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Blade vs electric

I’m sure most men wish they could flick a switch to stop their facial hair growing.

Yesterday, for the first time in well over a decade, I tried blade shaving. I had been pondering switching back from electric, since my Phillishave shaver’s rechargable battery is wearing out, and it needs a new blade and filter thingy.

So I picked up a three-blade shaver and some cream from the supermarket, and gave it a go.

The result was more blood in the bathroom than Hitchcock’s shower scene. (No, not really, not quite.) (Sorry, no pics.)

You know that scene in one of the early Simpsons with Homer teaching Bart to shave, and then him putting lots of bits of paper over the numerous cuts? Yeah, like that.

The main culprit was a small (but permanent) lumpy thing on my chin, which poured out blood like a geyser (no, not really), and took quite some time to stop.

How embarrassment.

On the plus side, the shave was certainly smoother. But on the minus, apart from the blood (which would go away with practice and accuracy and once my face is “used” to blades again), it didn’t look noticeably better than with an electric shaver.

That is, despite the closer shave, the same amount of stubble was visible — it was just shorter. So what is the point?

It all made me remember why I switched to electric in the first place, and I’ll be heading down to the Shaver Shop ASAP to refresh the parts on my electric shaver.

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How do you shave? If you feel like it, click an option below.

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Update Monday: Survey results:

Shaving survey results

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

31 replies on “Blade vs electric”

If you want a baby-bottom type close shave from safety razors, the only way I’ve found to do it is by going against the grain. Do a normal with-the-grain type shave first, and then go back over (make sure you wet your face first) against the grain. Whether you can be bothered spending the time or not is up to you :)

Just adding to what jon said, it’s better to use cold water to wet your face than hot water. Amongst other reasons, cold water kind of stiffens the bristles, meaning a better shave.

My face just bleeds all over despite having no visible cuts if I use a blade to shave. Electric irritates my skin a bit, but it’s better than bleeding, and more convenient, too.

I learnt from a gay guy program that the best way to shave is to shave post shower or in the shower itself, using fairly warm water for the shower. The bristles soften up, your pores open up, and the hairs get a bit bigger due to the increase in humidity / moisture, so you get a closer shave no matter which type of shaver you use (straight blade, normal blades, or an electric shaver).

Using a toning lotion afterwards tightens up the skin and pulls the bristles back in for a bit. However, I personally find these horrendous and prefer the Nivea moisturizing lotion (Q10 double action thingymabobsie).


I’ll reply for my husband LOL – he shaves with a blade all the time. Prefers the close shave I think, although he can go about 3 days between shaves before he looks like Grizzly Adams (a TV character that was well, hairy, among other things). The shave is quite close. He used an electric for a while, and didn’t like the buzzing of it, so he said. As far as cuts go, he’s had a few, but it’s relatively cut-free on his face.

Try an electric blade shaver. I have one of those 5 million blade things, but it has a battery in the handle. The vibrations not only make shaving better and smoother, but they also reduce cuts. I know this as I used to be a total Norman Gunston.
The downside is the blades are expensive- like damn printer ink.

I shave with a Blade, but I rarely cut myself, and I can go for nearly an entire week without looking *too* shabby, because the bristles are fairly pale at first.

The lack of speed in growing a beard is made up for the speed at which the hair on my head grows.

PS: The copyright line in your blog footer hasn’t been updated for 2010 :)

I do a combination of what Jon and Andrew have mentioned- I will usually do the “with the grain” shave in the shower, then the “against the grain” shave with shaving cream after the shower! And I get a really close shave that way! And I’m not using any special type of blade, such as the “Gillette 3000”:
I use the cheapo disposable Bic razors you get from the supermarket! Doing all that combined gives me a really close shave!

With regards to the bleeding, one other possibility could be that you were using a new blade! Whenever I use a new blade, I do tend to bleed somewhat, just because the blade is super sharp and fresh. Using it a few times adapts it to your face, then it is OK! Maybe try it a couple of times, and see if it stops cutting you. The worst is cutting your lip- bleeds forever!

By the way, I used the same Bic razors to shave off a beard grown a few summers ago! After persistent effort, it took me an hour to get rid off!

Some great tips here. With the grain then against the grain sounds like the way to do it.

And yes, undoubtedly using a new blade, and not being used to it made it more painful and bloody than it would be otherwise!

Chuggle, that’s Google Adsense for you!

Will, thanks, fixed the copyright line.

Further comments from a friend via Twitter (in four separate Tweets, she should have posted it here instead!):

“When you shave one way stick to it. Making a modification to your style of shaving is difficult when you’ve trained yourself to shave a particular way e.g. with a rotary shaver which does most of the work for you. Just make sure you keep the shaver ultra clean. Nothing worse at work when I have to clean/service change head on a mens shaver full of manky rubbish! Re: the shaver battery – take the shaver heads off & recharge/discharge the shaver a few times to help overcome memory effect.”

I use a blade. I had tried an electric shaver in my teens but I never really liked it. I use a Gilette Mach 3 razor with a battery powered vibrating handle and I rarely cut myself. It was my dad’s and my mom gave it to me after he died 4 years ago so it is one of the few physical things I have from him. I find that cheap disposible razors do tend to cut me more. I thought buying blade refills was expensive in the US but I don’t anymore after buying them in Australia! 1 blade will generally give me over 2 weeks of daily shaves before it starts getting scratchy and needs to be replaced. A pack of 4 blades is about $18. I was told years ago that shaving up against the hairs will giver a closer shave but it can also cause ingrown hairs in some people.

I use a blade, a Gillete Fusion 5. I shave most days (I try to leave one day a week free, but habits are habits and if I wouldn’t feel fine wearing a used shirt to whatever I was doing that day, I wouldn’t feel file not shaving). But my beard is like Homers: Smooth as a baby’s bottom when I get out of the shower, but I have a five o’clock shadow by morning tea time.

These days my regular daily shave is also with the grain.

My blades last waay longer that Jed’s. I don’t know if they make them better because they’re a newer line or if I’m just more comfortable with a little scratchy. I just started a new blade yesterday, it’ll probably last who knows how long. (I think in the past year-ish I’ve used up six blades, so I guess that’s roughly a blade per two months.)

I find the shaving creme/gel makes a big difference. I mostly use Gillete’s gel. I’ve tried a couple other cheap brands—they only seem to be worthwhile for having a backup lot in case you run out and don’t have another handy. Compared to how awful they feel (and smell no less), they’re probably as good as nothing. I don’t know if I’ve tried another expensive brand, it doesn’t seem worth it, y’know?

Blade shave, schick Quattro. I have a goattee right now so get away with maybe 2 or three shaves a week.

More interesting to me is what do those baldies like me do to keep a smooth scalp? In my house we have Wahl Clippers and my partner cuts my hair every week almost, takes 5 minutes and I’ve saved SO much on haircuts because of it :)

I have a Braun electric shaver with twin foils and a pivoting head but it doesn’t shave as close as its predecessor, the Braun single foil, non-pivoting model. I wasn’t impressed with it when I bought it but I don’t know if there’s anything better available, so I didn’t return it. I can’t keep the old one going because they don’t sell the parts anymore.

To Andrew van der Stock: Melburnians can’t shave under the shower (or clean their teeth) due to four minute shower restrictions (assuming we’re all good citizens).
To sort of add to Suzie’s question, and as a non-shaving male, the three females in my family all shave – but not their face!

My question is, with those disposable blades, how long can you keep on re-using the same one for?

Interesting to read a lot of people doing similar to me, I thought I was alone.

My hair unfortunately grows really fast (head AND face).. Thus, unfortunately, an electric shave is totally out of the question – it’s not close enough and I’m a mess by end of day.

I use a Gillette Fusion electric blade. I know many people say they do nothing, but with my sensitive skin and tough/fast beard it makes a small but important difference – easier cut and less harsh on skin. The difference is mostly taken for granted – it’s when the battery goes flat that you suddenly realise holy crap need a battery NOW!!!

Anyways, I too break the rules – I shave downward, and then… go against the grain. It’s the only way I can get an ultra-close and ultra-smooth shave that lasts until the end of the day.

Yet, even then, if I don’t shave the next morning then it’s already well on its way back. I like to skip shaving over weekends to 1) give my skin a rest, and 2) I really hate shaving. So, unless something is on over the weekend that makes me shave, those two days mean I am an absolute mess – despite the above close as heck shave.

Like Cassowary I use the official Gillette cream, works the best for both cutting and the skin. However, unlike Cassowary, I only get two weeks at most from each blade – my hair just grows ways too quick and tough :(

I do an electric shave every day – use the Philips shaver with larger-area foils (the standard Philips shaver has the three foils on the outer edge of the rotary blades only – my model has inner foils on the three also)

I get a fairly good result – probably not quite as close as the blade shave under the chin, but well and truely good enough for me! The advantage is that I can do it every day or even twice a day, whereas I most likely could not be bothered with the hassle of blade shaving daily and would get around with a few days of stubble.

For the record the hair on my head and face grow quite fast!!

A couple of interesting points above, I’m surprised how much use some people get from a disposable razor, I had a friend who used a new razor every day (he was italian and had the 5oclock shadow at 10am).

I shave every second day with a Gillette or schick triple blade (the cheap blades like Bic tear your skin off, IMO) I don’t like to use a blade more than 3 times as it gets scratchy and doesn’t cut smoothly.

Going against the grain last is a must, though this could be in any direction as beards grow diferently on each of us.

I use shaving cream that comes in a tube like toothpast, I think it’s from faulding, great stuff.

All great comments ppl. I’m of Southern European descent, and have a fast growing beard and very sensitive skin. Like other guys, I do a with the grain shave, followed by an against the grain shave. I use a Nivea Sensitive Shaving Gel and Gillette Mach 3 Turbo razors (such a butch name with “Mach” and “Turbo” included)!

Sometimes (once a week) I “tug” a bristle too far and the pore starts to bleed. Sometimes I even nick myself. The best way to stop that bleed is using a Styptic Pencil. It stings like hell, but stops the bleeding in 20-30 seconds flat. Such an old fashioned thing, and hard to come by, although most pharmacies sell it for b/w $4-$7.

Even work great on Mozzie Bites and think it’s great to have in the bathroom cabinet

I use disposable blades, double not triples, but here’s a good trick to know:

I keep about five blades in my cabinet and I randomly switch between them. As a result I haven’t bought a new pack in a year and a half. Seems not using the same blade every day lets the metal recrystallize – or some such.

Go for the slightly shaggy look, and use a beard trimmer set to about 1 or 2. Doesn’t irritate, bleed or itch that way.

I am of the firm belief that there are only 2 kinds of men in the world:
1) sane bearded men
2) crazy masochistic men who subject themselves to instruments of torture, electric or otherwise


During my six years in the military and in the first ten years of my current job, I had to be clean shaven and blade shaving was , by far , the quickest. (I could get
showered shaved and dressed in under 5 minutes). However, once my old boss
retired , I grew a beard (well actually forgot to shave it off after annual leave).
I agree with Lachlan Wetherall and Mike Smith above, only I get it trimmed only when I visit the Barber, about every 6 to 8 weeks.

Sorry Daniel, I was going to post the advice on the blog, but the poll didn’t have an option at the time!

BTW Shaving before a shower will increase the life of your foil/cutter if you have an electric shaver. The skin has natural lubricants which make it easier for the shaver to move over your face. Once you shower, even if you don’t wash your face, you lose those lubricants.

The cost of the foils/cutters etc is ridiculous. If I had to feed my family on the profits I’d be collecting the bristles and making them into soup.

I know way too much about mens shaving for a girl!

I have bristly bristles, if you know what I mean, but they tend to stand a long way apart, especially other than on my top lip or chin, so if I let it grow it looks appalling (my wife made me grow a mo once upon a time and people still laugh at the photo, even though I had hair on top then).
So for year I used a blade, mostly a Gillette Blue 2 Sensitive, which gets pretty close and isn’t too expensive. I can make them last as much as 4 weeks before I notice the rust LOL. I shave in the shower, it’s a lot less messy and quicker. I’ve tried lots of special shave creams and foams but I just go back to good old soap. I always shave against the grain, if I shave with the grain, nothing happens!!
I recently tried a Bic 3 blade unit and it was excellent. However, I went off blades because as I got older (say from early/mid 50s) my skin sagged and wrinkled enough to make me cut myself too often.
I’ve been using a Braun twin foil for a few years, after a similar Remington Microscreen, and the Braun is much much better, and it shaves me almost as close as a blade, except on my neck, where is is useless. So, in fact, what I do now is shave my neck in the shower with a blade then do the rest after with the mower.
The solution to expensive cutters and foils is easy, it is Ebay, half the price of Shaver Shop!

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