It’s estimated that during a lifetime we spend over 35 days shaving, so it’s fair to say that for most guys a large part of a grooming routine will centre around this most manly of morning rituals. Nothing starts the day quite like a close shave and that fresh faced feeling, but there’s still some debate as to the best way to achieve the perfect finish and the right tools for the job.
Some prefer a manual approach with warm water, a razor and a shaving product, others choose to let an electric razor go to work on that pesky stubble. But which is the best? I put both methods under the microscope to see if I could find the answer.
The method that combines traditional practices with modern formulations in order to get closer to your skin and deliver a smooth result.
A ‘closer’ shave
The main argument you will hear in favour of the more traditional wet shave method is that it gives a closer shave. While electric technology has drastically improved over the last few years, I’d say that wet shaving still offers a smoother post shave feel. The reason? It’s all in the tools. With many brands now adopting 5 individual blades on their razors, you have the ability to shave closer than ever, for a smoother shave than ever before. Despite that sounding like advertising jargon, it’s true!
Barber shop luxury
Filling your sink with piping hot water, lathering shave cream over your face and going to work with your specially crafted razor – there can be a real luxury feel associated with a wet shave. And you don’t necessarily have to go to a barber shop, or spend a fortune to get it. With the amount of luxury products available online nowadays for less £20 you can get the tools you need to achieve the perfect wet shave from the comfort of your own bathroom.
Exfoliation a woman can only dream of
The fresh-faced feeling you get after shaving isn’t simply your imagination, when you shave the razor doesn’t just remove the stubble from your cheeks, it also removes the top layer of skin to provide exfoliation that’s just as effective as many scrubs on the market. Opt for a manual wet shave over an electric and your skin will thank you for it.
Replacement blade expense
While a £10 razor and four blades may seem a better deal than a £200 electric shaver, the long term costs can begin to mount up. Razor manufacturers get you hooked in with a promo pack, but then it can cost upwards of £15 for 8 replacement blades. The likes of King of Shaves are doing their best to try and replacement blade prices down, but if you’re a fan of Gillette or Wilkinson Sword (the two main high street names) then you’ll be looking at a continuous investment to maintain performance.
Nicks & Cuts
Taking 5 razor sharp blades to your skin before you’ve woken up properly is risky business, and there aren’t many guys who haven’t nicked their chin or cut their neck at one time or another. An unfortunate downside to wet shaving – even if you take the utmost care – is that you’ll more than likely take a nice chunk out of your face once in a while, especially if you’re a shaving novice.
Razor Burn & Irritation
Shaving in any format can cause skin irritation, and it tends to be wet shaving that gives guys the most grief. Whether it’s shaving cream ingredients, poor technique, a blunt razor or a combination of the above, you have to be wary if you have sensitive skin. There definitely ways you can avoid dreaded razor burn – like sensitive skin products and routine changes – but approach with caution if you have previous with irritation.
Developed by technology giants like of Braun and Philips, Electric Razors use as much technology as flat screen TV’s to tackle even the toughest beards.
Quicker & more convenient
I mentioned previously that there’s an enjoyment factor in a long, luxurious wet shave – but when the alarm clock buzzes and you’ve got 30 minutes to shave, shower, eat and get out the door there isn’t always time.
Enter the electric razor. With our time more precious than ever, any technological advances that ‘shave’ a few minutes are more than welcome. That’s exactly what the electric shaving option offers – performance in half the time and in almost any location too.
An electric shave can be a wet shave
Just because they’re packed with the latest microchips and pressure sensors, it doesn’t mean an electric shave has to be a dry shave. Many of the high end models like the Braun Series 3 can also be used in the shower, or with water in the sink to combine the wet shaving principles with your new electrical gadget. The warm water softens your hair, while the technology goes to work on that stubble.
Great for controlling beard length
One of the advantages of a wet shave is that close, fresh faced feeling – but you might not want that. Some guys prefer to fluctuate between a clean shave and a short beard, and the electric option can help. Tools like the BaByliss For Men iStubble can get close enough to provide a clean shave feel, but also perfect the designer stubble look.
Yes razor blades can be expensive, but a good electric shaver is going to require an initial investment of anything between £40 and £250. So if you’re looking for a budget option then it may be worth considering a wet shave.
However, do bear in mind that if you opt for a quality electric razor they will last for many months (even years) so you aren’t likely to have to fork out again any time soon.
Missing out on the shaving ritual
I have a massive vinyl collection, and while I do own an iPod and buy CD’s there’s nothing better than taking a new record out its sleeve hearing that crackle and fuzz as the music kicks in. And that nostalgic principle can also be applied to shaving methods.
Yes an electric shave is quicker, yes you can do it anywhere, and yes the top electric razors offer superb performance. Whether it’s the tradition, the routine, or that ‘smooth shave feeling’, sometimes an electric shave is missing that little something.
No room for error
I’ve tried shave creams, not been overwhelmed with the performance and thrown them away. A waste of money that may have been, but nothing compared to buying a new electric razor and not enjoying the electric shaving experience. If you’re going to ‘go electric’, make sure you do plenty of research and read plenty of reviews to ensure you’re getting a product that you’ll be happy with.
Having tried both the electric and wet shave options many times, with many different products, I’ll be the first to admit that there’s probably no generic ‘right choice’ shaving method. It’s all down to preference. But what I’ve hopefully done with this article is help you decide whether you’re chosen shaving method is the right one for you, your skin, your budget and your time frame.
Oh and just in case you’re wondering, I prefer the occasional wet shave for its luxurious feel and skin care benefits, followed by stubble maintenance with the BaByliss For Men iStubble in between. Sitting on the fence or what!
Let me know whether you’re a wet shave or an electric man by leaving your comments below.
As this article is over a year old, the comments are now closed.
If you have a specific question about one of the points raised in the article, why not join our free fashion & style forum and start a thread? The FashionBeans community will always do their best to help you out, and our writers also frequent the forums regularly.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with us on our contact us page.