If you have selected an electric shaver in shaver vs. razor battle, the next natural question to ask would be whether to go for a foil shaver or a rotary shaver. Those who have used both of the shavers will know how differently they work and what you can achieve with each. However, if you are still confused about which one to go for or which one is best for your needs, we are here to help.
On the other hand, the design of rotary shavers was made particularly for long, dense, and wild hair. However, with all of its benefits, it has some drawbacks as well. The rotary shavers do not shave as close as foil shavers and they are also not that precise. Moreover, what limits their use for people with sensitive skin is that they cause irritation which leads to an uncomfortable shave.
So, this was a short introduction to both shavers. However, to further understand the ins and outs of each shaver and which is best for you, we have to dig a little deep and get to know how they work. Basically, in this modern era of technology, there are products that promise to do a lot and cover all aspects, but in the end, there has to be a compromise of one feature for another. So, let’s get inside and see what each of these shavers has to offer and some of their not-so-strong attributes.
Table of Contents
Table of Comparison for Foil Shaver Vs Rotary Shaver
|Attribute||Foil Shaver||Rotary Shaver|
|Lining of Edges||Yes||No|
|Good for||Sensitive Skin||Rough Skin|
|Works on Contour of Face||No||Yes|
Foil Shavers – Best for Lining of Edges and Sensitive Skin
Foil shavers were the first electric shavers and came into the market in the early 1930s. This was after Colonel Jacob Schick felt the need to have a shaver that could be used with one hand after he had an injury to his arm. However, it was not an instant hit because of its bulky design and limited functionality.
Over the decades, foil shavers have been through various design modifications to the ones we know today which are convenient and easy to use. There are many different designs and uses for foil shavers, however, if asked to cut its use in one sentence I would say it is best for the lining of edges and sensitive skin.
See also: Braun Series 7 Review & Comparison
Design of Foil Shavers – Foils Cover the Oscillating Blades
Essentially, these shavers are named “foil” because their blades are covered with thin foils. These foils are basically thin sheets of metal with tiny holes in them. When in action, these tiny holes allow the hair to enter the shaver.
Moreover, at the back of these foils, there is a set of oscillating blades. So, in short, the design of foil shaver includes just a set of oscillating blades attached with motor and foils with tiny holes in it.
How Foil Shavers Work – Back and Forth Movement of Blades Does the Trick
In addition to the above, the hairs from these tiny holes enter into the shaver and come in contact with oscillating blades. The blades are basically continuously moving back and forth and as the hair enters it gets cut. The blades are sometimes also known as “cutters”. Essentially, these blades are attached to a motor that produces the oscillation.
Basically, the blades oscillate like a lawn mower’s blade. Therefore, the preferred shaving technique is to use a foil shaver in a straight line. However, they work as well when you move them up and down or from side to side.
Advantages of Foil Shavers – A Close and Fast Shave
1. Provides Close Shave
Most people prefer foil shavers because they are good at giving a close shave. The reason behind this essentially lies in the design of foils. Basically, the foils allow hair of all lengths to enter the shaver because of their ability to pull the skin taut nicely. Essentially, foil shavers are best for thin and short hairs.
2. Good for Sensitive Skin
The foils shavers are good for sensitive skin. This is because they are gentle on it and do not pull the skin during shave thanks to the foils. Basically, hairs are pulled by the foil through holes and blades cut them without pulling the skin. This is why the foil shavers are kinder on the skin.
3. Best for Fast Shave
The foil shavers shave are really fast because they move quickly from one side of the face to another. Moreover, you don’t have to go over the same spot again and again. This is because of its oscillating blades. The rotary shavers, in contrast, require time to move across the face which is why it is not possible to get a fast shave with them.
4. Precision in Shave
The setting of the foils enables these shavers to provide precise shave. Heads move from left to right or from top to bottom which allows you to shave the areas which are not possible with rotary shavers. This makes foil shavers best for the edging and lining of sideburns and for the area over the upper lip.
5. Best for Daily Shaving
As said earlier, these shavers get thinner and shorter hair and this makes them best for daily shaving. Therefore, men who shave every day will definitely like this shaver because it provides a clean, smooth, and kind shave on a daily basis.
6. Add-on Accessories
The foil shavers generally have a trimmer and combs with them. These combs guide the hair and give a better shave as the hair is lifted and then cut.
Drawbacks of Foil Shaver – Loud and Pivots Less
Everything has its pros and cons and the same is the case with a foil shavers. Essentially, the foils impart some seriously good features to a foil shaver but at the same time limits its use. Let’s have a look at the drawbacks of a foil shaver.
1. Lacks Circular Motion
Not everyone likes the technique that is required to shave with foil shavers. Basically, the shavers can be only be used in a straight line and there is no variation of motion. This, in turn, restricts its use for the people who like a circular motion.
2. Pivoting is limited
Basically, the head of the foil shaver doesn’t move like the rotary shaver which limits the pivoting. Moreover, the foils also just move slightly and that too in one direction only which further complicates this problem. As a result, the limited pivoting restrict its use on the contour of the skin, which is not something everyone likes.
3. Too Loud
The sound of blades and the interior motor is too loud compared to other shavers. This, in turn, makes it annoying for the person using it and for the people around him. In comparison, rotary shavers are a lot quieter than foil shavers.
Our Recommended Foil Shavers
There has been an exponential increase in foil shaver sales in the last couple of decades and a lot of companies have put their shavers up for sale. It becomes a daunting task to go around marketing trickery which plays with your psychology and pick the “one”. To help with this, here are our picks for 5 of the best foil shavers market has to offer.
|Foil Shaver||Average Run Time||Cleaning|
|Braun Series 7 790cc||50 minutes||Washable|
|Panasonic Arc 5 LV 95||40 minutes||Washable|
|Braun Series 3 3040s||45 minutes||Washable|
|Wahl Professional 5 Star 8061||50 minutes||Non-Washable|
|Panasonic ES8103S Arc3||42 Minutes||Washable|
Rotary Shaver – A Quieter Electric Shaver
Prof. Alexandre Horowitz, from Philips Laboratories, invented the concept of the revolving (rotary) electric shaver. Most of the rotary shavers are cordless and have a quieter working mechanism as compared to foil shavers.
Design of Rotary Shavers – Multiple Independent Shaving Heads
Basically, a shaver with multiple, independent, and round shaving heads is a rotary shaver. In essence, the name “rotary” is because of the movement of the head which is rotatory like a ceiling fan. There are lining through which the hair comes in and behind them, there are sharp blades attached with motors. Overall, the design includes three shaving units, motors, lining, and sharp blades.
How Rotary Shavers Work – Rotary Blades Cut the Hair
Essentially, the lining allows the hair to enter into the shaver. The hair then comes in contact with sharp moving blades and that cut the hair. In essence, the cuts are as close to the skin as possible.
Advantages of Rotary Shaver – Best for Long and Dense Hair
Just like foil shavers, the rotary shavers have their own benefits, and these include
1. Cutting the Dense hair
The mechanism of the rotary shavers makes them work very well on dense and thick hair. The three rotating shaving units with sharp blades in them make them able to get denser and thicker hair which is not possible with a foils shaver.
2. Best for Wild hair
Hairs in some parts of the body grow in several directions, especially on the neck. The rotary shavers shave these hairs with ease because there are three shaving units and each one of them has sharp blades. The hair growing in multiple directions would stand no chance in front of these blades.
3. Best for Long Hair
The rotary shavers are best for the people who shave just once a week. Basically, electrical shavers are designed for two to three days of hair growth. Using them on week-long hair would pull the skin and yank the hair. However, this is not the case with rotary shavers as they can be used over a week-long growth and they will shave much better than foil shavers.
4. Quiet Shavers
You would love rotary for the fact that they are very much quieter than foil shavers. This is probably because there are three motors but the motors are not big enough and also there is no vibration to produce noise. This makes the shave comfortable and pleasant and in addition, it won’t wake the person sleeping next to you.
Drawbacks of Rotary Shaver
The rotary shavers are not smooth on the skin as the foil shavers are. This is because they exert a pull on the hair and thus irritation and discomfort find their way. However, this can be avoided by using proper techniques which might take some time to learn.
2. Lack of Precision
The rotary shavers shave in a circular pattern which is why they lack the precision of foil shavers. Therefore, the lining of the beard and edges of the beard is almost impossible to get with these shavers. The foil shavers are best for these purposes.
3. Doesn’t Provide a Close Shave
The foils shavers have a foil that taut the skin nicely and allow the short hair to enter. Unfortunately, this is not the case with rotary shavers because of the absence of foils. This is why the rotary shavers do not provide a close shave as foil shavers.
Our Recommended Rotary Shavers
Philips basically invented the rotary shavers and to this day they are the best rotary shavers in the market. Here are our recommended rotary shavers.
|Rotary Shaver||Battery Time (minutes)||Contouring Directions|
|Philips Norelco 9700||50||8|
|Philips Norelco 8900||60||8|
|Philips Norelco 5500||60||5|
|Philips Norelco 4500||50||4|
|Philips Norelco 2100||35||4|
Differences between Electric Shavers – Foil Vs. Rotary Battle
Above, we had a look at how both shavers, foil, and rotary, work with their advantages and drawbacks. Now, let’s talk about what are the features which make them different from each other.
The first noticeable difference that anybody can spot is the design of both shavers. Basically, the foil shaver has three to four blades but doesn’t have as much movement as rotary shavers. However, on the contrary, the rotary shaver has three independently moving circular heads. The headworks best on the contours of faces and stays near to the skin.
Different Working Systems
Besides the design, the working mechanism of both shavers differs a lot. The foil shaver has a system that involves metal with holes in it. The metals pull the hair towards oscillating blades. Additionally, a trimmer is also involved sometimes and it guides and lifts the hair for cutting. The blades move like lawnmowers blades.
In comparison, the system of the rotary shaver is different in the sense that it consists of three rotary heads. These heads usually are shaped in a triangle. There are 8-10 independent directions the heads move in and the entire head moves as well. Behind these moving heads, the cutters are spinning and remove the hair that got captured in the linings and slot of the head.
Difference in Speed
It may seem that the rotary shavers are faster because of the three moving heads, but this is not true. Generally, foil shavers are often faster. This is because of the vibration and speed of the cutter. It is said that it can vibrate 14,000 cycles per minute of working. This is why one doesn’t have to go over the same spot again and again, unlike rotary shaver.
Different Blade Motion
The rotary shavers have blades within wheels. These wheels, in essence, spin under the shaving head and cut the hair that is entered into the shaver. The foil shavers, on the other hand, have blades right behind the foils and the blades oscillate back and forth and cut the hair that enters the shaver.
Difference in Technology
Basically, the foil shavers have sonic technology which detects the density of your hair and adapts its power requirement needed for the shaving operation.
The rotary shavers in comparison have a technology for wet and dry shaves which allows the shavers to be dipped in for cleaning and for use with foam and shaving gel.
We have outlined the major difference, advantages, and drawbacks that both of the shavers have to offer. In the end, what you need is to get your priorities right regarding the product.
In the end, it all comes down to your shaving frequency and the type of hair/skin you have. Before going to make a decision, I would recommend you to understand your skin and hair type and then go for the shaver which suits you the most.
This was all from our side. If you have any questions, do post and we would love to respond. Happy grooming.