So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and go for an electric shaver. Great!
Shaving is an integral part of our life style as men and we should aim to make it as enjoyable and pain free as possible. The right electric razor can really transform your shaving experience and ultimately make it seem less of a chore.
Regardless of your reasons for switching sides and joining the electric camp, you will be faced with the task of choosing your first electric shaver. And from my own experience, it can be pretty frustrating.
But fear no more, as in this article we’ll address all the important bits and we’ll even share some of our favorite shavers that will make great choices for first time shavers. Let’s dive in!
Rules of thumb when choosing your first electric shaver
1. Don’t overlook running costs and have a clearly defined budget
I remember that in my wet shaving days, multi-blade cartridges were crazy expensive and the costs added up pretty quickly over the course of one year.
One of the side benefits of electric shaving is not having to spend money every month on refills. You do however have to replace the cutters and foils once every 12 to 18 months.
Having said that, make sure you do some research with regards to the cost and availability of replacement parts before buying a particular razor; some can cost almost as much as a brand new shaver.
You can check out our reviews section as well where we provide detailed information regarding running costs for every razor we test.
2. Always consider an electric razor that is suitable for your particular needs
Your requirements for an electric shaver may and probably are different than somebody else’s.
Make sure you take into account the things that matter. For example, what interests you the most? Is it the closeness of the shave, the comfort or the razor’s ability to be used wet and dry? Or maybe you have sensitive skin or have to deal with ingrown hairs?
Whatever the case may be, make sure to prioritize and choose a shaver that is a good match for you and you alone.
3. Resist the hype and don’t buy a shaver with a gazillion number of blades and features
As a first time user, you’ll be better off with a more basic shaver that’s easy to use and to maintain in good working condition. Also, four or five blades are often overkill. On top of that, these shavers also tend to be very expensive to buy and to run.
You may also find that electric shaving isn’t for you, and since you have to wait up to a month for your skin to get used to the new way of shaving, you won’t be able to return the product. You don’t want to be the guy that spent a few hundred dollars on a product he won’t be using. In other words, one doesn’t have to break the bank for a razor that will do the job just fine.
Foil vs Rotary: which is better for beginners?
While there is no straight or right answer to this question, I will give my 2 cents on the matter.
I prefer foil shavers as my skin tends to get along better with them. Personal preference aside, foil shavers do have some particular traits that make them more suitable for absolute beginners.
Here are what I consider to be the main advantages of foil shavers in the context of first time use:
- Foil shavers have a less steep learning curve. They’re dead simple in construction and operation: sharp blades oscillate under a perforated micro-foil that you move against the grain, applying very little pressure. Rotary shavers tend to cause some trouble to first time users and it takes more time for your technique to improve.
- Foil shavers are better for hard to reach areas like under your nose or for shaving around a goatee. This one is pretty self-explanatory; due to the construction of the cutting elements, foil shavers are just easier to work with when performing some maneuvers that require more precision and finesse.
- A wider selection of brands and models. The rotary razors market is dominated by Philips Norelco; there isn’t really any other viable option. On the other hand, there are loads of models from Panasonic, Braun and even Remington in the foil category.
- They are easier to clean and maintain. We are of course not talking about razors that come with automatic cleaning stations. Manually cleaning a foil shaver is usually simpler and faster; some liquid soap and rinsing under tap water is all it takes. And this is how a basic cleaning goes for a rotary razor as well, but every once in a while you must perform a more thorough cleaning. This implies taking the whole shaving head apart and clean each individual cutting blade, one by one, then carefully putting them back together in the exact same order. And that’s a bit of a hassle. After all, we switched to electric shaving to avoid doing stuff.
Some rotary shaver users may disagree with me and that’s totally fine, everyone should use what suits them best. But for me, and I think for the majority of first time users, a foil razor is the safer choice.
Again, it is just my personal opinion on this polarizing topic. I started out with a foil Braun that my parents gave to me as a present. I don’t remember the exact model, but I do recall it being pretty awful. After every shave my face was a mess but for some reason I just sticked with it.
My first electric razor that I bought after doing some research was a wet/dry Panasonic (pictured to the right) that provided much better comfort and performance.
Enough with the boring stuff. Let’s put the above stuff into practice and check out some razors!
What are some of the best electric shavers for beginners?
In your quest for finding the best electric razor for first time shavers, here are a few of our favorite options to get you started:
1. Panasonic ES8103S Arc3 | Buy it from Amazon.com
It offers excellent performance for the money by including a powerful 13 000 CPM motor, excellent 30 degrees sharpen nano-blades and wet & dry operation.
Moreover, it is dead easy to use, clean and to replace the foil and cutters. Speaking of which, you’ll be needing a new set every year, but the cost is pretty reasonable. For more in-depth details, make sure to check out our review of the ES8103S Arc3 here.
2. Braun 3 Series 340S-4 | Buy it from Amazon.com
Available in several variants, some of them suitable for dry shaving only, the Series 3 razors are another solid option for someone just getting started with electric shaving.
The 340S-4 is one of the most popular razors from the 3 Series line; with wet & dry operation, it provides close and irritation free shaves, being suitable for sensitive skin as well. It also features an excellent integrated pop-up trimmer, has solid build quality and it’s quiet during operation (at least for a foil shaver).
One of the best things about this shaver is Braun’s reputation for reliability and the low price of the replacement parts. Unlike Panasonic, Braun uses a cassette that integrates both the cutters and the foil and must be replaced only once every 18 months. To make the deal even sweeter, the price for a replacement cassette is significantly lower compared to other manufacturers.
If you’re in the market for your first electric shaver, the 3 Series 340S-4 is definitely worth considering; you can also read our detailed review of this shaver here.
An alternative to the 340s-4 is its successor, the 3040s from the refreshed Series 3. While this is more of a visual update — the new shaver being basically identical in terms of performance — the new Series 3 3040s can be purchased at an even lower price than the model it replaces.
So if you decide to go for a Series 3, definitely check both of them out and simply buy the one you can find cheaper.
3. Panasonic ES8243A Arc4 | Buy it from Amazon.com
With its four cutting elements, it goes a bit against our third rule of thumb, but the overall size of the shaving head is quite compact despite the addition of a fourth blade and Panasonic did a great job in the ergonomics department.
Highly similar in design and function to our first choice (the ES8103S Arc3), the Panasonic ES8243A Arc4 has a superior cutting head with four sharp nano-blades that will provide very close, comfortable shaves. Those more concerned with the closeness of the shave and fast shaving times should really consider this one.
Having said that, the ES8243A is more expensive, but still reasonable and offering excellent performance for the money. As stated in our review, the replacement parts are however a bit pricey.
4. Philips Norelco 4100 | Buy it from Amazon.com
There is a wide variety of reasonably priced models from Philips Norelco to choose from. They generally offer good performance and the Aquatec models can be used for wet & dry shaving.
A razor worth checking out is the Norelco 4100 that we reviewed in the past. It offers great performance for the price, provides close and comfortable shaves, has an integrated pop-up trimmer and, being a rotary shaver, it’s also very quiet during operation.
The fact that it’s pretty basic in its construction and function is definitely a plus, while the replacement HQ8 heads are durable and inexpensive. All of these make the Norelco 4100 a great choice for a beginner that is looking for an affordable, but capable rotary shaver.
Is an automatic cleaning station necessary?
You have probably noticed that none of the recommended shavers come with a cleaning and charging station. I don’t think that the added cost (the cleaning cartridges can be quite expensive) are justified, especially since these are pretty basic, easy to clean and maintain razors.
Some shavers do offer variants that come with a cleaning station (usually for a higher price) like the Braun 3 Series 350cc-4 or the Braun 3050cc reviewd here. Whether the convenience of a cleaning station is worth the extra money is totally up to you.
Hopefully these tips will come in handy when choosing your first electric razor. Just remember that the first time using it probably won’t go as smooth as you’d hope in terms of closeness and comfort. Your skin needs at least a few weeks to get used to electric shaving and your technique needs some time to improve as well. So take your time and enjoy your shave!