals such as stainless steel, and cheaper safety razors are even made out of plastic. However, the key feature of safety razors which sets them apart from disposable ones is that you can replace the blades of safety razors once they start to get dull. Depending upon the type of safety razor, you can simply twist the shaving head or flip it open to replace the old blade with a new one and start shaving. This feature makes safety razors last forever if the razor is made out of stainless steel. While the blades used in safety razors cost a few cents per blade, the safety razor itself can range from $30 to several hundred dollars in price. The shaving head of these razors is fixed which means you have to adjust the angle of blade against your skin manually to shave the hair.

Straight razors:

Straight razors have a single blade that can be re-sharpened when it goes dull. These are considered an advanced form of traditional razors because handling and properly using a straight razor can be quite difficult. The straight razor consists of a long single-edged blade and a handle. The blade and handle are attached through a pivoting joint which allows you to adjust the position and grip as you shave. These razors are even older than safety razors and their design has barely changed since then. The blade of a safety razor lasts for a long time, making them more like a one-time investment. Some straight razors have been known to last up to 40 years with proper maintenance and care. You can cover a lot of skin with each stroke when using a straight razor since the blade is almost 3 inches long.

Electric razors 

Electric razors are available in corded and battery-powered varieties, but the cordless battery-powered electric razors are getting more popular these days because they are easier to use. Electric razors were introduced in the market in the early 1900s and they have quickly gained popularity among daily shavers. All-electric razors have a small electric motor that powers the blades and the blades will move to cut your hair. They are travel-friendly and you can shave with them on the go without preparing your skin using shaving creams.  You can also do wet shaving with an electric razor using specially designed waterproof electric razors. Electric razors come in two main types:

Foil electric razor:

As the name suggests, a foil razor has a foil on its shaving head and this foil separates blades of the razor and your skin. Foil razors have a cassette of oscillating blades that move left and right inside the shaving head and as you move the foil of the razor along your skin, hairs enter the holes in the foil and when they come in contact with the blades the hair get cut. This design of foil razors has not changed much ever since their invention because it is easy on your skin and it cuts hair close to the skin. Foil is flexible which allows the hair to get pulled in without the blades coming in contact with the skin.

The number of oscillating blades can range from 1 to 3. Foil razors with more blades provide a better shave and they are mostly used by men for shaving their facial hair.

The amount of pressure you have to apply on your skin when using a foil razor varies, depending on if the foil razor you are using has a spring-loaded foil or not. The foil of the foil electric razor can be replaced if it gets damaged.

Rotary electric razor:

As the name suggests, these electric razors have rotating blades under the shaving head as opposed to oscillating blades of foil razors. A rotary razor can have up to 3 spinning blades that are covered by a removable shaving head. Blades of a rotary electric razor have some amount of suspension that allows them to adjust according to the pressure being applied against the skin. This feature makes rotary electric razors completely irritation-free. The suspension springs used in the shaving heads of rotary razors can adapt to the shape of your face just like a flexible head of a disposable razor. This allows you to shave along the curves as well as around the edges of your face. 

Pros and cons of traditional and electric razors

Now that you know how both of these shaving tools differ from one another, the next thing you need to know is the good and bad aspects of both options. Both the traditional razors and electric razors have certain high-performance areas as well as shortcomings. Knowing the pros and cons of these shaving tools would help you in picking the best possible tool for yourself. Here are the details:

Pros and cons of traditional razors

Pros

Gives the closest possible shave:

Probably the biggest benefit of traditional razors is their ability to cut hair very close to the skin. This is possible because of the direct skin to blade contact which allows you to cut hair as short as possible. The blades used in traditional razors are very sharp and multiple blades used in some disposable razors make it very easy to get baby-smooth skin after each shave. If you make sure the blade is sharp and you use a proper technique, you will be able to achieve the best quality of the shave. In addition to a sharp blade, proper lathering and pre-shave prepping is also the reason why traditional razors provide a superior-close shave.

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It is economical:

When we say economical we mean you will barely spend any money on blades once you have bought a traditional razor. The blades used in safety razors cost less than 10 cents per blade which means you can get 2 or 3 shaves out of a single blade which will cost you around 2 cents per shave. Not to mention if you learn how to use a straight razor you will simply have to sharpen the same blade for the rest of your life without needing a new one. If you are ok with spending money on a quality traditional razor, you will save hundreds of dollars each year in terms of electricity and the maintenance cost that comes with electric razors. The best part is, you don’t have to order blades of a safety razor online or drive to a specific store to get them. You can find double-edged blades at any local store at various price ranges. You can also buy a premium blade for your safety razor that would last longer or you can buy a cheaper one depending on how much you want to spend.

Easy to clean and maintain:

Since there are no moving parts in a traditional razor, all you will have to do is replace the blade and get to shaving with zero maintenance needed. A safety razor is rugged which means they don’t rust or break easily and don’t require any special care either. Cleaning a traditional razor is also very easy and it is one of the most important benefits of traditional razors because you can easily disinfect a safety or straight razor using some cleaning alcohol and make it germ-free. This makes traditional razors extremely hygienic, and even when you are shaving you can simply rinse away hair stuck inside the razor head by placing the razor head under running tap water. If needed you can easily disassemble a safety razor and get rid of any hair that might get stuck between the blade and the shaving head.

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It is easy on sensitive skin:

While multi-blade disposable razors and electric razors are known to cause razor burns due to the excess drag they cause against the skin, traditional razors are easy on your skin and don’t cause a lot of friction during shaving. The reason why traditional razors don’t cause skin irritation is partly because of the skin preparation you have to do before using a safety or straight razor. You have to soak your face in warm water and then apply a shaving cream or gel to your face in the form of lather. Not only does this reduce the friction between your skin and the razor but it also softens your hair, making them easier to cut.

Cons

They take more time to shave:

If you are in a hurry and you try to quickly shave with a traditional razor, you might have a lot of cuts or razor burns. As we mentioned earlier, shaving with a traditional razor takes a lot of preparation which requires soaking and lathering your skin. But it is not only the preparation required for traditional razors that is time-consuming. When using a traditional razor you are putting a very sharp-edged blade against your skin which requires a lot of care and precision. You are bound to add 20 more minutes to your daily routine if you plan on shaving with a traditional razor every day. There is no such thing as a quick shave when using a traditional razor because it is very easy to hurt yourself if you rush your shave. So if you are someone with a limited amount of time to spend on shaving, then traditional razor might not be suitable for you.

They have a steep learning curve:

Even if you have used a disposable razor before, learning how to use a traditional razor is going to take some time, and you are bound to get a few razor burns during your first few shaves with a traditional razor. You have to learn how much pressure you need to apply with the razor’s blade when shaving and you also have to get a feel of the proper angle at which you need to place the blade against your skin. All of these things come with experience and experience comes with time. So if you are planning on getting a traditional razor, you better be ready to spend some time researching proper techniques and tips for using a traditional razor. 

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You also have to deal with cuts and nicks:

People who shave with traditional razors keep a first aid kit ready just in case. Because no matter how careful you are a fresh sharp blade always poses a risk of cuts and nicks during the shave. This is probably the biggest drawback of traditional razors and people avoid traditional razors because of the risk.

You have to buy additional shaving products:

In addition to buying a traditional razor, you also have to buy a shaving cream/gel and a brush to make lather with. You might also need a spare mug to lather the brush in. While shaving creams last quite a long time and the brushes don’t require frequent replacement either but they are still additional items you have to worry about buying when getting a traditional razor.

Pros and cons of electric razors

Pros

You can shave quickly:

If you are someone who has less then 10 minutes to spare for shaving, then an electric razor is the ideal type of razor for you. You can even get a complete shave in 5 minutes if you use a good quality electric razor. The ability to get a quick shave using an electric razor also makes it easier for you to shave at any time during the day. You don’t have to dedicate half an hour to preparing and shaving when using an electric shaver because there is hardly any preparation you need to do. Also, most electric razors are dry shavers which means you don’t have to spend time soaking and then drying your skin after shaving. If you use an electric razor, you will be able to save some time in your routine to achieve other important goals such as breakfast or arriving at your desired destination in time.

– No risk of cuts and nicks:

Once you remove a sharp blade out of the equation you also get rid of the risk of cuts and nicks. And with electric razors, you can rest assured that your skin is going to be safe from any unwanted injuries. As we mentioned above when using a traditional razor you can reduce the risk of cuts and nicks by being extremely careful but there are still chances of getting cuts. Even if you are a first-time shaver and you use an electric razor, you will still be able to get a cut-free shave. If you are scared of infections and injuries and want a safer alternative to blade shaving then an electric shaver is a good option for you. Even if you are shaving in a hurry you will still be able to get a safe, cut free shave when using an electric razor.

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modern electric shaver isolated on white background
Always ready to shave:

When using an electric razor you are free from the worry of putting in a new blade into the razor or worrying about whether the blade is dull or not. You can simply pick up an electric razor plug it in or if it is a battery-powered one you can simply charge it ahead of time and get on with shaving. And since a battery-powered electric razor gives you up to an hour of battery life with a full charge, you will never have to worry about running out of battery mid-shave. Once you are done with your shave you can simply plug your razor in for charging so that it has a full battery next time you need it. Make sure not to leave your electric razor on charge for more than a day as it can cause harm to the battery. Once the battery indicates that it is fully charged, endeavor to unplug the charger.

Cons

Requires regular maintenance:

Electric shavers have moving parts and just like any tool with moving parts they require cleaning and lubrication. Now the number of times you will have to clean your electric razor depends on how often you use it, but it is recommended to deep clean your electric razor at least once a month. And once you clean your electric razor, you remove any lubricating oil that is covering various components of the electric razor. That is why it is important to apply specialized lubrication to your electric razor to prolong its useful life. Some self-cleaning varieties of electric razors are also available but they cost a lot more and you have to refill the different liquids regularly, making the maintenance of an electric razor a complicated task.

– Doesn’t give a close shave:

Electric shavers lack the direct skin to blade interaction that traditional razors have. While this makes electric razors a lot safer it also means that the shave you get with an electric razor is not as close. There is no way to adjust the angle of the blade against your skin when using an electric razor which means you are stuck with not so smooth skin. Since electric razors don’t cut hair as short as traditional razors you might end up shaving more often especially if your hairs are thick and grow quicker.

– Not easy on the skin:

People who use electric razors often complain about razor burns, ingrown hair and skin irritation.  Sometimes, people ask questions like  “aren’t the shaving heads of the razor meant to keep the skin away from the blade and only allow hair inside to be cut?” In our opinion, that is the ideal scenario but as the user presses the razor head against their skin to get a close shave and cut the hair shorter, some parts of the skin get pressed inside the razor head as well and come in contact with the moving blades. It is still unlikely that you might get a cut if you press an electric razor too hard against your skin but you will get razor burns and skin irritation. And when the skin gets pressed into the foils of an electric razor, the blades end up cutting the hair too short which causes the hair to grow back into the skin at the wrong angle causing an ingrown hair.

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Expensive:

If you buy a good quality electric razor you are going to spend a few hundred dollars on average. Adding to the cost of cleaning cartridges for self-cleaning electric razors and the cost of electricity you are going to spend, around a hundred dollars every year.  All these factors make the buying cost of an electric razor a lot more compared to a traditional razor.

Traditional razors vs electric razors which one is right for you?

Based on the pros and cons we have mentioned above you should be able to pick the razor option that fits into your budget, routine and shaving requirements.

Traditional razors are ideal for:

  • People who have the time and patience to spend on shaving. And who loves the feeling and tradition of using a safety or straight razor.
  • People who think they have what it takes to learn how to use a traditional razor.
  • People who want to invest in a shaving tool that is going to last them a lifetime with very little cost for blades.
  • People who want an extremely close and smooth shave.

Electric razors are ideal for:

  • People who don’t have a lot of time to spend on shaving and want a quick shave on the go.
  • Who don’t mind spending some extra money on buying an expensive shaving tool which is easier to use.
  • Who are ok with a not so smooth shave and don’t mind having some length of hair left after shaving.
  • People who are afraid of cuts and nicks that come from a blade.

Conclusion

Both the traditional razors and electric razors have their specialties and areas in which they shine. And it is up to you to decide what qualities you want in the shaving tool you want to use. There are subcategories and various features available in both types of razors that are discussed in this article. And now that you know the key differences and qualities of both types of razors, you should be able to pick one the right option for yourself.