Switched to an electric razor... Will it get better?
January 24, 2013 7:31 PM   Subscribe

After about 6 years of wet shaving with a DE razor, I finally got fed up with the cuts and the time requirement. I picked up a Norelco Sensotouch 3D after reading that rotary is best for people with thick beards and omni-directional hair growth, and that rotary is a less close shave than linear (I don't want too close, because I get ingrown hairs). It's been 3 days. My face is covered in bumps, and my neck is red. Is this part of the 3-week "adjustment period"? Will it get better? Thanks!
posted by hammurderer to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hi there. I have a heavy omnidirectional beard and very sensitive skin. I used to be unable to shave except about every 3 days with a Mach 3 and either King of Shaves gel or a brush and some high-quality shaving soap; I am still interested in trying the DE thing one day but don't have time to do it consistently.

I switched to a Norelco Sensotouch something or other in October 2012 and the first 3-4 weeks sucked. It was tough to cut my beard closely and evenly, I got razor bumps, can't line up my sideburns with the stupid attached trimmer, etc.

Now I find that the electric shaver works well used daily. If I skip one day, it usually does well on the stubble. More than one missed day and I need to use a trimmer to get the hair short enough to avoid pulling.

I have found that the best approach is to treat the shaver like a table saw and gently guide a group of hairs or one that did not get cut on an earlier pass into it. Downward pressure into the face, grinding, or very fast passes are bad news - a slow and methodical pseudorandom circular pattern coupled with some gentle straight lines along the jaw and moustache works for me. Gently pinching a patch of skin so the stubble stands up straight to feed into the shaver head works well on a difficult patch on my neck.

I shave before showering or scrubbing to minimize the chance of cutting hair below the skin surface; I now find that shaving with a disposable razor does even worse things to my neck than before. YMMV - good luck!
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:47 PM on January 24, 2013

Do you use anything like Lectric Shave beforehand? I haven't used an electric razor in years, but when I did it was incredibly helpful for eliminating the redness.
posted by cali59 at 7:53 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a heavy dark stubble, and I'm not always successful with a rotary electric, particularly on the neck, but I find that (very) light pressure works the best. This is almost counter-intuitive at first, as I associate a good shave with a wet blade with a good pressure as I pull it across the stubble.
posted by carter at 8:21 PM on January 24, 2013

Last year I bought a slightly less expensive version of the shaver you have. I managed to use it less than two weeks. It hurt and was slower than the Mach 3 I had been using. I returned it.
posted by gregr at 8:25 PM on January 24, 2013

I can never get used to rotary head razors, they always rip my face up and pull my hair.

I shave every day with a linear Braun electric razor and it works good enough with no pulling or burn.

That said...I found that the older Brauns were built more solidly and would love to find a new uncomplicated linear shaver.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:27 PM on January 24, 2013

Make sure you use some kind of antiseptic aftershave. Experiment with washing your face first or afterwards.
posted by gjc at 8:35 PM on January 24, 2013

I haven't been using any pre-shave products, but am going to try an oil blend (Kiehl's 31-0). It's weird that the actual shave doesn't hurt... With the blade, if the shave felt good then I knew I wouldn't have problems later on. I guess I'll wait for my face to heal and then keep on trucking for a few weeks. Thanks for all the advice!
posted by hammurderer at 8:54 PM on January 24, 2013

I find that I get my "best shaves" when I do it in the shower. Take a normal shower, let that hot water loosen up your facial skin, but near the end, slap some shaving cream/lotion/etc. up, visualize your face and slowly shave. Rinse and catch that one spot you missed, re-rinse and you're ready to roll. No electric, only razors.
posted by Sphinx at 8:57 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

I shave with a wet/dry Panasonic sometimes. I get much smoother results with a fully wet, lightly soapy skin and a fairly light and slow touch. If I must shave dry, light and slow results in less irritation.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:59 PM on January 24, 2013

I know you spent 6 years with a DE razor, but--and I mean no disrespect--are you sure you were doing it right? Did you have a good brush? Good soap? Good lathering technique?

I say this because I have a heavy beard, sensitive skin, and beard hair that grows in all directions. It took a little practice (and watching mantic's shaving videos on youtube), but now I can close my eyes and run my finger with the grain of my beard on different sections of my face, where it grows in different directions. First pass with the grain, second pass across it (never against!). Never press with the blade. Exfoliating beforehand makes a huge difference. But what made the biggest difference of all was getting a good (about $90) badger brush from Rooney.

The idea of an electric razor gives me the willies, not least because I don't know how truly clean and sanitary you can get it. Certainly, a cause of your red bumps could be an unclean blade.

Do you use aftershave? If you have sensitive skin, you might not be, but you should at least wash your face with soap and water after shaving. That will reduce any bacteria getting in your freshly shaved skin, and maybe cut down on those red bumps.

One more thing--DE razors completely eliminated bumps for me because I have coarse beard hair. Multi-blade razors, because they lift the hair up before cutting it, can induce bumps and ingrown hairs, as the hair sinks below the surface after cutting. I bet an electric razor does the same thing.
posted by oneironaut at 6:01 AM on January 25, 2013

I just switched from DE to a Norelco Sensotouch 3D as well. I have the wet/dry version.
I got it for Christmas and just this week my skin finally stopped freaking out and getting red and bumpy (esp on the neck) after a shave.

Since I already had the brush and soap, and my electric can work wet, I usually lather up just like I used to, then I shave. Again, light pressure, pulling the skin for difficult spots, and slow circular motions help. I also re-lather afterward so the soap can properly clean and disinfect any micro-tears in my skin to prevent more redness and bumps.

My Norelco manual actually said 4-6 weeks for the adjustment period - give it a little more time before you decide. I think they have a 45 day guarantee, so wait until day 44 before you call them and ask for the refund. I think you'll find that within another week or two your skin will fully adjust and you'll be ok.
posted by trivia genius at 9:17 AM on January 25, 2013

short answer is in most cases, yes it will get better.
When I started using an electric shaver had issues for 1-2 weeks. But once you get used to it everything should be fine.
posted by WizKid at 12:41 PM on January 25, 2013

Oneironaut: after 6 years, I'm positive I'm doing it wrong. But I no longer want to make a statement about consumerism or embrace a purer past (the reasons I started in the first place). I just want a nice shave with no bleeding in under 5 minutes. I may go back if electric doesn't do the job.
posted by hammurderer at 9:33 PM on January 25, 2013

For posterity, here is my Week 1 update.

I followed the advice from this thread, and tried using the lightest possible pressure. I've never experienced any pain or bleeding during the shave, but saw lots of red bumps on my face and neck, and ingrown hairs. The third shave was the worst in terms of face destruction. I felt like a teenager in an Oxy 5 commercial. I waited a few days for my face to heal before trying again. The fourth shave was the turning point. Still some bumps on my face, but far less red. Redness on my neck was also reduced. I'm hoping that everything gets back to normal in another week or two.

There is also a "do not touch" period of at least an hour, to let my face settle down. I think that stopping the constant poking and patting helped a lot with the healing.

I've noticed that my stubble feels softer... Probably because the tips are getting mangled and frayed instead of cleanly cut, but I think that's a good thing. The clean stroke of the DE meant that I had tiny daggers on my face, ready to grow into my skin or prick my wife and kids. My face also feels drier than before, even though my post-shave routine is unchanged.

As for lubrication, I've been finding that plain water seems to work the best. I run the razor under some cold water every 30 seconds or so. I use cold because the razor heats up.

I've been finding that my face is "circularly polarized"... I need to use a clockwise motion on my right side, and counter-clockwise on my left. No idea why, but it feels like the other direction is going against the grain.

The most important thing I've learned is that this electric razor gives a closer/smoother shave than I was willing to get with a DE razor. I had tried against the grain and across the grain, and had massive problems with ingrown hairs.
posted by hammurderer at 9:56 AM on January 27, 2013

Checking back in...glad to see it worked out. Just for the record, I went to DE for a better shave and fewer ingrown hairs--the aesthetics of a purer past were a welcome bonus.

If you do end up going back to DE, or if you have to use a razor for any reason (you're traveling, you stay over somewhere, you don't have the electric with you), then, given the end of your last comment, try only going with the grain. You may need two or three passes, but it sounds like going with the grain is best for you. Good luck!
posted by oneironaut at 8:37 AM on January 29, 2013

After week 2, this sucks! So many ingrown hairs, and the only way to avoid them is to shave so lightly that I have five o'clock shadow.

I'm returning this and trying a Panasonic linear. If that doesn't work, I guess it's back to the DE.
posted by hammurderer at 7:06 PM on February 3, 2013

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