The electric razor (also known as the dry razor, electric shaver, or simply shaver) has a rotating or oscillating blade. The electric razor usually does not require the use of shaving cream, soap, or water. The razor may be powered by a small DC motor, which is either powered by batteries or mains electricity. Many modern ones are powered using rechargeable batteries. Alternatively, an electro-mechanical oscillator driven by an AC-energized solenoid may be used. Some very early mechanical shavers had no electric motor and had to be powered by hand, for example by pulling a cord to drive a flywheel.
Electric shavers fall into two main categories: foil or rotary-style. Users tend to prefer one or the other. Most rotary-style shavers are cordless—they are charged up with a plug charger or they are placed within a cleaning and charging unit.
The first person to receive a patent for a razor powered by electricity was John F. O’Rouke with his US patent 616554 filed in 1898. Others followed suit, such as the American manufacturer Col. Jacob Schick who patented their first electric razor in 1930. The Remington Rand Corporation developed the electric razor further, first producing the electric razor in 1937. Another important inventor was Prof. Alexandre Horowitz, from Philips Laboratories in the Netherlands, who invented the very successful concept of the revolving (rotary) electric razor. It has a shaving head consisting of cutters that cut off the hair entering the head of the razor at skin level. Roland Ullmann from Braun in Germany was another inventor who was decisive for development of the modern electric razor. He was the first to fuse rubber and metal elements on shavers and developed more than 100 electrical razors for Braun. In the course of his career Ullmann filed well over 100 patents for innovations in the context of dryshavers. The major manufacturers introduce new improvements to the haircutting mechanism of their products every few years. Each manufacturer sells several different generations of cutting mechanism at the same time, and for each generation, several models with different features and accessories to reach various price points. The improvements to the cutting mechanisms tend to ‘trickle-down’ to lower priced models over time.
Early versions of electric razors were meant to be used on dry skin only. Many recent electric razors have been designed to allow for wet/dry use, which also allows them to be cleaned using running water or an included cleaning machine, reducing cleaning effort. Some patience is necessary when starting to use a razor of this type, as the skin usually takes some time to adjust to the way that the electric razor lifts and cuts the hairs. Moisturizers designed specifically for electric shaving are available.