To innovate doesn’t always mean to be the first to invent something.

Sometimes it’s actually better to simply improve an already known quantity.

That’s the case with Braun shavers.

Max Braun pretty much invented electric razors as we know it, though he was not the first to come up with the foil guard razor.

The company, founded in the 1930’s in Germany by Max Braun, has come a long way to make electric razors so ubiquitous.

Since they rolled their first foil guard electric shaver off of the assembly line in 1950, they have become the most popular brand of electric razors and changed the very way we shave.

Let’s dive into the story of the history of Braun shavers and then focus on what makes the Braun electric shavers the best.

image courtesy of the Electric Shaver Museum

History of Braun Electric Shavers

In the 1920’s Max Braun opened up a factory in Frankfurt, Germany making radios and radio parts. A rather inauspicious beginning to what would become the most recognized brand of electric razors.

Seeing a need for something different, and also recognizing that the newly invented electric razors, invented by Schick in 1930 could be repurposed, he decided to focus on creating an electric razor for the face.

Unfortunately, World War 2 started and not only were his factories refitted to make wartime materials, they were completely destroyed by the end of the war.

At the war’s end, he quickly got his factories rebuilt and began getting his Braun electric shavers refined and ready for the mass market.

He decided that the foil guard system for shaving the face was the best way to go. Seeing that Remington had already invented the foil guard electric shaver but wasn’t selling well, he decided to improve the design.  

With a much thinner foil, they allowed for a closer shave. In 1950 the S 50 Braun foil shaver was first sent onto the market and made quite a splash.

How did the vintage electric shaver work?

Much different than the electric hair clippers invented by the Andis company, these Braun razors had a layer of foil filled with holes that allowed the blades to cut the hairs on the face.

Underneath this foil guard on the original Braun shaver were some very sharp blades that rocked quickly back and forth and would cut the beard hairs that would poke through the hole.

The original foil guard electric shavers were actually invented by Remington, but instead of perforations were sort of like a comb. Again, improving an already existing design is sometimes better than being the first one to market a product.

By 1952, the Braun foil shaver took the familiar shape that is still in use by many electric shaver brands. Even Andis!

Image courtesy of the Electric Shaver Museum

Originally, the Braun electric shavers were designed to be used dry. The whole point of an electric razor was to save time. It makes sense, then, that it doesn’t save much time if you have to lather your face. In those days, there was no way to protect the razor from water so using it in the shower to save time wasn’t an option.

Braun shavers continued to develop and improve over the years. Then, in 1967 were bought by the Gillette company from South Boston.

Braun Electric Shavers | What Makes Them Special?

While many brands of electric razors decided to go for rotary style shavers, Braun stuck to their guns and continue to use the standard rocking motion of the blades that go back and forth in a straight line.

They have studied this and have come to the conclusion that this system is the best at capturing more hair per stroke.

That makes Braun razors more efficient and better at cutting the beard than the rotary style shavers.

Many men complain of irritation when they use electric shavers. But, when you can cut more hair per stroke, that leads to less irritation, making Braun foil shavers the logical choice for guys with sensitive skin.

Combine that with the ultra thin foil and the unique design for the holes to get a much closer shave and it is no wonder that they lead the pack when it comes to popularity.

All the newest Braun Series shavers from the Series 3 and on have pressure sensitive blades that adapt to the skin.

Take a look at our review of the Braun Series 9 to see what we mean.

Another thing that makes Braun razors unique is the Braun shaver cleaner. It’s a self cleaning charge station that also cleans out the blades and helps to disinfect it.

Final thoughts about Braun electric shavers

Still designed and made in Germany, it is refreshing to know that Braun razors are still made to exacting German engineering standards.

The quality of all the parts, plus the attention to detail really helps them stand out from the electric razor crowd.

You may or may not care too much about the story behind Braun or other brands. For some of us, it is interesting to see how the humble beginnings of items that we take for granted have evolved over the decades.

Especially interesting is seeing just how dangerous and uncomfortable those early versions were! We are lucky that advances in technology have made electric razors safe, comfortable and easy to use.

On a personal note, I have always had trouble with electric razors due to sensitive skin. And, to this day the only ones that I can really use are Braun shavers.

That’s me, though.

My colleague here, Alex, wrote a review of the Braun vs Norelco electric razors that you can read here to see what he thinks about the brand.

My money is always on Braun.

What do you think? Which electric razor brand do you prefer? Let us know in the comment box below!

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