Eventually, though, curiousity won out, and I bought a Gillette Sensor II cartridge razor. Oh, what a difference! There was more work involved (getting my face wet, using shaving cream, the clean-up afterwards), but it was a much closer shave than I'd been used to. I did manage to cut myself on occasion, but it wasn't as bad as I'd feared, and my technique improved over time.
The first time I shaved my head, it was with that Sensor II. Soon after, I bought my first Mach 3, and I was even happier - less irritation, and a closer shave! Over the years I would find better shaving lubricants than the Edge Gel I'd started with, making for an even better experience.
The thing is, I'm a lazy, lazy man, and proper wet-shaving takes a bit of effort. A couple of years ago, I received a Panasonic wet/dry electric shaver for Christmas, and started using it as my primary shaving device. The time I spent on the actual shaving portion of the process was about the same (or even slightly longer), but there was essentially no preparation required, and clean-up was a breeze.
The Panasonic was a big step up from the older Braun and Philishave models I'd used a decade before, but it still wasn't as close as a blade shave, especially on my face - there's an area near my Adam's apple that the electrics usually miss completely, and the surface of my head is never completely smooth (though it's close).
So now I'm back to wet-shaving with a cartridge razor (my trusty Mach 3, naturally), and though it is extra work, I'm loving the extremely smooth results.
The wet-shave/dry-shave debate is a very common one: what you choose depends on what's important to you at the time. For more discussion, check out these links:
Luke at The Aspiring Gentleman discusses the issue with a list of pros and cons for each side (he focuses on wet shaving with a double-edge razor and more traditional shaving implements rather than a modern cartridge razor, but the comparisons are mostly relevant to both).
MenScience has a nice article with pros and cons laid out as well. In this case, double-edge shaving and cartridge razor shaving are each given their own list to contrast with electric shaving.What's your experience? Leave a comment below and let us know!