Electric razors: The closest shave

Last reviewed: June 2011
June 2011 issue cover This article appeared in
June 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.
Latest on Electric razors

With Father’s Day come thoughts of ties, cologne, and, of course, electric razors. If you or the dad in your life is one of the 36 percent of men who plug in to shave, we can help. Our testers found seven smooth operators, plus a couple of budget models that didn’t make the cut.

The tested foil shavers have one to four heads and blades that oscillate behind a perforated screen. The tested rotary shavers have three circular heads, with cutters that spin behind a fine grid.

For at least a week, a total of 19 volunteers shaved with each device of the type they normally use, and our trained panelists compared their post-shave mugs with grades of sandpaper. We also tested battery life and evaluated noise and features, and how easy shavers were to clean.

Although neither type of shaver was clearly better overall, the top foil shavers outscored the top rotary shavers by a hair. Volunteers had a harder time shaving their chin and upper lip with rotary shavers.

The top-rated Braun Series 7 760cc-4 foil shaver has the longest battery life and includes a cleaning system. (But that perk can be bulky and requires replacement fluid, an added cost.) Unlike the Braun, Panasonic’s Vortex HydraClean ES8109s and Arc 4 Multi-Flex ES-LA63-s can be used wet or dry.

The Philips Norelco SensoTouch 3D 1250X was the best rotary shaver, and our volunteers said it was the easiest to use of that type. It can be used wet or dry but needs a charging stand, which means more to take if you travel. The Philips Norelco 8200 Series 8240 did almost as well for $100 less.

Bottom line

The very good electric shavers cost from $55 to $240. Pick one with the features that are most important to you. Shavers usually have a money-back guarantee, which is helpful: You may need almost a month to adjust to a new shaver.