Electric vs Manual Razor: Key Differences Explained

Hardcore shaving enthusiasts can passionately debate about it for days but you obviously don’t have that kind of time or patience. So here, allow me to help you quickly figure out what kind of shaver would suit your needs the best.

Both electric and manual razors are at the top of their respective games. An electric razor is fast and convenient. But most of them are miles behind manual razors when it comes to shaving closeness.

Having said that, there are a bunch of top-notch electric shavers that cut almost as smooth as manual razors. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference unless you are inspecting the shaved face with a magnifying glass.

Confusing much? Don’t despair just yet. In the following sections, I will outline and explain the pros and cons of each razor to help you make an informed decision.

So stick around.

Table Of Contents

Electric vs Manual Razors – An Overview

Manual razors have been around since our good old caveman days. Without a shadow of out, they provide the closest and smoothest shave you can imagine.

However, if puberty has just begun to unleash its magic on you, a manual razor might not be very kind to your irritation-prone skin. That is to say, anyone with hypersensitive skin can develop razor bumps and rashes from ultra-sharp razor blades.

Electric shavers excel at things manual razors don’t. The biggest shtick of electric shavers is that they are fast, kind to the skin, and dead-easy to use by just about everyone.

These battery or electricity-powered devices aren’t designed to cut too close to the skin, which naturally leads to less friction, hence less irritation.

On the flip side, it also prevents the electric razor from achieving the pinnacle of shaving precision.

Now, let’s talk more extensively about the basic mechanism, types, advantages, and disadvantages of the two razor types in question.

Manual Razors – How They Actually Work

Shaving with manual razors

Manual shavers offer way more versatility than their electrical opponent if wet shaving is your thing. Double edge razors, safety razors, disposable razors, cartridge razors, straight/cut-throat razors – all of them come under the category of manual shavers.

The first two variants are more widespread due to their low cost and easy operation. Straight razors are comparatively more challenging to maneuver.

While they have always enjoyed the patronage of seasoned barbers with the precision of a surgeon, most regular users find it too cumbersome.

If you’re still contemplating whether to take the plunge and get a solid manual shaver, read on-

Key Advantages of Using a Manual Shaver

Here’s what you can expect you get yourself the reasonably good manual razor –

  • The Closest Shave of Your Life

All kinds of manual razors are engineered to cut as close to the skin as possible without nicking. No matter the hair type or length, as long as your skin is prepped well, a manual razor can cut through anything.

A couple of clean strokes with a sharp razor is the only foolproof way to obtain baby bottom-smooth skin.

  • It’s Efficient

Even though we keep hyping up electric shavers for their speed, truth is, manual razors are just as fast if you know how to use them properly. Prep your skin with warm water to open up the pores and soften the beard.

Use a quality shaving cream or gel for a smooth, bump-free shave that takes barely 2-3 minutes more than dry shaving with an electric razor.

  • It’s Economical

Arguably, safety and disposable razors are the most cost-effective shaving options out there. Disposable razor blades might cost peanuts but they need to be changed frequently. Therefore, the cost of buying bulk disposable blades will soon begin to add up.

Cartridges are far more cost-effective in the long run. Moreover, they deliver a more clean-cut shave much quicker because there are three blades at work here instead of one.

Shaving quality-wise, safety razors beat the previous two types by a huge margin. Although the purchasing cost is comparatively higher, one blade can last you an entire week or more before it begins to dull.

  • It Exfoliates

A beautifully sharp manual razor blade combined with a good shaving cream, foam, or pre-shave oil can do magic. A quality blade will remove both stubborn hair and dead skin cells off your skin while shaving. Finish off the shaving ritual with a good aftershave lotion and your skin will be smoother and shinier beyond imagination.

  • Traditional Is Cool

Wet shaving is a ritual we have all (at least most of us) have grown up rooting for. The scent of shaving cream, aftershave, and a mean-looking vintage razor – the machismo of traditional wet shaving ritual is unparalleled.

Electric shavers are cool and all. But will it ever be able to match the suaveness of a vintage double edge razor? I highly doubt it.

Disadvantages of Manual Razors

And here comes the not-so-good parts:

  • The Dreaded Learning Curve

It takes a master barber to wield a straight razor effortlessly. I don’t even get into that. If you think you have the patience and precision required for using a straight razor, go for it, by all means.

For the less-skilled folks like you and me, being able to confidently maneuver a DE razor without nicking all over is a good enough achievement.

It’s the sharpness that’s both alluring and scary. Plus, some DE safety razors are remarkably hefty, which makes the steep learning curve even steeper.

  • It Takes Time

Even a few extra minutes in the morning can make a world of difference, especially when you’re running late for office. Wet shaving is a time-consuming process.

While the actual shaving might not take that long, the prep work, blade cleaning, changing, and all that adds to the duration.

Traveling with a bunch of blades, a heavy handle, shaving cream, aftershave lotion isn’t convenient if you are wanting to pack light.

  • It Needs Frequent Refills

Irrespective of the kind of manual razor you pick, you will have to change the blade every week or so. Disposable razor blades are dirt cheap but the cost of replacing them after every two or three shaves do add up quickly. Most of all, although relatively economical, it’s not the most convenient option out there.

  • Bloodshed and Bumps

Nobody has ever seen or heard of a guy who didn’t nick himself or get rashes after wet shaving at least once. These blades are sharp as holy hell.

If you aren’t careful enough, it can slice a good chunk of your skin.

The ability to cut very close to the skin can result in painful ingrown hair and nasty razor bumps if you’re cursed with an extremely sensitive skin.

Electric Shavers – Here’s What You Need to Know

Shaving with electric razor

Electric shavers are truly a game-changer. They came, they shaved, they conquered. They are sold in both corded and cordless varieties. Foil and rotary are the two primary types of electric shavers we have today.

Rotary shavers have a round shaving foil kitted out with multiple blades that shave in a circular motion. This design helps to prune off long hair strands from the difficult contours, especially the head, neck, and jawline. They are ideal for maintaining the dapper 5 o’clock shadow look.

Foil shavers are less forgiving than rotary shavers but they do provide a considerably cleaner and quicker shave. It’s best suited for clean-shaving fine hair, as well as for trimming and shaping the cheek and neckline.

Advantages of Using an Electric Shaver

Below I have outlined some more general advantages of using a quality electric shaver:

  • It’s Skin-friendly

If you don’t have the expertise or confidence to drag a magnificently sharp blade across your face, an electric shaver will be the way to go. These nifty devices come with blade guards to reduce the impact of the blades on your skin.

Although injuries or irritation can still happen if you are going too rough with it, it’s generally way kinder to sensitive skin than most manual shavers.

  • Pleasingly Fast and Convenient

Electric shavers are a blessing for both rookies and experienced manscapers. In a world where time practically is money, every minute counts.

Shaving with an electric razor is a matter of just a few minutes as there is no prep time involved. Switch it on, shave, go.

It’s ideal for travel and safe for those who are dealing with any neurological disorder that causes hand tremors.

  • Wet Shaving Is Very Much Possible

If you seek the convenience of an electric shaver combined with the precision of wet shaving, waterproof electric shavers solely exist to serve your needs.

Every top brand manufacturers electric shavers with both dry and wet shaving capabilities. In my experience, a good foil shaver with wet shaving ability can closely mimic the shaving closeness of a manual razor at a fairly quick pace.

  • They Pay for Themselves in the Long Run

The upfront cost of a high-quality electric shaver can be pretty high, at least more than most manual shavers cost. However, the foil and cartridges on these devices can last for about a year.

There’s no need for you to keep a bunch of refill cartridges stashed in your cabinet all the time. Technology rocks!

Disadvantages of Electric Shavers

And now, let’s discuss the obvious negatives-

  • Won’t Get You the Closest Shave of Your Life

As far as shaving closeness is concerned, electric shavers are good. But not DE or straight razor good.

However, you can argue with me on this as it actually boils down to personal preference.

If you have a super thick and coarse beard like me, an electric shaver foil head might not be able to mow the land clean without multiple passes. A DE razor would. That’s the difference.

  • The High Upfront Cost

If you are on a budget, paying top dollars on a shaving tool doesn’t make sense. Replacement parts and cartridge refills can also get pretty expensive, depending on the model.

The good news is, there are plenty of affordable models too which get the job done right without drilling a crater in your pocket.

Final Verdict – Do We Have a Winner?

The answer is both yes and no. As it turns out, both electric and manual razors are quick, easy, and value for money in their own rights.

No matter what kind of gear you choose, you may have to make a trade-off between shaving quality and convenience.

If you’re a purist at heart who is willing to put extra effort for a great shaving experience every morning, a manual shaver should be the way to go.

As for the rest, who don’t want to muck about pre-shaving lotions, shaving technique, and all that first thing in the morning, trust an electric shaver to do the job.

Any decent quality gear will give you a nice and quick shave, that too without hurting your skin.

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