There are plenty of options aside from them (honorable mention to the BaByliss PROs, Andises, and Remingtons), these core brands have the necessary resources and innovation behind them to provide the best options for you. Not to mention, you can access all of these brands at pretty much any budget; not everyone is going to need the latest souped-up shaver, but if you do want that, then you can bet that these brands will have something with the absolute latest and most cutting-edge technology.
But if you want something more affordable, then good news: Their best-selling devices from the past 10 or 20 years are often still manufactured, and as soon as something new comes along, the prices on these earlier models plummet. Which means you can get an unused but never-before-used device, which would have topped this very list five years ago—and for under or around $100, in most cases. And you’ll get more reliable customer services and warranties.
The Best Electric Shaver Overall: Philips Norelco S9000 Prestige Electric Razor
In a given year, it’s always a three-horse race between Philips Norelco, Braun, and Panasonic, because each brand takes its turn issuing the latest muscled-up machine. And while we’d sooner prescribe a foil shaver to the average user (as mentioned in our sizing-up of Foil v. Rotary), the truth is, rotary shavers will satisfy the largest group of people, since they also serve thicker stubble, as well as more sensitive skin, body and head shaving, and even those folks with nickel allergies. And in the e-shaver game, nobody beats Philips Norelco at rotary razors.
The S9000 won a GQ Grooming Award this past year for good reason: space-grade steel razors that practically cut at the speed of light, while providing the smoothest and closest shave any rotary razor has ever been capable of (arguably, as close if not smoother than the foil competition). Usually, when a brand touts “more razors”, it doesn’t necessarily mean it impacts the shave in the big picture, but in the S9000 Prestige’s case, there are two razors on each rotary panel (compared to the usual one), working independently of one another, which provides results that could convert the stodgiest of foil shavers, and maybe even the bare-razor holdouts.
And while I usually feel like a rotary razor requires a second “assurance” pass, I’ve saved time and had fewer missed spots than ever before (the few I’ve had are because I made so much haste, I legitimately just skipped spots entirely, as opposed to the device not adequately doing its job). I’ve even bought a few extra days between tidyings on my shoulder and upper back with the Prestige S9000 too. In most years, I’d let the two foil kings at Panasonic and Braun duke it out for the top spot, but for now, it’s Philips Norelco’s throne to yield.
The Best Value Electric Shaver: Panasonic Arc5 Electric Foil Shaver
While the Arc6 is one of the best razors in the game right now, I want to call out the Arc5 in particular here. When new devices enter the market, it’s important to keep their predecessors in mind rather than writing them off as has-beens—it’d be like shunning the BMW E28 as soon as the E30 was released the following year. So don’t go discounting the Arc5’s abilities just because the Arc6 is the more advanced machine.
With the Arc6 on shelves, the Arc5 dropped to a quarter of the cost of the newer toy. But you know what hasn’t dropped? The superior standard-setting extra-flexible performance that the Arc5 provided for over a decade. It already had five blades; it’s never missed a spot on a first pass for me, even with week-long facial hair thanks to the trimming bar fixed between those four foil blades. And the closeness of the shave is, to embrace a cliché, chef’s kiss.
I’m shocked they even found room for a sixth razor on the Arc6. But it’s size isn’t to its detriment, either; while I’d argue that there are better devices for a simple neckline or cheek line cleanup (see below), I think this is the single best “set it and forget it” autopilot-style full-face shaver you can use. So if you’re the guy who just want to do a once-over every day in the shower or just before, then a 30-second pass with the Arc5 will keep you smoothly polished without worry. It’ll be a sad day if and when Panasonic retires the Arc5, because it feels so pivotal to where we are in electric shaving these days. So consider this my part to keep its legacy alive, and to save you some big bucks in the process.
The Best Upgrade Electric Shaver: Braun Series 9 PRO+ Electric Shaver
The recently released Series 9 PRO+ is like a victory lap for Braun’s Series 9 family, which has been top of the e-shaver field for a while. What stands out most here is the quintet of elements atop the head: two foil shavers to buffer the shave at both ends, with three trimming and lifting components in the middle so that no hair goes untamed. It makes the Arc5 and 6 feel like a class of SUVs (that’s not a criticism), while this feels more like a luxury sedan.
And you cannot ignore its endlessly flexible, movable head; you could cast this razor in a Bob Fosse musical for all of the neck movement it serves. I also find that its features are the best of the best: From the most superior, mustache-managing pop-out trimmer to a safekeeping lock (for both that movable neck and for the trimmer as a whole). And while I’m not scoring on the basis of charging stations or other attachments, I do have to call out the incredibly useful charging case that this device comes with. Its hard shell keeps your precious trophy of a shaver safe, as well as fully charged (not that its hourlong juice will deplete during a week on the go).
And while the Arc5 and Arc6’s bevy of foil shavers will provide you with a closer shave than the Braun, it’s going to be nominal to most people. Again, in the debate between foil shavers, it’s an SUV vs luxe sedan. You probably know which one sounds more appealing to you.
The Best Barber-Favorite Electric Shaver for Travel: Wahl Professional Vanish Foil Shaver
A barbershop staple (and Grinstead-Mayle’s go-to brand for shavers), Wahl’s foil device is my favorite for many specific tasks: For starters, it delivers a quick neckline shave, with enough endurance to last a few months (assuming you’re just tidying that neckline each time). It’s my go-to less-bulky traveling shaver, as well as my top recommendation for any friends who only want a fresh “appearing” shave once in a blue moon without forking over $300 for a device.
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