bestratedelectricshavers

Braun Series 7

Braun 760cc (aka 760cc-4)

There are fundamental similarities across all of Braun’s recent shaver lines. Whether the Braun 760cc (aka 760cc-4), or Braun 790cc (aka 790cc-4), or the latest Braun 799cc (aka 799-6 or 797cc-7), the lineage is clear. Yet, with so many models to choose from, narrowing your pick down to the one right for you can seem daunting. To overcome the dilemma is simple: drill down to the details. That’s just what I’ll do here.

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Table: Different Models of Braun Cool Tec Series

8100 1250X/40 1250X/46 8100
8700 1250X/42 1250XCC 1250X/47
8900 1280X/42 1280XCC 1280X/47
8800 1290X/40 1290X/46
Type

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Dry Shaving
Wet Shaving
Trimmer
Waterproof
Automatic Cleaning System
Cleaning Programs

1

3

Cleaning Indicator
Cleaning Solution

Jet Clean

Jet Clean

Rechargeable Battery
Battery Level Indicator
Charging Time

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

Cordless Shaving

up to 50 min

up to 50 min

up to 60 min

up to 60 min

Quick Charge

5 min

5 min

5 min

5 min

Shaving With Cord
Replace Shaving Head Indicator
Shaving Head Replacement

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

Travel Pouch
Travel Lock
Power Save Mode
Finish

Black 

Black 

Black / Chrome

Black / Metal

Review

8900

Where to Buy?

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Basic Design

Braun has a long-established and well-earned reputation for quality. You’ll find it’s justified whether you look at a 760cc, a 790cc, or a 799cc.

There are some minor variations in color across the Series 7 models, but most are the more or less standard shiny black with one set the silvery color.

All fit the hand well, but there’s no one-size-fits-all shaver since it depends on you. Still, most guys find the Braun easy to hold and equally easy to manipulate. Whether you prefer the straight foil of a Braun or the rotary head of a Phillips is again just a matter of taste.

One thing that everybody can rely on, though, is the ability of the Braun to give you a close shave without irritation. Not surprisingly, that’s because of the company’s superb head and blade system.

Head & Blades

For those who would rather skip the long version just watch the video below to get Braun’s Series 7 shaving technology summarized in under 3 minutes.

The blades of a Braun Series 7 shaver are driven at 10,000 rpm. Not quite so fast as the super-speedy Panasonic 14,000 rpm, but they vibrate plenty quick enough to ensure there’s no discomfort from drag.

bestratedelectricshavers
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Sharp, quick blades can only be as effective as the foil covering them. The design of the Braun Series 7 gets high marks here. OptiFoil may sound like a marketing buzzword but it’s an accurate term here.

The pattern of holes handles any length of hair – short, medium, or long – so you can shave whenever it suits you.

Equally important, it will effectively cut a very wide range of hair types: thin, medium, or thick. If you’re a teen starting out or a middle-aged Greek who shaves whiskers as hard as pencil lead three times a day, the Braun 7xx can whack them all with ease. 

The Series 7 shavers have an adjustment for slow, medium, or fast to help out. If you’re the first type, with a soft beard, the slow might be useful.

For anyone else, the fast setting is likely to be used almost universally. They go by the names Extra Sensitive, Normal, and Intensive but they’re a speed adjustment not a blade raising or lowering mechanism.

No matter which mode you prefer, the pivoting head sported by the Braun is highly flexible and helps shave every contour closely. Personally, I prefer the Philips or Panasonic design, but only by a margin and it really is an individual thing.

The locking mechanism on the 790cc or 799cc models will prevent pivoting, if you prefer. Take a close look at the tilting mechanism before you do. Press down on one of the twin foils left or right. You’ll see the angle changes by quite a lot.

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Any of the models do a very good job of getting under the jawline, along the neck, near the ear, under the nose, or around the chin – all those tricky areas.

That said, the Active Lift of the middle trimmer is a big benefit. It really helps get those whiskers under the neck that tend (on me, anyway) to lie close to the skin. It has a unique way of lifting them that works well.

Wet Shaving Ability

There is one important aspect in which the 799 model distinguishes itself from the 790 and 760: wet shaving ability.

Every guy does things his own way. Me, I always shave in the shower, even with an electric shaver. I find that it helps reduce irritation, but again that’s a personal preference. I admit that with the Braun it isn’t really necessary.

When Braun says “wet” they mean it. All of the Series 7 shavers are well sealed, but the 799 specifically adds wet shaving ability for those, like me, who prefer that. Whether you use the old-style alcohol-based liquid, one of the more modern gels, or just the water spray of a shower, the 799 can accommodate your style.

Clean & Renew

All Series 7 shavers come with Braun’s mighty Clean & Renew cleansing system. Like the Panasonic or Philips shavers, the Braun unit doubles as a charging base. Unlike the competitors’ cleaners, the Braun is not a technological marvel, I’m sorry to say. It’s good; it does the job and very well, but it has some cons to go along with the pros.

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One con is common to all: the need to change the cartridge from time to time. In the case of the Braun, that might be a little sooner than the Panasonic or Philips. But because so much depends on your habits it’s impossible to make a universal statement here.

The Braun alcohol-based solution does tend to evaporate even when no active cleaning is taking place. Panasonic uses a proprietary liquid soap solution.

You could remove the Braun cartridge and plug the hole during those times it’s not in use. Still, it’s probably more bother than anyone will want to make. The cartridge replacements are not that expensive, and you could even mix your own if you’re concerned about operational costs. It’s just alcohol, lemon juice, and a bit of silicon lubricant.

The other downside is a little more particular to Braun. Their charging / cleaning holder is simply bigger than the other guys’. You’ll need more counter space to house it. If you compete with the lady of the house for space in the bathroom, it’s something to consider.

Whether the next aspect is a pro or a con might just be a matter of taste. Or, rather, smell. As I said, the Braun Clean & Renew cartridge houses chiefly alcohol and lemon – which provides good debris removal and good sanitizing ability. The blades come away clean and disinfected.

Does it clean as well as, say, the soap solution of the Panasonic? Without lab tests, I couldn’t swear in court the answer is “yes” – but in a review I would. For one thing, there’s never a soap scum residue with the Braun. Does it smell as good? Better, in my opinion, but that’s all it is: an opinion.

There’s certainly no debate when it comes to ease of use here, though. You put the electric shaver upside down in the base, press a button, and walk away for an hour. If you’re in a hurry, you can use the FastClean option. It will clean well enough in less than 30 seconds.

Charging & Battery

One reason for that statement “walk away for an hour” is the recharging time. The Series 7 takes about an hour to go from zero to max. It will then provide roughly 50 minutes of cordless shaving time.

There is a quick charge feature that will give you enough power for one shave (of ~3 min) after charging for about five minutes. So, if you’re dashing to a meeting and find your electric shaver dead, you can still avoid being late.

Fortunately, if you can’t wait even that short time, most of the Series 7 shavers will operate with the cord plugged in, all but the 799 model. The 799 can’t because it can be used in the shower. The motor will not run while it is plugged in to avoid the risk of electric shock.

And, in either case, you don’t have to charge at all by putting the shaver into the cleaning base if you don’t want. You can just plug it in with the cord and it will charge (in the same amount of time).

Another feature might be minor or “must have”, depending on your circumstances. The SmartPlug will automatically adapt to the right voltage for different countries. For you guys who travel a lot, that can be a deal maker.

Speaking of travel, the travel pouch is a little different in the 760cc line. It’s a fine pouch, but the 790cc and 799cc models come with a leather travel pouch. A nice touch.

Shaver Display

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There are some other minor differences in the various 7xx models, essentially on the display. The 790cc and 799cc (the same shaver really, with wet shaving added to the latter line) have a better indicator. In these models, it’s a 6-level LCD. In addition, there is a Foil Replacement indicator in the center.

The 760cc charge level light is an LED instead and shows five 20% increments from 20% to 100% with a Foil Replacement indicator in the center. It lacks the “hygiene staus” indicator of the 79x models. Frankly, even as picky as I am about things like this, I don’t find the difference significant.

Summary

Any of the Braun Series 7 electric shavers will give just about anyone a close, comfortable shave. Which is best for you comes down to budget and a taste for the details that please you most. Luckily, you can’t go wrong.

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Image of Braun 760cc (aka 760cc-4)

Braun CoolTec Series

Braun Cool Tec Series

At first blush, it hardly seems worth the effort to write a review comparing all the different models of the Braun CoolTec collection. The different models are so much alike you might think it’s not worth your time to read it. Still, you’re not looking for just any electric shaver, even within the Braun lineup, but the exact one best for you.

With that goal in mind, there are enough detailed differences between the various CoolTec models that it pays to do a little in-depth investigating. This comparison is limited to the 4 CoolTec models made for North America: the CT2s, CT2cc, CT4cc, and CT5cc.

Table: Different Models of Braun Cool Tec Series

8100 1250X/40 1250X/46 8100
8700 1250X/42 1250XCC 1250X/47
8900 1280X/42 1280XCC 1280X/47
8800 1290X/40 1290X/46
Type

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Dry Shaving
Wet Shaving
Trimmer
Waterproof
Automatic Cleaning System
Cleaning Programs

1

3

Cleaning Indicator
Cleaning Solution

Jet Clean

Jet Clean

Rechargeable Battery
Battery Level Indicator
Charging Time

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

Cordless Shaving

up to 50 min

up to 50 min

up to 60 min

up to 60 min

Quick Charge

5 min

5 min

5 min

5 min

Shaving With Cord
Replace Shaving Head Indicator
Shaving Head Replacement

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

Travel Pouch
Travel Lock
Power Save Mode
Finish

Black 

Black 

Black / Chrome

Black / Metal

Review

8900

Where to Buy?

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Basic Features and Similarities

Before we get to the subtle distinctions between one CoolTec shaver and another, a few words are in order about the similarities. They’re legion. That starts first and foremost with the new, most prominent feature.

CoolTec Technology

Every CoolTec gets the name, of course, from housing the special technology that gives you a less irritating shave by cooling as it goes. Since there’s no tiny refrigerator inside, how does it do that?

In the head there’s an aluminum strip attached to a component Braun calls Thermo Electric Cooler (the source for a clever acronym, “TEC”.) Essentially, the system takes heat from your face and from the shaver head (which builds heat up from vibrating) and moves it to other parts of the shaver. Then it’s dissipated into the air.

Interesting geek-speak aside, does it work? Is it of any value? The short answers are: “yes” and “it depends”. It does actually create a cool sensation on your face, the inevitable result of drawing off heat. It might or might not reduce skin irritation. That is a result of several factors, only one of which is heat.

More importantly, probably, there’s a downside to the CoolTec technology. You might be indifferent to the cooling effect or you might love it. But one thing Braun doesn’t advertise loudly is that it does limit how you use the shaver. In a word, it’s best used “dry”.

Certainly, all the CoolTec shavers – whether the CT2s, CT2cc, CT4cc, or CT5cc – are well sealed. You can shave with one in the shower or pop off the head to rinse clean under the faucet, all without fear. The case is completely sealed.

Even so, Braun ads themselves say openly that shaving using creams, electric shave lotions, or even plain water – such as in the shower – can reduce the effectiveness of a CoolTec shaver. It’s not hard to see the reason that might happen. Water, or liquid in general, makes for a very different heat flow matrix than air. Both are technically fluids and either can conduct heat away, but water does it much differently. Moisture interferes with the heat conduction of the CoolTec system.

So, if you’re like me and prefer to use your Wet & Dry shaver, which the CoolTec technically is, in “wet” mode you might want to think twice about buying one of these.

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Cutting System

If you’re still with me, there are a great many fine features shared by all these models. Beyond CoolTec, which might strike some as a gimmick, the cutting system is a Braun design and, like others, very good. The CoolTec line is essentially the same as a Series 3 shaver with the addition of the new feature. Not quite Series 5 or Series 7 level but still quite sharp, close, and effective. That aspect is definitely not part of any marketing ploy.

The SensoBlade component is a good example. The name may be a marketing buzzword but the technology works well. Most guys have whiskers that grow in different directions. If they don’t twirl around on the neck, they almost certainly aim one way on the face and another on the neck or chin. Specially designed shaving blades take care of that through a clever arrangement of holes and cutting blade configurations.

The 3-stage system works in conjunction with that to provide a very close shave everywhere you need. The twin foils (with a blade assembly under each one) teeter-totter a little. In addition, there’s an interesting cutter down the center. It moves back and forth 130 times a second between the two foils. That helps lift flat-lying hairs, such as those on the neck.

Naturally, like almost every Braun, those blades are very sharp and very durable. The company recommends changing them about once every 18 months but that’s pretty conservative for most men. Braun has earned its reputation here.

Differences

Cases

The case itself for each model is similar but varies slightly from one CoolTec model to the next. All of them are the same size, weight, and shape. With your eyes closed you’d find it hard to tell the difference. With your eyes open, it’s easy to distinguish the dual-toned Grey Lacquered CT5cc from the Blue Lacquered CT4cc and from the single-tone black CT2cc and CT2s.

From that point, the differences between the various CoolTec shavers begin to show – sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically.

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Clean & Charge System

I could say the major difference between the CoolTec models is in the Clean & Charge system, but that might be a little misleading.

It’s a different housing from other Braun shavers like the 790cc, though even there the similarities are greater than the differences. But it’s the same system across the CoolTec collection – wherever it’s included.

In this case, it’s the cc in the model name that tells you whether a model comes with the Clean & Charge station or not. In other words the CT2cc, CT4cc, and CT5cc all come with the Clean & Charge System while the CT2s does not.

Like the 790cc charging system, it takes about an hour to recharge the shaver from zero. You then have about 45 minutes of shaving time. However, there is a Fast Charge feature that gives you roughly one shave’s worth of time (a few minutes) with just a 5-minute charge. I wouldn’t rely on it too often but it’s good in an emergency, such as when you have to rush to a meeting and have forgotten to recharge the night before.

A Charging Cradle and Stand is available for the CT2s – the model without Clean & Charge System. The cord directly plugs into the Charging Cradle/Stand assembly and the shaver is recharged through its metal contacts, just as when it’s placed into the full-sized Clean & Charge System.

The cleaning portion of the shell is also the same across all three – the CT2cc, CT4cc, and CT5cc. No surprise since it’s the same physical unit in each case. It’s also substantially the same as many other recent Braun models.

It uses the same alcohol-based solution, mixed with lubricant and a bit of lemon “flavoring” to give it a nice smell. Each cartridge houses a tiny honeycomb grid in the base that allows shaken-loose whiskers to fall to the bottom. That helps the cartridge last longer while it provides a cleaner environment at the blades during cleaning.

One final point on the cleaning system. The shell is a bit large compared to many. Not a major issue in my view, but for those with very limited counter space in the bathroom it might be a consideration.

Accessories

The other differences between the various CoolTec shaver models are minor and lie chiefly in the accessories or attachments provided (or not).

For example, not all models come with a protective cap. That’s a bit strange; it’s a supremely inexpensive item to manufacture and you’d think Braun would include it automatically with all models. Still, that’s apparently not the case. It’s only available for the CT2s and CT2cc. Weird.

Some of the other differences in accessories included (or not) are not quite so strange, though maybe still a little odd.

There’s a nice protective pouch that comes with the CT4cc and the CT5cc. You’d expect, if they leave it out of any package it would be the lower-end models. Except that there really is no “high end or low end” distinction in this line, just different colors and accessories.

The above mentioned Charging Cradle also comes with the CT2cc, CT4cc, and CT5cc models but without the Charging Stand. The cradle is a handy thing to have. Sometimes you’d like to carry just the cord and cradle along on a trip but not the bulky Clean & Charge system.

Summary

It’s possible to get lost in the weeds with all these variations. So, I’ll just summarize here that it really comes down to this:

The different CoolTec models are different colors and offer minor differences in accessories or attachments for the most part. The only major difference is between the s and cc models. The CT2cc, CT4cc and CT5cc come with the Clean & Charge System . The CT2s doesn’t.

That said, whether any of the Braunc CoolTec shavers are right for you is a tough call. If you like to wet shave, probably not. Any of these can operate fine in the shower or over a lathered face. However, Braun states that you won’t get the best results from the CoolTec technology that way. And, since that’s the whole point of this collection, that could be a decisive point for a percentage of buyers.

Panasonic Arc 4 Series

Panasonic Arc 4 Series

The Panasonic Arc 4 electric shaver collection houses a number of models (ES8243A, ES-LF51-A, ES-LA63-S, and ES-LA93-K) with what appear to be minor differences. Yet, the prices vary substantially. Are there not-so-obvious features that can account for such a wide divergence in cost? Let’s take a closer look.

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Table: Different Models of Philips Series

8100 1250X/40 1250X/46 8100
8700 1250X/42 1250XCC 1250X/47
8900 1280X/42 1280XCC 1280X/47
8800 1290X/40 1290X/46
Type

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Dry Shaving
Wet Shaving
Trimmer
Waterproof
Automatic Cleaning System
Cleaning Programs

1

3

Cleaning Indicator
Cleaning Solution

Jet Clean

Jet Clean

Rechargeable Battery
Battery Level Indicator
Charging Time

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

Cordless Shaving

up to 50 min

up to 50 min

up to 60 min

up to 60 min

Quick Charge

5 min

5 min

5 min

5 min

Shaving With Cord
Replace Shaving Head Indicator
Shaving Head Replacement

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

Travel Pouch
Travel Lock
Power Save Mode
Finish

Black 

Black 

Black / Chrome

Black / Metal

Review

8900

Where to Buy?

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Similarities

Any big differences in the Panasonic Arc 4 shaver line certainly do not lie in the look and feel, or even the basic housing.

All of the cases are well-sealed, so they offer the ability to shave wet or dry, for instance. As a result, they can all be rinsed clean in the same way – by holding the shaver under the shower head or popping off the shaver head and rinsing the blades directly under the faucet.

Also, the bodies of the ES8243A, ES-LF51-A, ES-LA63-S, and ES-LA93-K are so close to the same size and heft you wouldn’t notice with your eyes closed. There isn’t enough variation in size or mass to sway anyone here.

True, six or seven ounces is noticeable but how many are likely to care about even that? Some, no doubt but not everyone. Similarly, from smallest depth to largest, the models differ by up to just shy of half an inch. You can feel that, for sure. But few guys have hands so small it would move them to choose one over the other, all other things being equal.

Of course, that’s the point; the other things are not equal. Before we get there, let’s look at some of the other similarities that place each of these shavers squarely into the Panasonic Arc 4 lineup.

Blade and Motor

The most important of the similarities, not surprisingly, is the blade and motor system that each of these four models offers.

The very name, after all, gives away the key: each houses four blades. Those aren’t just any blades, however. Sure, they’re all stainless steel and hypoallergenic. But that really doesn’t distinguish them from even the cheap models offered by other guys. That’s standard these days. Instead, Panasonic is right up there with Braun in offering electric shaver blades that are super sharp, very durable, and therefore cut without drag while lasting a long time.

Those two things together are hugely important. A shaver that offers low-to-no irritation due to drag naturally gets high marks before even considering any other attributes. But if they wear out in a few months you’ll spend a lot replacing the head. The shaver would be suited only to those with money to burn. Needless to say, that’s not a big group.

By the same token, if the blades lasted forever but cut your face up even after an initial adjustment period, that shaver would be useless. If anything, that kind of irritation is no doubt the biggest complaint buyers regularly have about poor quality electric shavers. You won’t have that problem with any of these Arc 4 models.

One reason is not just the quality of the blades, though, important as that is. It’s what drives them. In this case, that’s a fast, powerful, linear motor. Here, “fast” varies a little bit. In the ES8243A, for example, it’s 13,000 rpm. The other three models offer 14,000 rpm. All of them are set at the same 30-degree angle.

While, in general, higher is better the 1000 rpm variation is unlikely to be noticeable. It’s certainly not important. Even the lower speed is plenty fast enough to keep things moving along at a good clip.

Run an Arc 4 electric shaver over your cheek and you’ll find most of your 3-day stubble whisking away with a single stroke and no tugging. That means low-to-no irritation.

There can always be some, for some users, simply because of the type of skin they sport. Some guys have uber-tender skin. An electric shaver, or shaving at all, just isn’t for them. For practically everyone, the Arc 4 blade/motor system lets you get done in a jiffy without leaving behind a flaming-red face.

Head and Foil

Still, it isn’t just the motor and blade that account for the smooth shave that puts the Panasonic Arc 4 line among the best around. The head movement and the foil system both do their part, and a big part it is.

Personally, I prefer the full rotary movement of the Norelco SensoTouch 3D. But that’s the result in part of me having a face with lots of sharp curves combined with round areas. I need that full flexibility in order to get the stubborn sections and recessed areas.

That said, there’s no question that the head of the Arc 4 provides more than adequate movement to satisfy all but those weird guys like me. Just about anyone will find the large, rounded-rectangular head (the “Arc” in the name) plenty good enough.

Equally important, it’s flexible enough to get where you need to go. The well-designed pivot ensures that. However, two models are a little different in this aspect. Both the ES-LF51-A and the ES8243A lack the MultiFlex ability of the other two. They’re flexible, just not to the same degree.

All of the heads sit in that same Aliens-style body – big head, tapering body, narrow but sturdy neck connecting them. That isn’t just for looks, either. It provides a nice grip (especially with the added rubberized pieces) and, at the same time, keeps your hand from interfering with the business end of the shaver.

For those to whom it might matter, the ES-LA63-S and ES-LA93-K do sit at a larger angle to the body than the ES-LF51-A and ES8243A. A simple hand adjustment can take care of that usually, but there it is if you care.

Each shaver houses a pop-up trimmer and they all work pretty much the same. I’m never fully satisfied with these things but that’s probably just my quirky face. My small mouth, for example, makes it tough to get the trimmer into the corners so I use a special mustache-trimming tool for those winter months when I choose to maintain a beard. Most buyers say the tool trims their sideburns and/or mustache cleanly with no hassle.

Foil Pattern

The foil pattern is as or more important, actually. Here, I couldn’t be happier. Panasonic knew they had to do something really innovative to beat Braun or Philips here and they delivered. The very carefully arranged multi-hole pattern on the Arc 4 line was the result.

One size/shape hole takes care of those longer hairs. After all, for many guys the beard grows at slightly different rates in different areas. So, when you shave on a Monday after being lazy over the weekend your shaver may have to deal with varying lengths. Another pattern tackles that stubble left after you’ve hacked off or whacked down the long stuff, or if you’re one of those who shave twice a day. A third aims at cleanly removing the medium-length ones.

All the foils on all the models are high quality and all last about the same time, a year or two depending on use, maintenance, and environmental conditions. A continually humid area, for example, will cause a foil to decay quicker than a dry space. Not a bad idea to keep your shaving area well aired.

One final note, though. The ES-LA63-S and the ES-LA-93-K have not just the multi-Arc foil that gives the line part of its name. They have an extra, ultra-thin vibrating foil as well. That additional foil helps produce an even more precise shave with even less irritation than the already minimal amount of the other two.

What Difference Does It Make?

So, with all these similarities – and all this similar high quality – what difference does it make besides price? It’s the ratios that are important here, not the absolute price, since we’re comparing one to the other. If the high-end ES-LA93-K model can run more than double even the mid-range model there must be a reason. Panasonic isn’t suicidal in their pricing strategy.

The solution to that mystery isn’t hard, though it lies in not just a single attribute. There are a half-dozen features, including most importantly the charging and/or cleaning system, that drives the price of one Arc 4 model up so much over another.

Differences

Shaving Time

The number of shaves per charge might be thought to give a clue to one of those features. Sometimes those clues are a little cockeyed, though. The ES8243A, ES-LA63-S, and ES-LA93-K offer 14; the ES-LF51-A provides 15.

The figures are all approximate anyway. Meaning, they might deliver that number and they might not. That’s particularly true after the razor has aged a bit. All rechargeable shavers run down over time and they age at different rates depending on use and charging patterns.

Just as one possible factor that will affect the real number… Whether you shave for 3 minutes per session (the figure used for the official ratings) or 5 minutes at a time will make a difference. Even apart from the required recharging time, even the best batteries will react a little differently from one usage pattern versus another.

Charging System

All four models take roughly the same time – an hour – to recharge from zero. Still, the details of the charging system differ from one to the next.

For example, the ES-LA63-S and the ES-LA93-K are essentially the same shaver. They differ only in the color/material of the outer casing with the LA63 being silvery and the LA93 a shiny black. The latter, and much more expensive, model includes a sophisticated cleaning/charging system which we’ll cover in detail below. That accounts for their difference in price.

The ES8243A has a nice 5-minute quick charge feature. You plug it in and, even from a state of being completely drained, in a few minutes it will have enough juice to give you a 3-minute shave. Perfect for when you’re rushing to a meeting in a strange city and discover your electric shaver is dead.

Display

On the shaver itself, the ES-LA93-K (and the ES-LA63-S) has a 10-stage display that shows you very precisely the level of charge, in increments of 10% of the total. In addition, there’s a low-battery indicator. The LCD screen also shows how much time you’ve used cumulatively since re-charging to full.

By comparison, the ES-LF51-A display is “only” a 5-stage LED system. To my mind, the two stages found on lower models is inadequate but five levels is plenty to judge the state of the battery. The ES8243A offers the same 10-stage display as the ES-LA93-K and the ES-LA63-S.

Cleaning System

One of the big differentiators is, as mentioned above, the Vortex cleaning system. The ES-LA93-K has a doozy, which the others lack. The housing itself does dual-duty, serving as a stand and case for the charging system, but holding the components for automatic cleaning as well. No, there’s no risk of shock by having the two inside one unit. At least, no one has ever reported any problem with this.

One nice feature of the ES-LA93-K system is the cleaning material itself. Unlike, say, the Philips system, the cleaner isn’t an alcohol-based solution. There are tiny dry cakes you insert into the base. Then you pour in water. The cake dissolves and the vibration of the shaver head mixes everything together as it cleans.

That points to one reasonable doubt, though. It’s an open question whether you need the cleaning material at all. The rapid vibration will do much of the work. Still, for the ultimate in residue removal and sanitizing, it’s a good system.

All 4 shavers do have an alternative Sonic Vibration Cleaning Mode you can activate by holding the On/Off button for a couple of seconds. You hardly need a cleaning system at all with that kind of feature. Just hold it under the water and let the razor agitate any residue off.

That’s one possible source of saving since there’s no need to buy refill cleaning cartridges. Still, the cartridges for the ES-LA93-K last a decent amount of time so they’re not a huge expense. You can get about 30 cleanings out of one. Today’s price on Amazon, that equates to about 30 cents per day, if used daily.

Summary

All four Panasonic Arc 4 electric shavers reviewed above represent good value. They’re all well made, offer a close yet irritation-free shave, and feel good in the hand. The devil is in the details, of course, so deciding which is best for you can only be done – not surprisingly – by you. Fortunately, you really can’t go wrong.

Panasonic ES2216PC vs ES2207P

Panasonic ES2216PC vs ES2207P

Surprising myself this time, I’m a fan of the Panasonic ES2207P ladies electric shaver. I say “surprising” because it suffers from many of the same drawbacks as the ES2216PC. Neither is ideal, but the ES2207P offers a few features the ES2216PC does not (and vice versa) and you really can’t beat the low price.

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Table: Different Models of Philips Series

8100 1250X/40 1250X/46 8100
8700 1250X/42 1250XCC 1250X/47
8900 1280X/42 1280XCC 1280X/47
8800 1290X/40 1290X/46
Type

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Dry Shaving
Wet Shaving
Trimmer
Waterproof
Automatic Cleaning System
Cleaning Programs

1

3

Cleaning Indicator
Cleaning Solution

Jet Clean

Jet Clean

Rechargeable Battery
Battery Level Indicator
Charging Time

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

Cordless Shaving

up to 50 min

up to 50 min

up to 60 min

up to 60 min

Quick Charge

5 min

5 min

5 min

5 min

Shaving With Cord
Replace Shaving Head Indicator
Shaving Head Replacement

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

Travel Pouch
Travel Lock
Power Save Mode
Finish

Black 

Black 

Black / Chrome

Black / Metal

Review

8900

Where to Buy?

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Similarities and Differences

For such a low cost electric shaver, the ES2207P packs a few features that might surprise you.

The triple blade shaving system is a good example. The three independently floating heads do a decent job of whacking hairs in one pass, even when they lie nearly hidden near your curves. By comparison, the four blade twin head shaving system in the ES2216PC helps even more. Also, the ES2207P lacks the pivoting ability of the ES2216PC. So, the slightly higher-end model earns a slightly higher score in this area.

Evening things up a bit, the ES2207P houses nickel-free, hypo-allergenic stainless steel blades, just like the ES2216PC. That helps both razors provide a safe shaving experience. Provided you keep them clean, neither is likely to give you any problem from introducing bacteria under the skin, as is possible with a manual razor.

Without laboratory testing it’s hard to confirm Panasonic’s claim that the ES2216PC’s blades are the sharpest around. They don’t make the same claim for the ES2207P. Still, real-world use suggests they’re both decent, though not stellar. Yes, the ES2207P has the same limitation as its somewhat more expensive cousin. It just doesn’t do the kind of job that you might hope for.

Naturally that evaluation depends just on what you “hope for” but suffice to say the closeness is good but not impressive. Even keeping in mind that this is an electric, all of which only do so well, it’s not quite up to the “outstanding” level. Men’s shavers, by contrast, typically do a much better job.

On the upside, the ES2207P does provide a pretty comfortable shave for such a low-cost shaver. In fairness, the men’s Panasonic models typically cost 5-15 times as much as this unit. Still, you should not expect miracles from either model.

You can increase that upside even more by using the ES2207P (or the ES2216PC, for that matter) as a wet shaver. Thanks to a well-sealed case you can do that with no fear of harming the motor or any other component.

Even better – and this is one big reason I actually like the ES2207P better even apart from the price – the case is a much better shape for wet shaving. The lady-like curves of this model make it so much easier to hold, especially in the shower when your hands are often soapy.

It helps that it only weighs 5.3 oz. Not that the ES2216PC is all that heavy at 5.75 oz. The ES2216PC is a bit longer – 6.3″ rather than the ES2207P’s 5.9″ – but that doesn’t really affect much the ability to grip well. Even so, a rubbery grip would have helped here, I must say.

Many ladies prefer the wet technique not only to make for a more comfortable shave but because it’s so much easier to shave and then clean right in the shower. True, it’s not hard after a dry shave to pop off the foil and brush away those collected hairs. But the ability to rinse them away after a shave means no chance of spilling any on the sink or floor. How many times have you shaved then looked at the bathroom floor only to find a dozen more little hairs around?

Additional Features

Like the ES2216PC, the ES2207P houses a pop-up trimmer. Surprisingly for such a low-priced shaver, the design is really effective. It stands out just enough to get those long hairs without being intrusive.

Oddly, the bikini trimmer attachment fits only on the ES2216PC. I can understand why Panasonic might not have wanted to produce two different ones. That would increase manufacturing costs, inventory complexity, and so forth. But it would have required only the smallest design change to make it fit either.

Charging System and Battery

I have to say, I dislike the charging method of the ES2207P to the same degree as that of the ES2216PC and for the same reason. It certainly looks stylish plugged directly into the outlet. But that design puts a lot of stress on the outlet and, at least in my house, would be an accident waiting to happen.

Even considering the problem of having yet another power adapter, and wondering “What does this one fit?” I’d rather have a cord to attach. Sure, you could use an ordinary extension cord but those are so unattractive and who wants to use one for that purpose? Also, I wish the little charging light would turn off, or at least change color, when the shaver is fully charged.

I do have to give Panasonic credit for the battery life in the ES2207P. It’s rated for 10 shaves at 3 minutes per shave on the official website. In any case, real-world use shows it actually does get 30 minutes on average.

Over time that’s likely to fade a bit. Virtually all rechargeable batteries become less than optimal after they’ve been owned for a year or so. And, one could wish it were longer but, once again, that would increase the price or weight.

No matter. About half an hour of charge is pretty decent for such a low-priced shaver. It doesn’t match the full hour the guys get but, again, they pay so much more for that. I just wish it charged quicker than 12 hours. The ES2216PC suffers from the same drawback, though.

Summary

Both the Panasonic ES2207P and the ES2216PC ladies shavers offer a good value. I’d prefer the shave be more impressive and the charging system were different. Still, at these prices you can’t complain… much.

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Image of Panasonic Electric Shaver for Women – ES2207P

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Image of Panasonic Electric Shaver for Women – ES2216PC

Philips Series 8000 (SensoTouch 3D)

Philips Series 8000 (SensoTouch 3D)

Philips’ electric shaver line has generally gone from triumph to triumph. That’s nowhere better illustrated than the Norelco SensoTouch 3D line (now also known as Series 8000), including the 1250, 1280, and 1290 models.

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If you include sub-model numbers like the 1250X/40 (now also known as 8100), 1250X/42 (now also known as 8700), 1280X/42 (now also known as 8900), and the 1290X/40 (now also known as 8800) for example – choosing one can get pretty confusing.

No need. All the Norelco Series 8000 models share the same basic shaving technology and differ just in finish and features or add-ons, sometimes in just minor ways. Let’s try to unravel some of that.

Table: Different Models of Philips Series

8100 1250X/40 1250X/46 8100
8700 1250X/42 1250XCC 1250X/47
8900 1280X/42 1280XCC 1280X/47
8800 1290X/40 1290X/46
Type

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Rotary

Dry Shaving
Wet Shaving
Trimmer
Waterproof
Automatic Cleaning System
Cleaning Programs

1

3

Cleaning Indicator
Cleaning Solution

Jet Clean

Jet Clean

Rechargeable Battery
Battery Level Indicator
Charging Time

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

1 hr

Cordless Shaving

up to 50 min

up to 50 min

up to 60 min

up to 60 min

Quick Charge

5 min

5 min

5 min

5 min

Shaving With Cord
Replace Shaving Head Indicator
Shaving Head Replacement

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

RQ12

RQ12+ (New)

Travel Pouch
Travel Lock
Power Save Mode
Finish

Black 

Black 

Black / Chrome

Black / Metal

Review

8900

Where to Buy?

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Best Price

Basic Design

All the Norelco SensoTouch 3D electric shavers get the 3D name from that head atop the robot-appearance head, which tilts in all three dimensions. Whether “3D” is an appropriate description is debatable, but there’s no doubt about the function. It definitely provides a very flexible motion to get into every nook and cranny of your face. The company’s literature often includes the buzzword “Gyroflex” before the “3D,” which might give you a better idea.

The multi-part blade and cover design works in conjunction with that movement. It consists first of a pair of rotating, stay-sharp blade elements in each head. One set lifts the hair while the other comes along right behind to cut, similar to the way a manual dual-blade razor works.

Yet, that blade design doesn’t do all the work. The head covers are equally important. Each houses channels to whack off the longer hairs, slots to take care of the medium-length growth, and holes to trim stubble close to the skin.

The whole assembly is well sealed so you can use it in the shower without fear. That also makes shaving smoother for many guys who prefer wet shaving. That technique lowers friction, especially when combined with a gel or electric shave solution. As a nice side benefit, it makes cleaning the shaver easier. You can rinse off all three heads and hair chambers by just popping off the foil/cover.

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x/42 vs x/40 – To Jet Clean or Not to Jet Clean

Speaking of cleaning, how you do that is one of the differentiators of the different models.

The 1280X/42 (8900), for example, comes with Philips’ Jet Clean system while, perhaps oddly, the higher-numbered model 1290X/40 (8800) does not. In this case, it’s the second number (40 versus 42) that tells you whether a model comes with the cleaning unit or not. The number 42 signals inclusion of the cleaning system. And to make things even more confusing, depending on where you look you may see the models with Jet Clean system also listed with xcc as suffix such as 1280xcc or 1250xcc.

The 1280X/42 (8900) cleaning system offers three cleaning programs versus just one for the 1250X/42 (8700) sub-model. The three cleaning programs are: eco, auto, and intensive. The ‘eco’ setting offers a shorter drying time (one hour versus two), which means a tiny savings of electricity. The ‘intensive’ setting lengthens the normal 4-6 minute cleaning cycle to a full 35 minutes.

Does the cleaning system justify the higher price? Hard to say. Water-rinsing is good but that Jet Clean system does come in handy occasionally. It deep-cleans and helps preserve the heads in a way that simple rinsing won’t and it’s certainly easier than scrubbing.

Whether that justifies the added cost is no doubt a personal choice. There’s no way to quantify the coolness factor of inserting the shaver head down and watching the Jet Clean system work. Still, there’s no doubt it is easy to use, convenient, and hygienic.

Battery and Shaving Time

The internal battery – or at least the way it works – is another differentiator for the various SensoTouch 3D models. To some buyers those differences will be insignificant; others might see them as decisive.

The 1250X/40 (8100) and 1250X/42 (8700), for example, both offer a rated shaving time per charge of 50 minutes or 17 days. By comparison, the 1280X/42 (8900) and 1290X/40(8800) both offer a full 60 minutes or 20 days. Note, the “days” figure only means that Philips is assuming an average time to shave of about three minutes. If you can shave that fast, great. On average, I would assume at least twice that shaving time but maybe I’m a bit slow.

Keep in mind, however, that these are averages and optimal ones at that. For sure, you’ll typically get that full amount with a new shaver and for some time after that. Over time, it will almost certainly go down. Eventually, there’s no doubt it will; all rechargeable batteries fade to some degree as they’re recharged many times. What that means in practice is that the seemingly small 10-minute difference will become more meaningful as the batteries age. So go for the best battery you can get.

One final note in this section, about the battery level indicators. The 1290X/40 (8800) and the 1280X/42 (8900) have a five-level LED indicator while the two 1250X models have ‘only’ a three-level. There’s also a numeric battery level indicator on both the first two that the latter pair lack.

The numeric indicator might be just a techno-geek eye pleaser or it might actually help those who really want to get the absolute most out of the system. Without long-term testing by multiple users it’s hard to say. That feature isn’t worth much to me, despite being a certified techno-geek, but your view may reasonably differ.

Other Minor Differences

Some other differences between the various shaver models such as finish and a travel lock function are probably less important to most buyers.

The 1290X/40 (8800) has a zinc finish while the 1280X/42 (8900) features chrome. The 1250X models are black plastic. Personally, I really like a piece of gear that looks and feels high-tech but I wouldn’t pay a big premium for it. I might pay for a functional difference. If that aspect matters to you, fine. If not, not. There’s no disputing taste.

One difference that might matter to a few (or many?) buyers is the travel lock. I never have trouble with my electric shaver turning on by accident in my suitcase. Some, I suppose, might. Maybe it’s the way I pack or just sheer luck.

In any case, the 1290X has no actual travel lock to prevent that. What appears to some buyers like a travel lock on the 1290X is really just a power saver feature that activates automatically after being shaken for a few minutes. That simulates movement of your suitcase, one has to assume.

The other models require only a 3-second press and you’re fully secure; similarly a 3-second push unlocks it. Incidentally, it automatically unlocks when placed in the charging stand or Jet Clean system.

Summary

The bottom line is that all the Philips Norelco Series 8000 electric shavers house essentially the same shaving technology. Those basic components are just as good on, say, the less-expensive 1250X/42 (8700) version as on the high-end 1280X/42 (8900) and both have Jet Clean systems. You might wonder, then, why anyone would spend more. The answer, of course, is in the detailed differences. Only you can decide how much those are worth to you.

Foil or Rotary Shavers – Which is better? – The Eternal Discussion

Foil or Rotary Shavers

“The eternal discussion”. Sounds deep, no? Not really. It’s just that deciding which is better – a foil electric shaver or a rotary model – becomes endless. The reason isn’t at all obscure.

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Basic Definitions

It isn’t hard to define the difference between a rotary and a foil model. You’ve seen countless examples of both types of electric shaver. But doing it will reveal some points that lead to a useful comparison of pros and cons.

A foil model electric shaver is one covered by a foil. True, but not helpful. Let’s try again. A foil shaver is covered by a relatively large, curved rectangle of metal with a pattern of holes that arrange hair for efficient cutting. Underneath are a set of blades that vibrate left and right (or back and forth, if you prefer).

That raises a number of useful questions. What is that hole pattern? What makes them (more, or less) efficient? How do the blades interact with the foil cover? All good questions but let’s put them off for just a bit to introduce the rotary style so we can compare and contrast.

A rotary shaver houses a number of round heads (usually three to five) covering that number of rotating blades. That definition shows at once some of the important differences (and similarities) to a foil model.

The difference is obvious. One type of foil/blade system is rectangular the other is round. One type features blades that ‘shift’, the others whirl. The similarity isn’t as obvious but it’s important; both offer a set of holes of varying shapes and sizes that sit above moving blades.

Why are those similarities and differences important? By answering that question we’ll be able to explore the pros and cons of selecting one style of electric shaver over the other.

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Pros and Cons

Closeness

In discussions of the pros and cons of foil versus rotary, you might often see the assertion that a foil gives a closer shave. Sometimes, but not necessarily so. It depends on the model, how well the blades are made and positioned in each, your face, and a dozen other factors. In general, many foils do give a closer shave than many rotary models, but it’s not universally true. One reason it’s true some of the time owes less to the rectangle-vs-circle aspect than other facets of the shaver’s design.

Speed

For example, a good foil model will likely have a very high vibration rate, as high as 14,000 cycles per minute for example. Some rotaries do have a very high rotation rate but it’s less common. That’s as likely due to cost (and the quality) as any inherent advantage. Speed does make a difference, though. Just as a fast-spinning lawn mower blade cuts better than one rotating slower (it cuts rather than tugs), so it is with a shaver. All this assumes other things are equal, of course: blade quality, hole pattern, and more.

Pattern

A more important design difference is that last one: hole pattern. It turns out that shaving closeness (and related aspects, like comfort) is to a large degree the result of that attribute.

Here’s where foil electric shavers tend to have an advantage. It’s just a lot easier to make a more efficient pattern in a relatively large curved rectangle than with a relatively small, thin disc. That hole pattern frequently consists of three different opening types. One type is often a short slit, another a rounder hole, and a third a (relatively) wide, long slot. There’s a lot of variation from one model to the next, of course, but in general that’s the common pattern.

The result is that hairs of different lengths can all be more efficiently lifted, pulled up slightly (and comfortably) and whacked off near the skin. When the ‘tug’ releases, the hair moves back deeper into the skin.

But that inherent advantage of a foil over a rotary can be wiped out by other factors. For one thing, rotaries have a hole pattern, too. A well-designed rotary can more than compensate for size and geometry (and even speed, to a degree) if compared, say, to a foil model that is just so-so. It’s simply that fewer rotary models have the complexity of hole pattern or the style more frequently used by a foil model.

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Contour

Another important design aspect that distinguishes a foil shaver from a rotary is the overall shape of the covering. Clearly, in the first case it’s rectangular (though rolled) and the second covering is circular, as discussed several times already. But that shape has a big effect on closeness in a way not yet discussed. It influences where you can go and how easily.

You can certainly get a foil under and above your chin with ease. But you can’t get around the fact that a rotary is both smaller and shaped in a way that allows better access to all those natural curves and crannies of your face (or underarms, legs, and elsewhere, if used as ladies do).

The jawline near your ear, or the area around a very curved chin, is simply more accessible via a small disc than it is by a big rectangle. That’s especially true when the design of a rotary – as is often the case – lets the head ‘float’ in more directions. Foil designs could (and sometimes do, partly) flex around those curves. But here the rotary has an inherent advantage, and most designs make good use of it.

That’s one important reason that the blanket statement “a foil shaves closer” simply isn’t always true. Even ignoring the issue of comfort, closeness depends on more than just head/blade geometry and/or hole pattern; it depends on dynamics.

Cutting Style and Location

There are other aspects to shaving, though, than simply a close (or even comfortable) shave. For men in particular, you often want to trim sideburns or a mustache, or the edges of a beard. When women use an electric they often want to trim pubic hair, where getting close – but not too close – is important as well.

For that, a foil shaver clearly offers a big native advantage. The natural straight line of a foil makes it much easier to make a straight line on the bottom of a sideburn or to follow the line of a beard below the jaw.

Still, a rotary can eliminate any advantage here simply by including a trimmer, as many do. In fact, whether foil or rotary, those trimmers invariably do a better job in those situations than the main shaver itself. That’s what they’re put there for, after all.

Maintenance

One other area of comparison between a foil electric shaver and a rotary model has nothing to do with shaving, per se: maintenance.

Here, the foil has an inherent advantage that is not so easily overcome. Popping off the head of the rectangular unit and holding it is typically near effortless. Blowing or even rinsing is a breeze unless the head is so poorly designed you have to struggle unduly.

That said, it’s also usually easy to remove the head/foil covering the blades of a rotary model. Sometimes it’s too easy, which makes the rotary not as advantageous in this area. It’s a lot easier to lose that little disc, especially if you shave and clean in the shower, where they can too easily make their way down the drain.

All in all, though, it’s a pretty minor difference. That difference, as suggested just above, can often be more than compensated for (in either style) by the difficulty or ease of removal, the style of clip, and so forth.

The other style of maintenance – using an automated cleaning component – is a little trickier to assess. In my experience, foil units tend to have a cleaner that is a little easier to use, even when they’re no better in terms of vibration or cleansing solution. It’s typically easier – quicker, more stable – to place a rectangular shaver upside down in a cleaner.

However, even here I can’t make a broad statement without qualification. It depends on the specific models and the only way to compare fairly is case by case. Some rotaries have excellent cleaners both in terms of ease of use and quality of result.

Conclusion

After all that it isn’t hard to see why the question “Foil or rotary shaver, which is better?” generates eternal discussions. Every model – of either type – is unique, despite having much in common. Every face (leg, or underarm) is unique.

Aspects like noise, weight, body shape, and others are simply too varied (and too much a matter of personal taste) to draw any kind of reasonable comparison. Some foils are too big for some guys’ hands, some rotaries are too small. Some foil shavers are too heavy and some rotaries too light. Some foils are louder, but not all. Some rotaries are flimsier, but not all. And vice versa on all these aspects. There’s just too much variation in individual models to make overall comparisons between the two main types.

So, whether you evaluate them in terms of closeness, comfort, coverage, or maintenance, there’s only one thing you can truthfully say about which performs better – a foil or a rotary electric shaver: it all depends. Or, in other words, it comes down to personal preference.

Not an exciting conclusion, if you enjoy combat with only one winner, but inescapably true.

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Image of Panasonic Electric Shaver for Women – ES2207P

The Rash and Redness of Razor Burn and Bumps: More Than Just a Little Irritating

The Rash and Redness of Razor Burn and Bumps

Shaving is a fast and effective way to remove unwanted hair from the face or other parts of the body. When it goes “smoothly”, shaving is relatively hassle-free. Unfortunately, shaving doesn’t go smoothly for everyone. For some people, shaving leads to an uncomfortable condition called razor burn. Razor burn is often itching and uncomfortable and the symptoms can last for days or weeks. It’s a common condition that affects adults, mostly men who shave their face daily.

The Nature of the Bumpy Beast

Razor burn refers to skin irritation, redness and fine bumps that appear after shaving. Shaving is the most common cause of razor burn, but people who use a tweezer to pluck hairs can experience skin irritation, as well. Skin that’s irritated by the friction of shaving can become inflamed, leading to burning or itching in a recently shaved area. Razor burn is most common in men, although women can develop razor burn as well, especially when they shave their bikini area. The skin in the bikini region is more sensitive than other areas of the body.

Razor burn is sometimes confused with razor bumps also known as Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (PFB). Razor bumps are due to ingrown hairs that curl backwards and reenter the skin at an adjacent point causing irritation. The irritated areas become inflamed and small red bumps appear on the skin. These bumps often itch or burn. In some cases, the bumps become infected with bacteria. In almost all cases, the bumps burn or itch and are unsightly in appearance.

Razor burn is usually less serious than razor bumps. It generally heals more quickly and is easier to control. Razor burn can usually be prevented with careful shaving technique whereas razor bumps can be an ongoing problem in people who are susceptible to them.

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The Real Culprits

Razor burn is usually a consequence of skin irritation due to poor shaving technique. It’s more common in males who shave their face since facial skin is more sensitive than skin on the arms and legs. Women can experience razor burn or razor bumps when shaving the bikini area.

Black males are at higher risk for razor bumps and ingrown hairs because they have curly hair. Curly or kinky hair is more likely than straight hair to grow backwards, and then reenter the skin. Once there, it can become trapped beneath the skin. This leads to skin irritation and inflammation. Ingrown hairs can become so inflamed that they become cystic and painful.

Another reason people with dark skin are at higher risk is because their follicles are slightly curved. This makes it easier for the hair to grow back at an angle and reenter the skin. Anyone with curly hair or curved hair follicles is at greater risk for razor bumps when they shave.

Some people appear to be genetically at risk for developing razor bumps due to variation in a gene that affects hair composition. This gene variation changes the structure of the hair in a way that makes it more likely to grow backwards and reenter the skin after shaving.

Enter the Complications

Most razor burn and razor bumps heal in a few days to a week, but some people experience complications. When razor bumps become inflamed, cells that produce the pigment melanin may respond by producing more pigment. This leads to dark spots on the skin that can take months to heal. This is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It’s the body’s response to ongoing inflammation.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is more common in people with dark skin. In some cases, razor bumps can become so inflamed that scarring occurs. Rarely, in people at risk genetically, keloid scars can form. These large, unsightly scars are disfiguring, especially on the face.

Prevention is Key

The best way to avoid the discomfort and complications of razor burn and razor bumps is to prevent them in the first place. One way to lower the risk is to use proper shaving technique. Always use a sharp razor when shaving. Dull razors cause more skin irritation than sharp ones.

Shave in the direction that the hair grows, not against it, without applying too much pressure. Use shorter strokes to avoid pressing down too hard. Pushing down too firmly, especially with a dull blade, leads to more skin irritation.

Keep rinsing the blade with warm water to remove hair and dead skin cells that can interfere with smooth movement of the blade. Avoid pulling the skin taut to get a closer shave and don’t repeatedly shave the same areas. This increases skin irritation and the likelihood of razor burn and bumps. Reducing the frequency of shaving from daily to every other day can also reduce skin trauma and irritation.

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It’s Electric

Using an electric shaver as opposed to a razor can reduce the risk of razor burn and razor bumps since electric shavers tend to be less irritating to the skin. Always use light pressure with a shaver to reduce irritation and trauma.

It’s important to replace the blades before they become dull. If a razor is the only option, choose one with a single blade. Razors with double and triple blades cut the hair too closely and cause more skin irritation.

Before, During and After

Another way to reduce the risk of razor burn and razor bumps is to apply a warm compress to the area before shaving. This softens the hair up so it can be removed without irritating the skin underneath. Use a thick, moisturizing shaving cream to help the razor glide more smoothly over the skin. There’s some evidence that shaving gels containing benzoyl peroxide reduce the risk of razor bumps. After rinsing, pat the skin dry gently with a towel instead of rubbing. This helps to reduce skin irritation and friction.

After shaving, rinse the shaved area with cold water to help close open pores. Then apply a moisturizing cream that’s made for sensitive skin. Look for one that has natural botanicals with anti-inflammatory activity like chamomile or aloe to help reduce inflammation.

Exfoliating the skin regularly helps to reduce razor bumps. Studies show that using skin care products that contain glycolic acid such as PFB Vanish boosts the removal of dead skin cells and smoothes the outer layer of the skin. This means there’s less skin irritation when shaving. Look for a product that contains 8% glycolic acid.

Prescription-strength retinoids used to treat acne may be helpful for preventing razor bumps, although it will take weeks or months to see benefits. They work by exfoliating and removing dead skin cells. They should be used with caution by people with darker skin, since they can irritate the skin and cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

When these measures fail to prevent razor bumps, laser hair removal or use of a chemical depilatory is an option. A word of caution – people with dark skin are at risk for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation with laser treatments.

Relief at Last

People who already have itchy bumps and red, irritated skin may benefit from an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation and control the itching. It’s best to reduce the frequency of shaving until the areas heal to avoid further irritating the already inflamed areas.

Severe cases of razor bumps may require topical or oral antibiotics to eliminate secondary infection. Benzoyl peroxide lotion or gel may also be helpful in cases where razor bumps are secondarily infected. For faster healing, reduce the frequency of shaving to a minimum whenever possible.

What You Should Remember?

Razor burn and razor bumps are a common and sometimes disfiguring problem. Using the right razor and proper shaving technique, as well as practicing adequate skin preparation beforehand can help lower the risk of these uncomfortably and unsightly problems.

Read more about the information regarding foil and rotatory shavers.

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