Choosing a Men's Electric Shaver
About one-third of men in the U.S. who shave use an electric razor, and they're a perennial favorite for Father's Day and holiday gifts. As an everyday grooming staple, these razors offer convenience and, ideally, a close, comfortable shave. Not surprisingly, the models that earn the highest accolades from professional reviewers are often the most expensive, sometimes costing well above $200. The market is also awash with dozens of lesser quality models from little-known brands that bear low price tags but frequently get equally low ratings. Cheapism.com scoured major retail sites and consulted professional sources in order to identify the best men's electric shavers for under $100, zeroing in on a broad selection of razors from established brand names that deliver sought-after features and solid, reliable performance without cutting into your savings.
Pricey vs. Cheap Electric ShaversThe most popular electric shavers come from top names such as Braun, Philips Norelco, Remington, Panasonic, and Wahl. You'll find all of these brands at major retailers like Amazon and Walmart, as well as electronics stores like Best Buy and Fry's and often at professional grooming and beauty supply stores. Most of these manufacturers offer dozens of models at a variety of price points.
You won't find the strongest motors or most precise blades on cheap electric shavers -- manufacturers reserve those features for their higher-end models -- but there are some features that even the cheapest razors share with their more expensive cousins. Among major brands, most shaver models are cordless and rechargeable, and all our top picks fall into this category. Only the most moderately priced models have cords. But some consumers who buy these budget shavers say they like not having to remember to charge them or dealing with batteries that run out too quickly. More expensive electric shavers often come equipped with convenient charging docks and have shorter charge-times, taking some of the hassle out of keeping them ready and running.
Finally, the cheapest shavers are usually only for dry shaving, meaning you can't use them in the shower or with lather, as with more expensive wet/dry men's electric razors. We've chosen a mix of wet/dry and dry-only models, with slight preference given to wet/dry shavers since they're more versatile. Finally, while all of our picks come equipped with a built-in trimmer to edge facial hair and nip other stray hairs, if you're looking for extras like self-cleaning systems, travel cases, and sometimes even blade covers, expect to pay a little more such luxuries.
Foil vs. Rotary ShaversThere are two types of men's electric razors: rotary and foil. The head on a rotary shaver typically contains two or three (occasionally four) disc-shaped shaving heads, each of which contains several small blades that revolve just beneath a protective screen at high speed. Foil shavers, by contrast, have one to five cutters that vibrate from side to side beneath oblong, mesh covers.
Which kind of electric razor is best? That depends on how frequently you shave, the kind of hair and skin you have, and personal preference. In general, foil razors provide a closer shave, making them ideal as daily shavers. But if you have sensitive skin, that close cut can cause irritation, making a rotary shaver a better choice. Both types are designed to handle all kinds of facial hair. However, the manufacturer Remington recommends choosing a rotary shaver for tough, thick beards where the hair grows in multiple directions, and using a foil shaver for finer or straight hairs.
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Men's Electric Shaver Reviews: What We Considered
To get a sense of which electric shavers deliver the best shave and best value, we started by reading expert assessments on top product review sites. These sources take a big-picture view of the electric shaver market, comparing multiple models. The best of them, like Wirecutter, TopTenReviews, and Consumer Reports, subject each razor to hours of use, evaluating them not just on how well they shave, but also on factors like noise, charge time, and build quality.
We also combed through hundreds of online consumer reviews at major retail sites like Amazon and Walmart, as well as ratings on the websites of major brands like Philips Norelco and Remington. User comments, often accompanied by selfies, attest to an electric shaver's performance over the long run. As we discovered, professional testers and consumers alike prize three things: a smooth, close shave, durable construction, and ease of use. Beyond that, choosing the best men's electric shaver comes down to personal preference and budget.
PerformanceAs mentioned above, rotary shavers may be a preferred choice for beards, and their shape and blade setup make them easier for moving around the chin or getting into those tight spaces under the nose. That said, foil shavers have the edge over rotary models for the closeness of their cut, and they score higher with both consumers and experts; of the 10 professional review sites we consulted, only one made a rotary electric shaver a top pick.
Many foil shavers we looked at have heads that can pivot and flex to better follow the contours of the user's face or neck. While some users report that they experience less skin irritation with heads that adjust (also called floating heads), reviewers say they're not a must for a close shave. The number of blades on an electric shaver can, however, make a significant difference. Generally speaking, the more foils or heads, the better, as each additional blade added on top of the baseline of two is meant to further refine performance -- by targeting longer hairs, hairs growing in multiple directions, and hairs lying flat, or simply offering an additional swipe for the closest shave.
Some converts from manual razors caution that it can take time to adjust to using an electric razor, and finding the right amount of pressure to apply in order to get a close shave without accidentally pulling hairs or irritating sensitive skin can be tricky at first, no matter what model you choose.
Pop-Up TrimmersTrimming the mustache, sideburns, nose, and ears is an essential part of grooming, so a pop-up trimmer is a must-have feature on a men's electric shaver, even a cheap one. All of our recommended shavers have a built-in trimmer; most lie flush on the back of the shaver, then pop up at the push of a switch or button. Pros say using a trimmer to cut down excess hair before shaving can also extend the life of an electric razor by helping prevent longer hair from getting tangled in foils.
Wet/Dry ShaversMany (but not all) of the razors we reviewed have the option of shaving either dry or wet, with lather or in the shower. The advantage a wet shave offers is largely a matter of comfort, though it can also affect the closeness of the shave, depending on hair type. Using shaving cream can reduce the risk of razor burn for people with sensitive skin, and some men with tough beards find shower shaving easier because the steam softens their beard hairs. But pay close attention: Although some men's electric shavers are advertised as "waterproof," that simply means you can clean the shaving head under water -- after you're done shaving and the razor is turned off.
ChargingA majority of men's electric shavers sold today are cordless rechargeable models with lithium-ion batteries, although some have nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. The advantage of a cordless shaver is obvious: You can use it anywhere. The chief drawback is that charging takes time -- anywhere from one to 16 hours based on the models we looked at. On average, a full charge gives you about 45 minutes of use or 15 shaves. Some have a quick-charge feature to let you eke out an extra shave in a pinch, but it's not recommended to use this function too often, as experts say it's one of many mistakes that can run down your shaver's batteries over time. Some others can be used both corded and cordless. Since keeping a close watch on charge levels can make a real difference in battery performance over time, many users appreciate shavers that come equipped with battery-level indicators.
Even with the best of care, electric shaver batteries don't last forever, and we found a number of complaints about rechargeable batteries losing the ability to hold a charge as they get older and shavers with batteries that cannot be replaced. Also, while some shavers boast charging docks -- which sometimes double as cleaning stations in more expensive models -- some users grumble over shavers that can only be recharged in the docks and can't use a cord, which somewhat limits their portability.
It's the lack of fuss that consumers like best with corded models. Plug it in, turn it on, and get consistent performance every time. But we found only a couple of corded men's electric shavers that earn decent reviews. Travel shavers, which are usually smaller, less powerful models, use AA batteries instead for convenience.