After about twelve years of regular use my Braun 5515 sounded like a chainsaw, so I decided to buy a new electric shaver. Mind you, I had repeatedly replaced all the bits I could: the mesh, often; the knife, several times; once even the accumulator pack. But I figured that having someone replace the worn-out bearings (Sw. lager) of the motor would be more expensive than getting a new shaver. I poked around on the net, looked at reviews and ordered a mid-price Philips HQ7360/17.

The two shavers look pretty different. The Braun is designed to move only to and fro along one axis, preferably against the direction your stubble is pointing. This makes its action similar to that of a disposable razor. The Philips looks like a three-headed microphone and allows you to figure-skate it around your face in whatever curlicues you like. I figured it would take some time to get used to a different machine after all these years. But I’ve been an increasingly unhappy Philips user now for almost four months, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the Philips is simply not a very good electric shaver.

Every non-bearded man wants a 1) quick 2) close shave that 3) doesn’t lacerate or bruise his skin. And I’ll say this for the Philips: it’s quick (on the parts of you where it works at all). And you can rinse it under the tap when you’re done. But my list of complaints is longer than that.

The Philips is absolutely useless on your throat, your upper sideburns and other soft concave surfaces. You can shave until your skin is red and still your throat will be not just stubbly, but fucking hirsute. This has forced me to take up non-electric shaving again with all its concomitant gore just to get my throat done.

Though it works pretty well above the jaw line, the Philips is sloppy. Hours after shaving you’ll sit at your desk at work and grab your chin or lip in thought, and suddenly you’ll find a long hair sticking out of an otherwise clean-shaven area. I’ve started to carry a disposable razor around in my jacket pocket for these emergencies.

In my face, the Philips encourages ingrown beard hairs, “razor bumps”. This, to you boys and ladies, is when a hair is lopped off at the surface of the skin, retracts somewhat, loses track of its exit hole, and proceeds to develop subcutaneously, forming an unsightly pimple. When the pimple is ripe, you then find something long and curly that would make a Hasid proud rolled up inside.

I’ve got to buy a new shaver. Dear Reader, if you’re a Europid guy with dark curly beard hairs, and if you have a shaver that works well for you, I’d like to know brand and model please.

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Comments

  1. #1 immo
    April 7, 2010

    Martin, thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I am sure you would enjoy a visit to http://www.barberandbooks.se/i-2.htm
    I recommend the “Sugar Hill Cut Throat Shave”. Maybe not every morning, but once in a while …

  2. #2 Thadd
    April 7, 2010

    Electric razors never worked for me. I now keep a beard, but I shave my throat and parts of my face frequently. Just go for a Gillette Fusion. The weird thing is that I think the battery powered one does work better,at least by comparison to normal 2 bladed disposables.

  3. #3 Janne
    April 7, 2010

    Never found an electric razor I was happy with. I just use a disposable razor and soap for clearing the throat area, and a Braun beard trimmer to keep my facial hair neat and presentable.

    The Braun trimmer, by the way, must be the single best home electric appliance thingy I’ve ever bought. Got it around 1992 and it’s still going strong. I clean it thoroughly after every time I use it (bits of hair in the mechanism is apparently the main cause of faults for these things), and I dab a little silicone grease onto the visible mechanics once every six months or so and it’s fine.

    Perhaps look at another Braun? If you really liked your previous shaver, and I think my trimmer is great, then chances are their other stuff is good too?

  4. #4 Rajesh Shenoy
    April 7, 2010

    I’ve been on Philips electric shavers for over 10 years now, having to change the shaver once a couple of years back due to physical damage to the old one. Both were 6000-series. I’ve never had any issues, except when the weather’s been too warm and humid. Admittedly, the throat region IS hard to shave, but I’ve found that what helps is a face wash with plain warm water and a thorough drying just before shaving. That gives me the best shave, and I do it whenever I’m in the mood to give myself a treat! :)

  5. #5 Jon
    April 7, 2010

    The throad has been the downfall of all the electrics that I’ve tried over many years. I use a razor as a result. I’m surprised your Braun worked on your throat. I’m tempted to try an electric again and buy a Braun.

  6. #6 Neon Sequitur
    April 7, 2010

    I’ve been using Braun for almost 20 years now, and I doubt very much that I’ll ever switch to another brand. Aside from its age, was there any problem with your Braun shaver? If not, my suggestion would be to go with another Braun.

  7. #7 Nomen Nescio
    April 7, 2010

    i use a braun-style (can’t remember the brand name; might actually be a braun) shaver, too, and it’s the only design i can imagine working well on the throat, because it’s so strongly convex. its only backdraw is it can’t get a very close shave, but i don’t much care about looking scruffy, since i always do anyway.

  8. #8 Doug K
    April 7, 2010

    not sure if it’s available in the frozen north, but the Remington Microscreen 500 is recommended by Consumer Reports, and works well on my stubble.
    Their most-highly rated electric is the Braun 360 Complete but it’s very pricey, $170 or so.
    I used to have a cheaper Braun but it started growling at me. It was OK but the Remington shaves closer and lasts longer on a charge.

  9. #9 Doug K
    April 7, 2010
  10. #10 Chris' Wills
    April 7, 2010

    I’ve a full beard but do try and keep a clean shaven throat.

    The easiest and best way I’ve found is to have the barber shave the throat with a cut throat razor.
    Also has the advantage that I get to relax while he does it.

  11. #11 Joakim S.
    April 7, 2010

    I quit using my first and only electric shaver about 20 years ago. Nowadays I use disposable razors of the slightly more exclusive 3-blade type. A disposable razor lasts about ten times before it becomes uncomfortable. No shaving foam needed either. Invest in a good shaving brush and ordinary hard olive soap. Then put the stopper in the sink and fill with some hot water, running water not needed. Skin lotion afterwards, no aftershave.

    Same every day. Extremely habitual, almost ritualistic…

  12. #12 Alex
    April 7, 2010

    Whoa! I’ve had the exact same story; had a Braun that I loved, thought I should try something else when time for an upgrade, got a Phillips three-way microphone thingy, and it yanked and pulled and clipped, hurting me more than making me handsome. I even got one with in-built moisturizer and some other cream to deal with sensitive skin, to no avail.

    These days I’m simply using a Braun-like hair trimmer, and then use a Bic disposable if I need it cleaner, after applying copious amounts of gunk to stop burns.

    It’s sad (in a funny way) that a sensitive guy like me was born having this much hair in all these weird places.

  13. #13 Art
    April 7, 2010

    Two points.

    First, there is only one way to get a really good shave, use a straight razor. It is actually pretty relaxing to burnish the razor a few dozen strokes, whip the shaving soap into froth , apply it with a brush, work the beard with the razor making sure to keep the skin tight and the razor positioned correctly. It is a sort of relaxing ceremony, very meditative, almost religious.

    Second, most any shaving method will work better if you follow the rule to keep the skin tight while shaving. Many who have the worse time with electric shavers fail to keep the skin tight. Straight razors motivate enthusiastic compliance with this rule by making you bleed if you slack off. Electric razors are more forgiving but also more back biting. You get a lousy shave, unsightly lone hairs, and ingrown hairs. Keep the skin very tight and you get a better shave. No matter what method you use.

    It has to be pointed out that disposable razors are an environmental abomination. But they sell well so someone likes them. A double edged or injector razor with a reusable handle is far more friendly. They are still made and once you get a feel for them they shave well enough.

    For the mechanical fetishists there used to be a good wind-up shaver that seemed environmentally sound but the knock-offs are not well regarded. The last I saw was pretty much a joke.

    Then again with your looks, and approaching a certain age, you might consider growing a beard. A good field archeologist carries a trowel and a brush. Only having to remember to carry one item is good. LOL.

  14. #14 Isaac Newtonian
    April 7, 2010

    This is God’s way of telling you to grow a beard.

  15. #15 Martin R
    April 8, 2010

    Suggestions for long ritualistic shaving sessions kind of miss the point that I don’t want to spend my life shaving or indeed doing anything of a meditative nature.

    with your looks, and approaching a certain age, you might consider growing a beard

    Or maybe just wear a paper bag over my head?

  16. #16 Jonathan Jarrett
    April 8, 2010

    I doubt very much you need to explain ingrowing hairs to the ladies, Martin, unless there are women reading who’ve never shaved their legs. (I am not asking for this information, I should make clear!)

    As for the question, I have an awkwardly coarse stubble, and never found an electric that would really deal with it, but for what it’s worth my machine of choice until it became obsolete and new blades could no longer be got was indeed a Braun. These days I tidy the jaws and edges of the beard with a Gilette Sensor Excel, with King of Shaves shaving gel, and that works better than anything else I’ve ever used. I always found that shaving with an electric required so much tidying up and doing over that a wet shave was no longer in the doing and left my face feeling a lot nicer.

  17. #17 Martin R
    April 8, 2010

    a wet shave was no longer in the doing

    Never come across that expression before! And I can’t find a single Google hit where the words “no longer in the doing” are used that way.

  18. #18 paddy
    April 8, 2010

    I hate electric razors, they tear my skin up. I like a nice old-fashioned wet shave with cream and brush, using an old Gillette Protector.

  19. #19 Tor
    April 8, 2010

    Using a complex electrical appliance for something that can be achieved by means of some soap and a blade strikes me as an inelegant solution. But then I don’t have your impatient nature.

  20. #20 Nomen Nescio
    April 8, 2010

    it’s valid English (i’m pretty sure), but not standard usage; might be a Briticism. “in the making”, for things being made, is common enough, and “in the doing” would follow by extension. i’ve not encountered it before, but it makes sense to me.

  21. #21 Jonathan Jarrett
    April 9, 2010

    English! It’s a living language! :-)

  22. #22 paddy
    April 9, 2010

    @Nomen Nescio: Comments on language and grammar will only be considered from people who know how to use capital letters. Thank you.

  23. #23 Nomen Nescio
    April 9, 2010

    tell it to ee cummings, paddy. or else start spelling your own name with a capital letter…

  24. #24 paddy
    April 9, 2010

    @Nomen Nescio: What, does ee cummings have a blog now..? And yes, touchĂ©…

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