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How to Switch from a Razor to an Electric Shaver

by Robert E. Calem on November 11, 2010

Man using electric shaver with shaving cream

Using shaving cream with an electric razor, like
this Panasonic ES-RT51, can ease the transition.

Americans throw away 2.5 billion disposable razor blades each year, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection––a wasteful practice on multiple levels: Over time, besides adding up to a large pile of garbage, it also subtracts a small fortune from shoppers' wallets. It is not unusual for razor blades to cost as much as $3 each. So, even at a price of $300, an electric shaver could easily be a much more cost-effective alternative.

Yet making the switch to a shaver from a razor is not so simple. Because the blades of an electric shaver are more abrasive than those of a razor, the skin typically needs up to a month to adjust to the change and during this time may become irritated, red and bumpy.

That's why shaver makers have money-back guarantees: Braun (60 days), Philips Norelco (45 days), Panasonic (30 days).

Still, there are steps you can take to make the switch to an electric shaver easier and less irritating.

  • Pull your skin taut and shave the hair opposite its direction of growth. Pulling taut helps to raise the hair off the skin, setting it up to be better captured and sliced by the shaver.
  • Keep the shaver at a 90-degree angle to your skin. Shaver makers design the blades in their devices to sit at a particular angle for highest cutting efficiency––and this design typically assumes that the user will hold the device itself at a right angle to his face.
  • Use light, gentle strokes and don't over-shave. Repeatedly shaving the same area can irritate the skin.
  • Don't wet your face before shaving...Unless you have a coarse beard. Too much moisture weakens the whiskers and skin, making it difficult to feed the hairs into the cutting head and increasing the friction of the shaver on the skin. Those with a coarse beard, though, benefit from a softer whisker and should consider using a Wet/Dry shaver specifically designed to be used in the shower. Beware, though: Never take a non-Wet/Dry shaver into the shower, even if the shaver is labeled "Washable." A washable shaver is not designed to be immersed in water––it's only meant to be rinsed clean.
  • Place a drop of shaving cream or shaving gel on the shaver’s cutting head before using it. This can help to lubricate the blade, making it travel more smoothly over the skin, which receives some lubrication itself in the process. (This should be fine for most models, but check with your shaver's manufacturer.) But, don’t slather the cream or gel directly onto your skin like you would when using a razor, unless it’s a Philips Norelco SensoTouch or a current Panasonic model. Not all shavers are built to handle this froth.

Once accustomed to the new sensation of an electric shaver, your skin will thank you for razing the razor. According to Panasonic, by the time they reach their 50s and 60s, life-long shaver users have younger-looking skin than those who have used razors all their lives.


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