Electric razors are a quick, comfortable, and usually affordable way to keep your facial hair at the length you want it. However, the cost of continuously replacing razor blades drives up the price considerably, and shaving with a dull blade is just plain unsafe.
Luckily, there are ways to sharpen the blades of most electric razors to keep them running smoothly and trimming effectively. The following guide will help you keep your blades sharp and your faces smooth as we dive into the process of learning how to sharpen an electric razor.
Types of Electric Razors
Before we launch into keeping your electric razor blades sharp, it’s essential to keep in mind that there are multiple types of razors, each with its own sharpening strategy. There are two main styles of electric razors: rotary and foil razors.
Rotary Electric Shavers
Rotary electric shavers have multiple circular rotating heads, often three or four, and are used to completely remove facial hair quickly and easily. These razors are often favored by those who prefer a clean-shaven look but grow facial hair at a fast rate.
The shape of rotary shavers allows the razor to get into difficult-to-reach crevices, so it’s excellent for taming thick beards or any unwanted facial hair on the neck.
However, the rotary razor design does come with some drawbacks. The razor must be used carefully in a circular motion to avoid irritating the skin and potentially causing rashes.
The shape of the rotary also makes styling difficult, so those with shaped facial hair, like a goatee or sideburns, may have some difficulty using the rotary effectively.
Electric Foil Shavers
Next, we have electric foil shavers. These razors trim facial hair using oscillating blades covered by a thin layer of protective foil. This helps to minimize contact with the razor’s blade on your face, making it an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin.
The foil also works to lift hair up and away from the skin before it’s cut for a neater line. Foil razors can use linear motions to shave your face, in addition to allowing for the precision of fine facial hair styling.
One of the top advantages to foil shavers is that they often come with multiple blade options, allowing you to choose the length of your facial hair with ease. This makes it easy to get a very close shave or leave a bit of scruff if you prefer.
The downside to the electric foil razor is that it has a more difficult time getting into tricky spaces and hard-to-reach areas. If your facial structure is particularly angular, it might be tough to use a foil razor to shave a few places.
High-end foil razors are designed to shave those problematic areas, but these are usually more expensive than regular foil shavers. Now that you know what kind of electric razor you have (or want to get) let’s move onto understanding how to sharpen an electric razor.
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Sharpening Electric Rotary Razors With Tools
The recommended method for sharpening the blades of your electric rotary razor is with a rotary razor blade sharpener. This is essentially a small set of sharpening-paper circles that fit into your razor temporarily to sharpen the blades.
These are specific to the brand and model of the electric razor and can often be purchased in stores and online. For example, if you have a Philips Norelco HQ167, you could buy the sharpening heads on Amazon.
Once you have the sharpener (or sharpening heads), you’ll have to disassemble the top of your rotary razor blade. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. There are often buttons on the side that will allow the part covering the blades to come off.
From here, there should be a screw or knob in the middle of the shaving head that you can turn to release the blades from their housing. The next thing you want to do is to clean the shaving head thoroughly.
You can use a soft brush to gently remove hairs, dirt, and dust. This is essential to both keeping your razor functional and protecting the sharpening tool. It is crucial that you do not use any water or liquids for this, as that could potentially damage your razor.
Next, take out the rotary blades individually. You may need to turn one of the shaving heads counter-clockwise to get them free. After the blades are removed, it’s a good idea to do another quick sweep with your cleaning brush.
After that, you’ll remove the shaving screen and put the sharpening heads into place. The packaging for the razor-sharpening tool will have more detailed instructions on installing the sharpening heads on your particular model.
From here, you insert the blades back into the razor in their proper place and reassemble the razor’s housing. Now, we turn on the razor for approximately five to 10 seconds; check the packaging of the sharpening heads to be sure of the exact timing.
As the razor runs, the sharpening kit will be getting your blades nice and sharp again. After a few seconds, you turn off the razor, take out the sharpening heads, replace the original screen, and put the housing back together. Congratulations, your rotary razor is all sharpened up!
Watch the following video to know how to sharpen your electric rotary razors with sharpening heads.
Sharpening Electric Rotary Razors by Hand
What if your razor’s brand doesn’t have sharpening heads or the proper sharpening tools are unavailable? Don’t panic, there are reliable methods for sharpening rotary blades by hand using only a piece of glass, a stiff brush, and a simple lubricating agent. Some sources say that metal polishing paste is a good lubricant that also makes your razors nice and shiny, while others argue that you just need some spit.
To start the hand-sharpening process, we begin much in the same way that you sharpen electric razors with tools. First, we take the shaving head apart. There should be buttons or other indicators for removing the head from the razor and getting it opened up to access the blades. Your razor may have special opening instructions in the guide that came with it.
With your razor head open, this is the perfect time for a good cleaning. Use a stiff brush to gently remove hair, dirt, or other debris from your razor.
After that, we will remove the cutting components and take them out of their housing. We can get the cutters and housing clean by rinsing them in the sink, but be careful to keep the drain in so that you don’t lose any parts. You’ll want to take the shield screen out as well and give it a good rinse.
Now we get to the actual sharpening. You’ll want to place the razor on a mirror or piece of flat glass with the cutting surface resting against the glass. Apply the lubrication, and then move the razor in smooth figure-eights over the glass. It’s important to continue adding lubrication to the sharpening surface.
To get your blade really sharp, it’s good to complete between 50 and 100 figure-eight rotations per blade. For your safety, take extra time and care with each razor blade. It’s helpful to remove a blade, sharpen it, and then replace it before moving onto the next one for easy reassembly.
Once you have sharpened all of the razor blades and replaced the blade shields, it’s time to put the cutting components back in the housing and put the razor head back on. After everything is reassembled, your newly-sharpened electric razor is good to go!
Watch the below video to learn how you can sharpen your electric rotary razors by yourself.
Can Electric Foil Razors Be Sharpened?
Unfortunately, due to the nature of their design, electric foil razors cannot be sharpened. This is because the extra-thin, machined razor blades are placed inside the razor in a tight-packed row.
There is not enough space to safely and effectively sharpen the blades without bending the fragile metal. For this reason, foil razor blades have a limited lifespan and must be replaced when they become dull, or the razor could be dangerous.
The good news is that there are replacement blades available, so you can keep your electric foil razor safe by continuously replacing any dull razors. How often you need to switch the blades out depends on quite a few factors, such as the quality of the blades (and foils), how often you shave, how often you clean and lubricate your razor, and the texture of your facial hair.
A reasonable timeframe to aim for replacing your foil razor blades would be approximately 18 months, or when you start to experience any of the following when you shave:
- Hair pulling and discomfort
- Shaving head retains excessive heat
- Can’t get as close of a shave anymore
These are all signs that it’s time to get new blades and foils.
Whether your foil needs replacing or your rotary blades need sharpening, you now know how to sharpen an electric razor, along with keeping your electric razor blades safe and effective.