Rotary Vs Foil Shaver: What Are The Differences

Are you considering switching from a manual to an electric shaver? Or are you looking to replace your current shaver? If your answer is yes, you may be besieged with queries about the best shaver. You may also be unsure which type of electric shaver to purchase: Rotary or Foil?

Electric razors are classified into two types: Foil and Rotary. Although both types provide a tight, pleasant shave and may be used wet or dry, there are a few distinctions between foil and rotary shavers that may favor one over the other for some men.

The finest electric shaver for you will depend on your needs and tastes since each model has a number of advantages and disadvantages. We’ll explain the distinctions and the issues to consider in this article.

Cutting Motion

The primary difference between these two electric shavers is the way they cut. A foil shaver features blades that are vertically oriented and cut back and forth. Due to the rectangular shape of its head, it is limited to short, straight strokes in the direction of hair development. A foil shaver is ideal for everyday usage for guys who like a clean-shaven appearance free of razor bumps, burns, and ingrown hairs.

Because the blades of a rotary shaver are cut in a circular motion, the shaver’s head must be rotated in a circular motion over the region to be shaved, occasionally multiple times. A rotary shaver does not provide as tight a shave as a foil shaver, but it is preferable for guys who do no­shave daily. Here are more details:

Foil Electric Shaver

A man using a foil electric shaver on his face.

A foil shaver is characterized by a blade that swings left to right beneath a foil guard. While the metal head, like the rotary, has openings, the foil openings are typically small circular holes that are better at capturing fine hair than thick or coarse hair. Another significant distinction is that the foil is shaved upward and downward.

The cutting rate of the blades is frequently expressed in terms of shaving efficiency or micro-vibrations. This measure varies by brand. Most contemporary foil electric shavers can perform up to 40,000 cross-cutting actions per minute.

Rotary Electric Shaver

A man shaving with a rotary electric shaver.

A rotary shaver features independently rotating blades designed to fit your face’s unique contours, regardless of its shape or angle. Hairs with varying growth angles are clipped as the shaver is moved in a circular motion.

Hair is fed into the circular hole on each head, similar to the foil shaver, for cutting. The number of rotary cutting heads on an electric shaver car range from two and six – however, most rotary shavers feature only three.

Due to mechanical restrictions, rotary shavers cannot produce nearly as smooth a shave as a foil electric shaver. However, the distinction is negligible.

Key Takeaways

Both shavers (Foil and Rotary) shave in opposite directions. This will result in a difference in the closeness of the shave. Additionally, they need distinct operating procedures – which we will discuss next.

How To Use A Foil and Rotary Shaver

The actions required to use foil and rotary shavers are different; here’s an overview of each:

Foil Electric Shaver

  • The foil shaver’s rectangular head confines its movement to short, straight directed strokes.
  • Shaving in this way will feel more natural, even more so if you’re switching from a safety or cartridge razor.

Rotary Electric Razor

  • When shaving with a rotary shaver, you must pass the cutting head in a circular motion.
  • It may take a few shaves to get the hang of passing the shaver in a circular motion – so don’t be disheartened after your first usage!

Both Shavers

Whatever the model, the electric shaver should be held perpendicular to the skin’s surface (at a 90 degrees angle). Leading manufacturers of both foil and rotary shavers advocate shaving against the grain.


A foil shaver’s oscillating cutting action and its rectangular head can limit mobility on sharp edges, like the jawline or Adam’s apple. These types of electric shavers can also be difficult to maneuver around hard-to-reach spots, like just under the nostrils. A foil shaver is good for precision trimming and detailing your sideburns and mustache.

A rotary shaver has better mobility for shaving any area of the face and head. Its flexible heads pivot independently and follow the contours of the face, neck, and chin. Apart from the technical distinctions between foil and rotary shavers, you need also to consider the mobility of each razor system:

Foil Electric Shaver

The foil shaver head is shaped like a huge rectangle. This significantly complicates traversing narrow shapes, particularly those near the nose. In addition, while some foil shaver companies incorporate pivoting motion into their heads to increase mobility, this alone cannot compensate for the head’s fundamental architecture.

Up close photo of the foil shaver head.

Finally, you should anticipate making numerous passes, or in extreme situations, cleaning details with a different cartridge razor. This may not be an issue depending on your facial hair growth pattern and density.

Rotary Electric Shaver

Up close photo of the rotary shaver blades.

Its mobility is the most significant advantage of rotating electric shavers. Because of their smaller and more circular heads, they can maneuver around tight curves and work regions around the nose.

Key Takeaways

When comparing the two systems, this choice represents a compromise. If you want flawless results and are willing to risk using a cartridge razor, a foil shaver may be the way to go. On the other hand, consider a rotary shaver if you want a single instrument for all parts of your face and don’t mind residual beard.

Why Choose Foil Shaver

  • Gentle on the skin. The foils smooth the skin and trim the hairs without tugging.
  • Gives a more precise shave. The shavers head rotates from left to right from top to bottom, allowing you to go to the sideburns or under the nose.
  • Works better at cutting sideburns and styling.

Why Choose A Rotary Shaver

  • It works effectively on hair that grows quickly and is dense.
  • Easily move the face, legs, and rear of the head’s curves and features.
  • Better for swiftly having huge areas.

Skin Compatibility and Facial Hair Density

Your skin is one-of-a-kind. That’s why it is advisable to use your discretion when determining which razor system makes sense. In general, you should have the following in mind:

For Men With Acne

If you have frequent acne breakouts, it is suggested that you clean your electric shaver often. Numerous recent companies manufacture shavers that are completely waterproof and washable in warm, soapy water.

Man doing skincare for acne.

Rather than performing the physical labor, certain shavers, notably those produced by Braun, have an optional alcohol-based cleaning mechanism that removes germs from cutting blades after each use.

For Men With Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, go for an electric shaver with a stronger motor that produces more cutting power or a more efficient shave. Regardless of the method, you want to shave in the fewest feasible passes. Using your electric shaver in conjunction with shaving cream may also result in more comfortable outcomes.

For Men Susceptible To Razor Bumps

Man shaving with razor burns.

Men with close-cropped, curly facial hair are more prone to razor bumps (ingrown hairs). A foil shaver will cut the hair considerably more cleanly, allowing it to escape the skin during regrowth securely. However, the most effective method of avoiding razor bumps is to use a stubble or beard trimmer. They cut only a little above the surface, ensuring that the hair never grows within.


As is the case with each purchase, any given category of items fluctuates greatly. Therefore, we analyzed 67 electric shavers manufactured by Braun, Philips Norelco, Remington, Wahl, BaByliss Pro, and Panasonic. As a result, we discovered that the average price of a rotary shaver is $74, whereas the average price of a foil shaver is $104.

While the averages for both types of electric shavers are significantly different, as shown in the chart above, many companies provide both rotary and foil shavers at affordable costs.

For the sake of comparison, there are the three most costly and least expensive electric shavers available:


  • Braun Series 9 9390cc ($310)
  • Braun Series 9 9385cc ($310)
  • Braun Series 9 9370cc ($300)


  • Remington R2 Rotary Shavers ($30)
  • Remington F2 Foil Shavers ($30)
  • Remington R50 Series Rotary Shaver ($23)

Off-brands were conspicuously absent from our investigation. As a result, additional savings may be possible here if you’re trying to keep your expenditures low.


Other Things To Consider

The following is a summary of some of the characteristics that both foil and rotary shavers share:

Battery: If feasible, use a Li-Ion battery. It charges rapidly and runs for an extended time. Ni-MH batteries are used in low-cost versions and take many hours to charge. Additionally, its run time is substantially shorter.

An electric razor features a Li-Ion battery for fast charging.

Travel-Lock: This feature is often seen on higher-end models. Consider only if you often visit the gym.

Wet and Dry Shaving: Electric shavers are intended for dry shaving. However, you may use them in conjunction with shaving cream (wet shaving) for a more pleasant and precise shave.

Cleaning System: High-end foil and rotary shavers may contain or be marketed separately from a cleaning system. A cleaning system operates on the principle of an alcohol-based solution.

An electric razor with a self-cleaning program device.

Water-proof: Consider this if you like to shave in the shower or routinely clean the gadget.


Selecting the right sort of razor depends on how often you shave, as well as your skin and hair type. Let us know if we’ve been able to provide any further insight on the many shaver options available so that you can make an educated decision.

We hope that this information helped you in determining the important distinctions between a foil and rotary electric shaver during your research for what shaver is best suitable for you.

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About Hugh Vinson

Hi there! My name is Hugh, and I am the owner and founder of GentlemenCenter. From Texas, USA, and with 2 sons in recent years I have had the experience of raising 2 young men. I am here to share my experiences with you, and help you with any questions you may have!

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