The neck area has always been the Nemesis of a good shave for many men, myself included.
More often than not the neck plays a major part in the unpleasant side of shaving: rashes, razor burn, ingrown hairs, irritation.
Electric shavers add yet another dimension to the problem: stubborn, stray hairs that are left behind even after multiple passes.
And needlessly going over the same area can cause more discomfort and irritation.
Therefore, in this article we’ll take a close look at what makes some electric shavers better than others at shaving the troublesome neck.
I’ll also share a few recommendations that’ll hopefully help you narrow down your options and choose the shaver that will suit you the best.
The problem with shaving the neck
There are few reasons for the trouble associated with shaving the pesky neck area.
Here are the most important ones:
- The skin on the neck is more sensitive and prone to irritation. There are also more nerve endings compared to the skin on your cheeks for example. As a result, the discomfort is greater and can be triggered easily.
- On the neck hairs are more likely to lie flat on the skin and to grow in different directions. And this can be a serious issue for many electric shavers, particularly for the basic ones. This will often lead to more passes, more pressure applied and greater chances of irritation and razor burn. Also, the longer you use an electric shaver, the hotter it will get. And a hot shaving head is never good news for sensitive skin. Luckily, there are a few shavers that don’t get warm during operation as you’ll see later in the article.
- There’s a higher probability for ingrown hairs and razor bumps. A hair becomes ingrown when is cut close to the skin and then starts growing and curls back into the skin. As said previously, hairs on the neck tend to lie flat on the skin which increases the chances of penetrating back into the skin. Since the body sees it as a foreign object it will trigger an inflammatory (and painful) process.
- The oddly shaped surfaces and little leverage makes it difficult to shave efficiently. There are a few very tricky spots, like the area right under your chin or jaw line. You have to constantly adjust the length of the strokes, angle, direction and so on in order to get a clean, smooth shave.
If we take into account the above mentioned points, a good electric shaver for the neck will basically have to:
- Be suitable for sensitive skin
- Be good at shaving flat lying hairs that grow in different directions
Which leads us to the next question.
Rotary or foil for shaving the neck?
In the electric shaving community there is a consensus that one type of electric razor is better than the other depending on the situation.
And I definitely agree, with one additional note: these are only general guidelines and in real life things won’t always turn out as expected.
For example, foil shavers are generally thought to be more suitable for sensitive skin, but there are men who can’t use anything apart from a rotary shaver.
The shaving technique required for foil and rotary shavers differs significantly and here is where personal preference comes into play. Using one vs the other simply feels right and more natural. And that alone can improve the final result.
When it comes to foil or rotary for shaving the neck, here are a few things to keep in mind. Again, these are just anecdotal considerations, not absolute truths.
- Rotary shavers are generally better at dealing with stubborn neck hair: longer, flat lying hairs that grow in different directions. By using circular, overlapping clockwise and counterclockwise motions you can capture more stray hairs with different growth patterns than you would with most foil shavers.
- Rotary shavers are better at adapting to the various surfaces and maintaining contact with the skin. The flexing, pivoting and tilting of the shaving head and individual cutters of a capable rotary shaver can be very handy when shaving your neck. A foil shaver only has a straight edge; for this reason, shaving the area that starts right below your jaw line can be more difficult.
- Rotary shavers are generally better at shaving longer hair. If you don’t shave very often, a rotary razor may be better suited for you. The longer hairs are captured more efficiently by the slits in the shaving heads.
- Foil shavers shave closer. This is generally true, even though things can be different if we refer to specific models of foil and rotary razors. This is mainly due to the fact that the foil is very thin compared to the metal guards used by rotary shavers, so the metal barrier that sits between the skin and cutters is thinner.
- Foil shavers are better for sensitive skin. Again, this can vary depending on the specific models. Some rotary shavers can pull longer hairs and irritate the skin, but that’s generally not the case with high-end models.
- Foil shavers have a less steep learning curve. Using a foil shaver usually takes less practice than a rotary razor. The use of straight, short strokes against the grain make foil shavers a better option for beginners.
The takeaway is that you shouldn’t think about foil vs rotary for shaving the neck in absolute terms. I would simply consider my personal needs and go for a razor that meets most of them. For example, I have very sensitive skin and I always got along better with foil shavers, so in my case a foil shaver would be the more sensible choice.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the best electric shavers for the neck and how to choose one that would suit you the best.
Choosing the best electric shaver for the neck area
Philips Norelco 9300
The 9300 from Philips Norelco is one of the best performing rotary shavers you can buy today. It’s also the highest I would personally pay for a rotary razor as the higher specced ones like the 9700 are simply not worth the extra money – diminishing returns.
The 9300 performs remarkably well at shaving stubborn neck hairs. It leaves behind fewer stray hairs than other electric razors, especially when they lie flat on the skin and grow in different directions. This means that you’ll be able to get a smooth shave without excessive passes that can irritate the skin on your neck.
The slits that form the outer track of the shaving heads are designed specifically to capture longer hairs. So if your shaving habits include shaving every other day or even every two days, you should probably shortlist the Norelco 9300.
Unlike other basic rotary shavers, the 9300 doesn’t pull or tug on the hairs, even after two days of growth or if you have very coarse hair.
You’ll be able to get very close shaves with the 9300, even though an advanced foil razor will probably be slightly better. However, the 9300 is among the best rotary shavers when it comes to the closeness of the shave.
It works just as well for dry and wet shaving and it comes with an excellent cleaning station.
If it fits within your budget and you consider the above mentioned traits of this rotary shaver to be a good fit for you, then you won’t be disappointed with the 9300.
Philips Norelco 8900
The Norelco 8900 is the next best thing if you are looking for a more budget friendly alternative.
Available with or without a cleaning station, you can save quite a few dollars by going for the model that doesn’t include one.
The Norelco 8900 is very similar to the 9300 above in terms of performance. It even uses the same shaving heads.
The only real difference is that the 8900 doesn’t includes the 3 personalization modes found on the 9300 and only has basic LED display. These are mostly gimmicky features that won’t affect the actual performance to a significant degree, so all the things that make the 9300 a good electric shaver for the neck come with the Norelco 8900 as well.
The shaving heads that flex in 8 directions maintain constant contact with the skin and minimize the number of passes. The shaver is also remarkably quiet and comfortable.
For more budget oriented options, check out this article where we look at other rotary shavers.
Braun Series 9 9290cc
When it comes to foil shavers, the Braun Series 9 is probably the best in terms of comfort and dealing with neck stubble.
Improving upon the excellent foundation of the iconic Series 7, the Series 9 is more powerful and has a redesigned shaving head.
The most important addition is an extra shaving element, called the Direct & Cut trimmer and is specifically designed to capture longer hairs that grow in different directions.
This, along with the HyperLift & Cut element (found also on the Series 7) make the Series 9 better than pretty much any other foil for shaving longer, flat lying hairs that are likely to be found on the neck area.
The shave is very close and supremely comfortable. The foils of the Series 9 remain cool during use and it never pulls or yanks on the hairs.
The Series 9 is available in several variations, including dry only use (9090cc) or wet & dry use (9290cc). Choosing one or the other comes down to personal preference.
However, I do recommend going for a model that includes Braun’s excellent Clean & Renew station as it works really good at cleaning and lubricating the shaver. A manual cleaning is fiddlier as the blades and foils of the Series 9 are merged into one piece called a cassette.
My personal pick would be the 9290cc that I reviewed in great detail here.
Braun Series 7 790cc
The Series 7 790cc was regarded for many years as the benchmark in terms of comfort and performance.
And it is still is a very relevant product today.
The Series 7 is edged only by the Series 9 in terms of comfort and many men won’t even notice a difference.
However, the Series 7 lacks the Direct & Cut element of the Series 9. This means that the Series 7 is not quite as good at shaving longer hairs. But if you shave often (daily or every other day), this won’t be a problem.
The shaver is gentle to the skin and will make an excellent choice for men with sensitive skin on the neck.
The Series 7 is also priced lower than the Series 9 and can be bought in dry only or wet/dry variations. But just like the Series 9, it’s probably a good idea to choose one that includes an automatic cleaning station.
Braun Series 5 5090cc
An alternative to the Series 7 is the Series 5, which provides an almost identical shaving performance, but it’s usually available at a lower price.
The highlight of the Series 5 is the 5090cc because of its reasonable price and the inclusion of an automatic cleaning station.
You also can check out an in-depth comparison between the Series 7 and 5 here.
Hopefully by this time you’ll have a general idea of what shaver would be better at shaving your neck with minimal discomfort and frustration.
These are only a few options meant to put you on the right track as I’m sure there are other electric razors out there that will make excellent choices.
But apart from choosing the right shaver, it’s equally important to prepare, execute and follow-up your shave. For these reasons I highly recommend reading these articles as well to help you get the most out of your shaver and tame the neck:
- Preparation: A Simple and Effective Pre Electric Shave Routine
- Execution: How to Shave Your Neck with an Electric Razor
- Follow-up: What to Do After Shaving with an Electric Razor
Do you have a hard time getting a smooth, pain free shave on your neck? What are your thoughts on improving the shaving experience? Please leave your comments below.