There are no shortage of options for men when it comes to shaving. Some swear by more old-school “wet shaving” methods, using a safety razor or a straight razor with shaving cream. While this approach has certainly stood the test of time, it requires some care and attention to technique, and comes with the risk of cuts. Cartridge razors, like the ones you’d pick up from Harry’s or Gillette, offer a sort of middle ground in terms of effort. They’re designed to be as simple as possible, but to ensure an optimal shave, you’re still going to need to use them with shaving cream. Plus, the cost of regularly replacing their blades can make this option pricier with time, even though the razors themselves are usually cheap. And as anyone who has shaved in a hurry knows, there’s still the risk of nicks and cuts if you aren’t careful with a cartridge razor. “A lot of guys get irritation from blades,” as barber Mark Miguez, co-owner of New York City’s Friend of a Barber, puts it. That’s why he says “using electric razors can be so much better for the skin.” (And, over time, your wallet.)
Powered by motors and high-tech cutting mechanisms, electric razors are without a doubt the most efficient option, requiring minimal maintenance and prep. That’s partly because they’re designed to work on dry hair (though newer models work on wet hair, too) without needing to lather up first. As Chad Beightol, the owner of men’s grooming boutique Consigliere in the East Village, puts it: “There was a time when electric razors would burn the skin and not get a very close shave, but that time has long passed. Modern electric razors are great.”
But since everyone’s skin and shaving preferences are different, it’s hard to choose a one-size-fits-all electric razor. According to the 16 experts we spoke with — including 12 professional barbers — a foil razor will provide a slightly closer shave than a rotary-style razor. But one limitation with foil razors is that they really only work well on short facial hair. For that reason, we decided to structure this list slightly differently than usual, designating separate “best overall” rotary and foil electric razors. In fact, because rotary and foil electric razors each work better for different types of facial hair, having one of each in your arsenal wouldn’t be excessive if you’re truly looking for a professional quality electric shave at home. “Use a rotary for cutting down short enough, then a foil to get super close,” explains Vince Garcia, the owner of L.A. barbershop Grey Matter, who told us he likes to use both on his clients (who include some of the NBA’s biggest names).
Best overall rotary electric razor
When it comes to ease of use and efficiency, a rotary-style razor will likely be the best all-around option. “I swear by the Philips Norelco triple-head models,” says Beightol. “They get as close a shave as a safety razor without that scraped-skin feeling.” While the experts tended to agree that a foil razor will provide a slightly closer shave than a rotary-style razor, they all noted the limitation that foil razors really only work well on short facial hair. “A foil razor is most effective if you use it regularly, daily to every three days,” says Beightol, whereas a rotary “gets a very close shave and can be used when you have up to seven to ten days of growth.” That flexibility is one of the main reasons we feel this is the best overall, as is the fact that this electric rotary razor will work on wet hair in addition to dry hair. “When your hair is wet, it softens, which allows the blade to move much better, preventing any irritation,” says barber Craig Whitely, explaining why many men prefer those “wet shaving” methods we referenced earlier.
When former Strategist deputy editor Jason Chen tested out a selection of electric razors on his own face, an older version of this Norelco rotary was his top pick. “I love this shaver: It’s lightweight, feels good in the hand, and catches hairs on the first pass with hardly any effort,” wrote Chen, adding that out of all the electric razors he tried, it provided the “smoothest, most effortless shave.” Beightol adds that since rotary-style razors have a larger “surface area,” it takes less time to pass over your face for a full shave. While Beightol personally uses the less expensive version of this same razor (featured below), he thinks this one would be worth it if you have the budget. “The flexible head ones tend to be more expensive,” he notes, but they “let you shave around the chin and around the neck more easily,” allowing for a faster and more comfortable shave.
Best (less-expensive) rotary electric razor
As mentioned above, Beightol uses this slightly less expensive version of the previous model. The circular heads still pivot, but not quite as dynamically as those of the 6800. Beightol says he’s “been using rotary electric razors for over a decade” and that he has always stuck with a relatively simple model like this one.
Best overall foil electric razor
When it comes to foil electric razors, “the Braun Series 9 is the cream of the crop,” says master barber Angelo Ruscetta of American Haircuts in Kennesaw, Georgia. He told us it shaves “almost as close as a straight razor” and, after he uses it, “I can’t feel any stubble.” Barber David Kim also likes the Series 9, describing it as “really big in the industry.” Like the Phillips 6800, it was designed to also work on wet hair, meaning that even though you’re cutting as close as possible the face, your skin shouldn’t feel any irritation afterward. Garcia also uses this electric razor in his shop, and told us he recommends it to clients for home use. In addition to getting nice and close, he says that “the higher quality of Braun blades makes them less prone to irritating sensitive skin, because they’re able to achieve as much power with thinner metal on the foil; the thicker the foil, the harder it is for the blade to cut hair, and the more it pulls.” Garcia adds that he’s had to replace the blades on cheaper foil razors because they’ve dulled down over time, but says he’s never had to do that with his Braun. Whitely, another fan, praised Braun’s technology, explaining that the brand has “perfected the balance between a strong motor and a gentle shave” in this and other models on this list.
It is, of course, quite pricey, but it’s worth noting that this is Braun’s top-of-the-line model, made in Germany and packed with features like an automatic self-cleaning base. The ability to disinfect between uses, which helps prevent shaving-induced breakouts, is especially important to men who shave their heads, adds Ruscetta — so this would be a great choice for anyone looking for a razor that can shave their face and give them that cue-ball look.