Having coarse, thick facial hair can be a good thing.
You can grow a majestic beard and even after one or two days of growth it won’t look patchy like the facial hair of a high-school boy that just hit puberty.
But this is pretty much where the good parts end. As you can see, they mainly have to do with those times when you don’t actually have to shave. When it comes to it, a heavy beard is more challenging regardless if you’re using a blade or an electric razor.
To get a close and comfortable shave you must (among other things) make sure that you’re using the right tool for the job. Therefore, in this article we’ll take a close look at some of the best electric shavers for coarse hair.
What qualifies as coarse hair?
Determining your beard thickness is pretty simple and straight forward. A thick beard tends to have that short, dark, dense look and grows back pretty quickly.
A visible 5 o’clock shadow is also very common for men with thick facial hair.
Thick facial hair can sometimes appear patchy in certain areas — like on the cheeks — and very dense around the chin, upper lip and on the neck.
Apart from the visual cues mentioned above, another indicator of heavy beard is how fast it grows back after a clean shave. If you need to shave daily and your face feels rough to the touch after just one day, then you most likely have coarse hair.
The importance of assessing the type of your beard
Men with thick facial hair are probably aware of this matter; apart from other aspects that need to be considered when choosing an electric razor, the most important one is how suitable a particular shaver is for a given situation.
The coarseness of your beard should be an integral part of your search for the right shaver.
Not all electric razors are suitable for coarse hair. You could basically use any shaver to get the job done, but that won’t necessarily result in a comfortable, smooth, close and enjoyable shave.
Nobody wants to spend money on products that will cause discomfort, frustration and unsatisfactory results.
A bad shaving experience with one particular razor that wasn’t right for the job could even determine someone to stay away from electric razors altogether. So let’s see how we can avoid this.
What are the qualities of an electric razor suitable for coarse hair?
An electric razor fitted with a more powerful motor will be beneficial in pretty much any situation, but they are particularly important if you have coarse facial hair.
The difference in cutting power between a decent, but basic razor like the Series 3 from Braun and an advanced one like a Panasonic Arc 5 is even more obvious in this case.
Cutting thick, dense stubble requires serious power and a motor that oscillates at very high speeds will perform significantly better and the actual shaving time will be reduced as well.
This one is pretty obvious as well. A dull blade can cause pulling and tugging while the closeness of the shave will suffer as well.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you have a tough beard and need to shave very often the blades and foils will probably need to be replaced sooner than the manufacturer suggests, so make sure to do it as soon as you notice a drop in performance.
Multiple cutting elements.
While more blades won’t always improve the shaving experience to a significant degree, they most likely will in the context of coarse facial hair.
Men with heavy beards almost always have very dense stubble, which means that during a shaving session there are literally more hairs that will need to be cut compared to a medium or light beard.
For this reason, I would say that a suitable electric razor will need to have at least three individual cutting elements.
Wet & dry operation.
This one is not a must, but I strongly recommend giving wet shaving a try, especially if you also happen to have sensitive skin.
Best electric shavers for coarse hair
All men have the same reasonable expectations from an electric razor — a close and comfortable shave.
And to achieve this one must first choose an appropriate shaver.
Now that we know what to look for in a razor suitable for coarse hair, let’s check out some of the best you can buy.
1. Braun Series 9 9290cc
The Series 9 is Braun’s premium line of electric shavers and they encompass the best the company has to offer.
An evolution of the iconic and extremely popular Series 7, the Series 9 is a beefed up, more powerful and more advanced razor that should satisfy even the most demanding users.
Available in different variations, the Series 9 can be used wet & dry or dry only and can also come with a clean & charge station.
So what makes the Series 9 suitable for coarse stubble? With a very powerful motor and an advanced 4 blade cutting system the Series 9 is one of the best electric razors you can buy at this moment.
All of these features work together to provide an incredibly smooth and enjoyable shaving experience even if you have a very though beard and 2 or 3 days of growth.
I personally don’t think there is any other shaver at this moment that can outperform the Series 9 as a whole; the comfort, speed and effortless operation are second to none.
If you are blessed with sensitive skin and a thick beard like I am, the Series 9 would be a perfectly suitable choice.
As for the downsides, the Series 9 is definitely not cheap, so if you’re looking for a Braun shaver that offers better value for money and still works well with tough whiskers check out the Series 7 or 5.
2. Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5
Just like the Series 9, the Arc 5 is Panasonic’s premium line of electric shavers. While there are several variations here as well, my personal recommendation would be the ES-LV65-S from the second generation Arc 5.
In terms of shaving performance, all Arc 5 razors are pretty much the same, so the difference comes down to design, price and the inclusion of a clean & charge station.
Since a cleaning station is not really necessary in the case of Panasonic shavers as they’re very easy to clean manually, I decided to include the ES-LV65-S in this list.
If you absolutely must have one, there is the more expensive ES-LV95-S Arc 5 which is an identical shaver that also comes with an automatic cleaning station.
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S is fitted with an extremely fast 14 000 CPM motor and very sharp blades that are honed at an aggressive 30 degrees angle.
This allows them to cut thick hairs extremely close, fast and efficiently. The massive shaving head with the 5 blades can cover very large surfaces fast, reducing the number of strokes and the shaving time to a minimum.
Personally, I would place Panasonic’s Arc 5 line in the first place with regards to just the closeness of the shave.
While Braun’s Series 7 and 9 are more comfortable out of the box, in my own personal and subjective experience the Panasonics are marginally better in terms of closeness.
Again, this will vary among different users and in some instances it can very well be the other way around.
But generally if you are mainly concerned with getting the closest possible shave, I recommend the Arc 5 over Braun’s Series 9.
3. Philips Norelco 8900
Rotary shavers also fare very well with thick stubble and according to some they are even superior to foil shavers.
I think this can be the case with entry level foil shavers; advanced razors like the ones in this article will perform equally well.
One of the best rotary razors in terms of performance and costs is the Philips Norelco 8900.
The specs are very similar to the much higher priced Series 9000 shavers like the Norelco 9300 and 9700, but the price is significantly lower.
Moreover, the Norelco 8900 uses the same replacement shaving heads (SH90) as the aforementioned razors.
As a result, its performance is among the best you can expect from any rotary shaver.
So if you are a rotary shaver guy, definitely check this one out. It’s available with or without an automatic cleaning station.
4. Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc 4
The older ES-LA63-S from Panasonic’s Arc 4 line is a personal favorite of mine and probably the razor I recommend the most. The reason for this is pretty simple: it’s a very capable, versatile and solid shaver that offers excellent value for money.
The ES-LA63-S includes some of the features found on much more expensive Panasonic electric razors like the Arc 5.
It has the same 14 000 CPM motor, 30 degrees nanoblades and 4 individual cutting elements.
These features ensure excellent results even when dealing with very coarse stubble
With a competitive price, the Panasonic ES-LA63-S represents a very compelling and cost effective option for men with coarse facial hair.
To wrap it up, I just want to say that in order to get the most out of your shaver, the single most effective thing you can do is having an appropriate pre-shave routine.
A few simple and easy to implement steps can significantly improve your results.
Considering that coarse hair makes things even more difficult for an electric razor, I highly recommend checking them out.