This pretty straight forward inquiry is one that pops up in pretty much every discussion related to electric shaving.
And there’s really no surprise in that; after all, don’t we all just want a close and comfortable shave?
Switching to an electric shaver means making some sort of a compromise; we’re trading off a bit of closeness for the added benefit of comfort and practicality.
Naturally, we’re interested in trading off as little as possible from that much sought after closeness.
Luckily, today’s modern electric razors are capable of providing very close shaves while still being adequately comfortable.
But some electric razors are simply better than others. In the case of closeness, the more advanced, powerful shavers will usually provide significantly better results. We’ll take an in-depth look at some of the razors that offer the closest shave later on in this article.
What to look for in a razor if closeness is the main concern
- A high quality shaving head. This is by far the most important component of an electric razor and is particularly relevant in the context of closeness; sharp blades and an advanced, micro-foil, machined with very low tolerances, are vital for a close shave.
- A powerful motor. An electric razor that is fitted with a more powerful motor will shave closer, faster and with greater comfort. As an example, Panasonic uses for its top of the line razors very fast 14000 CPM (cycles per minute) linear motors. Compared to entry level, basic shavers that use 8000 CPM units, the difference is very noticeable.
- Low heat dissipation during use. A razor that is comfortable during use will also allow you to shave closer, do more passes and even apply a bit more pressure. Comfort is tightly correlated with the heat caused by the friction between the blades that operate at high speeds and the foil. Therefore, you’ll want a razor that remains reasonably cool during operation.
Foil vs Rotary — which one shaves the closest?
While the foil vs rotary polemic is multifaceted with solid arguments from both sides, when it comes to the closest shave an electric razor can provide, it is generally accepted that foil razors are better.
This also corresponds to my personal stance on this matter. Having used quite a few foil and rotary razors throughout the years, I constantly found foil shavers to be that much better at providing a closer shave.
In my opinion, there are a few reasons for this:
- The micro-foils are thinner than the metal guards used on rotary shavers, meaning that the physical barrier between the skin and the actual cutting blades is smaller in the case of foil shavers, allowing a closer shave.
- They use reciprocating blades that oscillate at much higher speeds; as a downside, this also means more noise during operation compared to rotary shavers.
- The actual design and operation of the foil razor; the straight cutting edge and the use of short strokes allows for more control and precision.
Having said that, there are of course men who get better results using rotary shavers. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.
What’s the closest shave electric razor?
Let’s now take a closer look at some of the razors that are capable of providing the closest possible shaves.
1. Panasonic ES-LV9A-S Arc5
Panasonic electric razors represent a very solid option if you’re mainly concerned with shaving performance. In my personal experience, they even manage to marginally outperform the other big name in the foil shavers market (Braun) if we consider just the closeness of the shave.
If you want the absolute best in terms of closeness and budget is not really an issue, then look no further. The ES-LV9A-S Arc5 represents the latest and greatest from Panasonic and is probably the electric razor that can get as close to a blade as possible with the current technology.
This shaver uses the same high power 14 000 CPM motor and excellent 30 degrees blades as the older Arc5 razors, but comes with a few novelties of its own:
- Two comfort rollers that prevent the foils from being pressed excessively into the skin;
- The shaving head can also be depressed; this, combined with the 360 degree swivel makes this razor extremely adaptable and capable of maintaining constant contact with the skin, even when shaving difficult areas like the jawline or the neck.
The aesthetics of the razor compared to previous Arc5 models are also vastly improved, with the use of more upmarket materials and a classy color scheme.
The massive head with its 5 cutting elements is able to effortlessly shave close to the skin even the coarsest facial hair.
The middle trimmer and the flanking foils are designed to cut longer hairs that lie flat on the skin, reducing them to a more manageable length for the two outer finishing foils.
The comfort rollers ensure a smooth and gentle glide of the shaver, improving the comfort of previous Arc5 razors. This makes the ES-LV9A-S also suitable for men with sensitive skin.
While shaving is a very personal matter and the results depend on many factors, I think it is safe to say that the ES-LV9A-S Arc5 probably shaves closer than any other electric razor you can currently buy.
The ES-LV9A-S variant also comes with a cleaning & charging station. While Panasonic’s cleaning solutions are not as good as the ones from Braun for example, they can be useful for some men.
The only downside of this Arc5 razor is the price; being a new model, it is rather high. The same goes for the replacement foils and blades, which cost quite a lot at this moment.
But again, if purchase price is not a constraint and you want the closest shave of any electric razor, this is the one.
2. Panasonic ES-LV61-A Arc5
The Panasonic ES-LV61-A Arc5 is a more budget friendly, but still very capable razor from the older Arc5 family of shavers.
There are various models included in this line, but all of them share the same important features:
- high quality stainless steel blades that are sharpen at a very aggressive 30 degrees angle and ensure efficient, effortless cutting;
- 5 curved cutting elements that together form a massive shaving head, capable of shaving large areas with ease and also very fast;
- 14 000 CPM linear motors that provide plenty of cutting power at a constant rate.
All of these features work together seamlessly to ultimately provide an extremely close shave. My personal pick from the older Arc5 line has to be the ES-LV61-A as it offers the best performance for the price.
While the closeness and the comfort of the newest ES-LV9A-S Arc5 presented above are slightly superior, this razor will be more than adequate for most men looking for a very close shave at a more affordable price.
The performance is pretty similar throughout the Arc5 family of shavers and picking one mainly comes down to your budget and the need for a cleaning station.
Speaking of which, my recommendation is to skip it altogether as Panasonic foil shavers are dead easy to clean manually and the cleaning stations that come with some of them are not the best. By going for a shaver without a cleaning station like this ES-LV61-A you’ll also be saving some money.
Another great alternative from the outgoing Arc5 line is the Panasonic ES-LV65-S. This shaver represents an incremental update of the ES-LV61-A Arc5, with an improved LCD display and different design and color scheme.
These differences alone are far from being enough to make you consider this one over the older model as their performance is almost identical. What can make you opt for one or the other is the price and that can fluctuate quite a bit.
Being older models, it’s likely to find them at excellent discounts. My advice is to simply buy the one that is more reasonably priced.
3. Braun Series 9 9290cc
The Series 9 represents Braun’s flagship line of electric razors and incorporate the best technology the company has to offer.
Braun’s electric shavers are notorious for being supremely comfortable during use. The very popular Series 7 790cc was for many years the benchmark in terms of comfort, but was often thought to be not quite as good as some of the offerings from Panasonic regarding the closeness.
The Series 9 was designed to address this issue and to offer the closest possible shave, while also remaining very comfortable and gentle to skin. And it pretty much lives up to the expectations.
Being basically a Series 7 on steroids, with more blades, more power and more technology on board, the new Braun Series 9 builds up on an already solid foundation and represents a very compelling package.
There are a few variations of the Series 9, suitable for dry only or wet & dry operation. They are also available with or without a cleaning station. My personal pick is the 9290cc as it can be used wet & dry and comes with Braun’s excellent cleaning station, arguably the best in the industry.
The shaving performance of the Series 9 9290cc is outstanding. While it is difficult to objectively say if it shaves as close as the newest Panasonic Arc5, it’s definitely the best electric razor that Braun has ever produced. I find it hard to think that anyone will not be completely satisfied with the closeness and the comfort it provides.
Where the Braun Series 9 9290cc has the edge in front of the Panasonic is the cleaning station. The alcohol based solution that provides superior cleaning and sanitation, along with the reasonably quiet and fast operation make this cleaning & charging station a must have.
The Series 9 gets another bonus point for the purchase price of the shaver, being lower than the one of the newest Arc 5.
The cost of the replacement blades and foils (cassette) is rather high at the moment, but will likely go down as time passes. On the bright side, Braun’s cassettes seem to last longer than the parts from other manufacturers.
I highly recommend the Series 9 for men with blemish prone skin as it is by far the most comfortable shaver in this roundup.
4. Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc4
If your budget is limited, but still want the closest shave, you’ll have a hard time finding a better razor than the Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc4.
Considering the price, the performance of this particular shaver is quite spectacular. I can attribute this to the fact that it incorporates some of the technologies found on much more expensive razors from Panasonic, like the ones presented above.
Here are the key features that make the Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc4 an excellent choice for a close shave:
- Powerful 14 000 CPM motor;
- 30 degrees high quality stainless steel blades;
- 4 individual cutting elements;
- A second motor located in the shaving head that vibrates and helps capture longer hairs.
The result of these features is an incredibly close shave, definitely the best you can get in this price range.
Granted, the newer, more advanced and much more expensive razors will be better, but this one is no slouch either. I highly recommend it as a more affordable, budget friendly option to the razors above.
Whichever you end up picking, you can’t really go wrong. Just make sure to take into account your budget, whether you need a cleaning station or not and if you have very sensitive skin.
Tips to further improve the closeness of the shave
Now that you’ve hopefully settled on your closest shaving electric razor, let’s see how you can make the most out of it.
I wrote a comprehensive article on how to improve the closeness of the shave with an electric razor and I highly recommend reading that as well. You can do so here.
With that said, I will only briefly compile a few tips that can help you with getting the closest possible shave:
- Try shaving with a quality shaving cream. All the recommended shavers in this article can be used wet and dry. Oftentimes the addition of a shaving cream improves the closeness and the comfort of the shave. Give it a try and see how it goes.
- Use a pre-shave lotion or powder. If wet shaving is not an option, try the next best thing: a pre electric shave lotion or powder. This can significantly improve the performance of your razor during a dry shave.
- Properly charge, clean and lubricate your razor. This one is pretty self-explanatory. You can read more about how and when to lubricate your electric shaver here.
- Replace dull blades and worn foils.