Whether you’re buying your first electric shaver or upgrading from an older razor, it can be challenging to choose between the dizzying array of models. This guide will help you decide which features are most important to you and help you narrow down your choices. Whether you’re choosing between rotary or foil, wet or dry, or Braun or Norelco, keep reading to find the best choice for you!
Jump Straight to the Recommendations
I like to think that there is a spectrum of men’s shaving habits. On one end you’ll find badger brushes and “safety” razors. These men take pride in the slow, precise, and therapeutic qualities of a close shave done right. On the other end, you’ll find men who have given up on shaving entirely because they find it a hassle (this spectrum does not include men who want facial hair). Most men fall somewhere between these two extremes, but you probably see yourself closer to one side than the other.
Should You Buy an Electric Razor?
An Argument for Electric Razors
- You’re a busy guy. A good electric razor is extremely versatile with the biggest advantage being dry shaving. In fact, I find that I get a better shave with my electric razor when my face is completely dry before a shower. However, I can shave anywhere. I can shave at a stoplight, in my office before a meeting, or in the shower (if you get a properly waterproof model). Just as importantly, it only takes a couple minutes to shave. Without having to take the time to wet your face, lather, and shave in slow strips, you can get the job done in a fraction of the time.
- You’re tired of razor cuts. While you can still get razor burn with an electric razor, you’re much less likely to cut small bumps like zits or moles. Any kind of shaving can be a challenge for sensitive skin, but I have found that a high quality rotary electric razor can offer many benefits.
An Argument for Standard Razors and Gel
- You want a really close shave. Though electric razors have continued to get better, it’s still challenging to get a shave that is as smooth and long lasting as a good Gillette Fusion ProGlide Razor, Mach3 Razor, or Mach3 Turbo Razor. These multi-blade razors are able to lift the hairs and even clip the hair a little below the surface meaning that the shave will last longer. Some electric razors attempt to do it as well, but it’s hard to beat a good, careful shave with multi-blade razor and a little shaving gel or cream.
- You aren’t willing to spend a lot of money. Electric razors come in many varieties and at many price points, but most of them are junk. If you want to have a great experience with an electric razor, you’ll want to spend a little more to do it right. You will also need to buy replacement shaving heads about once a year. That being said, a high quality, multi-blade razor can quickly get just as expensive if you have to frequently change blades.
The Verdict: Go with the Electric Shaver
A great, fast shave beats a perfect shave any day! Though I occasionally still pull out the shaving gel and my Gillette Fusion ProGlide before a date, I rely on my electric shaver every other day of the year. It’s fast and effective, and I can use it anywhere. I strongly recommend electric shavers for busy guys on the go.
How Does an Electric Shaver Work?
Electric razors work more like scissors than standard razors. With your traditional razor, the blade cuts through each hair as it scrapes past. In an electric razor, the blades cut hair when they shear against a metal grating where the hair passes through but skin doesn’t. This acts like a lightning fast pair of scissors as it shaves all the hair that passes through the metal grating.
Foil vs Rotary Electric Shavers
You can find electric razors in either a rotary or foil style, but they both work in the same fundamental way described above. The difference is in the type of metal grating used to grab hair. In a foil razor, there are many rounded blades all aligned under a thin foil comb. As the blades oscillate back and forth, they shear the hair that passes through the domed grating. In a rotary razor, blades spin around a central axis in each head and cut hairs that pass through angled slots in the surface of the head.
Though they fundamentally work the same way on the inside, foil and rotary razors behave differently.
Foil Razors: The long, rounded nature of the foil lends itself well to large areas of skin like the top of your head. If you like the bald look and are looking for a suitable electric razor, you’ll want to go with a foil.
Braun currently uses their OptiFoil system in their higher end razors, and this will provide you with a great, close shave.
Rotary Razor: A good rotary razor with flexible heads is perfect for tight turns like your chin. For the clean-shaven look, you’ll want to go with a rotary razor with flexible heads like the Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D 1250X.
Note for Sensitive Skin: Some men find that foil shavers are better for sensitive skin than rotary shavers. I have personally found the opposite to be the case, but much of it comes down to style and personal preference. That being said, inexpensive foil shavers are often better than inexpensive rotary shavers. In my opinion, the best option for shaving your face is a high end rotary shaver. If your budget is a little tighter, consider a good foil shaver, and you should find good results.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The majority of electric razors are junk that will give you bad razor burn and make you regret your purchase. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- You’ll need some time to adjust. It will take a few tries with your new razor before you feel comfortable, so don’t give up if you buy one and you have trouble. At first, you will probably notice that you get razor burn more than you’re used to, but this will get much better with time. Stay persistent, and exercise your return policy or trial period (the leading brands offer trial periods) if needed.
- Not all electric razors can be used in the shower. Only some of the higher end razors are waterproof. Almost all electric razors are at least water resistant so that you can rinse them off in the sink, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe to use in the shower. You might be able to get away with it for a while, but you will want to buy a true wet/dry electric razor for good long-term use.
Save Money in the Long Run and Buy the Right Razor First
It’s worth the money to buy a good razor. Everyone wants to buy a car with a 500 horsepower that can do 0-60 in 3 seconds, seat the whole family, and get 50 mpg for $25,000. Unfortunately, no car is going to live up to these expectations. Electric razors are the same way.
Early electric razors were all expensive and nearly all junk. Now that technology has trickled down to less expensive razors, the major manufacturers have started introducing really good razors at the top of their lines. Unfortunately, many users buy a cheap one to give it a try, have a negative experience, and never try one of the nice ones.
If you buy a cheap electric razor, you will wish you had a better one every time you get razor burn or leave shallow stubble. Why do I feel so strongly about this? This was me with my first three electric shavers until I finally bought a Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D, and then I was finally happy. I wish I didn’t have all of the prior electric razors sitting in a drawer and I had just saved my money to buy a good one the first time. In a few years, the cheap razors may have the high end features available now, but I wouldn’t bank on it. It costs more to make a good razor, and it’s worth spending more to get a good shave.
The Pauper’s Dime Money Saving Strategy
If you’ve read this far, you’ll know that you want to buy a high end razor, but a lot of the razors are basically the same and use the same cutting head. This means that you really want to buy an electric razor by looking at the cutting heads. As you look at the model line, buy the least expensive razor that takes the nicest cutting head, and you will get the best bang for your buck.
Here’s an example from just the current Philips Norelco lineup:
|Cutting Head||RQ12 / RQ12/52||RQ11 / RQ11/42||HQ8 / HQ8/52||HQ56 / HQ56/2|
|Model Line||SensoTouch 3D||SensoTouch 2D||PowerTouch||6000 Series|
|Model Numbers||1250X, 1250X/40, 1250X/46, 1250X/47 (Cleaning), 1255X, 1260X, 1280X/42 (Cleaning), 1280X/47 (Cleaning), 1280XCC (Cleaning), 1280X (Cleaning), 1290X, 1290X/40||1150X, 1150X/46, 1150X/40, 1160X, 1160X/47, 1160XCC, 1165X/45, 1180X||PT734, PT734/41, PT730, PT730/41, PT725, PT720, PT720/41, AT880, AT830, AT830/41, AT814, AT810, AT810/41||6945, 6945XL, 6945XL/41|
What’s so amazing is that Philips actually produces this many model numbers (many of these are the same razor listed multiple times under the silly naming scheme that alternately includes /##), but they only really offer 4 shaving experiences! That is 8.5 model numbers per cutting head! If you want to get a good deal, find the best sale or lowest price for the best cutting head you can afford with any of these model numbers.
The Cleaning System
Rating: Don’t Buy
My first exposure to a cleaning system for an electric shaver came when I was over at a friend’s house as a kid. I saw a sweet looking electric razor in its cleaning system, and I thought it was one of the manliest, coolest things I had ever seen. With the razor’s smooth lines and the foreboding box of the cleaning system, I knew I wanted to have one of these one day.
I now have one, and I never use it. It currently sits in the original box with a half empty bottle of cleaning solution (the one that came with it), and I have since realized that it isn’t worth any extra hassle. A good electric razor is well enough designed that it can be easily cleaned with water every few shaves. Think about it this way. If this was such a vital component, why doesn’t every razor come with one? The truth is that they are sexy upsells, but they cost money to use (overpriced cleaning solution) and are unnecessary.
Fake Electric Razors
Rating: Don’t Buy
For some inexplicable reason, traditional razors have started getting batteries and vibrators. Steer clear of these! I’m looking at you, Gillette M3 Power Razor, ProGlide Power, and Fusion Power. If you look online for reviews, you will find 5 star ratings calling these battery powered razors the greatest razor ever made. You are welcome to go with these reviews, but you will quickly find your new razor eating a hole in your pocket as you pay $35/8 count box (MSRP is $55!).
|Sure Signs of a Gimmick:
Gillette is more of a marketing company than a technology company, and they work very hard to sell more expensive razors to consumers as they stand in the convenience store aisle. There is nothing wrong with this, and they are very effective at upselling their customers. That being said, I don’t want my readers to get ripped off. Fusion ProGlide Power razors cartridges cost less than 10 cents to manufacture, but they charge almost $5/blade in a 4 pack for the power version. Read this fantastic article in the UK’s DailyMail.
The Verdict: If you want an electric experience, stick with real electric razors. For the price of a Gillette M3 Power razor with replacement cartridges over the course of a year or two, you could have easily purchased a high end electric shaver and a replacement head. They cost more upfront, but you’ll be glad you made the investment.
How to Buy an Electric Razor for Christmas, for a Birthday, or for Father’s Day
Unlike many mens toys, there’s less real choice in electric razors. Only three companies, Braun, Philips, and Panasonic, are really competitive, and the quality of each of their product lines pretty much goes top to bottom. As I demonstrated earlier with the cutting heads segment, most of the product differentiation comes in the form of chrome. If you’re buying an electric razor for a holiday, go with one of my recommendations below, and if you’re disappointed, exercise your return or trial privileges.
The Caveat: If you’re buying an electric razor as a gift, be sure to buy it immediately before the holiday! If you want your favorite guy to get the full trial period or return period, you’ll want the receipt to be dated as closely to the holiday as possible.
PHILIPS NORELCO ELECTRIC SHAVERS
SensoTouch 3D vs SensoTouch 2D
SensoTouch 3D Includes: 1250X, 1250X/40, 1250X/46, 1250X/47 (Cleaning), 1255X, 1260X, 1280X/42 (Cleaning), 1280X/47 (Cleaning), 1280XCC (Cleaning), 1280X (Cleaning), 1290X, 1290X/40
SensoTouch 2D Includes: 1150X, 1150X/46, 1150X/40, 1160X, 1160X/47, 1160XCC, 1165X/45, 1180X
Important Note: Functionally speaking, all of the SensoTouch 3D models are the same, and all of the SensoTouch 2D models are the same. The only real difference is in their exterior finish and battery life. Assuming you don’t intend to use your electric razor without any access to power for more than two weeks, battery life differences are irrelevant.
Have in Common
The SensoTouch 3D is clearly superior. Read more comments below under Top Recommendations.
SensoTouch 2D vs PowerTouch with Aquatec and SmartPivot (AT830)
SensoTouch 2D Includes: 1150X, 1150X/46, 1150X/40, 1160X, 1160X/47, 1160XCC, 1165X/45, 1180X
PowerTouch with Aquatec and SmartPivot Includes: AT880, AT830, AT830/41
Important Note: Functionally speaking, all of the SensoTouch 2D models are the same; however, not all of the PowerTouch with Aquatec models are the same. This section only considers the models that have “SmartPivot.”
The Winner: Philips Norelco PowerTouch with Aquatec and SmartPivot AT830 (Click Here for a Deal on Amazon) – It’s cheaper and basically the same shave!
PowerTouch with Aquatec and PowerTouch without Aquatec (Aquatec = Wet/Dry)
Philips also makes razors with the dual precision heads (same cutting head as the SensoTouch 2D and the SmartPivot models) that don’t move back and forth. They still pivot toward the center, but the entire head does not move back and forth.
A Note on the PT720 a.ka. PT720/41
This razor falls in the junk category. It doesn’t even come with the right cutting heads! Fortunately, you can replace the heads to use the real HQ8 heads found on the better models. This model also doesn’t include a trimmer. Spend a few more dollars to buy the PT730 instead.
Norelco 6000 Series
Stay away from junk, entry-level razors. This razor has a junk cutting head, and it doesn’t include a trimmer. This razor isn’t even washable!
Top Recommended Philips Norelco Electric Shavers
I have used this same razor every day for a year and a half, and I couldn’t be happier. This is a top notch razor, and I highly recommend it to friends and family. The separately flexible heads make a big difference on your face, and the styling fits perfectly in your hand. I have previously owned several other shavers by both Philips and Braun, and there is no contest that this is the best shaving experience I have had. This razor has identical core functionality to the 1260X, 1280X (Cleaning), and 1290X without paying more for the extra chrome that you are very unlikely to miss. If you’re still trying to choose which razor to buy, just buy this one. I did, and I couldn’t be happier.
If you’re looking to spend a little less and still get a great shave, the AT830 is a solid blend of features and shaving heads. If you aren’t willing to spend a lot of money on an electric shaver (like the SensoTouch 3D), then the SensoTouch 2D doesn’t have enough added features over the AT830 to justify the extra expense. They both have Aquatec sealing which will let you use it with a shaving gel or in the shower, and they both use the dual precision cutting heads. You may still want to keep setting aside money for a SensoTouch 3D, but this razor will take good care of you in the meantime.
|I would be grateful if you would consider making your purchase through one of the links on this page. You’ll pay the same price, and you can help me make a guide for your next purchase!|
Don’t both buying an electric razor without water sealing. Razors with Aquatec don’t cost that much more, and you’ll be glad to have a razor that is more versatile and can be more easily washed.
A Note on Online Razor Reviews for Entry Level Razors
Reviews on entry level razors have a strong bias because few people who buy a cheap razor have ever owned a nice one. As their first experience with a fast, dry razor, they will see lots of positives, but you simply can’t realize how bad they are if you’ve never tried a quality electric shaver. Tellingly, many of these reviews are still bad. This underscores just how awful entry level electric shavers are!
BRAUN ELECTRIC SHAVERS
Braun has a fairly straightforward product line. They make three shavers, and each one has upsell versions with a fancier screen or accessories. In other words, they make three electric shavers.
|Series 7||Series 5||Series 3|
Braun Series 7 – The Lexus
This is a very technologically advanced razor designed to give a close shave, even when hairs aren’t standing up using their Pulsonic micro-vibration technology. They have put in significant engineering effort to get the most out of a foil shaver, and you won’t be disappointed. This is the best foil razor on the market. If you’ve been thinking about buying a foil razor, just buy a Braun Series 7. They are so good that they’re hard to critique!
Note: Pricing is very unusual on these models. MSRP is very different at 790CC ($270), 760CC ($240), 720S ($200), but they all seem to retail at abot $200. Make sure to check out all the models before you make your purchase! Braun razor models ending in “CC” come with the Clean & Renew cleaning system.
Braun Series 5 – The Toyota
This razor offers almost everything available in the Series 7 but costs a little less. This is a solid choice, and you will get solid results. It doesn’t offer the flashy power of the Series 7, and it might get quite as close of a shave, but it won’t disappoint. Fortunately, Braun included the ActiveLift system on the Series 5 like they did on the Series 7, so this narrows the difference between them considerably.
Braun Series 7 vs Series 5
If you’re wanting to do something nice for yourself or you’re buying a gift, go with the Series 7. The top-notch performance will win you or your favorite guy over, and the luxury will last a long time.
If you’re buying it for yourself, and you’re just looking for a functional shave, the Series 5 will do a great job, and you will save a little money.
Braun Series 3 – The Car You Inherited from Grandma
This model will get you where you need to go, but it’s not particularly flashy. It’s not particularly good either. Underpowered, noisy, and inadequate, you’ll be looking to buy a new one before long. Save your money a little longer to buy a Series 5/7 or go with the Philips Norelco AT830 for a similar price. You’ll be glad you did.
Top Recommended Braun Electric Shavers
For the foil razor lovers out there or those with very sensitive skin, look no further. This is certainly the best foil razor ever made. It’s powerful, good looking, and effective.
If the 760CC is out of your price range, but you’re still looking for a great shave. The 550CC will do everything you need. It’s not quite as luxurious as its big brother, but it has the power and the technology you need to get a close shave.
Philips Norelco and Braun Head to Head
Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D vs Braun Series 7
|I would have to say that I prefer the SensoTouch 3D. For about the same price, the SensoTouch 3D is a fantastic razor, and the flexible heads do an unbeatable job navigating the contours of your face. I shave with my SensoTouch 3D 1250Xevery day, and I don’t miss the foil shaver I used to use. If you’re looking to shave your head, I would recommend the Braun Series 7. The large, smooth areas on your scalp will do very well with a foil shaver, and the Series 7 is the way to go.|
Philips Norelco SensoTouch 2D vs Braun Series 5
|This is a much closer match, and both sides have several advantages. In the end, I prefer rotary shavers, but I would recommend the Braun Series 5 if you have very sensitive skin.
Philips Norelco PowerTouch vs Braun Series 3
|There is no comparison here. The Philips easily wins this race. Buy a PowerTouch with Aquatec AT830, and you will be very glad you did.|
I would be grateful if you would consider making your purchase through one of the links on this page. You’ll pay the same price, and you can help me make a guide for your next purchase!