Rotary vs Foil Shaver: A Gentleman’s Guide to the Difference


On a basic level, the rotary shaver is made up of three circular heads that you move in a circular motion around the face, while the foil shaver requires a more classic straight line shave.

But there’s much more than meets the eye with these two types of shavers.

While one shaver uses internal foils to pull hair in and cut it down, the other uses internal spinning cutters to do the same job. A foil shaver is best for precision and small patches of hair, whereas a rotary shaver is best for large surface areas.

There are a lot of factors to consider if you’re concerned with getting the best shave for your face.

There are the questions of what type of facial hair you have, how much stubble you prefer, and how precise you need to be.

Shaving is different for everyone, and what’s comfortable for one man may be a nightmare for another.

Some like to spend a lot of time deliberating over various aspects of the shaving process, and others prefer not to dwell on it at all.

Whatever your preferences, both the foil and rotary shavers have plenty to offer, so once you know a bit more about each razor you might just want to give them a shot.

Rotary Shaver

The rotary shaver may seem unconventional when compared with the likes of straight razors, safety razors, and foil shavers.

It’s an outlier in the sense that it defies the idea that you should have to shave in a straight line with your razor.

Unlike most razors, the rotary shaver asks you to shave in circular motions rather than in straight lines.

This is usually accomplished with three circular heads that rotate quickly to cut hair, but you can find rotary shavers with as few as two and as many as six different heads.

While it may take you a few sessions to get familiar with the circular movements you need to make to shave with this shaver, it’s worth it once you get to grips with it since you can cover large areas quickly.

For some this is the most compelling reason to use the rotary shaver, and for others it seems like an inconvenience.

Here are the main reasons people enjoy using a rotary shaver:


First and foremost, with the rotary shaver, you are granted a great deal of flexibility in how you go about your shave.

Due to this razor’s three circular heads, you aren’t limited in how you move the shaver.

The design of the shaver adapts to your face and hugs the contours of your cheeks, which means you can navigate your face easily.

You don’t have to take the lawn-mowing approach of most razors, as the three large blades will make it easy to move the shaver in a more natural way.

Broad Coverage

The other main benefit of having the three circular heads is that you can expect broad coverage.

Unlike most shavers, like the foil shaver, the rotary device allows you to cover a large surface area as you glide it across your face.

Not only does this ensure a more thorough shave, but it also speeds the process up.

If you aren’t looking for precision, but a quick and complete shave, there are few better options than the rotary shaver.

Best for Thick Hair

If you have fine hair, the rotary shaver probably isn’t the best option for your daily shave.

The rotary shaver is best when used on thick or coarse hair, due to its design.

It’s for keeping thick hair in check and preventing it from sprouting into a caveman-like beard, so if you have that kind of facial hair, a rotary shaver is a decent option.

Foil Shaver

The foil shaver offers up a more traditional shaving experience, so it should be an easier shaver to get to grips with.

This is a shaver that takes no prisoners, unlike the rotary shaver, so it’s intended for tackling facial hair and leaving smooth skin in its wake.

It’s the best option for an everyday shave, as you are able to achieve the level of precision you need for a close shave.

To pull off a close shave, you’ll need to move the blade back and forth across the skin as if you were mowing the lawn.

The average modern day foil shaver cuts at up to 40,000 cross-cutting actions every single minute.

The blades within the foil shaver are designed to oscilate back and forth, and are protected by a foil mesh.

Classic Shaving Experience

The straight-line shave offered by the foil shaver provides the user with the classic shaving experience.

This is probably the way you have shaved ever since you picked up your first razor, be it a straight razor or a safety razor.

It’s the tried-and-tested method that ensures a high level of precision and excellent results every time.

If you consider yourself somewhat of a shaving purist, forget about the rotary shaver and give yourself the potential for a close shave with the foil shaver.

Precision Shaving

There’s a lot to be said for a man who takes pride in his appearance, and if you want to keep on top of unruly sideburns or neck hair, you’ll need a shaver that offers you precise control.

The foil shaver does just that, so you can look your best every day.

It may take a little more time and effort to get your facial hair exactly how you want it to be, but perfection takes time.

Best for Fine Hair

One important aspect to bear in mind with the foil shaver is that it’s best suited for fine hair.

Unlike the rotary shaver which can tackle the kind of coarse and grizzly facial hair that covers the face like moss in just a few days, the foil shaver is for dealing with fine, soft hair.

If you don’t have a great deal of facial hair, but it seems to consistently pop up on your cheeks, neck and sideburns, the foil shaver is what you need to keep it from getting out of control.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rotary and Foil Shavers

Is foil or rotary shaver better?

Both the foil and rotary electric shavers are suited to different kinds of hair and different purposes.

If you have fine hair the foil shaver is your best bet, whereas if you have coarse and thick hair you’ll want to maintain it with a rotary shaver.

The foil shaver offers up a more precise, close shave while the rotary shaver offers speed and convenience, covering a large area at a time.

Do foil shavers give a close shave?

Foil shavers can give a close shave, but they aren’t very well suited to long facial hair as the hairs can become trapped in the shaver’s foils.

If you try too hard to get a close shave with a foil shaver, you can end up causing skin irritation and redness so the key is to be gentle.

You also need to make sure you keep on top of the shaver’s condition, since if poorly maintained, a foil shaver can cause friction which could potentially lead to ingrown hairs.

What does a rotary shaver do?

A rotary shaver is an electric-powered shaver that has three circular heads that rotate as you run it across your facial hair.

There are spinning cutters inside each circular head, and as you glide the heads over your face it should follow the contours of your cheeks and jawline well.

To make the most of a rotary shaver, you need to shave in circular motions to stay on top of your facial hair.

A Final Word From The Trending Man

Both foil and rotary shaver have their merits, but they are clearly suited to different purposes.

While the foil shaver is meant for fine hair and precision shaving, the rotary shaver is designed with speed and convenience in mind as the three large heads glide over facial hair with ease.

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The Trending Man

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