electric razor - try before you buy
February 6, 2018 3:08 PM   Subscribe

I don't like shaving, but I really don't like having even a small amount of stubble. For various reasons explained herein, I'm considering buying an electric razor, but I don't really want to spend the money on something that might not do what I want it to do.

So, first things first, I have pretty sensitive skin. It's not as bad as it was when I was in my twenties, when I had pretty much permanent razor burn, but it's still bad enough that, best case scenario, I'm only able to shave two days out of three. More often, it's every other day, and sometimes even less than that. This is unsatisfactory, because stubble is literally irritating. It makes my skin itch, and I think it looks stupid (my growth is uneven, but even if it weren't, I'm not into the George Michael look).

Even if I could shave every day, though, I doubt I'd want to. Shaving is pretty darn time-consuming. I have a one-year-old kid an an hour-plus commute. There are other ways I'd like to spend those ten minutes. There are also other places I'd like to spend those ten minutes - my bathroom is poorly ventilated, and it's usually steamy enough after I shower that it makes me sweat, so I'd rather not hang out in there longer than I have to.

After trying a bunch of different wet shaving products (yes, I own a badger brush and safety razor) and procedures (yes, I have owned a fog-resistant mirror to shave in the shower), I'm kind of losing interest, and I'm thinking instead of buying an electric razor. I know there are drawbacks (specifically, that they don't cut as close as wet shaving), but I'm willing to sacrifice a little closeness at this point if it allows me to shave every day. I have dark hair, so I have a five o'clock shadow most of the time anyway.

However, the (cheap) electric razors I've used in the past have been really harsh on my skin, to the point where I actually preferred razor burn from wet shaving. I would like to avoid this going forward.

Internet reviews suggest it's possible: a close-ish shave with minimal irration. But the electric razors that can accomplish this are usually fairly expensive, $100+. That's not a huge amount of money, but it's money I don't want to just throw away if the razor doesn't work. So, finally getting to my question: is it possible to try out one of these expensive razors before committing? Use it for a couple of days to see how it goes, then return it if I don't like it? Or do I just have to bite the proverbial bullet, trust the reviews, and buy one?

While we're at it, go ahead and throw me some recommendations, if you don't mind.

Growing a beard is not an option; please do not suggest it.
posted by kevinbelt to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My husband and I have been researching this for him (for incredibly similar reasons) and learned most of the expensive electrics have money back guarantees anywhere from 30-90 days. All the switching from wet to electric have also said it might take a week or two to "retrain" your face, so you'll want to stick with it for more than a few days.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 3:13 PM on February 6, 2018

I have a Braun Series 9. It is the only shaving solution I've ever found that lets me shave daily without unpleasantness. Like you, I experimented unsuccessfully with various wet shaving gear and with an inexpensive rotary electric - and, for years, settled on shaving only on alternate days.

Note: I do own and use the cleaning dock - I think that may be part of reason the Braun works well for me.
posted by kickingtheground at 3:41 PM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

YMMV of course but a friend posted on fb about the Philips Norelco OneBlade and I got one and it has eliminated my habit of "don't shave for three weeks because shaving is unpleasant, then trim with clippers because beard is too long, then shave grudgingly with a razor."

It's cheap. (It was on sale for less than $20 when I got mine but I don't know if that happens often.) It's small. It actually shaves pretty close. I think it's wet/dry though I just shave dry so I don't have to keep wiping off a steamy mirror. I feel weird loving a product and being like some loon doing testimonials in an infomercial, but I am quite fond of this razor.
posted by Smearcase at 3:57 PM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Before I discovered I *could* grow a beard, I used a mix of electrics and wet shaving. The best electric I *ever* had was a relatively inexpensive Remington (searching my email yields the model number MS2-390). It drastically outperformed a much more spendy Braun, for example. At the time, it had the highest rating from Consumer Reports. I could use it daily with little trouble.
posted by uberchet at 3:59 PM on February 6, 2018

i'll second the philips norelco, and also feel like a weird person giving a testimonial on daytime TV. but it is good.

it doesn't give a particularly close shave, but it's easy to use and does not cause razor burn and is cheap.

even the high-end braun razors caused razor burn for me, but this one does not. i would recommend trying it out.
posted by vogon_poet at 4:01 PM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

One thing worth working out is whether you have a sensitivity to nickel, with which many razors (both electric and traditional) are coated. I am, and it means that shaving with most razors makes my skin turn red, blotchy and itchy.
posted by pipeski at 4:10 PM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Just a tip. A big mistake guys make is pressing the shaver on their face. This heats up the shaver. You don't want heat.
I have no shaver recommendations for you even though I've owned several shavers, and a pile of razors. Just buy from a place with excellent return policy (Amazon, Costco, etc).
posted by artdrectr at 4:33 PM on February 6, 2018

Phillips Norelco has a 45 day return window in case you don't like it/can't adjust.

I switched recently out of desperation because I was getting a lot of ingrown whiskers lately, and I haven't had one since. I get a closer and more consistently close shave with my electric.

I got a Norelco series 3000 fwiw. Middle of the line. If I had known I'd like it as much as I do, I might have splurged and gotten one of the kind you can use wet/with gel.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:44 PM on February 6, 2018

Nthing the Norelco OneBlade. I have a very tough beard and very sensitive skin. This is the only electric razor I have ever been able to use. Frankly it's been a miracle for me.
posted by slkinsey at 4:56 PM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes! You can absolutely try out electric razors. All of the big manufacturers have money-back return policies:
- Braun (60 days): Mail in a PDF form
- Philips (45 days): Request a form from customer service by calling 800-243-3050
- Remington (60 days): Print the form and mail it in
- Panasonic (30 days): Request authorization by calling 800-338-0552

I recently upgraded from a very old electric razor to a new one. I followed the advice of The Wirecutter (above return info also courtesy of them.) They are a review website and I've had good luck with their recommendations. This is their article about electric razors.

At first I tried the Phillips/Norelco rotary type 9000 series. I found it to be gentle but not a very effective shave. In contrast, the Braun 7 series has been both gentle and a close shave. Works wet and dry, has a little straight extension for edges.

Finally, I purchased mine from Costco which was both far cheaper than online retailers (though didn't come with the cleaning accessories) and allowed me to return the Norelco after I'd used it for three weeks and didn't love it.
posted by Mr Yak at 4:57 PM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

I use the OneBlade to shave the parts of my face that don't have beard, and then also to trim my beard. It is extremely good for certain kinds of sensitive skin and I've never had a more comfortable shave that was even remotely close to the face. It's also, in my experience, much less of a pain in the ass for trimming a beard close than an actual beard trimmer, though that doesn't matter to you.

It's not a replacement for an actual razor in terms of making your face buttery smooth, but it's on par with the electric razors I've used.
posted by selfnoise at 5:43 PM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you are willing to give the safety razor another shot, Shave Secret is the only product that has ever made it possible for me to shave more than every other day.
posted by blnkfrnk at 5:52 PM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

+1 for Shave Secret.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 9:52 PM on February 6, 2018

You sound just like me. I have always been prone to irritation and ingrown hairs, and hardly ever shave two days in a row. For years, I been shaved with a Bump Fighter razor blade. It works ok, but never really shaves close, by design. I just had to resign myself to never having a close shave. That's better than pain and irritation. I've recommended it here on AskMe several times, and I guess I still do.

However, I've recently gotten a little tired of the constant stubble, and, like you, decided to give electric shaving another shot. After lots of reading reviews I decided to try this Braun Series 3 wet/dry model. I have been pleasantly surprised that I get an actual close shave, but less ingrown hairs and irritation.

But, I shave in the shower and use Cremo shave cream. And, as others have said, I am careful to not press into my skin or overwork areas.

I prefer shaving in the shower, so I haven't tried it elsewhere, but if I need to I would use something like Shave Secret instead of dry shaving.

By the way, I have avoided using a rotary shaver because I have read numerous reports that they can exacerbate ingrown hairs because some of them shave below the skin's surface.

I should also say that it's hard to scientifically say what actually works best, because our skin and hair changes with age. It's been over 15 years since I've used an electric razor, and that may have something to do with it.
posted by The Deej at 6:52 AM on February 7, 2018

2nding the Wirecutter review linked above. If you actually care about getting a good electric razor, read the whole thing (like, keep scrolling down and down and down...it's really long). The tl;dr version is: all good electronic razors have a return policy, and there is no universal 'best' because everyone's face and hair are different. You have to try multiple models.
posted by smokysunday at 11:03 AM on February 7, 2018

If you have pale skin and dark hair, have you ever considered laser hair removal?
posted by KateViolet at 1:22 PM on February 7, 2018

I picked up the Braun Series 7 based on the Wirecutter review and have been happy so far. It replaced a long line of Panasonics that got worse in quality over each generation, it seemed. I was wary about the cleaning dock being a big gimmick, but it does a good job cleaning, is super easy, and I'm going through one refill every two months. The Braun also does a good job getting the annoying couple of stray long hairs left after not shaving for a week.

YMMV, but even though I've had wet/dry shavers for many years, wet shaving (with and without shaving cream) has always been a crappy experience, leaving me with lots of redness and a patchy shave. My best shaves are after I've showered and my face has dried, but is still moisture-rich from the shower - maybe 10-15 minutes after showering. I get a really close shave in a short time, minimal redness and no patches that bother me throughout the day.
posted by homesickness at 3:37 PM on February 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

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