Electric shavers are often associated with a high purchase price.
And that’s true in the case of most high-end, feature-packed models.
Also, the more complex and advanced a shaver is, the higher the cost of the replacement heads will be.
These things can make the budget-conscious buyer stay away from electric shavers altogether.
And for good reason — nobody wants to spend a lot of money on something when there are cheaper ways of dealing with facial hair.
Luckily, there are some electric razors that offer excellent performance for a reasonable price.
In this article we’ll explore some of the best budget electric shavers out there, see what makes them suitable for certain situations and find out how to get the most out of an inexpensive shaver.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Hallmarks of an affordable but capable electric razor
- What are some of the best affordable shavers in 2023?
- What about travel shavers?
- How to get the most out of an inexpensive electric shaver
Hallmarks of an affordable but capable electric razor
1. High-quality shaving head and decent power
Over the past 20 years, I’ve tried many shavers at very different price points.
And the one area that has the biggest impact on the shaving performance is the actual shaving head — foils, blades, rotary cutters.
Basically, the part that does the actual cutting.
When a manufacturer tries to cut costs in that area, the performance and longevity of the shaving head will take a hit.
I’ve owned and used all the shavers I’ll be recommending in this guide, some of them for many years, so I can confirm from actual experience that they have high-quality cutters.
A good shaving system is however backed by a motor that is powerful enough.
A shaver will require many passes for a smooth shave and will even snag some hairs if the motor isn’t powerful enough.
So while some non-essential features like a beard density sensor or power settings can be left out, good blades and a snappy motor are must-haves.
Also, 3 individual cutting elements should be enough for most users; four, five or six blades can be overkill, particularly in the context of shaving daily.
2. Basic features: Hair trimmer, waterproof, flexible cutters
A versatile and practical electric razor must have all the basic features.
I think a pop-up hair trimmer or a separate attachment is really useful and at least for me, a must-have.
They’re really handy for some quick touchups — sideburns, goatee, moustache.
A waterproof shaver is very easy to clean with warm tap water and I don’t think I would ever want to mess around with brushes or cans of compressed air.
Since these are budget-friendly razors, they won’t come with a cleaning station so it’s important that they’re easy to clean.
High-end shavers have very complex flexible shaving heads. And while they are impressive, I wouldn’t say they make a tremendous difference.
What does make a difference is having independently moving cutters.
With enough range of motion, this feature is truly useful in practice and will make the shaver more effective and more enjoyable to use.
Out of all the different features, I think these are the most important to have on an electric razor.
Fancy LED displays, beard density sensors, power settings and Bluetooth connectivity are nice to have, but not essential.
And most of them won’t actually improve the shaving performance in any way.
An automatic cleaning station can be very practical, but it adds a lot to the purchase price and most shavers are easy to clean manually.
The OEM cleaning refills also imply a higher cost of ownership.
3. Solid build quality
Another common practice for keeping the price low is to include fewer goodies in the retail package (things like protective caps, travel cases, lubricants, and so on) or to sacrifice build quality.
We definitely don’t want a poorly built shaver, so we’ll steer clear of those.
4. Good battery life
Some low-end shavers that have very affordable prices also come with much smaller batteries than others that cost only marginally more.
For example, the basic Braun Series 3 shavers come with a smaller battery than the Series 3 ProSkin models.
Since the price difference is small, the ProSkin models are obviously the better option.
Also, some of those smaller batteries also have a very long charging time and if the shaver is cordless-only, that would really be an annoyance.
5. Cordless & corded use
Also related to the battery aspect we have the corded & cordless operation.
Most of today’s shavers are cordless only and this trend continues to grow in 2023.
And in most cases, I don’t think this is a deal breaker.
If the battery is large enough, with good reliability and charging takes less than an hour, that’s good enough for most users, myself included.
However, since you’re probably interested in using that shaver for as long as possible, cordless & corded operation would make a lot of sense.
When the battery can’t hold a decent charge anymore you’d still be able to shave with the cord plugged in.
So I made sure to also include a few affordable shavers that work really well and can be operated both codless & corded.
Purchase price and cost of ownership are the two important factors to consider when you have a limited budget for a shaver.
High-end, advanced electric razors come with a hefty price tag.
They usually provide superior performance, are fitted with the most powerful motors, have multiple cutting elements and incorporate several advanced technologies.
But the things that matter the most for getting a close and comfortable shave are a reasonably powerful motor and a high-quality shaving head.
That said, we’re interested in finding electric razors that have these key features and leave out the ones that aren’t absolutely necessary.
In doing so, they manage to offer the best value for money and represent a great compromise of cost and performance.
Let’s check them out.
What are some of the best affordable shavers in 2023?
1. Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s
I consider the Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s to be the best affordable shaver for most users.
It shaves well, has a reasonable price, it’s durable, reliable and easy to clean.
Moreover, it has an integrated slide-out hair trimmer, something not all the models in the Series 3 ProSkin family have.
This makes the Braun Series 3 ProSkin a better option if you have sensitive skin.
They are also better at capturing those longer, flat-lying hairs compared to an Arc 3, but should still be used more often for the best results.
The current Series 3 generation includes several variations, suitable for wet/dry and dry-only operation.
All of them are however waterproof and can be safely cleaned with water.
Some of them even come with an automatic cleaning and charging station, like the Series 3 3050cc, but those are a bit pricey and we’re mainly interested in the affordable ones.
With that said, the Braun Series 3 3040s ProSkin is usually my default recommendation.
And that’s mainly because it’s widely available, affordable and as mentioned earlier, has a hair trimmer.
Performance-wise, all Series 3 ProSkin models are identical.
And they are some of the most comfortable entry-level shavers out there.
The closeness, while good enough for most users, is not the best at this price point.
In my experience a Panasonic Arc 3 will be better suited for someone that is particularly interested in getting a very close shave.
Being a basic shaver, the Series 3 also works best when used on shorter stubble, so you’ll get the best results if you use it daily or every other day.
However, it does fare better than other foil shavers in this price range when used on a 3-day beard for example (it’s better than the Arc 3 in this regard).
Since the 3040s is waterproof, you can simply rinse it with water for easy cleaning.
You can also try shaving with your favorite shaving cream or gel.
However, I don’t find wet shaving to improve the results in a significant manner in the case of the Series 3 (in my opinion Panasonic razors work way better).
Because it’s a wet&dry model, the 3040s is a cordless-only shaver.
It is however fitted with a very reliable battery that provides at least 45 minutes of use on a single charge.
The replacement shaving heads for the Series 3 ProSkin, called cassettes, are the 32B (black) and 32S (silver).
The cassettes are usually priced lower than the foils and blades needed for Panasonic shavers, so the costs of ownership will be lower in the case of the Series 3.
Deciding which one to get should mainly come down to your needs (closeness vs comfort/better value for money).
2. Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3000s
If you were put off by the fact that the 3040s above doesn’t work corded as well, then look no further than the Series 3 Proskin 3000s.
This one is a cordless & corded model and the shaving performance is identical.
And despite being marketed as dry-only for safety concerns, it’s also waterproof for easy cleaning.
Moreover, it usually costs less than the 3040s.
So what’s the catch?
Well, the Series 3 ProSkin 3000s doesn’t have a hair trimmer as you can tell from the picture below.
So that’s the compromise you’ll be making with the 3000s.
Apart from the lack of a hair trimmer and a more basic battery indicator, everything is the same as in the case of the 3040s at number 1 on the list.
The Series 3 3000s even uses the exact same 32b replacement head, so it’s inexpensive and durable.
The ability to shave corded will come in handy after years of use when the battery will go down really fast.
Or maybe you just don’t want to wait for it to charge (which takes roughly 1 hour).
UPDATE: there’s an updated 3000s that has a hair trimmer as well. Unfortunately you can’t really know which one you’ll be getting as both have the exact same model name and both are still available.
Braun’s official product page still shows the original 3000s with no hair trimmer.
3. Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LT67-A
The Arc 3 models from Panasonic are in my opinion some of the best budget electric shavers because they offer fantastic performance for the price.
And even if the prices have gone up during the past couple of years, most would still consider them affordable.
If you’re interested in getting a very close and fast shave, I don’t think you can find a better option for the same money.
There are a lot of different models in the Arc 3 line, but the ES-LT67-A is usually the pick of the range.
The Arc 3 ES-LT67-A is fitted with a very nippy 13 000 CPM (cycles per minute) linear-drive motor, just slightly less powerful than the range-topping Arc 5 or Arc 6 models from Panasonic that come with 14 000 CPM units.
This, along with the sharp, high-quality blades make the Arc 3 one of the best-performing budget shavers out there.
A side benefit of having a less complex shaving head is the lower cost of the foil and blades set (part no WES9015P).
Another advantage of the ES-LT67-A (and of any other Arc 3 model in fact) is the ease of cleaning and maintenance.
Since the inner blades are separated from the foil block, you have great access for a thorough cleaning.
Speaking of which, you’ll only need a bit of liquid soap and you can rinse everything with warm tap water.
All Panasonic Arc 3 shavers are fully waterproof and can be safely cleaned with water or used in the shower.
There’s even a special cleaning setting, called Sonic mode, that makes the blades oscillate at a very high speed, dislodging any stubborn dirt buildups.
I can honestly say that you really don’t need a cleaning station with a Panasonic shaver — they are that easy to clean.
Finally, it is a very robust and solidly built shaver that can take a beating.
It’s also nimble and easy to use, making it a great choice for a first-time user. The Series 3 ProSkin is however a bit more manageable with its less bulky foil frame.
All Arc 3 models are fitted with an excellent pop-up trimmer that’s very effective and useful for some light grooming, like tweaking your sideburns or edging a beard line.
Like all entry-level shavers, the Arc 3 works best when used on shorter facial hair, so shaving daily or every other day will give you the best results.
Finally, if you have very sensitive skin, using a pre-shave lotion or even shaving cream may help.
Panasonic shavers work great with shaving cream, so if you’re not against wet shaving, you should definitely give that a try.
4. Braun Series 5 5018s
Almost 3 years ago, Braun released three new lines of shavers (initially only in the USA and Canada).
Fortunately, they are now also available in Europe and other parts of the world.
Among those newly released models, there’s a new Series 5 which is also the most reasonably priced of the three.
While it’s a complete departure from the old Series 5 shavers, the new models are a lot cheaper and offer decent performance for the money.
No, they’re not as good as the old Series 5 like the 5190cc or 5140s, but for the money, they’re definitely good enough.
The Series 5 5018s is the most affordable model and the one I would actually recommend (in Europe, the model name is Series 5 50-B1200s).
Performance-wise, I find it pretty much identical to the Series 3 ProSkin 3000s or 3040s, so the Series 5 in its name is a bit misleading.
So it’s more like a redesigned, glorified Series 3.
But again, given the price point, that’s not really a bad thing.
Just like the Series 3, the 5018s is comfortable during use and will provide a reasonably close shave.
It’s a wet/dry model, so it will only work cordless.
Its selling point (apart from the low price) is a so-called EasyClean system that allows you to clean the shaving head without removing it.
In practice, it’s not nearly as effective as advertised and I would actually remove the head and clean it thoroughly since it only takes seconds to do it.
The Series 5 5018s doesn’t have an integrated hair trimmer, but it comes with a separate attachment that you must use instead of the regular foil head.
It’s really handy if you need to pre-trim your beard before shaving, but for more finesse work it is rather bulky and more cumbersome to use compared to the one on the Arc 3 for example.
To summarize, the Braun Series 5 5018s is an affordable, comfortable electric shaver that would be a suitable choice for users who are more interested in comfort than closeness.
However, I would pick the Series 3 ProSkin over it — either the 3040s or 3000s.
They’re just as capable, but I prefer the Series 3 ProSkin shaving head because it has a more compact foil frame, so it’s easier to use.
For more details, you can check out my review of the S5 as well.
5. Philips Norelco Shaver 2500 (S1311/82)
Let’s now check out an affordable rotary razor.
Generally, these would be a quieter operation, better performance on longer facial hair and more durable shaving heads.
The latter is of particular interest to us because buying replacement heads less often means a lower cost of ownership.
My pick for an affordable rotary in 2023 would be the new Philips Norelco Shaver 2500.
This model has a couple of compelling features that make it a better option than other similar rotaries.
The Shaver 2500 is a cordless & corded shaver, which is always a good thing.
And unlike other similarly priced models in the Series 2000 like the popular Shaver 2300, charging the Shaver 2500 takes less than an hour as opposed to 8 hours.
But the biggest advantage of the 2500 over the 2300 is that it is in fact a bit more powerful, which translates into a faster and more enjoyable shave.
In fact, the Shaver 2500 feels exactly like the Shaver 3500 from the more expensive Series 3000.
They even use the exact same shaving heads, the SH30, which are durable and fairly priced.
For these reasons, I think the Shaver 2500 is the rotary razor to buy right now.
You would need to spend a lot more on something like the Philips Norelco 9500 in order to get a significant performance upgrade.
The Philips Shaver 2500 is very comfortable and can even handle a 3-day beard.
It’s easy to clean most of the time with its flip-open head that you can simply rinse under the tap.
It has an integrated hair trimmer as well.
I’m not a big fan of the trimmer because it’s quite thick and the spring holding it upright is very weak and folds back easily, but it’ll get the job done.
Rotaries however also have a few specific shortcomings.
For most men, the closeness of the shave won’t be quite as good as with a Panasonic Arc 3 for example.
Also, unless you know from previous experience that a rotary works best for you, a foil shaver is generally a safer choice.
But as far as rotaries go, this one is one of my favorites and I think it punches above its price.
The Norelco 2500 is remarkably gentle for a rotary and very enjoyable to use.
And with a reasonable price, cordless & corded use and durable heads, it’s also a great option for the budget-oriented buyer.
6. Remington F5-5800
Remington is currently more of an underdog in the competition between Braun, Panasonic and Philips, arguably the 3 biggest players.
Unfortunately, for the past 15 years or more, most Remington shavers couldn’t really compete with the offerings from the other big brands.
But there’s one model that stands out from the rest: the Remington F5-5800.
This 3-blade foil shaver has an affordable price, being the least expensive in this guide, but also shaves really well.
The closeness in particular is impressive and I would place it somewhere between the Arc 3 and the Series 3 in that regard.
And as long as you don’t have sensitive skin, it will be pretty comfortable as well.
It doesn’t look or feel as premium as the ES-LT67 for example, but it sometimes costs half the price and shaves almost as close.
Moreover, it works both codless&corded which further sweetens the deal.
It’s easy to clean with a simple rinse with warm tap water.
The replacement foil and blades are generally easy to source and fairly priced.
So while this Remington isn’t the most comfortable or sleek shaver on this list, it’s among the more economical ones and gives a close shave.
Moreover, you’ll be getting a shaver from one of the pioneers in this industry.
For more info, you can also refer to my review of the 5800.
What about travel shavers?
While refining my list of recommended low-cost shavers, I also considered some travel electric razors.
After all, these really are the most economical option, at least when it comes to the purchase price.
But after giving it more thought, I decided against it.
A travel shaver just wouldn’t be a suitable option for most users as their main shaver.
It might work for someone with very light facial hair, but that’s about it.
Moreover, when used regularly, it will require new foils/blades pretty quickly.
And that can be a problem with many compact shavers.
You either can’t get the parts or they cost more than a new shaver.
That isn’t a big deal if you were to use it sparingly (only when traveling), but it is a problem if you plan on shaving with one every day.
I think it would make more sense as a complementary shaver.
You can check out my travel shavers guide for a few good options.
How to get the most out of an inexpensive electric shaver
Once you’ve settled on a particular razor, it’s time to put it to good use.
Here are a few easy, but very effective tips when shaving with a budget-friendly shaver.
Try shaving more often.
As mentioned throughout this guide, entry-level razors can have some trouble with difficult facial hair.
I’m talking of course about hairs that grow parallel to the skin and/or in different directions.
To minimize this shortcoming, try to shave while your whiskers are relatively short (less than 2mm).
I often talked about shaving daily or every other day, but it really comes down to how fast your beard grows.
If you have light to medium facial hair you can get away with a few days between shaving sessions.
Use a pre-shave lotion or a quality shaving cream.
Pre-shave lotions are inexpensive and also effective in most cases.
They cause the hairs to stand upright, making it easier for the shaver to capture them and overall contribute to a smoother, faster and closer shave.
It only takes seconds to apply a pre-shave, but it can really improve the performance of a basic electric shaver.
My current favorite is the one from Speick; it’s very effective and a great addition to anyone’s dry-shaving routine.
If you can’t get it, then the tried and tested Williams Lectric Shave would be a great inexpensive alternative.
I know most men prefer to shave dry for the convenience of it, but wet shaving can be a great option for someone with very sensitive skin for example.
Panasonic shavers work particularly well with shaving cream, so if you have one give it a try and see how it goes.
Clean and lubricate your shaver regularly.
This is something you should be doing regardless if you have a cheapie or a high-end electric razor.
Hairs, dead skin and dirt buildups will reduce the efficiency of the cutters and they will also wear out faster.
Lastly, not maintaining proper hygiene of your shaver is a surefire way to infections.
Regular cleaning and lubrication will prolong the life of the foils and blades while ensuring that your machine performs optimally.
Having to replace the shaving head more often pretty much defies the whole purpose of owning an affordable shaver.
Most modern electric razors can be easily cleaned with liquid soap and warm tap water.
Your user manual should include detailed instructions on how to perform a thorough cleaning.
Here is my cleaning routine if you want to check it out.
Make sure your razor is charged.
You’ll want to take advantage of all the power the shaver is capable of delivering.
You’ll generally experience a performance drop when the battery is almost out of juice.
Not all electric razors can maintain peak power when the battery is low and this is when some hair can get snagged.
Modern Li-ion batteries aren’t affected by the memory effect anymore, so you can charge your shaver as often as you need without any worries.
That pretty much concludes this roundup of my recommended inexpensive electric razors.
If you have any other questions, make sure to post them in the comments below.