Advice & Knowledge

How To Use A Foil Shaver

Written by Advice Team on July 26, 2019

Between the options of a rotary or foil electric shaver and then cartridge razors too, it can all become a bit confusing as to what type of shaver to use. Foil electric shavers offer the closest of shaves, are easier to maintain and often come with their own self-cleaning systems to save time during your grooming routines.

How To Use A Foil Shaver


Foil shavers require a slightly different movement when it comes to shaving compared to rotary electric shavers. Our advice team put together the four steps to achieving a close shave with a foil shaver and the technique to do so.

What is a foil electric shaver?

Foil electric shavers have straight heads that use oscillating blades, also known as cutters, beneath a ‘foil' to cut hair. Foil refers to the thin layer of metal, holed to form a particular mesh pattern, that covers the cutters. The foil captures the hair with its holes, cutting it close to the skin and offering a close shave.

Foil shavers offer the closest shave due to its micro-foil which aligns skin without feeling the shift of skin, like when using a rotary shaver. The foil itself acts as a barrier to the skin and when paired with a pre shave oil or powder, it helps to eliminate any discomfort or skin irritation post shave.

Still not sure if foil is for you? We’ve reviewed foil vs rotary electric shavers.

How to shave with a foil electric shaver

Step one - preparation

Apply a pre shave product to the skin such as King of Shaves Sensitive Advanced or Blocmen Shave Powder. Shaving oil protects the skin from the blade and allows the head to glide against the contours of your face with ease, preventing skin irritation and razor burn. This is step isn’t essential for the use of an electric shaver but it can enhance the comfort and quality of the shave, especially if you experience sensitive skin.

Step two - shaving

Move the shaver in short slow strokes. The movement should be in straight lines - up and down or left to right. Unlike a blade shave, you can go against the direction of hair growth, in fact this will help the shaver work best, giving the closest result. Start with the most sensitive areas first, such as the neck, holding the electric shaver at a right angle to the skin, maximising contact between the foil surface area and your skin

Don’t attempt a circular motion with a foil shaver as only rotary shavers can shave in circular patterns across the face. We normally recommend you gently pull the skin for a tighter, smoother surface for the shaver head to glide over. This helps short or low lying hairs stand more upright and become easier for the shaver to cut.

Step three - post shave aftercare

Again, strictly speaking this isn’t essential but it can greatly improve the quality of your shave and the condition of your skin. When you’re finished and happy with the closeness of your shave, rinse your face with cold water to tighten the pores and hair follicles. Apply a small amount of post shave balm or moistoriser to rehydrate the skin, keeping it looking fresh and healthy. Skip alcohol-based aftershaves as they will dry out your skin leading to flaking and irritation.

Step four - cleaning

Rinse your foil head clean or place your electric shaver in its self-cleaning system. Always cleaning your shaver after each shave to keep it working at optimum performance, free of bacteria and maintain your foil heads for longer. If your shaver is tap washable be sure to leave the shaver exposed to the air to fully dry following a clean before placing it back in a zip pouch or sealed container of some kind. This helps prevent the shaver from developing a musty smell and allows any in-built ventilation to work and purge any residual water from the casing internals.

Shave with foil shaver

When you should replace your shaver foils

Blades and foils will eventually dull with use seeing as most men shave every day. Dull foils won’t achieve the same closeness as they once did and you might find that during shaving, you’re going over the same areas or not achieving the same closeness as before.

It’s recommended by most brands that foils need to be changed every 12-18 months to maintain optimum performance. Some men with coarser, thicker hair may find that they need to change their blades more regularly.

In need of a new foil head? Check your electric shaver model against our replacement part finder.

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