(OK, that's not true. Plenty of women have ideas of how the men in their lives cope with these issues.)
I've shaved my head for 25 years. It was one of those things I wanted to do even in high school but I didn't have the guts to be so far outside the prevailing norm of greasy, shoulder-length rocker hair. When I got to college and discovered there were MANY more freaky people than me with a bald head, I shaved it off and have never really let it grow since for more than a week or so.
So shaving is a more involved thing for me than it is for most men (my job requires that I not have facial hair so that an oxygen mask will seal properly).
My first razor was a two-head Norelco given to me as a christmas present by my dad when I was 13 or 14. No doubt in imitation of his own practices, though, I shortly after began shaving with a blade and have mostly stayed with this method for the 30-plus years since. But I HAVE had a couple electric razors, and a part of me has long felt that in our modern times there ought to be a little machine which keeps one's face hair-free. And so I keep coming back to the electric shaver.
Probably because of that first razor, I have owned a succession of three-head Norelcos. I tend to use them for a while before deciding that they just don't shave me as well as a blade does, and I abandon them. Well, for a while, until I begin thinking again that an electric razor really ought to do the job. And so I've gone, back and forth, about 70% blade and 30% electric. Most recently, about three or four years ago I bought one of the latest and greatest Norelcos and was surprised at how badly it shaved me. I gave it a week and it failed to adequately cut every trouble area: around the mouth, my whole neck, under my ears, etc. It worked notably worse than my older, cheaper model. Thus disappointed, I took it back and exchanged it for a Braun 8585 self-cleaning shaver.
Europeans are almost exclusive electric-shavers, and Braun, a German company, is the best-selling shaver there. This razor was my first non-Norelco, and it has been excellent. It shaves very nearly as close as my 5-blade Gillette razor, and the whole process is actually a bit faster than blade-shaving. It still struggles to give me a good shave around the adam's apple and surrounding neck area (as most electrics do for me, including my Norelcos), but it's a good enough shave that I've used it nearly 50% of the time since I got it. The last few months, I've been using it exclusively.
Well, it's time to replace the head & foil, and the nearly $50 price tag for the parts makes me inclined to look into an entirely new razor (how very American of me, to reject a perfectly good machine in hopes of something new & improved). And I'm surprised at how tough a decision process this is for me.
Electric razors come in two varieties: rotary razors (like the Norelco razors--called Philips everywhere else--and some Remington models) and foil razors (Brauns, Panasonics and some other Remingtons). Both work by blades moving under a thin metal foil; the hair protrudes in thru the foil and the vibrating or spinning blades sheer the hair off. The two types have some individual characteristics and a lot of overlapping ones. Rotaries are quiet and present a large shaving surface area for a quick shave, and they deal well with longer hair. But they tend not to shave quite so close, and they struggle with flat-laying or misaligned hairs. Foil razors have thinner films and so give a closer shave. But they can shave too close for comfort and they tend to just push over longer hairs and miss them. Plus, they sound like they're going to electrocute you and / or slash your face to ribbons. Neither type is absolutely one thing, and there's a huge gray area of personal preference and how one's beard grows and responds to an individual razor. Braun and Panasonic both have sprouted extra heads to deal with longer hair, and Norelco has a new "lift & cut" technology to actually cut hair beneath the skin surface. All electric razor companies stress that some time must be given to a razor for your beard to "learn" how to respond (and doubtless for us to learn the best subtle technique for getting the most out of each particular machine).
So here's my dilemma: Norelco has a new razor out called the Arcitec, touted as their most advanced razor ever.
The Norelcos occupy a warm spot for me, I'm sure because of our past acquaintance. They're pleasant to use, being quiet and well-made and they feel great in the hand and gliding over the skin. But they are also responsible for my mostly rejecting electrics because of middling shave quality, and my last one was a big disappointment. Will the new one improve enough to equal (and hopefully better) my Braun?
On the other hand, Panasonic makes a very highly-rated razor called the ARC-IV.
It's another foil razor (like my Braun). My success with my Braun should make me a foil-shaver convert, but so far it's a sample of one. One thing: I'm a HUGE fan of anything Panasonic. I've owned Panasonic CD players and car stereos and a plasma TV and a vacuum cleaner and many other things, and I've had only great performance and extreme longevity out of anything with the Panasonic name on it. I have every reason to think that their razor will be fantastic; but it's an expensive foil razor, and I wonder if it can differ much from the expensive foil razor I'm using right now.
I guess I might also consider the new Braun Pulsonic. But it's hugely expensive--$300 retail--and the reviews on it are either ecstatic or scathing. Plus, it seems oriented toward in-shower use, and I'm a dry shaver.
So there it is.
As proof of my irredeemable geekhood, I discovered a couple years ago a website run by the Canadian Jim Elliott called the Electric Razor Rap. I'm quite hooked on this site, where shavers and related matters are reviewed by a seemingly articulate and personable bunch of guys. My wife practically demanded a divorce when I explained the site to her, but I can't help myself: I can spend hours pouring over stuff. (And I've learned--of course--that I'm far from the only person who toggles between blades and electrics and who struggles to choose between foils and rotaries. Most guys on the site have several shavers, so I'm aspiring to be just like them.) The unfortunate offshoot of my time with the site, however, is that there seems to be no consensus about these issues: brand versus brand, foil versus rotary; it's just a matter of what works for an individual.
So here's my plan: I think I'll buy the latest Norelco Arcitec from Target, where I can return it without hassle if it doesn't work for me. If I like it, I'll keep it and aim for a Panasonic down the road. And if I don't like it, I'll return it and get the Panasonic.
After deliberation, I decided to skip the Norelco and just look for a Panasonic Arc foil. Then I went to Target to look at their samples and decided that the Brauns seem head-and-shoulders above everything else in build quality. Then I went on the Electric Razor Rap and was persuaded back to Panasonic.
Ergo, a Braun Pulsonic is now in its charging stand in the basement... Erm...
OK, here's the deal: the Pulsonic is too damn expensive. ...Unless, say, Macy's has one remaining box marked at 50% off, plus a sale for another 20% of the remainder! I just don't know how a fella avoids something like that. Given that the prevailing opinion on the Electric Razor Rap is that the Pulsonic is Braun's answer to Panasonic, this seems a nice compromise. The description given me on the shaver page is that Braun has made incremental improvements and adjustments to their shaver line to arrive at their latest models, except for this Pulsonic, which is a wholesale technological departure for them. There have been some reports of reliability issues with the Pulsonic, and not everyone is pleased with the shave quality; but those that are report the best shave they've had in any form. (And I was mistaken: the Pulsonic is not intended for in-shower use.)
I've got only one shave under my belt so far, so the jury is very much out. But the preliminaries look promising.