Foil vs Rotary Shaver Review – Is One Better Than the Other?

Last Updated on May 24, 2023 by David Eisenman

In our foil vs rotary shaver review, we will try to get to the bottom of whether one is better than the other or not. So, we invite you to join us as we explore the debate over foil vs rotary shavers.

Foil Vs Rotary Shaver Review

Shaving is a task that most men have to deal with, often. Even men that have a full beard, may still need to touch up around it to keep it looking nice. However, very few men want to use a disposable razor or some of the other shaving options that are available. They can irritate the skin and take a while.

To speed up the process, electric shavers became more popular. There are typically two types that we consider: foil or rotary. Is one of them better than the other or will they work for you?

What Is a Foil Shaver?

Foil Shaver

A foil shaver is basically a razor with a straight heat that has oscillating blades, or cutters. The cutters are tucked under a “foil”, which captures hair in the very thin metal holes, where it is cut. The foil shaver promises to cut close to the skin.

The mesh, metal foil acts as a barrier for your face. You can use them to shave in a straight line, which is great for edging if you have facial hair that you would rather not remove. It can be used daily, and because of the ultra-thin shield between your face and the cutters, it shouldn’t really cause irritation.

If you look at the Braun Series 7 or Series 9, you will notice that some can be used wet or dry. It can capture even flattened hairs. As proof of how thin the metallic mesh is, it promises to cut hair to within 0.05mm of your skin. Though this is only one razor, it is very similar to how others perform.

Advantages of a Foil Shaver

  • A foil shaver promises to not be harsh on your skin. They are generally quick to use as well. This can be less irritating than many other things that we use to shave our faces.
  • The foil shavers have oscillating blades that get the job done quickly. It is best for stubble or scissor-trimmed beards.
  • Many of them offer you the chance to use them wet or dry. This is great for those days when you may be running behind and shaving on your way to the car.
  • They are easy to clean. You can use a simple brush, usually included, to clean it. If it is waterproof, you can also rinse it.
  • Ideal for trimming along sideburns or edging. The shape means you shave straight by default.
  • Best used by people who have relatively fine facial hair or those that shave daily.

Disadvantages of a Foil Shaver

  • May take several passes to remove longer, thicker, or coarser hair.
  • These electric razors are slightly noisy. They have a definite buzzing sound that may wake your partner early in the morning.
  • Occasionally, if the blade isn’t sharp enough along the edges, you may need to change the foil and blades. Some have cartridges that allow you to change them out in one easy step.

What Is a Rotary Shaver?

Rotary Shaver

The rotary-style shaver has thin metal foils that cover blades that move in a circular motion. This means that they are generally used in tight, circular motions. This makes it possible for you to get a close shave, even in areas where you cannot see very well.

Typically, they will have three disks in the razor head with foil all around to grab hair and hold it while the cutters remove it. It will work well on thick, coarse, and longer hair because of the way it works even if it seems to grow out in every direction.

If you look at the Philips Norelco Shaver, you can see how it is put together. This is the typical design and style. It adjusts to the contours of your face, which will work well if you have high cheekbones and a very angular jawline. It is also easy to clean with water. You simply flip open the shaver head to rinse.

Advantages of a Rotary Shaver

  • Good for thicker, coarser, and fast-growing hair. This allows it to work on all hair types. You can even use it easily if you do not shave daily. Slight tangles will not even cause it to have issues in most cases.
  • Due to its 360-degree shave style, you will be able to use this to remove hair from anywhere. It can get the hair around your Adam’s apple or under your nose and around your ears.
  • Can be used by women to shave underarms as well. This is because the circular motion that you use while shaving with it is ideal for sensitive areas.
  • It is designed to glide over your face. This means you do not need to apply pressure, which is good for easily irritated skin.

Disadvantages of a Rotary Shaver

  • These shavers do not get as close to the skin as you may want. They can easily leave you with a 5 O’clock shadow earlier in the day.
    Somewhat harder to clean because you do have to take them apart to rinse them after each use. If you don’t clean it well, it may not trim properly.
  • If you have extremely sensitive skin, the rotation may cause irritation.

Foil Vs Rotary Shaver: The Similarities

Both foil and rotary shavers promise to provide you with a close shave that will not irritate your skin the way disposable razors may.

They both have foils that protect your skin from the cutting blades.

Depending on the razor that you choose, both can be used wet or dry and can be used as a quick alternative to other shaving methods.

Foil Vs Rotary Shaver: The Differences

The way they cut. Foil shavers are designed to glide across your face which makes them ideal for edging, but not great for faces with harder angles. The rotary shaver cannot edge well because you use a constant circular motion when shaving.

Foil shavers are best for fine hair and people who shave frequently. Rotary shavers are a bit more forgiving and can tackle thicker, coarser, and longer hair.

To clean a foil shaver, you wipe it with a brush and sometimes rinse it with water. The rotary shaver may require you to take it apart to clean it.

Foil shavers glide over your face in a straight line. Rotary shavers require you to circulate the blades, which can pull at the skin and irritate some skin types.


The battle of foil vs rotary rages on. It depends mostly on your needs, your hair type, and your shaving habits. Is one better than the other? We feel that for the right person, either one could be the best option. Our hope is only that we have helped you narrow down the one you are most interested in.

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