Foil vs Rotary Shaver: Which one Should You Choose?

(Last Updated On: August 14, 2018)


It’s an age-old question: foil or rotary shavers?

Every person who uses a rotary or foil shaver has compelling reasons why each is better than the other. But are you aware of the differences between them?

When it comes to replacing an old shaver, you will always be bombarded with a series of questions pertaining to the best shaver.

Among the factors to consider are the price, design, and of course the performance features like wet or dry shaving.

In this post, we are all about learning the differences between a foil and rotary electric shaver. We’ll help you know the features that matter and when you should pick one over the other.

All about Foil Shavers


Jacob Shick designed and patented the original electric shaver in 1923. With the need to improve comfort in the shaving experience Remington perfected a shaver with micro-foils that could protect the skin in 1937.

Although the foil design has been developed and refined over the years, the fundamental principle remains unchanged.

Foil shavers contain a steel foil head with oscillating blades. They are typically referred to as reciprocating blades that move back and forth at high speeds. The foils have perforations which let the hair in allowing it to be cut by the blades at superfast speeds. They cut super close to the skin, and can, therefore, attain a close shave by lifting hair and getting below the skin.

Advantages of a Foil Shaver

Achieve a Smooth Shave

Most foil shavers come with two or three blades that clean in a straight line. They provide a clean look especially since they can be used on very fine hair.

Can Shave Every Type of Hair

Foil shavers have varying patterns on each foil. As such, they can work on different kind of hair including coarse hair with one pass. You will find foil shavers with a short slit, a long and wide slit pattern, and a rounder hole. The guiding holes have either a wavy or hexagonal pattern to allow different lengths of hair to get through the holes. This way, hair that is close to the skin can be raised even if it is lying flat, wavy, or coarse.

Faster Shaving Time

If you are looking for speed, you might be inclined to go with a foil shaver. This is because the blades spin at high speeds and can achieve a vibration rate of up to 14,000 cycles per minute. If you want speedy grooming, then you are better off with a foil shaver.

Better at Trimming Side Burns and Shaping Moustache

Since foil shavers are shaped in a rectangular manner, they can make a perfectly straight line making them ideal for tidy sideburns and mustache.

Easy to Maintain

Cleaning a foil shaver is as easy as running it under the water or using a cleaning station to remove stuck hair and shaving cream. If you are using a cheap foil shaver, you will need to remove the foils before rinsing the shaver under running water. But if you have a high-end design, all it needs is a quick rinse, drying and lubricating the foil head.

Drawbacks of Foil Shavers

They only shave in a straight/Vertical/Horizontal Position

If you like shaving using circular motions, you will find a foil shaver challenging to use. This is a crucial disadvantage since it does not fit the natural contours of the face. It, in turn, affects the overall shaving experience of a user who prefers a perfect shave while going around the face.

It is Noisy

The vibrations of a foil shaver are a clear indication that it is noisy. Many people agree that foil shavers are noisier than rotary shavers.

Factors that Reduce the Effectiveness of a Foil Shaver

Using it on long hair

If you do not trim long hair, it will mostly end up being trapped in the foils of the shaver. This will make it harder to get a close shave as the blades will reduce their effectiveness.

Not Drying the Shaver

Leaving a foil shaver wet is a guaranteed way of rust formation. You should always dry the shaver, lubricate it, and store it in a dry place; probably in its storage case.

Pressing it too hard against the skin

Your foil shaver will not achieve a clean look by pressing it on your skin. Instead, you risk having irritated skin. You should aim at being gentle and applying an aftershave.

Tapping the head too hard while cleaning it hard

A gentle tap is all it needs if you must do it. Otherwise, you risk damaging the mechanical parts which keep it working efficiently. Remember you invested a lot of money to own your foil shaver.

What about a Rotary Shaver?


On to our next type of shaver: The Rotary Electric Shaver.

Rotary shavers have round heads with circular blades. The design of a rotary shaver usually involves three discs. They were designed by Philips which is a company that has maintained dominance in the creation of rotary shavers. Today, you will find sleek designs of this type of shavers aimed at different users.

The working of a rotary shaver is through spinning razors in the discs. They are designed to stay close to the contours of the face; it’s no wonder why both men and women prefer this type of shaver.

Advantages of a Rotary Shaver

Good for fast-growing, thick hair

The first attraction towards these shavers is their ability to deal with long hair. If you are not concerned with a daily shave but will mind taking it to the fourth day, this shaver is an ideal pick. These shavers are also great if you have tough skin that has endured long years of shaving.

Works on coarse hair

If your hair is coarse, it will most likely grow in different directions. This shaver will get you a close shave while working on tangled hair. The close shave will not be as good as the one you can get with a disposable razor or cartridge razor, but they are worth it for keeping irritation at bay.

Great for Contours

Rotary shavers can rotate their heads allowing them to make a 360-degree shave. They can bend and go around the face in all the places like under the nose and behind the ears. If you have a prominent Adam’s apple, high cheekbones, or a sharp jawline, you will be inclined to pick a rotary shaver over a foil shaver.

The fact that you will be making slow circular moves makes it easier on sensitive areas like the neck and underarms. They rarely miss spots meaning you will not be going over the same place twice.

Quieter than Foil Shavers

When compared to foil shavers, rotary designs are quieter. They will not irritate your eardrums if you take your time to shave.

Drawbacks of the Rotary Shaver

They do not offer a very close shave

Rotary shavers do not get close to the skin like foil shavers. It is no wonder why they are great for long hair. They are also not precise on straight, fine hair because of the independent rotation of the discs.

They are harder to clean

Rotary shavers have to be disassembled in many parts for cleaning. This makes it harder for people who want fast cleaning to go over every cleaning step and do a perfect job. It’s always important to follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s manual to keep your rotary shaver in good shaving condition.

Factors that may reduce the effectiveness of a Rotary Shaver

Applying more pressure than needed

You may feel the need to press a rotary shaver when trying to achieve a super close shave. But rotary shavers are not built that way. This means you will have to use a rotary shave in the manner in which it was designed, to work on hair growing in different directions.

Not Giving It Proper Cleaning

If your shaver does not come with a cleaning station, it is mandatory that you clean it properly. This will ensure the blades are in tip-top working condition. Failure to clean your rotary shaver will lead to blunting of the blades. Blunt blades are useless when it comes to neat shaving.

Dry Shave vs Wet Shave

This is one of the primary factors to consider when buying an electric shaver as it allows you to maximize the efficiency of your shaver.

A wet shave is preferred if you have thick and curly hair. This is because shaving cream protects the skin underneath while keeping the hair coarse enough to go through the blades.

But if you have fine, straight hair, it can easily get lost in the cream making it hard for the blades to efficiently capture all hair.

If you have sensitive skin, going with a wet shave will prevent irritation.

A dry shave is quick making it an excellent way to shave when you don’t have time for a wet shave in the morning. Electric shavers are ideal for dry shaves because have protective elements for the skin.


Choosing between a foil and electric shaver comes down to your preferences and personal taste. We believe we have shed enough light on these shavers with the hope this information will guide you as you pick your next shaver. Being electric shavers, you have the convenience of close shaving without common irritation caused by razors.

Go on and pick an electric shaver with trust and confidence.

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