The Difference Between Foil and Rotary Electric Shavers

Who doesn’t love starting each day with a freshly shaven face?

Electric shavers are perfect for the time-pressed man: the technology has advanced to the point where it’s possible to get a clean, close and quick shave, every time – and many electric shavers can operate wet or dry. However, there exists some confusion about the differences between rotary and foil shavers. Keep reading – we’re about to demystify things.

Rotary Shavers

series 9000 heads

The term “rotary” refers to the movement of the blades housed in this type of shaver. The blades spin rapidly and are circular in shape. To glide over the contours of your face, they flex within their housing, preventing nicks, cuts and tugging at the skin. If you have strong facial features – a sharp jawline, a prominent Adam’s apple, high cheekbones or a jutting chin – rotary foil shavers may be a better choice, because the independent rotating action of each blade does a superior job of following facial contours.

Rotary shavers feature circular, rotating heads and flexible, independently operating, spinning blades that retract into their housing. Rotation, flexion and multi-directional operation allow rotary shavers to follow contours, making them ideal for strong facial features such as a prominent chin or high cheekbones. Consider a rotary shaver if your beard is fast-growing, thick, or grows in different directions.

Other benefits of a quality rotary shaver include quieter operation, multidirectional capability (you can move the shaver along your face in almost any direction) and the ability to handle longer facial hair.

Rotary Shaver Brands

When it comes to rotary electric shavers, Philips is king! They were the first estimable brand to produce this type of shaver and their range is predominantly made up of this type. Rotary usually features 3 circular shaving elements on the shaver head.

Each element is made of a foil guard with specially designed slots and holes cut out for capturing hairs.

Beneath the foil guard is a spinning blade for cutting the hairs. It’s a simple, yet very efficient design that works well.

Rotary shavers are best used in a circular motion across the face. For best results shave in a circular pattern against the grain of hair growth combined with a back and forth action across the skin to finish off.

Foil Shavers

series 5 shaver

A foil shaver works in a different manner. Its blades – instead of rotating – oscillate behind an extremely thin metal foil covered in tiny perforations. The foil’s purpose is twofold: It protects skin and lifts hair up and toward the oscillating blades. Hairs are pulled through the perforated foil and then cut.

A typical full-size foil shaver contains three or four blades. As a general rule, more blades mean a larger shaving head and faster results. There is a limit, however, to how much improvement more blades can make. Too many, and the shaver becomes oversized and unwieldy. A large foil shaver is harder to hold and sacrifices manoeuvrability in the name of performance.

The key to getting good results is to start with the best foil electric shaver you can afford, and during shaving, move the shaver head in long, straight lines. Consider it to be a precision instrument (opposed to the “any direction is good” manner in which a rotary shaver can be moved).

Maintaining the correct amount of pressure is easier with a model of shaver that features a spring-loaded head, such as the Braun Cooltec foil shaver with its free floating heads. Many men consider foil shavers to cut the closest – but they may be louder than their rotating brethren and don’t cope as well with long facial hair.

Instead of rotating, the blades of a foil shaver oscillate behind a thin, micro-perforated metal foil. Hair is pulled through the perforations and cut by the blades, with the foil acting as a protective barrier.

Foil shavers offer close-cutting performance, though may sacrifice the maneuverability and quiet operation of rotary shavers. Opt for a foil shaver if you prioritize closeness and precision.

Foil Shaver Brands

Braun dominate the foil electric shaver market with most of their range being this type. They have some of the most advanced foil shavers available. Their closest foil shaver competitor is Panasonic, but Braun always seems to come out on top with design and function.

Foil power shavers have a flat foil head made up of anything between one and five rows.

Many people prefer this type of shaver as it retains the traditional up and down shaving motion that the user is most familiar with, from years of manual shaving.

Studies have also shown foil to be better than rotary, which is worth mentioning if you’re still stuck in choosing the best type of electric shaver for beginners.

How to Choose Between Foil and Rotary

A good electric shaver is an investment. It will save you time and help to keep you looking your best. That’s why it’s important to consider carefully which type of shaver is best for you. To simplify matters:

Choose a rotary shaver if:

  • Your shaving style is hurried.
  • Your facial features are prominent.
  • You shave infrequently.
  • You can’t make too much noise shaving.

Choose a foil shaver if:

  • A very close shave is of the utmost importance.
  • You shave slowly and patiently.
  • You have fine facial features.
  • You shave often.
  • Noise isn’t an issue.

Bear in mind that electric shaving technology has made great strides in recent years. Take time to examine the features of both shaver types. Use the suggestions you just read to guide you, but choose based on quality, brand reputation and whichever shaver best meets your needs.