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Best Foil Shavers

By: Carl Laron on November 17, 2016

Braun Series 7 shavers retain their gold medal for performance

In general, reviewers agree that foil shavers give the best shave of all electric shavers; however, foil shavers also tend to be relatively loud and can struggle to cut longer hairs. Experts add that the secret to getting a clean shave with a foil electric razor is making long, straight passes with the shaving head. Higher-end foil shavers come with a spring-loaded head, which flexes to help maintain just the right amount of pressure on each pass.

Shaver manufacturers are engaged in an arms race of sorts, each vying to make their products suitable for the widest range of skin and beard types. Despite the emergence of pricier, even more advanced models -- including Braun's own series 9 -- Braun's Series 7 shavers continue to get the lion's share of recommendations thanks to their near unbeatable combination of performance and value.

Experts are equally enamored with two models in the 7 series -- the Braun Series 7 790cc (Est. $165) and the Braun Series 7 760cc (Est. $165). Performance is identical, they say, with the key differences being cost and features.

Or at least that was the case until recently. While the Series 7-760cc continues to be listed as current by Braun, it's becoming a little harder to find at retail, and the prevailing retail price for the upgraded 7-790cc has dropped to where it is now roughly the same price, and sometimes cheaper (though you might want to shop carefully to get the best deal). While not all experts think that the extra features -- a "hygiene" indicator to tell you how dirty the razor is; an indicator that tells you when the foils need replacing; and a quick clean cycle that does a superficial cleaning in 25 seconds rather than a full cleaning, which takes about 3 minutes -- are all that compelling, but getting them for "free" helps make the Series 7-790cc a slam-dunk selection as our Best Reviewed razor.

Expert reviewers largely love the Braun Series 7. The razors (both the 760cc and 790cc) earn the highest ratings at ConsumerReports.com. They are both also the top picks at TheSweethome.com. Reviewer Dan Koeppel is among those that doesn't think the extras in the Series 7 790cc are much of a big deal, but says that if you can't find the 7-760cc, you'll do "just fine" opting for the higher model in the series. At TopTenReviews.com, John Carlsen awards the Series 7-790cc the Gold Award among the 11 shavers tested and says that it provides "the best overall shave you can get from an electric razor."

Of course, no product, electric razor or otherwise, gets universal love from experts. The most negative review we spotted was at Moo.Review, where Adam Vegas picks a bunch of nits, big and small, with this model. However, even he says that shaving performance is "pretty good," especially for those that shave on a daily basis, and adds that the shaver is "so comfortable that daily shaving won't be a problem at all."

So, what do users say? Most feedback we spotted indicates high satisfaction. At Amazon.com, the Series 7 790cc gets a whopping 5,475 reviews and an overall rating of 4.4 stars. At BestBuy.com we see less feedback, but still a substantial number of reviews -- more than 475. Users seem happier still, and the electric razor earns a 4.7 star score, with recommendations from 99 percent of owners.

Overall, the Braun Series 7 earns particular praise for being able to handle both sensitive skin and a tough, coarse beard that grows in different directions -- about the toughest skin/hair combination possible. The banana-shaped Braun Series 7 electric shavers feel better in your hand than their predecessors, which were shaped like a bar of soap, owners say. The head tilts slightly inward to give you a better shaving angle, and reviewers like the handle's rubberized outer covering, which makes it easy to maintain a good grip. Noise is an issue for some users, though ConsumerReports.org rates it as very good in that regard -- no worse than rotary shavers that some hold to be a touch quieter.

Cleaning stands are a weak point for other shaver models, but users and experts report that the Braun Series 7 cleaning base that comes with the 760cc and 790cc shavers works very well. The base requires a Braun Clean and Renew Cartridge (Est. $17 for four); each cartridge lasts for about a month.

Braun also offers a step-down model in the series, the Braun Series 7 720s (Est. $200). Performance should be identical to the aforementioned 760cc and 790cc -- in fact, ConsumerReports.org rates it identically based on its test of the 760cc. The big difference is that the 720s lacks the cleaning base. Some owners say that's actually a plus as they prefer to clean their shaver manually, and that cuts out the cost of the cleaning cartridges that the cleaning base requires. However, while ongoing costs will be less, the 7-720s is actually priced similarly to the top of the line Series 7 790cc, and sometimes retails for even more.

Other Braun shavers are worth considering

If you don't need the vibrating Pulsonic feature or are just on a tighter budget, the Braun Series 5 5090cc (Est. $150) retains the Series 7's three customizable settings, flexible head and flexible foils to give you a close, contoured shave. It also comes with a cleaning station. Adam Vegas at Moo.Review is a fan. Though he finds some issues with this razor as well -- "Over all I am pretty impressed with the shaving experience and would highly recommended, as long as you can get over the fact it feels like a jackhammer in your hand," he says -- he clearly likes it better than the Series 7 razor.

User feedback is reasonably strong -- 4.3 stars following more than 450 reviews at Amazon.com. We did see a few complaints from users that this Series 5 razor doesn't perform as well as earlier razors from Braun and other makers. Also, the cleaning station doesn't have a drying function like that of the Series 7, so the cleaning process can take several hours.

At the other end of the spectrum is Braun's top of the line Series 9, including the Braun Series 9 9095cc (Est. $295). It features Braun's most advanced cutting system, dubbed SyncroSonic, that delivers 40,000 cutting actions per minute plus special cutters to deal with "problem" hairs, such as those that lay flat to the face or that are growing in different directions. It also is a wet/dry shaver.

However, its price is as spectacular as its performance, leading some to question its value. "The new Series 9 is a big advance, a better shaver, but at an astronomical price that only the earliest of early adopters, true have-the-best mega-shoppers, and possibly steel-wool bearded lumberjacks-with-trust funds might consider," TheSweethome.com opines. Koeppel adds, "For everyone else (and that's pretty much everyone) the Series 7 will get your face nice and smooth a bit less quickly, but quickly enough and at enough of a savings to buy several years' worth of replacement cutting blocks, foils, and cleaning solution." If you are not interested in a wet shave, the Braun Series 9 9090cc (Est. $250) is the same electric razor, but is dry only.

Regardless of which Braun shaver you choose, it will be backed by a good warranty -- the two-year limited warranty (foil and cutter excluded as those are wear items that need to be replaced periodically) is typical among top brand shavers, but the 60-day money-back guarantee is the best we've encountered.

A cheap foil shaver

While Braun rules the roost among foil shavers with the best performance, the top models can cost a pretty penny. If your budget won't allow for that, the Remington F5-5800 (Est. $45) gets fairly decent reviews, and better feedback than any other foil shaver in its price class, albeit with some caveats.

Among those caveats is that if not used properly, the F5-5800 can be more irritating than the Braun shavers discussed above. "Testers reported that the shave could be quite irritating if a light touch was not maintained," Vegas says. Koeppel concurs; though he names the Remington electric razor his budget pick, he adds that "the Remington offers generally good performance, though you'll likely find the shave experience itself to be buzzier and potentially more irritating if you don't maintain a very light touch."

Moo.Review also notes that replacement foils and cutters are inexpensive compared to Braun and other shavers. The downside, however, is that they don't last as long -- expect to need to change them ever six months (versus every year) to keep the Remington at best performance.

Still, these experts say that in this price range, the Remington can offer a better shave than comparably priced models from other makers. User feedback is decent, too -- a 4.1 star score at Amazon.com following more than 1,950 reviews

So, the bottom line here is that if you want a foil shaver for dry shaving, Braun shavers are the best bet. But if your wallet won't allow for a top performing Braun, look to the Remington F5-5800 as a good budget bet. In addition, if you want a wet/dry shaver that can be used in the shower, a battery shaver for travel, or a rotary shaver, models from other brands bubble up to the top. See those sections for more information.

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