Purists will claim the only way to a clean shave is a safety razor but they overlook the huge improvements in electric shavers over the last twenty years: thinner foils; the wet/dry feature; easier cleaning; cutters that stay sharper for longer, and better batteries. Thinner foils mean that the cutters move closer to the skin, without nipping, and better batteries yield more power, faster cutters and longer periods between charges.
Electric shavers produce fewer cuts and nicks than old-fashioned razor blades and manual shaving’s apparent cost advantage disappears when you consider the cost of replacement blades over, say, a two-year period. And blades cannot match the portability of cordless electric shavers which untether you from the bathroom sink, allowing you to shave in any location: around the house, in the car or at the office.
Some users prefer the pivoting, rotary heads believing that they shave closer in curved areas beneath the jaw and around the chin but foil-fans claim a smoother finish on the flat areas of the cheeks. There are probably as many opinions as there are men’s faces but we’ve chosen six shavers for 2017 that we believe may be right for you; three rotary and three foil models. Our picks are based on a variety of features: shaving efficiency; durability; design and price. All of our choices are cordless and include a trimmer – typically a 5 cm straight cutter for carving neat edges to sideburns and beards – that pops out from the rear of the shaver head.
Best electric rotary shavers
Phillips Shaver Series 5000 PT860/17 – Best Dry-Shaver (Rotary)
Phillips PowerTouch shavers are designed for dry shaving and the heads have both slots and holes to catch hair and short stubble respectively. We like the easy-clean feature: the top of the shaver flips open and the heads can be run under hot water after each use; a brush is supplied for cleaning dust and hair as necessary. There is no stand or charging base; the unit is connected directly to the power supply. An LED indicator shows the charging status of the lithium-ion battery and one hour of charging delivers 50 minutes of shaving.
SweetLF IPX7 Waterproof Electric Shaver – Best Budget Choice (Rotary)
Chinese brand SweetLF’s shaver features three pivoting, rotating heads and can be used wet or dry, although better results will be achieved using a gel or foam. The top is hinged to allow cleaning under a running tap. The plastic body has a blue front-panel that incorporates an on-off button and charge-indicator. Charging is via a standard USB phone charger, which is not supplied, and one hour of charging delivers 120 minutes of use. We feel some power has been sacrificed to gain extra time between charges and the cutters rotate at a modest 2,500 to 3,000 rpm but the shaver is an attractively priced choice for non-rugged faces.
Remington XR1330 HyperFlex Wet and Dry Shaver – Best Overall Choice (Rotary)
Like our other rotary picks, the Remington features three pivoting shaver heads but – in an effort to accommodate curved surfaces as far as possible – the design also allows the entire top to pivot. The shaver can be used wet or dry. A charging stand is supplied and a 90-minute charge of the lithium-ion battery delivers 60 minutes of usage. An LED ‘fuel gauge’ is positioned on the shaver’s front panel. Within the rotary heads, two concentric cutter wheels rotate in opposite directions to achieve a more efficient shave and the unit feels powerful and robust.
Best electric foil shavers
Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3080S Wet and Dry Shaver – Best Overall Choice (Foil)
The Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3080S is an electric foil shaver that is entirely waterproof, allowing you to use it in the shower if you wish. It will operate wet or dry but better results are likely to be gained with a foam or gel. Three parallel shaving ‘bars’ are located across the top of the unit. It is cleaned by running under a tap. The shaver is powered by NiMH batteries that allow 45 mins of shaving after a one hour charge on the (included) charging station. The design echoes the T-shape of a traditional safety razor and the unit is well-engineered and powerful.
Panasonic ES-SL41 Wet and Dry Shaver – Best Budget Choice (Foil)
The Panasonic ES-SL41 has three cutter-bars running at 7,800 cycles per minute and the Italian design (available in red, blue or silver) is attractive and delivers an efficient shave. Water shutters behind the cutters are opened to allow water to flush through for cleaning without removing the foils. The big drawback is the battery which delivers only 21 minutes of shaving after a 15 hour charge. A charging station is included with the shaver but the battery obviously limits the opportunity to, say, take the shaver on vacation while leaving the charger at home.
Braun Series 9 9290cc Wet and Dry Shaver – Best Luxury Choice (Foil)
The Braun Series 9 9290cc is a smart, solid, top-end machine providing a shave that is the nearest thing to a safety razor. It is 100% waterproof, can be used wet or dry and features five shaving elements. The trimmer is titanium-coated for durability and the foils have a limited rocking movement that allows a close fit to the face. We especially like the (included) clean-and-charge station which uses alcohol-based cartridges to clean and sanitise the shaver while taking one hour to bring the lithium-ion battery to a full 50-minute charge. The cleaning cartridges will be an ongoing cost but small compared to the initial investment in this shaver. This is the shaver for men who are not budget-constrained, who’ve decided to go electric and want the best.