Forget about “boxers or briefs,” “jocks or nerds,” or any of the other perennial debates. There are really just two types of guys: those who use manual razors and those who use electric shavers.
There’s very little crossover between the two groups, perhaps excepting devotees of electric shavers who use a straight razor when traveling because they don’t want to carry adapters or converters. There are really no grounds for debate over which method of shaving is best; each has its clear pros and cons. Manual razors can shave closer but require more “work” and are more likely to cut or nick, whilst electric models are far more convenient but still can’t deliver as close a shave despite continual improvements in technology.
For those who favor the latter, marketing claims often make it difficult to choose the best electric shaver. “Cross-cutting actions!” “Lift and cut!” “Three (or four, or five) way shaving!” Without a degree in physics – or at least a lot of studying and lost brain cells – it’s impossible for a guy who simply wants a good shave to understand which technologies really mean a closer one, and which are simply hype.
That’s why we’re here. We’ve checked out all of the best shavers for men on the market to come up with our list of the ten which really deserve consideration.
|Product Name||Max use per charge||Blades/Heads||Wet/Dry Rating||Our Rating|
|Braun Series 7 790-cc-4||50 minutes||2 Foil Blades|
|Braun Series 5 5030s||50 minutes||2 Foil Blades|
|Philips Shaver Series 9000||50 minutes||3 Rotary Blades|
|Braun Series 9 9095cc||50 minutes||4 Foil Blades|
|Philips Series 7000||50 minutes||3 Rotary Blades|
|Panasonic ES-LV95-S811||45 minutes||5 Foil Blades|
|Panasonic ES-LV65||45 minutes||5 Foil Blades|
|Philips SensoTouch RQ1175/17||50 minutes||3 Rotary Blades|
|Braun CoolTec CT2cc||45 minutes||3 Foil Blades|
|Braun Series 7 745||50 minutes||2 Foil Blades|
The cliché that dominates the real estate world is “Location, location, location.” The equivalent phrase to explain the advantage of electric razors is “Convenience, convenience, convenience.” An electric shaver generally won’t deliver as perfect a shave as a manual razor. But it requires no pre-shave, lathering or other preparation (unless you’re partial to wet shaving); you just plug in or charge the shaver and off you go. When you’re finished you put it down and walk away. Blades only need to be changed occasionally instead of regularly, and many electric models are inexpensive enough that they can simply be thrown out and replaced if they develop serious mechanical issues.
The real test of an electric shaver is the closeness of its shave, of course, and that’s partially dependent on whether the razor is a foil or rotary model. The floating heads in foil shavers are slightly better at following the contours of a man’s face so the cutters behind the foil can do their work. The less-flexible floating heads on rotary shavers aren’t far behind in performance, but usually do lose the battle by a whisker (sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun).
For these reasons, the biggest choice for a buyer to make is whether to go with a foil or rotary model. As we’ve mentioned, foil shavers generally get closer to the skin to deliver a closer shave than do rotary razors, so the feel and performance of a foil one is somewhat similar to the experience of shaving with a blade. They’re also a better choice for sensitive skin because the foils stop the shaving heads from making direct skin contact. On the other hand, a rotary razor will take care of long hairs more easily, and will be able to do a better job on your face’s “nooks and crannies” because its heads all move independently from one another, even though the shave itself may not be quite as close overall.
Engineers are constantly developing new approaches to improve the closeness of an electric shave and we consider them in reviewing the razors on our list – but we’re much more concerned with what your face will feel and look like once the razor is turned off. In other words: “performance, performance, performance.” Or as some people might put it, “comfort, comfort, comfort.”
We check out many other factors as well. Rotary shavers are usually quieter and simpler to clean than their foil brethren, but noise and ease of cleaning definitely come into play in our overall review of a razor. Some of the features that can add to the value of an electric shaver are the length of time it takes to charge their batteries, whether the razor can be used either in corded or uncorded mode and if there’s a quick-charge function, the quality of the pop-up trimmer, and the presence of niceties like auto-shutoff for the charging function and a low-battery warning of some sort. The ergonomic design of an electric shaver can also matter, since manoeuvring a razor around the face for several minutes – and reaching those hard-to-reach areas – can be difficult if your hand is cramping up.
Wet/dry capability is something that’s important to many people buying an electric razor. Some of today’s models can be used either in their traditional fashion (“dry” shaving) or in combination with shaving cream or lotion (“wet” shaving). These so-called wet/dry shavers are waterproof, so they can also be used in the shower.
Once the foil/rotary choice has been made, all of the other factors and features can be considered – but the most important consideration is how your face feels when you turn the shaver off. That’s the bottom line in making a decision, and what plays the biggest role in our reviews.
This German company is famed for its outstanding foil razors and the 790cc is a perfect example of Braun quality. It may cost more than the electric shaver you’d grab off the shelf at your local store but you’ll immediately notice the difference; this razor shaves more hair in less time. The secrets to the 790cc’s performance are its “OptiFoil” technology that provides one of the closest shaves you can get from an electric shaver, and intelligent sonic technology that increases the shaver’s power when encountering denser hair. There’s a fully-pivoting head and a “middle trimmer” that lifts and cuts hair that lies flat on the face, along with three modes of operation (extra sensitive, normal and intense) that allow you to personalise your shave. The 790cc is waterproof and comes with a one-hour clean-and-charge system that cleans, lubricates and dries the razor as it recharges. It’s a bit noisy, but one of the best foil shavers for men you can find even though it’s only a three-blade model.
What’s in a name? In the case of this Braun shaver, very little; the Pulsonic is almost exactly the same razor as the 790-cc just described above, complete with OptiFoil and sonic technology. The only differences: the 790 is all silver in colour whilst the 745 is silver and black, and the 790’s charging station has a “cleaning status” LED indicator not present on the 745. You’ll get the same great shaver either way, so choose whichever one you can find at a better price – unless the colour really matters to you.
The Series 5 razors were considered state-of-the-art until the 7 and 9 models were released, but they’re still terrific shavers and can usually be found at lower prices than their “bigger brothers.” The 5030s doesn’t have the OptiFoil and intelligent sonic technologies of the Series 7 razors, nor the personalisation settings. It does, however, include the fully-flexible head with floating foils and the middle trimmer to lift and cut flat hair, although you’ll have to purchase the clean-and-charge system separately. Most importantly, it provides a shave that’s almost as close and satisfying as the 790cc. If you’re not one of those men with a “problem beard,” you should find the final results just about equal.
This is the first wet/dry razor on our list, and also our first rotary model. The Series 9000 is a relatively new arrival on the scene – but it immediately won the “best new shaver” award at the GQ Grooming Awards right after its release. This shaver is designed extremely well, with a very comfortable ergonomic handle, and eight-position “contour detect technology” allowing the three floating blades able to pivot individually and the head to pivot in any direction. This ability to fit the contour of the face, when added to the lift-and-cut function of the razor, provides a shave that’s quite close, perhaps the best in the rotary category and approaching the closeness of a foil model. It is incredibly quiet, comes with a SmartClean system similar to Braun’s clean-and-charge, and charges in an hour. There’s just one drawback: the trimmer doesn’t pop up, but has to be swapped with the shaving head whenever you want to use it.
Earlier we mentioned the Series 9, the latest iteration of their terrific foil shavers. The biggest differences between the 7 and the 9 are that the latter has much more power (40,000 oscillations per minute instead of 10,000) for a faster shave on thicker hair, there are two middle trimmers, and its sleeker, slimmer head is able to flex in even more ways to cut even closer. Everything else, like OptiFoil and sonic technology and the charging station, remains the same (other than the price, of course). What makes the 9095cc stand out, though, is that it is a fully waterproof wet/dry model so you can use it with or without shaving cream and take it into the shower if you’d like. It’s Braun’s highest-end wet and dry shaver, and it’s a great one.
The Philips S7370 is similar to the Series 9000 shaver described earlier in two important ways: it’s a rotary-head model, and it’s a wet/dry razor. It’s different in two other important ways: as an earlier model you’ll usually be able to find it at a lower price, and it’s specifically designed for sensitive skin. The blades on the S7370 have “comfort rings” containing a powder-like, low-resistance microbead coating which allow the them to almost slide across easily-irritated skin without creating burns or rashes. The head assembly flexes in five ways (compared to eight with the Series 9000) and the precision cutting system gives a close dry or wet shave that’s quite close to the one you’ll get from the higher-level model. For sensitive faces, it’s a good choice.
Here’s our first wet/dry foil shaver, and we’ll get the negatives out of the way first. The LV95-811 is noisy, and it can give you a pretty good razor burn until you get used to it. But that second negative is really a positive for most users; this Panasonic gets extremely close to your skin because of its five blades (most Brauns only have three) and the “intelligent” sensor that ramps up the speed when encountering thick hair. That allows the LV95 to deliver what’s arguably the closest shave any electric razor can offer. The swivel isn’t quite as impressive as on the higher-level Brauns, but the results are the proof of one great razor. It comes with a cleaning and charging station, charging takes about an hour, and the illuminated LED display shows battery life, shaving time and even when it’s time to change the foils or blades.
As you’d probably guess, the LV65 is a lower-level model than the LV95 we’ve just looked at. However, they are very similar electric shavers; the only major differences are that the LV65 has a lesser version of Panasonic’s intelligent sensor, and it doesn’t come with the cleaning and charging station. It shaves just as well, though, unless you have a very heavy beard – in which case the LV95 would be the better bet.
The words “SensoTouch” and “Gyroflex” in the name of this razor might make you think it’s the ultimate Philips shaver. Actually, it’s a step down from the Series 7000 model we’ve reviewed, but it’s a darn good rotary razor for a lower price. This is another wet/dry shaver, with a lift-and-cut feature to cut hairs that are close to the skin and low-friction blade surfaces to minimise irritation. The heads only flex two ways, and it doesn’t have all the power of higher-priced razors. But it gives a good shave, particularly on sensitive faces.
We finish with an interesting model which doesn’t just minimise irritation and burn with smooth blades; it uses a thermoelectric ceramic element to cool the skin whenever desired, activated simply by touching a button. The three blades do their job well, even though there’s no special technology like the features found on the Series 7 and 9 models. You’ll get a very good shave instead of a great one – but it’s much easier on sensitive skin. (There’s also just a charging cradle instead of a cleaning station.)
Now that you have all the information you need to shop for the best electric shaver, you certainly realise that not every razor is “the best” for everyone. Thick beards vs. lighter growth, sensitive vs. tougher skin, a challenging “profile” vs. an easy-to-shave face, wet/dry preferences – men’s needs vary greatly. Every one of the electric shavers on our rundown, whether it’s a foil or rotary model, will be the “best” electric shaver for some of our readers.
The explanations and reviews we’ve provided, though, should make it a much easier task to sift through all of the fancy names and marketing fluff to select the best electric razor for that face that stares back at you from the mirror each morning. Shave carefully!