Electric shavers are manufactured as two types: foil shavers and rotary shavers. Each type uses its own unique method of cutting hair. One should be familiar with each technology in order to make an informed decision on the type of shaver to choose.
Foil shavers use oscillating cutters that are covered by a mesh foil. As the individual hairs poke through the holes in the foil, the cutters (beneath the foil) move quickly from side to side to cut the hair. Single foil shavers that work best for slow growing beards. Double and triple-foil shavers cut with a faster blade action.
The purpose of the foil is to protect the skin from getting cut by the rotary cutters, therefore, the foil should be very thin in order to get the blades as close to the skin as possible, offering a closer shave. A cracked or broken foil can expose the blades, causing the risk of serious harm. Damaged foils should be replaced as soon as possible. Avoid using the shaver until the foil has been changed.
Foil shavers are known to provide closer shaves than rotary shavers, however, they are not so great at catching longer hairs. Foil shavers are worked in an up and down or side-to-side motion across the beard area, using light pressure to help lift the hair into the foil mesh. Braun carries an extensive line of foil shavers and is likely the leading manufacturer of foil shavers. However, Panasonic and Remington also offer and extensive line of foil shavers.
Rotary shavers usually have three, or sometimes four, round aluminum heads that work to guide the beard hairs into the spinning rotary cutters beneath using a “lift and cut” technology. The heads are suspended to allow the shaver to maneuver easily to the contour of the face. Unlike the foil shaver, the rotary shaver is worked in a circular pattern as it is moved across the beard area. In order to achieve the best shave, it is recommended to stretch the skin by twisting the mouth over to one side while moving the shaver in a circular motion against the direction of the follicle.
Getting the Best Performance from a Foil or Rotary
Electric shavers-foil or rotary-will reach their optimal performance after approximately one month of usage. The skin needs to get accustomed to the blade action, especially if the user switched over from a traditional razor. This is why you will often see reviews from users stating that the shaver irritated the skin. They did not give their skin enough time to adapt.
In order to keep an electric shaver performing its best, proper maintenance of the product is a must. It should be cleaned thoroughly once a month. Most come with a little brush that is used to remove the hair particles that get stuck in the shaver after many uses. Shavers are delicate, therefore should be handled with the utmost care. Make sure your shaver is “waterproof” before running the entire shaver under water. Some shavers are “water resistant” but not waterproof, allowing the user to run the head of the shaver under water but not the whole shaver. Additionally, replace foils, cutters and heads as needed.
Both foil and rotary provide a great shave if properly used and maintained. Bottom line, shaver choice always comes down to personal preference. Happy shaving!