What's good in an electric shaver?
November 20, 2023 2:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm tired of shaving manually. What's the latest and greatest in electric shaver tech?

I've been shaving with a blade for like 35 years now. I'm tired of it. It feels good, I've got a routine dialed in, there's no actual medical/dermatological reason for me to stop; I'm just sick of doing it.

My answer to that dilemma is not the typical answer that people of my cohort - Pacific Northwest Middle Aged CIS White Dudes - often give, which is "grow a beard!". I have no desire for a beard. I want to be clean-shaven, with a lot less prep work and accoutrement purchasing than shaving with a blade requires. So, electric shaver.

I haven't even pondered electric razors since the late 80's/early 90's, and I have no idea what the state of the art in that world is at this point. What should I be looking for in an electric razor? What should I avoid?

Here's my parameters:

- Fairly unchallenging skin (not oily, no acne scars/moles)
- Rechargeable, not corded (no preference between stand charging/direct plug-in charging, but razor must be usable without being plugged into something)
- Would like to be able to use in the shower, but that's a nice-to-have not a must-have
- For facial hair use only (I have other trimmers for other grooming needs)
- Easy to clean

I don't really even know what to set as far as budget parameters. Less than $150? Probably? Although if something exceptional is more than that I'd be open to it.

What's your favorite electric razor, and also your favorite thing about your electric razor?
posted by pdb to Shopping (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I recently upgraded from the Braun 7 to the Braun 9, and the extra power makes a real difference, especially when I haven't shaved in a few (or more) days. You'll likely be using it a few thousand times, so if you have the money, get the best.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:27 PM on November 20

I also like Braun's electric shavers a lot.

This is one of the (many) consumer categories where there's always a latest-and-greatest new version coming out, and there are usually deals to be had on older models.

Do you really need the 9599c, with its 6-in-1 SmartCare Center? Well, I've got some bad news--it costs $430, and it's currently sold out.

2022's top-of-the-line model, the 9477cc, only has a 5-in-1 SmartCare Center, but it's on sale for $350. But wait--the 9465cc was also at one point Braun's best razor, and it's going for $260.

(If you're a Costco person, you might also check out the Braun shavers that they offer.)
posted by box at 3:18 PM on November 20

The Norelco OneBlade is fantastic and different from other electric shavers. Highly recommend.
posted by slkinsey at 4:04 PM on November 20 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: @slkinsey: what makes it better than a "typical" electric shaver (remembering that I don't need other types of body hair trimmers - I have a couple of those - and all I want is a face shaver)? Why do you prefer it?
posted by pdb at 5:11 PM on November 20

Brain Series 9
posted by so fucking future at 5:16 PM on November 20

I am a devoted DE shaver, but I also have a Braun from about 1990. It fires up reliably after years on the shelf, cuts neatly, and is easy to clean out.

Goddamn right, go Braun!
posted by wenestvedt at 5:44 PM on November 20

my understanding (correct me if i'm wrong) is that with the Brauns that start with the same number in the thousands place are all the same razor, and the other numbers after the 9 or 7 or whatever denote the accessory pack level
posted by glonous keming at 5:48 PM on November 20

nthing Braun. They are fantastic shavers that are easy to clean.
posted by signsofrain at 7:44 PM on November 20

I have a beard now but when I didn't, the Norelco One Blade was, forgive the cliche, a game changer. It's still good for trimming, actually. I feel like a shill for the company and in fact feel like I may have recommended it here before.
posted by less-of-course at 8:38 PM on November 20

I have used a series of Philips Norelco three-head shavers my entire adult life -- currently on a 3300 I think. Early on I tried wet shaving (blade, shaving cream, sink) and it always made my skin break out. More accurately, the day I shaved I looked fantastic, but the next day I looked like a teenager with all the skin eruptions. If I then shaved again on THAT, I would do serious damage.

I think the closeness of the shave irritates my skin. The shavers I use just don't shave very close, which seems like a drawback, and I suppose it is, but at least I can do it daily.

I have tried other shavers over the years, thinking something nicer would give me a closer shave, and nothing has ever worked for me due to this skin sensitivity. I tried a Braun years ago, and even one of the newer swivel-y Norelco units last year (a 5100 I think). NOPE. Back to the old cheaper models.
posted by intermod at 9:09 PM on November 20

I don't have a specific brand recommendation but I would say choose the "foil" type (looks like 2 hills) over the 3-head type. I was strictly 3-head for the past 25 years because it always seems like more advanced, modern technology but I always had the hardest time shaving my neck. Certain 3-head designs do it a little better (like if all 3 heads can flex independently) but if the hair is a little too long or directly in the bend in my neck or around my adam's apple it won't grab it and then I'm going at my neck from 10 different angles with the trimmer attachment to try and get it all smooth.

recently my barber was cleaning up my neck and face and he was using the foil type and it worked so easily. he got it all from one angle, one pass, and no neck contorting. I switched and it's amazing. I'm annoyed at myself for never giving it a chance in the past.
posted by simplethings at 10:00 PM on November 20

I have a Braun S9 Pro. I would recommend it, with caveats.

I bought it from Amazon with the cleaner unit, which takes cartridges that need to be replaced about once every three weeks. The unit also recharges the battery in the shaver.

Amazon sells replacement cleaning cartridges. Some empty out the dirty carts and refill them with rubbing alcohol to save money, but I haven't done this. The carts are not cheap. The alcohol will also evaporate at room temperature, even when not used; some remove the cart and plug it up when not used for cleaning to go further between replacements.

The power button on mine snapped off just before the warranty support expired, but Braun honored the warranty, and they even gave me for free a battery-powered shaver to use while mine was being repaired.

It takes longer to shave with the Braun than with a disposable razor, about 10 minutes or so with the electric razor, as opposed to a couple minutes and a few swipes with the disposable. I usually shave in the morning while reading Metafilter or the news or whatever.

It took my face about three to four weeks to adjust to the electric razor. But once I got adjusted, I now regularly get a great shave.

I think keeping it clean with the cleaning unit is a major reason why I get a better shave.

The disposable razor gave my neck a rash if I shaved more than once every two days, so I really don't mind the extra work and cost. I would not go back to a disposable razor. Good luck!
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:23 PM on November 20

I'd been pretty satisfied with a Panasonic ES3831K, which is a 2 AA battery powered single foil model. It does about as well as an electric can do (after trying several over the years), and is inexpensive as well. Usable in the shower. I suppose one could use rechargeable AA batteries, but I never tried it. It's also fairly small and easily portable. The foil is easy to remove and clean, and usually needs only rinsing under some hot water. I recently lost mine, and have been missing it. My regular razor routine isn't especially elaborate, but the electric is a little quicker and less hassle.

If you haven't used an electric razor in a couple decades, be warned, none will shave as close as a normal razor. But with my whiskers, they make me reasonably presentable without much fuss.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:54 AM on November 21

I found myself in the same place as you, after an adult lifetime of wet shaving with disposables and double edged razors. Around six weeks ago I bought this Panasonic ARC5, and am really pleased with it. Electric razors have really improved over the past few years.

A charge lasts me a couple of weeks and it does a great job of shaving fast and close. Also waterproof so you can use it in the shower, though I haven’t tried that yet so I can’t speak to those results. I clean mine once a week with a squirt of liquid hand soap, a rinse under the faucet and a few drops of mineral oil to keep it lubricated.

If you want to go down the rabbit hole, this site has all kinds of info about electric razors.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:07 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]

I've used Panasonic foil head shavers for decades now, without skin irritation—before this I had to endure an elaborate manual shaving routine to get the same result. Now I can use it at any time, in any place, without real care: it's a great mix of usability at a comfortable price point. At the moment I'm using a 15+year old ES8103S. After replacing the battery and the blades and screen, it works like new. It's one of the very few companies/products for which I harbor brand loyalty.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 6:51 AM on November 21

I've used a Wahl 5-Star for the last five years. It does a great job with my "I'll grow whichever way I damn well please" facial hair, pops open to clean with a brush, and is repairable (e.g. replaceable foils, blades, and batteries) which was a big plus for me.
posted by Kreiger at 11:55 AM on November 21

I'm a big fan of the Panasonic shavers, too—mine is years old and has not been cared for like it should be but it works great. I also like the Philips OneBlade quite a bit and want to mention it here even though it's not exactly what you're looking for—the shave is not as close as with a manual razor or a good electric shaver but it's really comfortable and easy to use at any beard length. I have a OneBlade in addition to the Panasonic, and I mainly use it to get back down to clean-shaven when I've grown part of a beard out of laziness.
posted by Polycarp at 3:34 PM on November 21

I've used the Philips One Blade when I haven't shaved in a week or two.
Find it works really well. quick and not irritating.
posted by yyz at 1:37 PM on November 22

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