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 enough. 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.
That’s why, for a truly effortless, quick, and fiscally prudent shave, an electric razor may be the best way to go. 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 13 grooming experts we spoke with — including nine 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 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, the 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. And while Beightol personally uses the less expensive version of this same razor (featured below), he thinks this one would be worth the premium if you have the budget for it. “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. “I’ve been using rotary electric razors for over a decade,” he says and 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.” 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 afterwards. 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.
Best less-expensive foil electric razor
Whitely told us that this slightly less expensive (and older) Braun model basically gives you the best of the above Braun Series 9 razor, but at a fraction of the price. He compares it to buying last year’s BMW: You’re still getting a great machine, just not the latest upgrades, which he says are merely “bells and whistles.” Says Whitely: “I don’t think it’s necessary to go for the Series 9; the motor in the Series 7 is the same powerful, amazing Braun motor.” Importantly, he adds, “it also works in the shower.”
Best even-less-expensive foil electric razor
Should you be looking for something that’s simple and gets the job done, we are happy to report the experts have another favorite foil electric razor that’s surprisingly utilitarian, and substantially less expensive than a lot of the other options on the market. Almost every single barber we spoke with mentioned this razor. It’s not exactly designed for consumers — note the clunky box shape and not super-appealing gray plastic — but it’s the model most of the experts trust to deliver professional-grade results and handle a high volume of use, relying on it for everything from a face shave to skin fades for haircuts to cleaning up their clients’ necks. Master barber Karac Ruleau of Mott NYC told us it’s what he uses “at the shop and at home. It gives you a super-close shave without any razor burn. It’s light, durable, inexpensive and doesn’t require a frequent charge.” He also told us that he often spots contestants using it when he’s watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, which he takes as a strong endorsement.
Multiple experts also assured us that there’s no reason for this razor to only be used by barbers. Though some do note that you might need to be more aware of technique than you would otherwise (since it doesn’t have a pivoting head), and, as with any electric razor, it’s important to swap in new blades as recommended by the manufacturer.
Best electric razor for stubble
Wahl is an old barbershop standby, so it was no surprise that the company was mentioned by pretty much every expert we spoke with. This specific model, the Wahl Peanut, came recommended by Beightol, celebrity groomer Jason Schneidman (the owner of THEMENSGROOMER), and Rafael Tadgieve (the owner of Rafael’s Barbershop Vintage in the East Village). Tadgieve likes that it’s “small and easy to clean,” unlike some of the bulkier and more advanced razors out there. He prefers the corded version because it has a little “more power,” but Schneidman thinks this cordless model is just as good for personal use. The Peanut is technically a beard trimmer, as it’s designed to be used with guards to cut hair at specific lengths, but multiple experts shared a useful tip: Using it on your face without a guard will cut your hair right to that “five ’o clock shadow” length.
Best electric razor for styling
In our roundup of the best razors for men, celebrity groomer Marissa Machado told us about the Philips Norelco One Blade, which made the list as the best electric–cartridge hybrid razor. “It’s really an all-in-one product,” she said, noting that it comes with useful “trimming attachments” and the razor itself “gives a smooth finish.” Like the Peanut above, it’s a trimmer-style razor, so it’s not going to be as close of a shave as a foil or rotary, but it should be just right if you’re going for a five o’clock shadow look, or want to trim down longer beard hair. And the fact that this one’s designed more like a cartridge razor makes it a bit easier to maneuver than the Peanut, which means creating neat lines around the ears and jawline will be even easier. In addition to being a great tool for styling facial hair (long or short), contributor Kurt Soller notes that it’s also great for traveling. “The small size, decent battery life, and punchy color make it just right for my Dopp kit.”
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