Best budget electric razor to buy?
December 12, 2005 11:45 AM   Subscribe

What's the best kind of electric razor? The kind with three shaving circles or the kind that is long and wide?

Also, can you electric razor users recommend one? The most I'm looking to spend is around $80 and I want to be able to rinse it out after use.
I hate, hate, hate using a regular razor, so they are not an option for me.
posted by NoMich to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total)
Braun makes great electric razors. Go for the ones with a cutter in the middle between the two long and wide heads. I have a 75xx series one that works quite well. A lot of razors claim to allow you to be able rinse them out, but it will rust the blades and reduce their sharpness. Blow the stuff out every day and brush it out once a week or so and all will be fine. Mine came with a fancy cleaning gizmo. It works but the supplies for it are expensive. Stick with the brush.

I have used the Norelco type and it was also nice, but a bit bulky for traveling.
posted by caddis at 11:53 AM on December 12, 2005

My wife the nurse has probably had more experience with different mens electric shavers than most men. She bought me one of the three shaving circle types a few years ago and I have been very happy with it. Its only weakness is in close trimming sideburns and moustach.
posted by Raybun at 12:03 PM on December 12, 2005

Three circles, without question. Closer and more accurate (i.e., doesn't miss whiskers) than the other kind.
posted by jjg at 12:10 PM on December 12, 2005

There is no absolute "best." It depends on how your facial hair grows, how thick it is, etc. I have the most luck with Braun horizontal-bladed foil shavers. True, it doesn't get as close as the rotaries, but it gets more hair without making my neck as irritated.

Basically, try both kinds I guess. . .
posted by BrandonAbell at 12:23 PM on December 12, 2005

I've never compared between the two types. However, I like the long/wide style that I have. I recently got a Braun Flex XP II 5790, which is great but a little more expensive than you're looking for. However, I love the automatic cleaner and I would definitely prefer the auto cleaner solution over plain water any time.
posted by MrZero at 12:29 PM on December 12, 2005

Having to have a military shave a lot, I can tell you that no electric will beat a *good* manual razor. In fact, the kind you find being used in old ww2 movies are probably the best easy-to-use and no-barber-training-needed type. But you asked about electric ones, so...

The 3-circular-blade ones fall into the 'only blades' type and the 'extra features' type. Usually those extras are some sort of lotion, like the one advertized in a commercial involving vmi [or the citadel, or...]. Avoid those like the plague. The lotion makes your face feel great, but it clogs up those blades really bad. They need to be replaced in less than a month, usually. The only blades ones are nice in that they get hairs from almost any angle, but I find myself needing to hover them around one spot for a while to get it sufficiently close. It also doesn't do close-edged trims, and I find I need to use a non-electric to fix my sideburns.

The long, wide kind varies greatly in quality. Price can usually pick those out easily. They have an easier time getting close, but there are issues using them if your hairs point in erratic directions. I have found that a mid-range priced one works well, is smaller than the 3-blades, and the battery lasts longer too. Food for thought is that if the blade gets dull, it costs more to replace.

So, what do I use? Currently, I have a 3-blade with no extras. If a blade gets dull, you can replace just that disk. Make sure to shake them out after every use, though, or they will wear faster from clogging up. This works well if I'm not in a rush, and if I am I simply break out the old non-electric.
posted by mystyk at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2005

On preview: I see a lot of people saying that the wide ones don't get as close. This is only a problem at the lower end of the spectrum. Screens can be made thinner on the wide ones, and the motion allows for the blades to be positioned closer to the screen. This only happens, though, if you're willing to cough up for the better models.
posted by mystyk at 12:36 PM on December 12, 2005

I agree with Brandon in that it depends on how your hair grows and how sensitive your skin is...

I have used a couple Brauns and a Norelco. I personally liked the Brauns better.... One thing to be aware of, is that when I switched from one style to the other, it would take a month or so before my face adapted and the razor become efficient and did a decent job of cutting...

However, I wouldn't take my word on it... I have had a beard for the last 2 years....
posted by kashmir772 at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2005

I like the Norelcos with individually pivoting rotors. Not the ones with lotion; I have one, and it's a feature I never use. A pop-up trimmer is a more useful feature. Nothing gets as close as blades, of course.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:49 PM on December 12, 2005

In college I had the "three circles" type and thought it was OK, later in life I bought the thin and wide type and like it a lot more. That might be more to do with my face though.
posted by pwb503 at 12:52 PM on December 12, 2005

My mom was just asking my husband about this very odd....
posted by TheLibrarian at 1:08 PM on December 12, 2005

I've used both the Norelco style (Phillips here in Canada) and the Braun style. I preferred the shave of other was less irritating on my neck and didn't heat up as much, although yes, the Norelco is a bit closer, but unless you suffer from extreme Five o'clock shadow I wouldn't worry about it. I also found the coil of blades inside the Braun's lasted longer. Another advantage of the Braun types is if you damage the foil on top (army life was hard on the eqpt) it is easily replaced and doesn't cost much, but I'm the only person I know who's managed to damage these (and twice!). The Norelco style is marginally easier to clean, while the Braun takes less space in a travel kit. Oh, and you can find mini battery operated type Brauns for camping (Remington makes 'em I think). Both types usually come with a sideburn trimmer, and it's a very useful feature.

Lotions, gels, self cleaning buckets, battery gauges and the rest of the crap that are available have never turned me on, and cost way too much.

Having said all this, I think electric razors are way over priced. Here in Canada you can't get a decent cordless one for less than $120. I'd rather not pay more than $80. Best of luck!
posted by furtive at 1:18 PM on December 12, 2005

long/wide = fewer burns than three round heads. shave too close and catch a thick whisker. pulls the razor in. leaves three sucker marks on your face. look like a goofball for a couple of weeks.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:50 PM on December 12, 2005

I've used various brands and types over the years. I can't stand the 3-circle ones, because they irritate my skin, especially on the neck. Of the long and wide type, I've had the best luck with Braun razors (currently I have a Braun 8595). Sometimes I have to do a number of passes to get all the hair, but at least there is no irritation, and in the end I do get a pretty close shave (as good as I've had with the circle thingies). Also, I love the self-cleaning contraption. If you don't clean it every day, the cleaning fluids last for a while.
posted by epimorph at 1:55 PM on December 12, 2005

Always had good luck with the three-circle type (Phillishave, or Norelco in the US). Maintenance is the key, though -- you likely won't be able to rinse it out. Empty it once a week, and four times a year, take apart the head assembly and brush out all the stuff that's clogged up in there.

My first shaver was a Remington Micro-Screen... wasn't that impressive.
posted by evilcolonel at 2:31 PM on December 12, 2005

I have tough, coarse hair, and I ate through a nice, wide microscreen shaver in about a month. I have a 3-head Norelco now and each set of blades last me about 6 months.
posted by 4easypayments at 3:09 PM on December 12, 2005

Norelco ... Maintenance is the key, though -- you likely won't be able to rinse it out.

I have Norelco; it most definitely says in the users manual that it can (and should) be opened up and rinsed to clean it. (And no, after well more than a year, it hasn't started rusting.)

I'm not sure that rinsing is an option with all models, however; maybe just the higher-end?
posted by WestCoaster at 4:16 PM on December 12, 2005

Panasonic makes Wet/Dry shavers (like this one for example - or like the one you linked to a photo of above). I have an earlier model, the ES7003. I rinse the blades with plain water every time I use it (3-4 times/week), and I didn't have any rust in over two years before I replaced the blades. I haven't tried a three circle type in over 15 years, so I can't give comparables (wouldn't it be great if you could test 'drive' these things), but I'm relatively happy with this shaver (more-so considering I got it for free). If you are able to compare and contrast, a follow up reply would be much appreciated.
posted by birdsquared at 6:14 PM on December 12, 2005

I've used various Phillips three-disc shavers for the last fifteen years, then last year I accidentally destroyed one, bought a newer model as a replacement and it has flat-out sucked: bad cutting, poor motor speeds, harder to clean than its predecessor. I'm not sure I want to risk another.

Of the long-head types I've tried, only Braun has been worth the money.
posted by Hogshead at 7:08 PM on December 12, 2005

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