Last updated on November 28th, 2018 by Garrick Dee
Men have 5 options if they want to shave – cartridge, disposable, safety, straight or electric shaver.
The default option would be using a cartridge or disposable.
These razors are the cheapest in terms of upfront costs and have shallowest learning curve.
This is why lots of men use this.
But you’ll soon find out that using these products can be expensive in the long run. It’s also a source of irritation and razor burn because it has multiple blades.
Another option and something that we’ll focus on this article would be electric razors.
These tools are an epitome of convenience for men looking to shave but don’t have much time to do so.
It will not cut close but you’ll get a pretty okay shave in less than 10 minutes.
Over the years, the electric shaver has evolved and the latest best variants will shave pretty close thanks to better blade technology.
These will also run as much as 50 minutes thanks to the latest Li-Ion battery technology.
It’s now a viable option to a cartridge or safety razor if you don’t mind not having a very close shave.
The latest models have cleaning stations that make cleaning as simple as pushing a button.
These tools come in a wide array of options. Some utilize a foil design and others using a rotary head, some have cleaning stations while others don’t have it.
All of the products featured here cordless and have run time upwards of 50 minutes so you can bring these along when you travel.
Panasonic ES-LV95 Arc5
6 features to look at
First a disclaimer, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all electric shaver that will cover all your needs. It’s a game of compromises.
There are two types of electric shavers – a rotary and foil. Each of this shavers has its own strengths and weaknesses.
For instance, a foil razor will cut closer compared to a rotary but it won’t be able to handle close quarters as well.
A rotary would be better suited for men with sharper facial features because it adapt to these contours much better.
If you want to know more about the difference between these two, you can read this in-dept guide here.
Don’t expect this to cut as close as a safety razor so keep expectations in check.
The name of the game here is speed and convenience. So I’ll start by breaking each feature down.
1. Run and Charging Time
Modern electric shavers are cordless which means its powered by a battery. And if you ask me, this is a no brainer option.
This is an important feature to look at especially when you travel a lot.
In the variants that I will feature, run times will vary between 45 and 60 minutes.
And these will charge in one hour so it does not take a long time.
One thing to look for is the quick charging feature that will give the razor enough juice to do one shave.
It usually takes 5 minutes to do a quick charge. This feature is universal to the top brands like Braun and Philips.
2. Type of battery
Older models use a nickel cadmium (or a NiCad)battery while newer ones (most of them) use a lithium ion battery.
NiCad batteries are notorious to fading and won’t last as long as a Li-Ion battery. Between the two, I’d prefer something that has a Li-Ion battery. These will take less time to recharge, run long and most importantly, last longer.
3. Foil vs Rotary
Electric shavers come in two different varieties – foil and rotary.
On the left is a rotary shaver, on the right is a foil shaver
These products have been in the market for close to a century.
A quick search at the history annals reveal that Jason Schick invented the first razor (a foil razor).
A foil razor utilizes oscillating blades that move back and forth under a thin sheet of metal that protect your skin from direct contact from the blades.
Foil razors have a rectangular shaped head (similar to a safety razor) that work great on flat surfaces. And if you read consumer reviews one of its biggest downsides is it struggles with contours because of the rectangular head.
Brands like Braun equipped their products with a pivoting feature that pivots from side to side. But this pivoting action still won’t adapt as well as a rotary.
While these work great on flat areas like the cheek, it will struggle when you try to shave around the nose and chin area.
Also this type of razor is noisier compared to a rotary.
Rotary shavers have a much different design that their foil counterpart.
Instead of using a side to side movement utilized by foil shavers, it uses three round discs that spin around and cut your beard.
Think of it as a miniature version of a weed wacker. These products have evolved since Philips introduced them in the 1960s. Modern variants have heads that flex inwards and outwards to follow the contours of your face.
The whole head also can pivot 360 degrees to give it even more flexibility.
Rotary shavers will work best in tight areas like the mustache and chin area. Foil shavers work best in wide open spaces and will generally cut closer.
So you will have to weigh your options and compromise on what features rank higher in your priority list.
Different technique needed
Also the way you shave with these razors will vary.
If you are using a foil head, use a straight up and down or left to right pattern.
Rotary heads require a different technique. Instead of using a back and forth motion you will have to a circular clockwise motion.
If you use the same side to side motion it will be a miserable experience with a lot of pulling and tugging – and a lot of ingrown hair.
4. Wet or dry shave?
The term “wet and dry shave” is a source of confusion for a lot of men.
What does this mean?
Wet shaving isn’t shaving under running water inside the shower. And I wouldn’t blame you if you thought that it is because I did the same when I first heard about it.
The term “wet shaving” simply means shaving over a layer of shaving cream. It adds a layer of protection and lubrication that prevents irritation and moisturizes the skin.
And this isn’t exclusive to safety razors. You also have the option to wet shave with an electric razor.
Men with sensitive skin would appreciate having the option to wet shave because of it reduces friction on their faces.
Applying shaving cream in itself is an art form worth mastering because it is one of the very few ways men can exfoliate their faces and relax.
Having an electric razor that allows you to wet shave is a godsend for men with really sensitive skin because it provides the best of both worlds – lubrication from the shaving cream and the speed from an electric razor.
5. Travel Lock
Travel lock is a feature that when activate prevents the razor from turning on inside your luggage.
This is a great feature to have with all the paranoia that goes with air travel. The worst thing that could happen is an TSA agent going through your luggage when the electric razor suddenly buzzes in the luggage.
If your razor does not have any travel lock make sure to place it inside a travel case and store it near the top.
6. Built-in Trimmer
A built-in trimmer is a tool that helps you trim and shape your sideburns and goatee area.
There are two general types – a pop-up trimmer that pops out from the back of the razor or a plug-in type that is a separate accessory.
So far based on my reviews nearly all foil shavers use a pop-up trimmer while rotary shavers have a separate beard trimmer that you attach in place of the shaving head.
What are the best electric razors in 2018 (and beyond)?
Finding the right electric shaver that will fit you should all boil down to your needs.
There are a lot of factors to consider such as skin sensitivity, facial hair (coarse or fine), routine, frequency and budget.
Their products are second to none and have been consistently among the top sellers in Amazon for years.
The Series 7-790cc may not be the latest but it does provide a lot of value for your dollar thanks to features not found in other electric razors at a price that will not break the wallet.
The difference you can use to buy replacement foils and cleaning cartridges.
This razor performs well enough for blogs like Apartment Therapy and The Sweet Home to call it the best electric razor and we feel the same way here.
Let’s look at the features of this mid-priced foil shaver
- 9 inches long and appox. 3 inches wide
- Weighs around 2.7 pounds
- 5 shaving modes – from sensitive to turbo mode
- Wet/dry: No
- Power: Lithium Ion battery
- Run time: 50 minutes
- Quick charge: Yes
- Recharge: 60 minutes
- 2 year warranty
One of the features that stand out is the OptiFoil cutting heads that Braun claims to be able to cut stubble as short as 0.05mm and Gregory Ham from Apartment Therapy recons that you don’t need more than two passes to get a close shave.
It also comes with a cleaning station that automatically cleans the shaver for you. But if you want to save from buying cleaning fluid every month you could also clean this manually using running water and cleaning brush that comes along with it.
Not for wet shaving
Despite being waterproof, the 790cc isn’t compatible for wet shaving.
Of all the foil razors in the Braun lineup the Series 5 has this capability.
Flexible Foil Shaver Heads
The two outer cutting elements of the 790cc are flexible. It pivots from side to side allowing it to maintain contact with the skin.
The ActiveLift Trimmer at the middle lifts up flat lying hairs usually found in your neck and chin area to give you a closer shave in these normally trouble spots.
To shave heavy growth areas, the 790cc utilizes what they call sonic technology that creates up to 10,000 micro-vibrations per second. Micro vibrations supposedly help the blades cut closer.
The bottom line:
If you value a close shave over anything else then the Braun Series 7-790 is a great option without having to spend over $200. The downside though is it does not give you the option to wet shave but if you prefer doing a dry shave then you have a winner in your hands.
The Series 9 from Braun is the most sophisticated and advanced electric shaver in the market to date with a flexible shaving head and four cutting elements. Yes you heard that right this is the first foil razor in the market with four cutting elements.
What does this mean?
Braun says that this razor can handle 3 day beard growths in record time. The two middle cutting elements act like a comb and facial hair growing in different directions and cut them.
While the Optifoil technology gives you one of the closest shaves you will get in an electric razor.
It also won GQ’s grooming award as the quickest shaver for skin.
All this technology comes at a cost – close to $220. But with all the features you’ll get, it’s worth every penny.
Let’s quickly look at the these features
- Dimension: Approx. 9 inches long and 3 inches wide
- Foil type with 4 fully flexible individual cutting elements
- Wet/dry: No (only the 9093cc and 9095cc has this feature)
- Power: Lithium Ion
- Run time: 50 minutes
- Quick charge: Yes
- Recharge: 60 minutes
- 2-year warrnaty
Clean and Charge station
A high tech razor also should come with a high tech charging dock and the 9090cc has one of the most advanced charging stations in the market today. Not only will it charge the razor but it also deep cleans it using a specialized alcohol-based cleaning solution.
The downside is you will need to replace these cleaning cartridges once every 3 months if you will use it every day and these cartridges will cost around $17 for a pack of four.
The good news is you can also manually clean this razor by removing the shaving head and tapping it against something solid like a table (over a towel of course). It also comes with a cleaning brush you can use to clean the connecting points.
Only a dry shaver
Despite being advertised as a waterproof razor, the 9090cc can only be used for dry shaving. Just in case you prefer wet shaving then opt for the 9095cc that costs around $100++ more. A cheaper option than the 9095cc would be the 9093cc that costs around $20 more than the 9095cc.
One of the neat features I like with this is the ability for you to plug in the cord directly onto the shaver itself. This is a big deal when you travel a lot because the clean and charge station weighs a ton and bring it along with you on a business trip isn’t a really good idea.
The four synchronized cutting elements and lockable flexible head are only a couple of reasons that make the Braun Series 9 9090cc the most advanced electric razor available right now.
The bottom line:
The four synchronized cutting elements and lockable flexible head are only a couple of reasons that make the Braun Series 9 9090cc the most advanced electric razor available right now. If you don’t mind paying close to $220 for an electric shaver this is a great option. But I must warn you that it only shaves dry, for the additional wet shaving functionality you’ll have to pay more for the 9093cc or 9095cc.
After featuring two foil razors, let’s now move on to the first rotary shaver in this list, the Philips Norelco 9300.
Philips calls this their most advanced shaver to date with perhaps the most flexible shaving head that independently moves in 8 directions to follow the different peaks and valleys of your face to help maintain contact between blade and face.
Philips calls it the contour-detect technology that they claim will cut 20 percent more facial hair in a single pass.
In addition to a closer shave Panasonic also allows you to personalize your shaving experience with three settings depending on your facial hair type and skin type.
Low setting uses the least power. This is suited for men with sensitive skin or light beard growth.
Medium setting turns up the power just a bit, just enough for a standard shave – great for men that have facial hair that isn’t too coarse or to light.
For men who would prefer the contour hugging properties of a rotary shaver don’t hesitate on pulling the trigger on Philips – hands-down the best in manufacturing rotary razors.
The 9300 is currently the latest and their best variant with these features
- Approximately 6.2 inches tall
- Wet/Dry Shaving: Yes
- Run Time: 50 mins.
- Charge time: 60 mins.
- Battery: Lithium Ion
- Charging/Cleaning Station: Yes
- Warranty: 2 years
For men who have a coarser beard may opt for the fast setting that turns up the power to the max and will give you a fast and high powered shave.
Panasonics cartridges are slightly more expensive compared to the Braun’s selling for roughly $17 for a pack of three.
Wet and Dry Shaving
Men with sensitive skin who are seeking a product that they can use with a shaving cream would benefit most from the 9300. You can use this product to wet shave and it isn’t as expensive as a Braun.
This product uses a lithium ion battery that takes around 60 minutes to fully charge with a quick charge option that gives you enough juice for a single shave in just 5 minutes.
The bottom line
Philips is what Braun’s equivalent to foil shavers. If you are looking for the absolute best quality rotary shaver that hugs the contours of your face then the Norelco 9300 is a great option under $200 that offers the same features as the 9700 minus the digital interface.
If the Braun Series 9 has four cutting elements on its shaving head, the Panasonic ES-LV95 Arc 5 has five.
In the battle of electric shavers, Panasonic tries its hand at beating the Series 9 by adding an extra cutting element. All of which work together to capture, hold and cut different types of facial hair that make up your beard.
Powering this beast of a razor is a 14,000 cpm (cycles per minute) motor that operates twice as fast and with twice more the cutting force.
All that power means and the 5 shaving elements means one thing – a lot of cutting power and a close shave.
The ES-LV95-S Arc5 razor from Panasonic is a great alternative to the 4-bladed Series 9. The extra blade gives it the edge in closeness at the expense of ergonomics.
Here are the features
- 14,000 cpm motor
- Dimension: 6.5 inches long and 2.8 inches wide
- Weight: 7.1 ounces
- Wet/dry shaving: Yes
- Cleaning/charging station: Yes
- Run time: 45 minutes
- Charge time: 1 hours
- Warranty: 2-years
But why didn’t this beat the Braun Series 7 or the Series 9?
One word, ergonomics, yes this razor has 5 cutting elements and a powerful motor but what happens when you try to stuff in 5 blades? You create a larger head and that means a bulkier razor.
That wouldn’t be a problem shaving the cheek or neck area but working on tight areas like the lip and chin could pose a problem.
Also the powerful motor produces more noise and a lot more heat generated through the 5 blades. You’d better be done in one or two passes or you will definitely feel the heat.
The bottom line:
Try this product if you want a cheaper alternative to the Braun. At just a little over $200, the ES-LV95 Arc5 is a worthy challenger but the size of the head is a big concern when shaving tight areas around the lip and chin.
Heck, some of them cost well over $200 but if you feel you don’t want to spend that much of an electric razor then you have options.
One feature that consumers rave about this product would be the “nterceptor” that helps cut longer strands of hair growing in different directions.
Not only will this razor work on short day old stubble, it is also capable of shaving a 3 day beard growth.
It also has a pivoting head – the same one found in the Braun razors here but for much less.
Despite being a “budget” razor, the Remington F-5800 has some features to look forward to
- Around 9.1 inches long
- Weighs 1.1 pounds
- Run time: 60 minutes
- Power source: Ni-Cad battery
- Wet/Dry shaving: No
- Waterproof: No
- Charge time: 60 minutes
- Warranty: 2 years
Panasonic was still able to squeeze out 60 minutes of run time from the Ni-Cad battery which is pretty impressive considering other brands run less using a Li-Ion battery. But I must warn you to expect some power fade because these types of batteries are prone to that.
Another downside to Ni-Cad batteries is the size. You will notice that this razor is larger than the Braun razors and heavier – that’s because of the battery.
Only for Dry Shaving
This razor is designed only for dry shaving and it is not waterproof. Men with sensitive skin may want to shy away from this because shaving dry can cause more irritation.
Corded and Cordless Functionality
One unique feature found in the Remington and not found in the other razors in this list is the ability to use this with or without the cord.
You can use this product with or without the plug. This feature is disabled in other brands in order fully seal components for wet shaving use.
That means even if you forget to charge the battery you can still use this plugged in.
The bottom line
This razor is a great option for men who don’t want to spend too much on an electric shaver. The “interceptor” feature allows this to shave a multiple-day beard growth without pulling or tugging. However you can’t use this to wet shave which can cause irritation to men with sensitive skin.
Electric razors have indeed come a long way in terms of closeness and shave quality. With advancements in battery technology, you no longer need a cord to use it. Just plug it in for an hour then use it for around the same length of time.
Some of the brands featured here offer wet and dry shaving functionality while others offer only dry shaving.
If you have sensitive skin, you have to go with the former because shaving cream adds that extra layer of protection.
In my opinion the Braun Series 7 offers the best package in terms of price and performance minus the wet shaving capabilities.
The Series 9, also from Braun will cut closer than most electric shavers in the market and most advanced. Biggest downside would be the price.
Again the 9090cc can’t shave wet despite being waterproof so it wouldn’t be a good option for men with sensitive skin. You’ll have to pay a more to have enjoy the wet shaving feature in the 9095cc or 9093cc.
If you feel that I missed on any brands or variants please feel free to comment below.
Garrick spends his days researching and writing about grooming. When he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him hanging around with his wife and son.