A Kinder Cut?

November 17th, 2006

This isn't really earth-shattering or anything, but I was wondering if anyone out there could recommend an electric razor that doesn't chew up your skin while leaving your beard mostly intact. Such has been my sad experience so far -- and darn it, I don't want to go back to the messiness of shaving-cream-type razors. And besides, I think in the couple of years since I plugged in, manual razors have evolved into bulky, intimidating four-bladed things that wouldn't actually fit between my nose and upper lip.

I started using electric razors after I had throat surgery: the surgeon said that while the scar on my neck was healing, the skin there would be numb, and thus I might cut myself with an old-fashioned-type blade. At the time I saw this as a chance to break away from Luddite shaving techniques -- which, truth be told, usually ended up spilling plenty of blood as well. It's not often, in middle age, that you get a chance to make a fundamental change in your habits. Dylan had the foresight to go electric at a younger age, and look where it got him -- he became pop music's future. When I walked up to the nice man at the Macy's counter, I felt jazzed: this new razor would be my electric bridge to the 21st century.

But the results have really been more Stone Age. As far as I can tell, the way my electric razor works is basically the same way sandpaper works: it keeps rubbing and scraping away indiscriminately till there's not much left. Kadidja, my wonderful make-up artist at KQED, recently asked me if I had a second scar at the bottom of my neck; I had to tell her that, no, that was shaver damage. All she could do was sadly shake her head and reach for the skin-toney stuff.

Yes, it's time. Time for the new, more-intact-faced me. Electrons, si; engraving, no. Knowledgeable bloggers of the world, my face in in your hands.

Entry Filed under: let's digress


  • 1. MikeC  |  November 17th, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    Try the Norelco SpeedXL series. Just be sure to follow the instructions in cleaning the blades regularly and replacing them annually. I went from a manual 3-blade with shaving cream to electric a couple of years ago and would never go back.

  • 2. Josh Kornbluth  |  November 22nd, 2006 at 8:17 am

    Wow — thanks, Mike! I’ll try it.

  • 3. Devin  |  November 23rd, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    Isn’t the obvious solution to just let it grow? You could go from Ben Franklin to Jerry Garcia like THAT.

  • 4. Voi  |  November 27th, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    I have tried them all and the only one that really shaves close without torturing your face is from the latest line of razors by Panasonic. They come in a variety of flavors (different bells and whistles), but the key is the linear induction motor (very high speed, doesn’t slow down as tthe battery droops) and the pivoting “Pro-Curve” triple cutter head that gently stretches the skin to enable a close shave.

    The cheapest one on Amazon is:
    Panasonic ES8043SC Pro-Curve Pivot Action Linear Wet/Dry Shaver, Silver

    Check it out.

  • 5. Jamie Young  |  December 3rd, 2006 at 7:02 am

    I vote Panasonic like the other guy. I have the older ES7024, bulky with a lot of grille area. It sounds obvious but the more surface area on the grille, the faster the shave I think. And if it’s a bulkier, it likely has more battery inside, and not having to plug it in as often is always a good thing. And when you shave, swipe an area a few times, then go to another place, and stroke the face to feel it gradually get smoother. That way you’re not working an area until it’s raw. I was very happy to hear of your continuing success, and the hug you gave me before I left the M. A. C. store is still working like a charm! Bye.

  • 6. Josh Kornbluth  |  January 2nd, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    So I showed the above comments to my very generous brother Sam, and he got me the Panasonic (as recommended by Voi and Jamie) for Christmas. So far it works great!! Thanks, everyone, for your comments. … Though Jamie, while it’s wonderful to hear from you, and I wish you guys would move back to Berkeley (though I hear things are going great in New Haven), it’s a bit weird to get shaving advice from a bearded fellow such as yourself!!

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