Home > Shaving FAQ > Electric vs Blades
Well I decided to take a stab at comparing electric shavers vs razor blades.
Will I end this debate right here?.. probably not.
I guess it's time to be honest and also apologize for perhaps luring you here with the title of this article.
The reason I'm not super excited about this is because it's a tough comparison, with no real end in sight.
It's hard to compare these methods because there are so many variables.
There are people on each side of the fence, and I don't think it's coming down any time soon.
But enough complaining...
What I want to do is analyze the important information on this topic and hopefully by the end you will be able to make the right decision for yourself.
But but be forewarned, my personal opinion does seem to creep up in this comparison.
So let's start! (This video summarizes the article)
What We Need to Consider:
The two major things to consider are cost and performance.
Now, that might only be two variables but it's complicated. There are many different factors that fall under these sections.
There's no fixed cost associated with using electric shavers or traditional razor.
Both have a huge list of products whose prices differ.
You can get a $200 electric system, or you can opt in for a $60 unit.
Same goes for razors.
You can use cheap disposable razors, or you can use Gillette Fusion blades. Or you can even use more traditional safety razors and straight razors which can be more expensive.
What my annual costs might be will probably be different than yours, no matter what type of products we use.
So for this discussion we will pick two electric shavers, and two types of razor blades.
For our electric models, we'll look at the Braun Series 7 - 790 cc, and the Panasonic ES 8103 S.
These are two good choices because they are both very popular, and they both differ in price quite a bit.
For our razors, we will use the Gillette Fusion Proglide with Hydra Gel, and a Merkur Safety Razor with Paraso Shaving Soap.
I think these products cover a good group of men using both types of shaving techniques.
I'm aware that some people use cheaper products, and others use high end wet shaving equipment, but I think this is a pretty fair assessment of men shaving today.
As a reference I used Amazon.com and have listed the sales prices at the time of writing this. Prices may vary between online retailers as well as the time of year.
There are a few assumptions that I need to make as well: (these are all questionable assumptions but that's just the way it is with shaving)
Again, this isn't always the case but I'm trying to be fair.
Some shavers last 5 years while others break down earlier. Some people don't replace the blades for years, while others do it every 12 months.
I think these numbers are fair. Most people's Merkur razor will probably last more than 3 years but people often change shavers or upgrade once and a while.
Also, 3 weeks for changing the blades seems to be standard. Most people report either 2 - 4 weeks. Remember we're assuming you shave everyday.
These figures might not fit into your shaving routine, but in general terms I think they're pretty close.
You can always change the numbers around to figure out what YOU will personally spend.
Initial cost: $204.00
Based on 3 year lifespan: 204/3 = $68 per year
Replacement blade ($33.63) every 18 months:
12/18 * 33.63 = $22.42 per year
Cleaning cartridges: Pack of 12 = 68.04Total cost per year: $158.46
Initial cost: $69.99
Based on 3 year lifespan: $23.33 per year
Replacement blade ($27.24) every 18 months:
12/18 * 27.24 = $18.16 per year
Total cost per year: $41.49
Razor cost: $10.94
Based on 3 year lifespan: 10.94/3 = $ 3.65 per year
Replacement blades every 3 weeks:
$29.96 for 8 blades = $3.75 per blade
52 weeks/3 * 3.75 per blade = $ 65 per year
Hydra Shaving Gel: Pack of 6: $26.94
Based on 1 can every 3 months: 4 * $4.5 = $18 per year
Total cost per year: $86.65
Razor cost: $29.59
Based on 3 year lifespan = $9.86 per year
Replacement blades every 3 weeks:
$6.55 for 10 blades = $.66 per blade
52 weeks/3 * .66 per blade = $11.44 per year
Paraso Shaving Soap: $9 per can
Based on 1 can every 2 months: 6* $9 = $54 per year
(this cost can be substituted or reduced with other options)
Total cost per year = $75.30
*Substitute Paraso Shaving Soap with Gillette Hydra Gel and the total cost per year = $39.30
Remember these aren't exact figures. The total costs will vary from person to person.
Based on these calculations, the Panasonic ES 8103 S looks pretty good if it lasts 3 years and you replace the blades after 18 months.
The Merkur Safety Razor with a cheap form of shaving cream is still the most affordable.
Someone who uses a Braun Series 7 and operates the cleaning station every day is paying about $70 more per year than someone who's shaving with Gillette Fusion blades and shaving gel. I think most people with a Braun Series 7 can justify that.
Obviously there are other options out there, and various combinations, but I think these calculations show that electric shavers aren't that much more expensive than shaving with razor blades, and in some cases they're cheaper.
At the end of the day, the cheapest way to shave is with a durable safety razor and a tub of shaving cream.
Remember these costs are based on shaving everyday, which some people just don't do. If you shave 3 times a week all these costs will drop.
"It all comes down to personal preference..."
For the performance component I can only really share my personal experiences.
I know I'm just a sample size of one, and I mention that often when conducting reviews, but I still want to share my thoughts on this comparison because others might be able to relate
At the end of the day there are people who like one method over the other. That's why both forms still exist, and why there's never really going to be a winner.
So yes these are my own opinions. For me to just list pros and cons without referencing them to anyone is what confuses people. They read one article which says razor blades are the smoothest and then another one saying electric shavers are smoother without making any references. This leads to confusion and mis information.
Like I said, it all comes down to personal preference and considering all the contradictions flying around, there isn't a one size fits all.
This is why I made the switch to electric shavers, and really why I created this website.
I would always experience irritation on my neck when using razors. It wouldn't happen every single shave, but at least a third of the time I was having issues. I tried to figure out if it was the time of day, what my skin condition was in, if I needed to apply warm water for a period of time and so on, but I just couldn't figure it out.
So I made the switch and I haven't been happier. It took me about a week to get used to shaving against and then I was fine. Now I hardly ever experience irritation on my neck. There may be certain times when I have let my beard grow in too long and require to go over certain areas a few times which leads to a little bit of irritation, but nothing major.
For me, when it comes down to this debate with regards to irritation, electric is the way to go!
Closeness of the Shave
When I used to shave I only shaved with the grain, meaning down on my face. So it was smooth when I ran my fingers down, but rubbing up against the grain was still rough.
I know there are some who shave against the grain with blades, but I don't think most do. I would also imagine that those with very small amounts of facial hair which isn't thick might be OK with just shaving down. For me, it just wasn't enough. Also, if you're not sure what you're doing, shaving against the grain can lead to irritation and ingrown hairs.
With electric shavers, I'm able to shave against the grain with no irritation. This ultimately leads to a smoother shave than I would ever get with other techniques. With enough strokes I can remove almost all the stubble off my face. The only problem is it grows back the next day :)
Time and Prep
It takes about 3 or 4 minutes to shave with the Braun Series 7, and perhaps 4 or 5 minutes max to shave with the Panasonic 8103 S.
When I used to do wet shaves, after washing my face, applying shaving cream, shaving, and rinsing, it took well over 5 minutes.
If time is a factor for you, this is something to consider.
Do I Miss Wet Shaves?
I'll be honest, there are times when I think I miss it.
The thought of washing my face with nice warm water and rubbing in some high quality shaving cream is quite nice. I've thought about learning some wet shaving techniques and buying some high quality products, but at the end of the day it just isn't practical for me.
I love to be able to shave in under 5 minutes. If I haven't let my beard grow in too much I can get it down to around 3 minutes. Plus I get a smooth shave both with and against the grain, and I don't have to worry about any cuts or irritation. And if I really wanted to, I could just use my products which function wet and dry.
So for me, I think there's a clear winner here, and I don't think I'll be trading in my Braun Series 7 anytime soon.
You may or may not relate to my experiences, but hopefully you can combine your experiences with the information on the overall costs and make the right choice for you.
So when it's all said and done, this debate can really only be decide by you.
There are countless forum threads out there discussing this issue and they are literally back and forth. One person votes one way, the next guy votes the other way. On a large scale, there just isn't a clear winner.
If you're unhappy with your current situation, it's worth it to try something else.
By Tyler Stokes, Copyright © 2013 All rights reserved Electric-Shaver-Guide.com