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How To Use A Rotary Shaver

Written by Advice Team on January 6, 2020

One of the biggest factors when using a rotary shaver for many people is the concern of potential skin irritation. If skin irritation occurs when using a rotary shaver, that can be down to a number of factors and not just because the shaver is ‘not right for you.’

How To Use A Rotary Shaver


Rotary shavers require a particular type of technique and for some they can be quite difficult to get used to. Another factor is using a shaving cream, foam or oil, for both wet and dry shaving. Even when dry shaving, a protective oil should be considered to help blades glide across the skin rather than tugging and pulling at the hair. Maintenance is another key factor when it comes to owning and using an electric shaver too, but we’ll go into that…

Steps for using a rotary electric shaver

Rotary electric shavers have three circular heads that each have internal spinning cutters to capture stubble within the outer guard to cut the hair. They are specifically designed to follow the contours of the face.

Step one

Always ensure the blades are clean and free from hair, dead skin and sebum. Rinse the electric shaver after using because when dirty blades touch the skin, it leads to irritation and breakouts as dirt and oil enters pores.

Step two

Even if you’re dry shaving, we’d always recommend taking a shower or bath or washing your face thoroughly with warm water first. Warm water and steam opens up the hair follicle, softens skin and makes the hair softer too! That makes it easier for a blade to glide along and cut the hair, making for a closer shave and one with much less irritation, too.

Step three

Whether you’re wet or dry shaving some form of skin protection should be used. Which type of product (foam, gel, cream, powder block or oil) is all down to preference, but pre-shave preparation really does protect the skin and offers a much cleaner, smoother shave. Skin irritation (razor burn and red bumps) is often down to blades that tug at the hair and catch the skin because the blade can’t simply glide through hair to cut it.

Step four

As a rotary electric shaver is designed to follow the contours of your face, you should use the rotary shaver by shaving in circular motions, as opposed to up or down like that of a foil or traditional blade. This can be difficult to get to grips with initially.

Step five

Always rinse your rotary shaver blades under running water to remove hair, sebum, dead skin and dirt to keep blades clean and well maintained. Whilst this can take a little extra time, it's important to keep your blades at their optimum performance and avoiding skin irritation from unclean blades.

Step six

Apply post-shave care, whether a moisturiser or oil, to keep skin firm and hydrated after shaving. Whilst many turn to aftershave immediately after, if you already have dry or are prone to irritated skin, aftershave can often worsen the case.

How does a rotary shaver work?

In most cases, a rotary electric shaver will have three circular heads that have outer guards which are stationary, and internal cutting blades. As the rotary head is moved in circular motions with the contours of the face, hair and stubble are captured by the guard and its angular grooves cut hair. The circular technique and movement makes it much easier to shave around the neck and chin.

Are rotary shavers better than foil?

Neither is better than the other but rotary electric shavers are for those with regular to tough skin, with thicker, coarser hair who don’t shave every day. You’ll not achieve a shave as close as you could with a foil shaver, so they're more appropriate for those who want longer stubble.

Does a rotary shaver give a closer shave than foil or disposable?

No, a rotary shaver won’t achieve a shave as close as a foil electric shaver or a traditional blade. A rotary shaver is better for those who don’t want or have to shave every day.

Is a rotary shaver the best option for me?

You might be best using a rotary shaver if:

- You have regular to tough skin - let’s say you might be a bit older and shaving for a while already.
- You have thicker, coarser hair, or medium to coarse beard density.
- You don’t intend to shave every day, i.e. it’s something you might only pick up a shaver every other day.
- You are cutting longer hairs e.g. going a weekend without shaving and then want a close shave, Although, be aware no shaver will be that comfortable to use on much more than a day or two’s beard growth. For that, we recommend a trimmer to take off the length first.
- You have contours to navigate. - Your beard hair grows in different directions. This is especially evident around the neck area.

Should you use shaver cream or oil with electric shavers?

Yes, absolutely. Cream, foams, oil or powder sticks, whatever your preference when it comes to texture, but undoubtedly the skin should be protected from the blade. Whether you’re wet or dry shaving, a pre-shave preparation product works to keep the skin protected and provided a barrier from skin irritation that leads to razor rash.

Is wet shaving or dry shaving better?

It’s definitely down to preference but if you’re looking to achieve an especially close shave, wet shaving is superior and for the closest of shaves, go for a foil electric shaver or rotary.

How long do electric shavers last?

Generally speaking, it’s usually the blades that are the problem when your electric shaver’s performance starts to falter and not the unit itself. Blades last between 12-18months but can be replaced to bring your shaver back to optimum performance.

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