Spend enough time talking to shaving enthusiasts and you’ll find out they love to test out new equipment. Anything that promises a clean, close shave while making the task easier is a win, right? Enter the vibrating razor. Is it functional or merely a gimmick?
Vibrating razors have been around since the 1940s with the invention of the wind-up Stahly safety razor. Modern vibrating razors often claim to deliver a closer shave than traditional razors. While this is not necessarily true, many users claim they do provide a more comfortable shave, possibly due to a reduction in friction.
If you’re curious about vibrating razors and if they really make a difference, read on!
What is the point of a vibrating razor handle?
Sharp blades and jerky movements don’t sound like a match made in heaven, but the makers of vibrating razors say otherwise.
The premise behind a vibrating razor handle is that the movement and vibration will target hairs that lay flat against the skin and glide easier across skin irregularities. The vibration action will propel hairs up and away from the skin so they are easier to cut. The claim is that this detail will result in a cleaner shave than achieved by traditional razors.
Vibrating razors sound cutting edge, but the concept has been around since the early 1940s. The Stahly Live Blade safety razor included a wind-up handle. When wound, it made the razor vibrate for 3 minutes before needing to be wound again. The Stahly claim was that this vibrating action reduced drag and friction on the skin producing a cleaner shave.
Today’s vibrating razors often have “power” in the name and are battery-operated. The claim that the vibration actually causes lazy hairs to stand at attention has been debunked by scientists.
How does a vibrating razor help?
Heated razors. Exfoliating strips. It seems like every year there’s a new and improved cartridge razor feature. Are the bells and whistles really necessary? How does a vibrating razor stack up?
A vibrating razor may reduce friction between the skin and the blade. Some users rely on the vibrating motion to numb the skin, making the shave more comfortable.
Does a vibrating handle really make a difference?
You’ve always used a standard cartridge razor. Should you run out and buy a vibrating razor? It all comes down to preference.
The biggest difference between a vibrating handle and a non-vibrating handle is weight. The addition of a battery makes the razor heavier and changes the weight distribution. Some shavers prefer a heavier razor while others prefer razors that are lightweight.
If you’re curious, you could always give it a try, and if you’re not impressed simply take the batteries out. Shaving doesn’t have to be hard or gimmicky. Good lather and sharp blade will do the job.
Are vibrating razors pointless?
Is the vibrating razor worth the extra dollars? It all comes down to the shaver’s preference. Many men and women love vibrating razors while others say a great shave can be accomplished without a pulsing razor.
If the shaving goal is a closer shave due to vibration causing hairs to change position, then vibrating razors are pointless. This claim is unsubstantiated. However, a vibrating razor can produce a comfortable, close shave and is preferred by many shavers.
When Gillette first came out with their vibrating razors, they made the bold claim that they provided a superior shave due to the vibration action shifting hairs to a stand-up position. A class-action suit was filed disputing these marketing claims.
Gillette’s own scientists said this wasn’t possible, and the judge agreed, forcing Gillette to abandon this marketing strategy and pay a $7.5 million settlement.
Now, most manufacturers stick to modest claims that the vibrating action “reduces friction and improves glide” and fans seem to agree. Satisfied users say “I wasn’t sure if a vibrating razor would be more comfortable or shave any better but it is and it does.” On the contrary, “others saw no difference to justify the high price”.
Can you reuse vibrating razor handles?
Vibrating razors aren’t one-and-done gadgets. Starter packs typically come with a handle, blade cartridge, and battery.
Vibrating handles can be reused with the vibrating function as long as the batteries are replaced. If the vibrating feature isn’t needed, you can take the batteries out and use the handle as a traditional cartridge razor.
While some users are really sold on the vibrating feature, many aren’t that impressed and decide to forego the function so they don’t have to replace the batteries.
Do vibrating razors use batteries?
Gone are the days of wind-up razors. Batteries are the norm and quite pricey.
Most vibrating razors today use AAA batteries. Past vibrating razors had wind-up and plug-in mechanisms.
The battery life of your razor will greatly depend on your shave frequency and the quality of the batteries you use.
Are vibrating razor replacement blades more expensive?
We’re all familiar with the cartridge razor business model – sell the handle starter kit at a reasonable price and then rely on replacement head sales to make a profit. The printer/ink industry jumped on that bandwagon too.
As if replacements weren’t expensive enough, add the “novel technology” aspect and the costs can rise even higher.
Most of the replacement blades that work on a vibrating razor will also fit the same brand’s non-vibrating handles. These replacement cartridges are expensive per use when compared to traditional wet shaving costs.
For comparison, Gillette’s Fusion Power replacements are $36 for a 12-pack of refills. One hundred Gillette brand safety razor replacement blades will only set you back $12.
Fun Fact: Razor manufacturing isn’t easy. Multi-blade razor cartridges as a whole require more welding than a car!
How to sharpen a vibrating razor
A razor is only as good as its blade is sharp. So how do you keep the blades in top cutting condition? The manufacturers would encourage you just to buy a new cartridge, but some users have employed more industrious measures.
To sharpen the blades of a vibrating razor you can buy new, replacement blade cartridges. Blade sharpeners can also be used to extend the sharp life of existing blades.
The cartridge razor industry makes up 40% of the $17 million (and growing) global razor market. A huge part of that revenue comes from replacement cartridges. While some shavers shell out the money on a regular basis, others have looked for ways to make their cartridges last even longer.
Razor blade sharpeners are said to “extend the usable life” of cartridge blades.