"Training a beard" for an electric razor
January 2, 2007 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Why would my beard need to "get used" to an electric razor?

I purchased a fancy-schmancy Braun razor over the holidays--it's my first electric razor. I've been using it for three days, and I'm happy with it (primarily because of its convenience, and because I like gadgets). It shaves closely enough for government work, so to speak, but not as close as the Mach 3 Turbo that I'd been using. (Blade razors and my skin weren't getting along so well, which is why I thought I'd try electric.)

The manual that came with the razor claims that it will take 10-12 days to "train my beard" to the new razor so that I'll get an optimal shave, and that I'm not to use a manual razor in the meantime. Research I did before buying the electric razor indicates that all manufacturers say something similar--two to four weeks for the best shave. Why is this? Is this a marketing ploy that translates to, "It'll take you a couple of weeks to get used to the idea of having just a bit of stubble left over from shaving"? Or is it because it will take me that much time to learn how to shave with the new razor? Or does hair actually respond differently to an electric razor over the course of a couple of weeks?
posted by Prospero to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My dad told me that when I was 18 or so. I never could switch over to the electric, my face just bugged me. I guess I have a vintage Braun in my bathroom now that I never use.
posted by thilmony at 12:37 PM on January 2, 2007

Best answer: The manuals I have usually mention it takes about 2 weeks for the shaving head to get worn down to perfectly fit the foil guard. This also applies when you replace the shaving head parts. Manufacturing and assembly tolerances just aren't high enough for everything to fit perfectly out of the box.
posted by cardboard at 12:39 PM on January 2, 2007

Best answer: It may have something to do with the grain of your beard as well. I first bought my Braun about two years ago, and it took about a month before I could get a shave 'almost' as good as a razor. Just give it some time.

Best advice I have is to not push the razor against your skin- let it just glide over instead, so you don't irritate it. Also, use your free hand to pull your skin tight as you shave- this helps speed things up.

posted by id at 12:58 PM on January 2, 2007

Best answer: One thing that has helped my transition to an an electric is Pre shave powder. It helps the razor glide across your skin as well as stands the hairs up.
posted by imjosh at 1:06 PM on January 2, 2007

I think your suspicion about it being a marketing ply is justified. It's the same reason many speaker manufacturers claim their products require X hours of break-in to sound their best. During the break-in time, you just get used to the new product.
posted by pmbuko at 1:13 PM on January 2, 2007

Hmmm, I always thought the reason I didn't get a good shave from an electric razor was that electric razors sucked. Now I understand that my beard can't be trained --- it may just be unusually rebellious and recalcitrant.
posted by jayder at 2:54 PM on January 2, 2007

I am not a doctor, razor manufacturer or anything like that. I do use an electric razor. And it does get better after a couple weeks. Here are some theories:

* what cardboard said
* the manual blade is usually mild on the skin, specially because the skin is moist. an electric razor scratches a lot your dry skin, so, literally, you must get a thicker skin so it stops becoming all red.
* for me, electric causes less ingrown hairs than manual, but it is also worse handling them. So, it takes sometime to get rid of all "legacy" ingrown hairs.
* the above is because electric shaves less close, and, since it has rotating blades, I'd guess it mostly cuts _against_ hair growth. This combination possibly forces the hair into a more "upward" direction after a while.

And some more wild speculation:

* it may take some time for your skin to build tolerance stop reacting allergically to the alloy in the razorheads.
posted by qvantamon at 4:31 PM on January 2, 2007

Well there might be something to 'training' the beard.

I had an electric for many years, but last March it broke. I've been doing manual ever since (and fairly irregularly as I work mostly from home ;-) - however, at Christmas I got a new electric (Phillips, like my old one) and while it was missing hairs here and there - it seems to be getting better and better every day.
posted by jkaczor at 4:39 PM on January 2, 2007

One thing that has helped my transition to an an electric is Pre shave powder. It helps the razor glide across your skin as well as stands the hairs up.

I just recently started using an electric, too, and I use 'Letric Shave to pre-shave. Is there an advantage of using a powder instead?
posted by Artnchicken at 5:17 PM on January 2, 2007

I go with ploy. Many "try it for at least X days" directives are designed specifically to make it harder to return to the shop you bought it from. Though regulations to do with hygene may do that too when it comes to razors.
posted by krisjohn at 6:39 PM on January 2, 2007

I'm going with ploy as well. I had a Norelco for a long time and it always hurt. But I figured I give it a month and then I just never did anything about it. I just got a Braun for xmas and it is SOOO much better. Out of the box it hurt less and gets close enough for me to be happy.

I suggest trying different ones until you find a winner. Give it maybe a few days.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:57 PM on January 2, 2007

I always thought the reason they said it takes 14 days to "train your beard" is because the return period at most stores on electronic items is 14 days.

As always, I could be wrong.
posted by 4ster at 8:30 PM on January 2, 2007

Artnchicken writes "
"One thing that has helped my transition to an an electric is Pre shave powder. It helps the razor glide across your skin as well as stands the hairs up.
"I just recently started using an electric, too, and I use 'Letric Shave to pre-shave. Is there an advantage of using a powder instead?"

I use a generic Pre-Shave version of Lectric Shave. After it dries (a few seconds), I rub on a light dusting of corn starch baby powder. It does the same thing as a pre-shave powder stick, that is, it keeps the razor from sticking to your skin. But it's about half the price and you can use it for other things (e.g. babies).
posted by Araucaria at 10:36 PM on January 2, 2007

My partner was always electric until his last razor broke, then he finally learned to use the blade. He hates both, but since he's new to the blade, wanted to return to electric.

His new Philips Cool Skin razor is fabulous. He went through THREE of the 2-headed ones, but Philips insisted on making those like cheap toys (plastic catches on the head). He prefered the smallness though.

For xmas I bought him a 3-headed Cool Skin. Very much superior in design than the 2-headed, and after a week, it's shaving so close I can't tell the difference between it and the blade. (I tried it once, new, and hated it. I prefer blades).

Breaking in seems to make some sense, for whatever reason.
posted by Goofyy at 12:03 AM on January 3, 2007

Well, I know that when I was shaving with the spinny-blade electrics (with the circular foil covers on top), my facial hair started to grow in a bit of a spiral-ish direction. I've since switched to a straight-across foil electric, and I no longer have discernable patterns in my facial hair. I remember when I bought my first circular head shaver, the manual said something about the hairs on your face growing in different directions making it easier to shave (because of the way that electrics "pull and cut", or some such malarkey). Whether or not any of this is true, I know that for me, at least, my facial hair *did* seem to grow in slightly different angles.
posted by antifuse at 1:11 AM on January 3, 2007

I just recently started using an electric, too, and I use 'Letric Shave to pre-shave. Is there an advantage of using a powder instead?

Not that I know of I haven't tried lectric shave yet, this was the first thing I saw in the store. I do like how it makes the hairs stand up, not sure if the liquid stuff does this.
posted by imjosh at 5:43 AM on January 3, 2007

Response by poster: Following up for archival purposes:

This morning I got the first shave from the Braun that was damn near as close as the Mach3 Turbo razor I'd been using previously. It took a while--I've been using it every day since December 31, so nearly two weeks.

I tried the liquid Lectric Shave and it didn't work well.

I tried the pre-shave powder linked above, and it helped a lot. id's advice above about how to handle the razor was useful as well.
posted by Prospero at 5:00 AM on January 11, 2007

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