Electric shaver vs manual shave: which is better?

Get the best shave possible for you, but does that mean going electric or having a manual shave?

Electric shaver vs manual shave
(Image credit: Getty)

Electric shaver or manual shave? It's a question that's been around as long as razors could be plugged in and powered up. But now that technological developments are making bigger leaps than ever, is it time to go all-electric with your shave?

There's a lot to take into consideration before even thinking about the razor itself. What are you shaving? Your face? Your body? How often do you want to get in there and when you do, is it for a trim or a smooth finish? Are you sensitive-skinned? Is speed a factor? Does cost matter to you? 

With hair growing at about 125-150mm a year, that's over 3,000 hours of shaving in the average male lifetime – so these questions are well worth asking.

Whatever your shaving goals, there is more than likely a perfect razor partner for your needs. That could mean going for the best electric razor that does it all, from sculpting your face to making your chest smoother than you thought possible.

So read on to find out everything you need to know about electric versus manual shavers.

Electric shavers are better for time saving

If your main goal is to get shaved and get going, fast, then the best option for you is going to be an electric shaver. Unlike a wet shave, all you need here is the electric shaver and the odd charge up. Manual shaving requires new razor heads, shaving foam, soaps, gels and balms. All that not only takes up time but also costs money.

Going electric means you can have a quick trim of a beard, get your stubble at the length you want, or get a clean shave finish in many cases. Since electric razors also collect most of the hairs, you could even stay mobile as you shave, getting ready for work for example. Then you can get going without the need to wash up after.

Electric shaver

(Image credit: Braun)

If you want a smooth finish use a manual shaver

While electric razors are better than ever and they can provider and very clean finish, they're still not as close a shave as manual razors offer. Many electric razors do offer wet shaves, but they're usually not as good as a manual offering when it comes to a close finish.

A wet shave can leave you with a smooth skin finish which looks cleaner, feels more breathable for your skin and also takes longer to grow back before the next shave. A wet shave means applying foams and balms which can be a good thing as they moisturise your face, or whatever body part you're shaving, to keep it healthy and vibrant for longer.

Go electric shaver for versatility

If you want to shave many different areas and at varying lengths, then an electric shaver is the way to go. Many come with attachments and tools that allow you to groom hair at varying lengths. This can mean anything from shaving your face closely daily to trimming a beard.

In many cases, an electric shaver can also be used for body hair. This can be better than a wet shave in sensitive areas where the idea of nicks or cuts is simply not worth thinking about.

Electric shaver

(Image credit: Braun)

Electric shavers are better for sensitive skin

Sensitive facial skin is better served by an electric shaver. Unlike a manual razor, which runs a sharp blade across your skin, an electric shaver rolls up the skin, forcing the hairs up into a position that's ideal for cutting. This not only means less worry about cuts or scrapes but also can mean a faster shave without the need to repeatedly go over the same area.

Ingrown hairs are also reduced by using an electric shaver. This, combined with a lack of rash after shaving, makes for a more skin-friendly experience that could save you on skincare products in the longer term.

Manual razors require more regular purchases

Manual razors are easy to maintain, with one razor arm usually being good for years of use as long as the cartridges are replaced regularly. This is the part that can add up in price as more razor heads are needed, especially if you want to keep the razor working smoothly with sharp blades.

Razor cartridges are cheaper when bought in bulk. While electric shavers also require replacement heads, these are far rarer, as every few years and at relatively low cost in most cases.

In the long run manual and electric razors probably cost similar, when you take into account the initial expense for electric. But add in all the shaving foams, gels and balms for manual and you may find that is a little more pricey.

Electric shavers vs manual: Which is best?

So the bottom line is, what do you want? If it's the ultimate close shave and you don't mind spending money, time and potentially cutting your skin then manual is the way to go.

But if you don't mind having a less close finish, want speed and efficiency and like the idea of shaving anywhere, while on the move, plus you want less irritations to your skin, then electric shaving is the best option for you.

Now, with your newfound knowledge, check out T3's guides to the best electric shaver to reduce stubble to rubble; best beard trimmer for beard maintenance, best hair clippers to cut your hair at home; and best electric toothbrush for whitening, clean teeth and healthy gums.

Luke Edwards

Luke is a former freelance writer for T3 with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others Luke wrote about health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. In his free time, Luke used to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.