Types of Electric Shavers
This type of electric razor has oscillating blades hidden behind thin, perforated steel foils. The foils lift your facial hair (or any hair, really) up to the blades for a close shave. Most of the foil shavers we evaluate have between three to five blades. The number of blades determines the size of the shaving head and, in theory, the speed of your shave. However, bigger isn't always better. If a foil razor's shaving head gets too big, it can be hard to maneuver over the contours of a smaller face and neck.
Rotary razors use spinning circular blades, which flex in their housing to accommodate the contours of your face. Because each blade on a rotary shaver swivels independently, these shavers may do a better job than foil shavers at following the contours of your face and neck. Rotary shavers tend to be quieter than foil shavers, handle longer hairs better, and offer the advantage of letting you shave in almost any direction -- up and down, side to side, or even moving the shaver in circles.
While most rotary razors can work either wet or dry, if a wet shave is a priority, wet/dry foil shavers get high marks. Many users comment favorably on the smooth shave they get from grooming during or just after a shower, and those with sensitive skin usually benefit from using a shaving lotion or cream. The versatility of a good wet/dry foil shaver means you can fine-tune the shaving experience to suit your skin and hair type, or to how much time you have for grooming on any particular day.
Battery Powered Shavers
Most modern electric shavers have a built-in rechargeable battery, but for travel -- especially to locations where the electric service differs from the U.S. -- a shaver powered by standard, AA replaceable batteries is worth considering. Performance is typically a notch (or more) poorer than standard electric razors, but these cost less and are lighter in weight, making them good for toting around on globetrotting adventures, or to toss in a briefcase for touch ups during the day. Both foil and rotary versions are available.
make a snap decision
Some reviews suggest that rotary shavers work better for men with dense
hair and round faces, while foil shavers are better suited for men with light
hair and thin faces. However, your personal preferences will always trump these
broad generalities. It's also important to realize that it can take a few weeks
for your face to adjust to any new shaver, so if you're not happy with a new
razor right away, don't be too quick to give up on it -- you may see a major
difference in results as your skin and beard adapt.
If you're still unhappy after that time frame, the good news is that
most name-brand shavers come with a 30-day (or better) money-back guarantee. Be
sure to be aware of what kind of guarantee your new shaver includes, so you can
return it within that time frame.
Although name-brand shavers from
Braun, Panasonic and Philips Norelco -- all of which dominate at least one
category in this report -- cost more than other models, experts say the quality
of their shave and construction justifies their higher price tag. These brands
consistently outrank budget brands in comfort, ease of use, performance and
durability, making them better values in the long run.
The name-brand shavers in this
report are all backed by a two-year warranty -- a good thing, because every
single shaver has its share of durability concerns, usually related to battery
life in one way or another. Shaver companies aren't known for their great
customer service, although the rate of complaints seems to have eased off
significantly over the last few years.
Overall, we found that the best electric shavers --
the ones that will give you a close, clean shave without ruining your hearing
or yanking your beard out one hair at a time -- cost anywhere from $45 to $250
or more, with yearly maintenance costs that range from $20 to $230 depending on
the shaver and what sort of cleaning stand it has (if any).
Of course, neither foil nor rotary shavers can shave quite as close as
manual razors -- but the best models get pretty close. See our report on razors for reviews of the best manual models.
Finding The Best Electric Shavers
"The Best Electric Razor"
Finding the best electric shavers for this
report is a little bit of a challenge as the nature of your face and facial
hair can play a large role in influencing which type and model of electric
shaver will leave you most satisfied. Still, we found good hands-on testing --
often over long periods of time -- at several sites, including
ConsumerReports.org, TheSweethome.com, TopTenReviews.com and elsewhere. In
addition, we turned to retail sites that allow users to post reviews of
products they own, including Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and BestBuy.com. While
some electric razors get only minimal feedback, others draw hundreds -- and in
some cases thousands -- of user reviews, and that helps fill in the gaps
regarding shaver reliability and the long term satisfaction of users. We
consider both user feedback and expert testing in our analysis, and the result
is the best reviewed electric shavers for any face and any budget.