In the past our team have written comprehensive articles on pre-shave routines, post-shaving treatments, body groomers, best electric shaver, best beard trimmer for long beards, best electric shaver for head and various tips for dry and wet shaving.
However, we’ve never addressed in detail what real shaving is like with an electric razor, so it’s time to focus on that.
This article will focus exclusively on shaving techniques. While beginners should benefit more from these tips, we believe that experienced users of electric razors will also find this information useful.
Three Pillars of a Quality Shave
I have been exclusively using electric razors for the last 15 years and have tried almost everything in terms of techniques while using electric razors.
My conclusion? The key to a close and comfortable shave is to get the exact point using good quality electric razor that will make it simple.
We can divide shaving with an electric razor into three distinct parts, all equally important.
- Post-shaving treatment
As you might expect, in this post we will look into the second part, the shave itself. I recommend you to also read the other two resources listed above, as they will have a big impact on the results.
So, let’s see how to shave with an electric razor without running the risk of irritation and at the same time get the best close shave possible.
In addition, because rotary shavers and razor blades are different in the way they work and the way they are used, we will address each one of them separately.
How to Shave with an Electric Blade Shaver
Blade shavers consist of sharp blades that move sideways extremely fast behind a thin perforated metal plate. The hairs enter through the perforations in the plate and are then cut by the blades.
Aside from the perforated plates, almost all modern shavers include at least one cutter designed to cut long hairs to a more manageable size.
And speaking of which, the heel of almost all electric razors is the long hair. Therefore, a prerequisite for a good shave with an electric razor is to have a reasonably short beard, especially if you’re using a razor blade.
This is because electric razors tend to handle long hair worse than rotary electric razors.
If for any reason you shave every three days or more, it’s a good idea to trim your beard with a trimmer before you shave.
1) Give short, controlled passes against the direction of hair growth.
This is probably the most important aspect of shaving with an electric razor. Use the free hand to determine the direction your beard is growing so you can always shave against that direction.
Not shaving against the growing direction of the beard will result in a poor shave in terms of tight shave and you will probably leave some hairs behind.
After a while you will have a mental map with the direction in which your beard grows and you will no longer have to feel it with your hand.
2) Adjusting the Angle
Hold the razor perpendicular to the surface being shaved and adjust the angle accordingly.
Your electric razor works optimally when kept at a 90-degree angle and in permanent contact with the skin.
3) Use the Free Hand to Stretch the Skin for a Tighter Shave
This will keep the hairs straight and thus be reached by the razor and will also make the skin stretched, thus minimizing the risks of irritation.
You can tilt your head back while lifting your chin when shaving your neck or just below the jaw line. You can also use your tongue to press against the inside of lips or cheeks.
It’s a very effective way to stretch the skin above your upper lip, for example. These stretching tips also apply to rotating razors.
4) Alters the Length and Direction of the Passes
Depending on the direction of the hair and the area you are shaving, short, vigorous movements may work better.
For example, if you’re shaving a large, relatively flat area like your cheeks, you can get good results with long movements, especially if the direction of the hair doesn’t vary too much.
When shaving an area with many hair growth patterns it is best to deal with short movements, constantly adjusting the direction or even the pressure. Which brings us to the next point.
5) Apply a Little more Pressure if Necessary
This goes against the first point, but your tolerance to pressure tends to depend on the sensitivity of the skin and the razor you’re using.
Some are more tolerant than others (for example, the Braun Series 7 or 9 is softer on the skin than the Panasonic 4-blades or 5-blades) and you can try to increase the pressure in very small increments in order to get a tighter shave.
Try experimenting to see what works best for you, but we can’t stress enough that you should only do it little by little and if you don’t experience any discomfort.
Small cuts and scratches can occur if you press too hard, the skin actually enters through the perforations in the plates and a very thin layer of skin cells is scraped, which causes irritations.
6) Take the Time to Shave, be Thorough and Conscious
You should start with the areas prone to irritation and the more difficult areas, such as the neck area.
These areas require more attention and effort, so it’s a good idea to start with these areas first. Again, this applies to electric shaving in general, regardless of your preference for either razors or rotary razors.
How to Shave with a Rotating Electric Razor
Rotary shavers became popular for Philips because it uses circular blades that rotate behind metal guards.
These protectors have holes and slots to capture short and long hairs that are then cut close to the skin by internal rotating blades.
The vast majority of modern rotary shavers come in a configuration with three individual shaving heads.
The way we should alter the shaving techniques presented above is the direct result of the design and operation of rotary shavers.
1) Use Circular and Overlapping movements, both Clockwise and Counter-Clockwise
The reason behind this is simply to catch more hairs efficiently. While circular movements make up most of your shave, you are not limited to just using them.
In fact, you should probably use (and I strongly recommend) that you go up and down with small side strokes as this ensures that you are reaching all the hairs that grow in different directions.
2) Don’t Limit Yourself to Using Only Circular Movements
Use what’s best for you. Although we’ve touched on this subject, but we think it’s important to say it again.
Most of the articles we have found say unequivocally that you should only use circular patterns with rotating razors.
However, if you follow this strictly it can be a nuisance and can limit how much you can improve your shave. Change things and experiment with different strokes to get the best results.
3) Use Little or No Pressure and let the Razor do all the Work
This is particularly important with rotary shavers, as they appear to be less tolerant than blade shavers when more pressure is applied.
While in the case of blade shavers where a little more pressure can hardly help you get a tighter shave, it doesn’t seem to work the same way with rotary shavers and most of the time it will only cause discomfort.
Therefore, gentle, constant pressure is the best option.
4) If you use Shaving Cream, make sure to Regularly Rinse your Razor
Excess foam and hair will clog the razor and negatively affect the quality of the shave. The same applies to the use of a shaver with cream or gel.
Shaving is a very personal matter and even if you apply all the advice and recommendations you can still find it difficult to get that smooth and tight shave.
This way, it is almost certain that this will take you some tests and errors. Some of the techniques described here may work better for you with some adjustments.
Don’t be afraid to change things if you are not satisfied with the results. But, always try to start with small changes and continue from there; this is definitely the safest approach.
Here are some additional resources at Mens Grooming Review that focus on more specific topics: