Shaving can be an unpleasant and even painful experience for some men. Apart from the usual problems, black men may have to deal with some specific issues due to the particularities of their facial hair. Therefore, choosing a suitable electric razor should come as a priority.
Finding the best electric shaver for black men is a matter of understanding the characteristics of the facial hair and the specific problems that may arise. These aspects must be taken into account when selecting a product as it can make a huge difference in the shaving experience.
Black men and shaving: what are the most common problems?
Even though men of all ethnicity have to deal with the unpleasant and painful side of shaving, African American men seem to be affected to a higher degree. The main reason for that is their curly, coarse facial hair and its tendency to become ingrown, leading to painful razor bumps and irritation.
A razor bump forms when one hair that was cut close to the skin starts growing and curls back into the skin.
To make matters worse, a typical shaver will cut the hair at an angle (since the hair usually grows parallel to the skin), leaving it extremely sharp and making it even easier to penetrate the skin.
The body then sees the ingrown hair as a foreign object and an immune response is triggered in the form of an inflammatory process.
It’s easy to see why hair that naturally curls is much more likely to cause razor bumps. In more severe cases, these bumps can break out all over the face and neck and shaving before they heal can even cause scarring. In this case seeing a dermatologist is highly recommended.
What are the qualities of an electric shaver suitable for black men?
Considering the above mentioned aspects, along with other typical requirements for sensitive skin, here are the most important characteristics of an electric razor:
1. It must be good at dealing with flat lying, curly hair.
As mentioned previously, the fact that a typical shaver will cut the hair at an angle, leaving it sharp and prone to penetrating back into the skin will only increase the odds of becoming ingrown.
A suitable electric shaver will lift the hair and cut it straight. Also, it must effectively capture and cut longer hairs that grow in different directions. Usually someone with sensitive skin will have to wait a few days before shaving to allow the skin to heal. Therefore, the shaver must deal with longer hair.
This is usually the Achilles’ heel for most electric razors and the fact that the hair also has a natural tendency to curl will only make the job more difficult. Also, multiple passes on tricky areas like the neck can irritate sensitive skin.
2. It must have a fast motor, sharp blades and be gentle to the skin.
Pulling and tugging are usually caused by dull blades and/or a motor that is not quite up to the task.
A quality shaver will provide fast and smooth shaves, will need little to no pressure applied and won’t get hot during operation. Also, changing the blades and foil regularly is a must, especially for men with sensitive skin.
It is a vicious circle: dull blades won’t cut hair efficiently, thus requiring multiple passes and increasing the chances of irritation and razor burn.
3. Dry and wet shaving capabilities.
Even though this feature is not a must, it can vastly improve the shaving experience for some men. Using a quality shaving cream with your electric razor can yield much better results in terms of both closeness and comfort.
Some will say that wet shaving pretty much defies the purpose of an electric shaver and it’s a fair point. But if you’re not seeing the improvements you were hoping for you should definitely give it a try.
What’s the best electric shaver for black men in 2017?
Now that we have a clear picture of the typical problems and the characteristics of a suitable shaver, let’s take a look at some of the best electric shavers for black men.
1. Braun Series 9 9290cc
The Series 9 is the latest and greatest from Braun and has taken over the Series 7 as the company’s new flagship shaver.
The expectations were high and the Series 9 definitely delivers.
With an improved and more advanced shaving head, an additional cutting element designed specifically for capturing longer, flat lying hairs and a more powerful motor, the Series 9 is one of the more capable electric shavers you can buy today.
While it manages to offer very close shaves, this doesn’t come at the expense of comfort. On the contrary, the Series 9 is arguably the most comfortable electric shaver you can currently buy.
Due to its advanced shaving system, it deals with longer hairs better than most other foil electric shavers. So shaving daily is not a requirement here in order to get a smooth, clean shave. This, along with its powerful motor and the skin friendly shaving head make the Series 9 an excellent choice for black men.
The Series 9 is available in several variations, all of them offering the same shaving performance. You can opt for a wet & dry model, like the 9290cc or a dry only model like the 9090cc.
Regardless of your preference for dry or wet shaving, I highly suggest choosing a variation that includes an automatic cleaning station.
Braun shavers are more difficult to clean manually than other foil razors and the cleaning station does a great job at sanitizing and lubricating you shaver. Your overall costs won’t increase by a whole lot and it’s worth the extra money.
While the Braun Series 9 is probably the best electric shaver for black men, it is pretty expensive . And the same goes for the replacement shaving heads.
Let’s now take a look at some budget friendly alternatives.
2. Braun Series 7 797CC
Braun Series 7 797CC is a wet/dry variation of the highly popular and acclaimed Braun 790CC that was widely regarded as one of the best electric shavers you could buy.
This razor builds upon that already great foundation by being completely waterproof, thus suitable to be used for wet shaving. It takes all the positive aspects of the 790CC and adds the benefits of wet shaving.
Like its predecessor, it features the same ActiveLift system that lifts and cuts flat-lying hair. And it pretty much works as advertised. In the context of dealing with curly hair that tends to grow at an angle, it’s easy to see why this shaver is a very solid choice.
Also, it comes with a powerful motor, a triple blade cutting system and a thin foil that was designed to be kind to sensitive skin and capture hair very efficiently.
All of the above features help maintain the number of passes to a minimum, while providing close and comfortable shaves.
Being an advanced and feature rich razor, the 797cc is not on the cheap side, but the performance and comfort are excellent. Its micro pulsations technology makes the experience of shaving feel more like a gentle massage.
It’s also worth mentioning that it comes with a cleaning and charging station that uses an alcohol based solution and does an excellent job of cleaning and sanitizing your shaver.
If you won’t be using it for wet shaving, you can save some money and definitely go for the Braun Series 7 790CC, which is an identical shaver (except that it is not waterproof). You can also check out our in-depth review of the 790CC here.
3. Braun Series 5 5090cc
The latest iteration of the Braun Series 5 represents a very compelling option. Performance-wise, it’s pretty much identical to the Series 7 above.
However, the price of the Series 5 is lower. More importantly, the replacement shaving head for the Series 5 costs less than half the price you would pay for a similar Series 7 shaving head.
The new Series 5 still offers the same excellent shaving performance, being very gentle to the skin. Since its shaving head is almost identical to the Series 7, the Series 5 is a capable and suitable option for black men.
It is available for wet & dry or dry only use. You can also buy it with an automatic Clean & Charge station, which we highly recommend.
Please note that the station is available just for the dry only variations, like the 5090cc.
4. Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc4
If you’re aiming for a budget friendly option, the Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc4 will get the job done while also being easy on the wallet. With its 4 blade cutting system, 14 000 CPM motor, wet/dry operation and a thin foil that vibrates and lifts the hair, this shaver is definitely right for the job.
While not on the same level of performance and comfort as its more expensive counterparts like the latest Arc 5 shavers from Panasonic, it manages to get pretty close in almost all aspects.
In order to keep the price low, the ES-LA63-S doesn’t come with a cleaning and charging station. Considering the price and the overall performance, it’s a minor downside of an otherwise excellent and capable shaver.
The list above doesn’t include any rotary razors as I find foil shavers to be a better choice for sensitive skin. But if you know from previous experience that a rotary shaver would be more suitable for you, than by all means you should stick to using one.
Black men have some particularities to their facial hair and skin that make choosing an electric shaver a somewhat difficult task. This article aims at putting you on the right track. There are of course other excellent electric shavers than the ones listed in this article; it’s also a matter of personal preference, budget and technology used.
Choosing the right electric shaver for black men implies a consideration of all the specific qualities that the razor must possess (outlined in the first part of this article). Lastly, your technique and prep work are also just as important, so make sure to check out our recommendations as well: