I'm shaving my beard with my electric trimmer, and it breaks when I'm only halfway through*.
Unfortunately, I don't have any other shaving device around -- and even if I did have a razor or a razor-sharp blade, I wouldn't be allowed to use it because of the rules of Judaism, which allow shaving with most electric shavers, but never with a razor.

Since looking like a freak is not high on my list of priorities, what can I do to finish off the shave?

* Note: This has never happened to me, but I'm perpetually paranoid that it might....I'd like to know what I might have to do, before I have to do it.

  • Find some scissors that can cut really close? Have an extra trimmer?
    – Justin
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 22:42
  • 2
    Re "extra trimmer," I already dealt with that in the question: "Unfortunately, I don't have any other shaving device around" .....Re scissors....I don't have a pair that can cut close enough on hand.
    – Shokhet
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 22:43
  • 4
    Downvoter care to comment? ....I think this is a perfectly fine question, and phrased well, though I am biased....tell me what's wrong so I could fix it, please.
    – Shokhet
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 22:26

4 Answers 4


My last answer was removed; apparently folks thought I was joking. So I'll drop the levity...

If you don't want to look like a "freak" (your word), then you want to be very careful about what you use to remove hair from your face. The skin on your face is extremely sensitive; while you can easily use many different tools and techniques to remove hair from other parts of your body, careless treatment of your face is nearly certain to result in damage to your skin that will look (and feel!) worse than the hair you started with. In particular, if you are prone to ingrown hairs you'll want to avoid cutting or breaking the hair at or below the skin.

In short, I'm saying you should avoid hacky solutions here. No matter how negatively you expect folks to react to you showing up with a day's growth of facial hair, showing up looking like you stepped out of the burn unit into a nest of wasps isn't going to be an improvement.

That said... You can certainly mitigate the impact of shaver breakage. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Top-down + bottom-up shaving

Like most of us, you probably shave by starting on one side of your face and then moving to the other, to allow you to clearly see what you're doing in a mirror by turning your head.

Well, stop doing that.

  • Start at the top and work in narrow rows across your entire face down to your jaw line, being careful to still shave with the grain.
  • Then start at the bottom of your neck and shave in rows up to your jaw line, again being careful to respect the grain.
  • Finish your jaw line, and do a final pass perpendicular to the grain to catch stray hairs that may have been flattened during the first pass.

At no time during this process do you look like Two-Face. The worst that can happen is that you're left with a slightly odd-shaped band of stubble - and there's a way to mitigate that too...

Two-pass shaving

Invest in a small, inexpensive electric clipper. These are essentially a miniature version of the ones your barber uses to trim your hair, and you can probably pick these up for $10-$12 at your local discount department store. You can even find packages that come with fairly crappy electric shaver heads as well, which has the added bonus of giving you a spare shaver and potentially side-stepping this whole issue.

Once you have your trimmers, use those to do a first pass on your face. Don't use a guard - just hold the flat head of the trimmer parallel to your skin, allowing the hair to enter the cutting blades without bringing the cutting surfaces themselves into contact with your skin. Note that the design of this tool is essentially a row of tiny scissors - which should thus comply with your religious obligations.

Once you're done, you'll be left with fairly short stubble. If your shaver breaks immediately, you could just go with that look - it's actually quite popular these days.

Assuming you want a closer shave, just finish it up with your normal shaver, using the top-down/bottom-up method described above.

The advantages of this method are threefold:

  1. The shorter hair will actually be easier for most electric shavers to handle without getting clogged, thus making it less likely that your shaver will break mid-way.
  2. There's less of a difference in hair length between the area you're shaving and the area you've already shaved - so if your shaver does break mid-way, you're not going to look as odd.
  3. As the trimmers can readily handle hair of any length, you should need fewer passes to complete the job - thus reducing skin irritation.
  • Nice; there's a lot of detail in this answer +1 for that. I think it's especially nice that you put some research into the religious obligations also :) .....my feeling is that you're right about the clipper, but I'll ask on Mi Yodeya anyway, just to be sure.
    – Shokhet
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    – Shokhet
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 19:59

Adding yet another answer here, because my existing answer is already quite long and this one actually is a bit of a hack...

In his now-deleted answer to your question on Judaism, user6591 suggests that using nail clippers is acceptable for this purpose. So in the interest of expanding our knowledge here, I tested this method. I found that...

  • ...It works! Flat-edged toenail clippers cut facial hair relatively easily, without getting too close to the skin.
  • ...It is difficult to get a close or even shave this way. Much patience is required for not very impressive results.
  • ...It is excruciatingly slow. You might easily spend a half-hour to trim half of your face, if not more.

Still, in an emergency you might find this a useful fall-back.

  • I'd recommend sterilising them first - perhaps by dipping in alcohol or TCP? (And then rinsing off, so you don't smell of it!) Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 15:04
  • Wow. That's interesting. I was thinking about opening a new MY question for nail-clippers, so that 6591's answer has a place.... now that you've answered, I might have to. Thanks!
    – Shokhet
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 20:34
  • And you actually tried it....talk about the Science :^) ....I wish I could give you another +1, just for that.
    – Shokhet
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 20:35
  • 1
    Here's the MY question: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/50513/5323. I left 6591 a link to it also, hopefully he'll repost his previous answer, which would provide you a better Mi Yodeya location to link to .....thanks again! :)
    – Shokhet
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 20:50
  • Yeah, I have half of a mustache right now, for Science. Gonna finish shaving with a normal razor later, but first I gotta take care of some business at city hall. Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 21:35

Depending on how full your beard is, you might be able to try waxing it for 1 to 5 minutes. You can also try making a homemade hair removal cream (or you can buy some).


  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice or molasses
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Combine ingredients
  • Cool in a fridge in an airtight container
  • Apply to face for 5 to 10 minutes

Scrape off with wax spatula

Both of these methods can be painful, so if you have low pain tolerance, use a painkiller.

  • 2
    "Both of these methods can be painful, so if you have low pain tolerance, use a painkiller." - O.o sounds dangerous Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 3:13
  • How long should you apply to the face, because the answer doesn't say.
    – Pobrecita
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 3:43
  • @iliveunderawesomerock Edited answer
    – michaelpri
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 3:51
  • 3
    Actually removing stubbles with wax is not possible, they need to be a bit longer for that. In addition this procedure when used on the face is not only painful but may lead to sever irriations and inflammations of the skin.
    – Takkat
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 9:02

Want your beard gone without touching a blade? Consider


In threading, a thin (cotton or polyester) thread is doubled, then twisted. It is then rolled over areas of unwanted hair, plucking the hair at the follicle level. Unlike tweezing, where single hairs are pulled out one at a time, threading can remove short lines of hair.


It is also used as a method of removing unwanted hair on the entire face and upper lip area.

wikipedia.org: Threading_(epilation)

  • That link refers to the removal of eyebrow hair — does it cope with the much thicker and more firmly embedded beard hair?
    – gidds
    Commented Jan 8 at 21:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.