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 as 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 the 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 you 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 scenario. 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?
1. Powerful motor.
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 good, 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.
2. Sharp blades.
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.
3. 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.
4. 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. The addition of a quality shaving cream can improve the closeness and comfort of your shave. You can check out our tips for wet shaving with an electric razor here.
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. My personal pick is the 9290CC for its wet & dry capabilities and Braun’s excellent cleaning system.
So what makes the Series 9 suitable for coarse stubble? With a very powerful motor, an advanced 4 blade cutting system and Braun’s micro-vibrations technology, 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.
As for the downsides, the Series 9 is definitely not cheap, so if you’re looking for better value for money check out the next option.
2. Braun Series 7 797cc
The Series 7 is still going strong and represents an excellent more affordable alternative to the Series 9.
The Series 7 was a crowd favorite for many years and received rave reviews for its comfort and close shaves. The most popular variations of the Series 7 are the 790CC (only for dry use) and the newer 799CC and 797cc that are suitable for wet & dry operation.
While not as powerful as the Series 9 above, the Series 7 is still an extremely capable razor that will be perfectly suitable for men with thick facial hair. Granted, it will not shave as fast, but the comfort and closeness of the shave should be extremely similar.
On the plus side, the 797CC can often be bought at a discount for almost half the price of the Series 9 or the latest Arc 5 from Panasonic. To be honest, I think most men will be satisfied with the Series 7 and I actually recommend it for the excellent price and performance ratio. Only go for the 9290CC if you want the absolute best and the budget is not really an issue.
3. Panasonic ES-LV-61A
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 is the first generation Panasonic ES-LV61-A.
In terms of shaving performance, all first and second generation Arc 5 razors are pretty much the same, so the difference comes down to design and the inclusion of a clean & charge station.
Since I am not particularly fond of Panasonic’s cleaning stations (they’re noisy, the cleaning cycle is long, they use detergent instead of alcohol), I decided to include the ES-LV61-A in this list. If you absolutely must have one, there is the more expensive ES-LV95-S Arc5 or you can go for one of the Braun models above as their cleaning stations are arguably better.
The Panasonic ES-LV61-A is fitted with an extremely fast 14000 CPM motor and very sharp blades that are honed at a 30 degrees angle. This allows them to cut thick hair extremely close, fast and efficiently. The massive shaving head with its 5 blades can cover very large surfaces, 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 a bit more comfortable, in my own personal and subjective experience the Panasonics are marginally better in terms of closeness. Again, this will vary among different users and there are many instances where it is the other way around.
4. Panasonic ES-LA63-S
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 ones mentioned above.
It has the same 14000 CPM motor and 30 degrees nanoblades and has 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.