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How To Use A Foil Shaver

If you’ve picked up a brand new shaving toy, you wanna make sure you can actually use it correctly. Here’s how to use a foil shaver for a smooth and comfortable shave. 

Table of Contents

What Is A Foil Shaver?

A foil shaver is a type of electric razor. It’s usually built with two rows of blades that are each covered by a rounded foil guard. Under the foils, the blades move from side to side which is how they manage to cut the hair. 

Foil shavers are the only category of razors that are meant to be used against the direction of hair growth. Nowadays, a lot of them also come with central cutters which help to shave down longer hairs. 

Some models are designed for professional use so they tend to have a more squat, square body, while others are designed for home use, with longer handles and cordless shaving capabilities. While they’re usually designed with dry shaving in mind, a lot of models are waterproof and can be used for wet shaving. 

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Foil Shavers

Foil shavers are pretty great, but they also have their drawbacks. If you’re still deciding if you should buy one, these are the main pros and cons. 


  • Foil shavers are very easy to use, especially when compared to regular razors or electric trimmers. 
  • Nowadays, foil shavers come in a huge range of options and price points, so there’s an option out there for everyone.
  • Foil shavers usually have a compartment that collects shaved hair, and can almost always be rinsed, which makes for easy clean-up. 


  • Foil shavers can be a little irritating to the skin, especially compared to shavers that aren’t meant to be used against the grain.
  • Most foil shavers can only handle a couple of days’ worth of hair growth so they are best used on a daily basis. They’re not great for men who don’t shave consistently.  

How To Use A Foil Shaver

If you’ve already picked up the best foil shaver for your needs, here’s the low down on how to actually shave with it. 


A good shave always starts with some preparation. Technically, as long as your skin is clean, you could just go straight in for a dry shave. If you can, I recommend first washing your face with warm water, which will help soften your stubble. You can even exfoliate to remove dead skin. Then, dry your face gently with a towel. 

For an even smoother shave, I suggest you also apply a layer of pre-shave oil to add a bit of glide. If your foil shaver is waterproof, you can also do a full wet shave by first rinsing your skin with water and applying a thick layer of shaving cream and soap. 


To actually shave, first bring the foil shaver against your skin at a 90-degree angle. Then, move it in short strokes against the direction of hair growth. That usually means shaving upwards over the cheeks and going sideways over the neck. 

If you’re not sure about your facial hair’s direction of growth, look closely in the mirror first or run your hand over your face and neck to find out. 

Consider using your other hand to pull on your skin, especially over curved areas like under the jawline. If you’re a little older and your skin isn’t as firm as it once was, you may need to hold it taut for every stroke of the shaver. 

Once you finish one pass, look over and see if any areas need a second pass. Be careful not to move the shaver sideways over your skin, or you can end up pulling on the hair.  


Once you finish shaving, you can just rinse your face quickly with some cold water to get rid of any bits of shaved hair. If you’ve used shaving cream, you’ll want to rinse that off, as well. 

Once you’re done, quickly open up your foil shaver, and dump out the hair trapped under the foils. Depending on the shaver, you might be able to rinse the foils under some water, or you may prefer to just brush them free of stubble, instead. 

Finally, give your face a bit of TLC with an aftershave lotion or balm

Check out our guide on how to clean electric shavers for instructions on how to deep clean your shaver, as well. 

Can I Use Foil Shaver On Balls?

If you want extra-smooth testes, then yes, you can use a foil shaver on your balls. In general, I’d recommend choosing a trimmer for balls, instead, as those tend to be easier to use and more forgiving. 

If you do want to use a foil shaver, make sure to first trim your ball hair down so it’s nothing but stubble. Then, when actually using the shaver, hold the skin as tightly as possible to prevent accidents. 

When Should You Replace Your Foil Shavers?

As long as your foil shaver works, you don’t have to replace it. It depends on the quality of the machine you purchase, but if you buy from a reputable brand, your shaver may even last for more than a decade. 

The only parts in a foil shaver that need to be replaced regularly are the blades and foils. Almost all mainstream foil shaver brands also sell replacement heads separately, and it’ll cost you a lot less than buying a brand new shaver. The only exception may be if you bought an older model, in which case replacement parts may not be available when you do finally need them.  

Most brands recommend you change the head every 12-18 months. In practice, this also depends on how often you shave and how coarse your beard is. I recommend you pay attention to the quality of your shave. If you notice that your shaver is starting to pull on your hair or that your shaves are starting to get a little irritating, it’s probably time to replace the head.

Miles is a professional men's grooming analyst who believes that to look good a man just needs to take good care of himself. He’s all about wet shaving, sustainability, and evidence-based grooming - an obsession he’s ready to share. Miles is known for his in-depth analysis of men's grooming products, brands, and best practices you can't find anywhere else.