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Best Foil Shavers

By: Carl Laron on October 26, 2017

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.

Of course, when a product, even a successful product, has been on the market for a number of years, makers can't resist the urge to shake things up a little, even when the changes are either so minor as to not really matter, or are merely cosmetic. Braun did that in 2016, when it introduced wet/dry versions for sale alongside their venerable dry-only shavers.

It didn't go particularly well. The razors themselves were every bit as good at the older models, user feedback revealed, but shoppers trying to make a purchase decision were sometimes left scratching their heads over the differences. "The names don't really make any sense and Braun also used some marketing terminology in an attempt to make the update look [like] more than just a cosmetic makeover," notes Ovidiu Nicolae at ShaverCheck.com. "In reality, the differences compared to the older Series 7 shavers are minor."

So, for 2017, it was back to the drawing board for Braun, which has gone to the other extreme by collapsing the entire Series 7 to essentially one model, with three model numbers that signify only different color schemes (gray or chrome) and retailer availability. No expert has weighed in on these electric shavers as of yet (and most were silent on last year's new models as well), but user feedback is starting to build and it's highly positive. As it looks like shaving performance mirrors that of the older Series 7 models, we considered feedback rendered in expert, independent testing of those versions to still be valid.

With all of that background information now behind us, it's time to make the call for the best foil shaver, and that's the Braun Series 7 7865cc (Est. $215), which is the version of this razor in the premium grey finish. If you'd prefer the chrome finish, it's available as the Braun Series 7 7899cc (Est. $210). Other than color, and which retailer carries which model, these are the same razor, with the same features, and the same MSRP, so unless color or which retailer you prefer to buy from are major considerations, you may want to do some shopping to see which retailer is offering the best deal at the moment.

Expert reviewers largely love the Braun Series 7. The previous generation models earn the highest ratings at ConsumerReports.com. They are also the top picks at TheSweethome.com. Reviewer Dan Koeppel says that the site's conclusion is that the Series 7 is the best electric razor for most people. At TopTenReviews.com, Rebecca Spear awards the Series 7 the Gold Award among the 10 shavers tested and says that "The Braun Series 7 does everything it can to give you an excellent shave while leaving your face feeling refreshed instead of irritated"

Of course, no product, electric razor or otherwise, gets universal love from experts. The most negative review we spotted was at Moo.Review, where Ben Atkins picks a bunch of nits, big and small, with the Series 7. However, even he says that shaving performance is "pretty good," especially for those who 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? Turning our attention to the latest version, users seem to be thrilled thus far. There are far fewer owner reviews compared to the older versions, but with roughly 170 users weighing in at Amazon.com for the Braun Series 7 7865cc, and another 75 weighing in at BestBuy.com for the Braun Series 7 7899cc, there's more than enough feedback to be meaningful. Scores largely parallel what we see with the older versions, including a 4.3 star score at Amazon.com, and a 4.7 star score at BestBuy.com.

Overall, the Braun Series 7 earns kudos for being able to shave closely, even on tough beards, and for their overall ease of use. It's gentleness on sensitive skin also draws positive feedback. Cleaning stands are a weak point for other shaver models, but users and experts report that the Braun Series 7 cleaning base works very well. The base requires a Braun Clean and Renew Cartridge (Est. $23 for four); each cartridge lasts for about a month.

Meanwhile, though they are no longer listed as current on the Braun website, our former Best Reviewed pick, the Braun Series 7 790cc (Est. $170) and close runner up, the Braun Series 7 760cc (Est. $155) remain widely available at retail. The key difference is that these models are only suitable for dry shaving. Otherwise, experts such as ShaverCheck.com note that the differences are largely cosmetic, marketing related, or in features (such as the number of power settings) that don't really impact the way most users typically shave.

These are the versions of the Series 7 that most experts have actually tested, and largely swooned over. User reviews continue to be fabulous as well. And, at current pricing, they are a little bit cheaper than our Best Reviewed pick, too. If you are absolutely sure that you won't be taking your razor into the shower with you, and you find one at retail and at a good price, these razors are a very reasonable alternative.

Other Braun shavers are worth considering

If you are on a tighter budget, the Braun Series 5 5190cc (Est. $120) has fewer features, but does retain some of the Series 7's goodies, such as customizable power settings, flexible head and flexible foils to give you a close, contoured shave. It also comes with a cleaning station. This is a minor update to the Braun Series 5 5090cc, bringing with it wet/dry versatility, and not much else according to ShaverCheck.com. Nicolae adds that the shaving heads are the same, so "I have no reason to believe that the actual shaving performance is anything but identical."

That should be good news, reviews indicate. Ben Atkins at Moo.Review is a fan of the previous version. 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. At Amazon.com, reviews of the 5190cc are mingled with those of previous versions, dating all the way back to 2009. Be that as it may, we see an overall rating of 4.3 stars based on nearly 3,000 reviews.

At the other end of the spectrum is Braun's top of the line Series 9, including the Braun Series 9 9290cc (Est. $250). It features Braun's most advanced cutting system, dubbed SyncroSonic, which checks beard density 160 times a minute and adapts the shaver's power to match. The shaver also has 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.

This model has been reviewed by experts, including Robert E. Calem at Techlicious.com and Nicolae at ShaverCheck.com. Both give it a resounding thumbs-up. Though testing appears to be limited, Calem spends a month using the razor and dubs it better than the site's previous best shaver pick, the Panasonic Arc5 ES-LV65-S (Est. $185), which is covered in our section on the best wet/dry razors. He says it shaves as well, but is easier to use and hold. Nicolae also spends a month using the razor and is even more impressed. "I can honestly say that the 9290cc gave me the most pleasant, enjoyable and comfortable shave of any electric razors I've used so far," he says, adding that "If I could describe the shaving experience in one word, that would be effortless."

Value is the big issue with the Series 9, and even fans like Nicolae concede that it's pricey. The value question is what caused reviewers of other models in the series to suggest that most users look elsewhere. "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. Still prices have come down since then, and Nicolae says that, in comparison, the 9290cc isn't a terrible deal. "This particular model is shaping up to be one of the best-selling Series 9 shavers due to its lower price compared to other similar Series 9 variations," he says.

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 PF7500 F5 (Est. $45) foil shaver gets better reviews than most foil shavers in its price class, albeit with some pretty big caveats.

Experts don't provide a ton of feedback, but Nicolae at ShaverCheck.com is moderately impressed, giving it a 4 star rating and adding that for the price, it's "surprisingly good." He gives the shaver a thorough test, using it both daily and after allowing a few days growth to build up. He says that best results come when you use a pre-shave product -- in this case Williams Lectric Shave (Est. $9 for 7 ounces) -- but that closeness was better than with any other shaver in this price category, coupled with comfort that was pretty good. "I normally get quite a bit of irritation and nicks from Remington shavers, but with this one I had no problems apart from a few isolated incidents that were mostly my fault."

That's not to say that there aren't some downsides. There's a pronounced lack of refinement compared with other, better electric razors. "When shaving, that is when actual hairs are being cut, the PF7500 sounds and feels as if the shaving head is going to disintegrate. It vibrates vigorously and makes a loud rattling noise, especially when shaving longer hairs," Nicolae says. Also, when pre-shave wasn't applied, "the foils would sometimes hop and drag on the skin and the foils can feel a bit rough, especially on the neck."

Still, for this price range, the Remington can offer a better shave than comparably priced models from other makers. User feedback isn't terrific -- a 3.8 star score at Amazon.com following nearly 100 reviews -- but that's better than many cheap electric razors can muster. While unhappy owners aren't a rarity, there are also lots that are perfectly satisfied with the value and performance of the PF7500. And if you are not sure that you'll be happy with such a cheap shaver, the Remington is backed by a 60 day satisfaction guarantee that (along with Braun's) is the best in the industry.

So, the bottom line here is that if you want a foil shaver, Braun shavers are your best bet. But if your wallet won't allow for a top performing Braun, look to the Remington PF7500 F5 as a decent budget choice. In addition, if you want a wet/dry shaver that shines 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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