If a man ever complains to you about what a chore it is to shave their face or keep their beard trimmed, remind him about the hair-removal standards to which most women are held – the bikini line, underarms, forearms, legs, other parts of the body and sometimes even the face – are all areas where unwanted hair can grow, leaving women with the never-ending task of hair removal.

Certainly, longer-term solutions exist, such as laser hair removal – but the cost is often a barrier (and the permanence of the results can’t be guaranteed. Waxing and depilatories work – however, they’re messy, disposable (when the product runs out, more has to be purchased) and not always painless.

Enter shaving – the most cost-effective, simplest way a woman can remove unwanted body hair. There are two types of shaving: Traditional (“wet”) shaving, which involves the use of a shaving cream (or gel or oil) and a manual razor – or simply using an electric lady shaver, which is quicker, cleaner and far less likely to cause nicks, bumps, ingrown hair and other skin irritation.

There are a great many lady shavers to choose from – different brands, types, features and price-points, some better than other – which we’re going to explore below.

Types of Electric Shavers for Women

Electric shavers are normally classified as “foil” or “rotary”, terms which refer to how their design and operation. Before we expand on these terms, a quick note – shavers for women actually are different than those designed for trimming or removing male facial hair, and the difference is more than cosmetic. A man’s beard is coarse and strong – so strong, in fact, that according to shaving giant Gillette, each dry beard hair is as tough as a strand of copper wire. Beards also cover smaller areas (parts of the face) than body hair does. For these reasons, women’s electric shavers are designed differently to men’s shavers, so that they cut less-coarse hairs over a larger surface area.

Foil shavers use multiple blades which move laterally (side to side). The word “foil” refers to the very thin, metal mesh which covers the blades. This mesh contains small holes through which the hairs are pushed when the shaver makes contact with the skin. As the hairs are pushed through the mesh, they are cut by the moving blades. The mesh also acts as a barrier between skin and blade. Because the “foil” is so thin, it can, over time, wear out or become damaged, at which point, it should be replaced.

Does a foil shaver cut closer than a rotary shaver? It depends. If the hairs in question are relatively short at the time of shaving, the answer may be “yes” – but longer hairs bend more readily, and as such, are not easily forced through the perforations in a foil shaver’s mesh, in which case, the close-cutting advantage of the foil shaver becomes lost.

Rotary shavers utilize circle-shaped cutting heads to remove hair. Though some rotary shavers have as few as two cutting heads, most models use three or four. Though lacking a protective foil, a rotary shaver does not cut the skin – rather, the rotational action of the heads pulls hair into the blades where it is cut. A rotary shaver may cause less skin irritation than a foil shaver and excel at cutting longer hair – but may not cut as closely.

Can I use shaving cream, gel, lotion, soap or oil with my electric shaver? The answer is “yes – sometimes”. It depends on the model of shaver. Some are designed to be used “dry” – others, called “wet/dry shavers”, can be used either way – dry, or with a cream, gel, etc., of your choice. Be aware, though, that some products (particularly thick or greasy ones) can clog an electric shaver and should be avoided. Some models are merely water resistant (a splash won’t hurt them), while others can be immersed. Always read the manual!

Plugged or Unplugged?

Lady shavers come in two flavours – corded or cordless. The former plugs into an electrical outlet. The latter uses batteries (usually rechargeable). The advantage of a corded shaver is that it’s ready to go the moment it’s plugged in. The downside is that you can only use it in proximity to an outlet, essentially tethering you to the wall – and the cord can get in the way. Some cordless shavers use a charging base – a small receptacle in which the shaver sits while the battery is replenished. But others simply plug into the wall with an adapter. Of this type, many can be used while charging, offering portability when unplugged and immediate readiness when plugged in.

Quality Matters

Brands, brands, brands. Not everything is in a name, but certain companies have been around long enough to consistently provide quality products. Look for these names when searching for an electric shaver:

  • Philips
  • Braun
  • Norelco
  • Conair
  • Wahl
  • Panasonic
  • Remington

Getting the Most Out of a Lady Shaver

Keep things clean. Cleanse your skin with a non-irritating, moisturizing soap or liquid wash. If so desired, exfoliate the area – but not too aggressively, because shaving is almost a form of micro-exfoliation in and of itself. Dry the skin (if shaving dry). If using a wet/dry electric shaver, keep the skin sufficiently moist for a proper application of your desired shaving product (gel, cream, etc.).

Unlike manual shaving, an lady shaver can be used “against the grain” (against the direction the hair grows), for a closer shave. If shaving your underarm area or legs, move the shaver in an upward direction. When shaving your bikini line, move the shaver up and out. After shaving, consider using a soothing astringent (such as witch hazel) or a moisturizer – whichever best suits your skin. Always choose a high quality lady shaver from a reputable brand to ensure a close, smooth shave.