The Best Electric Shavers
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Having trouble staying on top of ever-increasing prices, razor bumps, and irritated skin when shaving with a disposable or cartridge razor? It may be time to try an electric shaver. No matter if it is your first electric shaver or your upgrade, we have rounded up our favorite models on the market so you can make an informed decision.
How We Chose
In choosing an electric shaver, its shaving performance is the most critical consideration. For a long time, electric shavers were challenging to use compared to razors because it was nearly impossible to get a close shave. However, the gap has closed with the introduction of shaving heads with increased flexibility and cutting capability.
Though electric shavers have improved, you should not expect a razor-close shave. Due to this, we evaluate electric shavers based on their performance relative to other electric shavers and not on how they perform compared to a razor.
Fast and convenient shaving is meaningless if you have to deal with pain during the entire process. In addition, some electric shavers, usually cheap models, give a rough shaving sensation. It is common for people to complain of hair pulling and irritation from shaving the same areas several times.
Foil shavers generally provide the most comfortable shave because they include skin guards to reduce irritation. In recent years, Philips rotary shavers have begun to close the gap. However, we found the foil shavers we tested provided a more comfortable shave despite the recent improvements to some Philips models.
Features & Accessories
If you have done your research, you may have found that electric shavers from the same manufacturer often feature several closely related models. The difference between shaver models often lies in the features and accessories and not the shaving performance they deliver.
The Braun Series 9 shaving line, for example, includes five different models with the same shaving experience but with slightly different accessories. Further, a shaver’s model number can vary depending on where it is sold and not on its features. We, therefore, specifically recommend models that include what we believe to be the right mix of features and accessories.
Like the rest of the devices in our lives, electric shavers continue to become more advanced. For example, some models offer automatic sensing that can adjust the shaver’s power based on how thick your beard is. There are also many models that provide battery and cleaning status information through LEDs or LCDs.
We haven’t found many of these features to improve shaving performance or comfort, but the included accessories do make a difference in the overall electric shaving experience.
Most of the best electric shavers cannot be used while plugged in and charging. This is because many of them can be used both wet and dry. For this reason, the manufacturers do not charge them when there is a possibility of wet use.
Most of our picks for the best electric shaver offer between 40-50 minutes of battery life, compared to budget models where batteries often last 30 minutes or less. Battery life is usually eight to twelve shavings, which is enough for short trips. Most shavers also offer a quick charge option that gives you enough battery life for one shave.
We recommend picking a model with a clean and charge station. Unless you intend to clean and lubricate your shaver frequently, these clean and charge stations ensure the best performance from your shaver. The price difference is usually reasonable, and the cleaning cartridges are easy to find.
Some electric shavers include pop-up trimmers built into the body, while others include attachable trimmers. Having a pop-up trimmer means you don’t need to carry a separate component to complete your shave.
OUR TOP PICK
Braun Series 7
The Braun Series 7 delivers the electric shave most people want. This well-built shaver gives a smooth, close shave, long enough battery life, and the right features to make it an excellent choice for most people.
Why did we choose it?
Our pick for the best electric shaver is the Braun Series 7. Since its release in 2010, the Series 7 has been one of the top-selling electric shavers. With its powerful performance, excellent reliability, and price drop, this shaver is the obvious choice for most people. There are now three generations of the Series 7, but all offer one of the best shaving experiences on the market today.
New Models of the Series 7
In early 2020, Braun released an updated version of the Series 7. While the performance remains similar, we feel the older model provided a slightly more comfortable shave and is better built. Typically the newer models are cheaper, but most people will keep their shaver for years, so the extra investment in the better models feels justified.
If you want to read a full breakdown of the differences between old and new models, check out our full Braun Series 7 Review.
Braun Series 7
Braun Series 7
Even though the Braun Series 9 and Panasonic Arc5 offer slightly better shaving performance, we found the Series 7 to be the best balance between price and performance. The Series 7 is powerful enough to shave quickly and offers a shaving head that contours around the face to minimize the number of passes required. While the shaver is both wet & dry capable, we recommend using it with a dry face to maximize performance.
In our experience, using the Series 7 with a 2- or 3-day stubble isn’t an issue, but anything beyond that should be trimmed with a trimmer first.
Since its release, the Series 7 has been the standard for electric shavers when it comes to comfort. Today, it is still among the most comfortable electric shavers we have used. Only the Braun Series 9 delivers a more comfortable shave, and that is because Braun took what worked for the Series 7 and made some slight improvements.
Features & Accessories
The Series 7 has all of the features you would expect from a modern electric shaver. It has an LCD indicator letting you know the amount of battery remaining, adjustable speeds, and a clean and charge station to keep your shaver clean and lubricated. There is also pop-up trimmer to clean up around the sideburns and neck area. If you would prefer to save a few dollars, there is a Series 7 model without the clean and charge station included.
The Braun Series 7 delivers excellent shaving performance, great shaving comfort, and all the features you need at an attractive price. Since the release of the Braun Series 9 the price of the Series 7 has dropped while remaining one of the best shavers on the market.
Related: Braun Series 7 Review
Braun Series 9
We believe the Braun Series 9 is the best electric shaver currently on the market. The shaving performance, comfort, and features are unmatched in the Braun shaving lineup. It is the only shaver we have tested that can power through 2-3 day stubble comfortably.
Why did we choose it?
Braun’s biggest challenge when introducing the Series 9 was improving the shaving performance enough to justify upgrading from the Series 7. Braun was able to deliver a shaving experience that is an upgrade from the Series 7 in nearly every way.
The Series 9 features a more modern design, upgraded shaving head, improved clean and charge station and overall delivers an experience that feels premium. The shaving performance is excellent and the features are well thought out. The only reason the Series 9 isn’t our top pick is because most people will be satisfied with the performance of the Series 7 and not feel the need to spend the extra on the Series 9.
If the you are looking for the absolute best electric shaver on the market, we would highly recommend the Braun Series 9.
The Braun Series 9 had no trouble shaving through our 3 day stubble and delivering a consistent shave day in and day out. The Series 9 shaving head features an extra cutting element over the Series 7 which allows you complete your shave slightly quicker than the Series 7.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to the Braun Shaver Lineup
The Panasonic Arc5 tends to give a slightly closer shave, but the Series 9 is much easier to get consistent results from. The Series 9 is able to contour around all areas of the face while the Arc5’s larger head makes it difficult to shave around the mustache and neck line. We prefer the ease of the shave to the slight advantage the Arc5 may have in the closeness.
Simply put, the Series 9 is the most comfortable electric shaver on the market today. The flexible head, built in skin guard, and excellent shaving performance result in minimal pulling and skin irritation.
We have found that the discomfort from electric shaving is usually caused by having to repeatedly shave over the same areas to remove all hair. The Series 9 shaving head remains cool and minimizes the amount of times you have to go over the same areas with the extra cutting element compared to the Series 7.
Features & Accessories
The accessories included with the Braun shaving lines tend to be fairly standard and the Series 9 is no exception. A travel case, cleaning brush, and for the model we selected, cleaning station is included.
The Series 9 clean and charge station includes active drying, a feature not included with any of Braun’s other shaving series. The drying can be effective if you would like to clean the shaver right before use.
The 50 minute battery life is similar to the Series 7. Like most wet & dry shavers you cannot charge the Series 9 while using it, but a quick charge option is available.
There is a Series 9 model without the clean and charge station available as well.
The Braun Series 9 is well built, delivers the best shave, and includes top of the line advanced features that make it our upgrade pick. If it falls within your budget, the shaving speed and versatility is enough to justify the premium over the Series 7.
Related: Braun Series 9 Review
BEST ROTARY SHAVER
Philips Norelco Shaver 9700
The Norelco Shaver 9700 delivers the best shave of any rotary shavers we have reviewed. The increased flexibility helps contour better to the neck and jawline. We believe most people will prefer a shave from the Series 7 or Series 9, but if you know you want a rotary shaver, then the Shaver 9700 is an excellent choice.
Why did we choose it?
We don’t recommend rotary shavers for most people unless you already have a rotary shaver or are specifically looking for one. We have struggled to find a shaver that delivers a close shave or avoids the hair pulling sensation that is typical of rotary shavers.
Despite the rotary shaver technology not being our preference, the Norelco Shaver 9700 is the best rotary shaver that we have reviewed. The Shaver 9700 delivers most of the same features the Braun Series 7 and Series 9 provide with a different shaving technology.
In the past we would recommend a rotary shaver for people who typically shave every couple days because they tend to be better at shaving longer stubble. That gap has closed considerably with the Braun Series 7 and Series 9 to the point that the Norelco 9700 is not noticeably better at shaving longer stubble than those models.
The closeness of a shave from a rotary shaver will not compete with those of a foil shaver or razor but we were impressed with the shaving performance of the Norelco 9700. Compared to other rotary models we have reviewed the Norelco 9700 delivered a closer shave and better contoured around the neck area than cheaper models.
If you are looking to upgrade or replace a rotary shaver, the Norelco 9700 delivers the best shave we have had from a rotary shaver.
One major complaint from rotary shavers is the feeling that the hair is being pulled and cut rather than shaved from the face. We didn’t get that feeling nearly as much while reviewing the Norelco 9700, but around the neck area we could feel some places where the shaver felt it was tugging.
We don’t think that the Norelco 9700, or any rotary shaver, is the right choice for anyone with sensitive skin. The shave feels harsher and it is hard to justify choosing a harsher shave vs a more comfortable and closer shave you can get with our other choices.
Features & Accessories
Unlike the Braun Series 7 and Series 9, the Norelco 9700 uses an attachable trimmer vs the pop-up trimmers in the Braun models. We prefer the pop-up trimmers to avoid having to take the trimmer head off during each shave and an attachment is one more piece you can lose.
The Norelco 9700 includes a cleaning and charging station that operates very similar to the Braun models. The 50 minute battery life is nearly identical to the Series 7 and Series 9, even down to the quick charge option.
The Philips Norelco Shaver 9700 is the best rotary shaver we have reviewed. While we don’t recommend it to most people, if you are seeking out a rotary shaver the Norelco 9700 should be your choice.
Electric Shavers Buying Guide
Rotary or Foil Shaver
We have already written at length about the difference between the two shaver styles, but here is a quick recap to help you decide between the two styles. Braun and Panasonic both produce foil shavers while Philips specializes in rotary shaving technology.
Foil shavers typically provide the closest and fastest shave. They are best for users who will be shaving every day who are looking for the closet shave an electric shaver can provide.
In general rotary shavers are better at shaving longer and thicker hair than their foil competitors. If you shave every couple days or have a coarse beard, you may benefit from using a rotary shaver. Typically they are slightly quieter and slower than foil shavers.
Electric Shaver Costs
An electric shaver is truly an investment that will benefit your wallet for years. Unlike manual razors which you may use for a month at most, electric shavers are designed to last five years or more with cleaning and maintenance. Braun, Panasonic, and Philips all offer 2-year warranties, and some shavers come with a money back guarantee allowing you to return the shaver if you are not happy with the electric shaving experience.
Electric Shaver FAQ
How long do electric shavers last?
If you maintain your electric shaver by cleaning and lubricating it and replacing the shaving head on schedule you can expect these shavers to last 5 or more years. While there is no guarantee for any product lasting that long, these models are well built and have been on the market for years.
How often should I replace the shaving head?
Manufacturers typically recommend replacing the shaving head on your electric shaver every 18-24 months. This is based on how often you shave and if you are maintaining the shaving head correctly. If you shave every other day, clean the shaver, and lubricate it regularly you can make the shaving head last longer than the recommended replacement timing.
If you are noticing the shaving performance starting to degrade and you have maintained the shaving head, it may be time to replace the shaving head.
How expensive are replacement shaving heads?
On average replacement shaving heads cost between $20 and $60, depending on the manufacturer and shaver model.
How expensive are replacement cleaning cartridges?
If you buy a model with a clean and charge station you will need to purchase cleaning cartridges for the station. Both Braun and Philips cleaning cartridges are available on Amazon. Cartridges are usually around $5 and can be cheaper if you buy in bulk.