So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and switch to electric shaving. Great!
That could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
Shaving is an integral part of our daily life as men and we should aim to make it as enjoyable and pain-free as possible.
Using the right electric razor can really transform your shaving experience and ultimately make it seem less of a chore.
Regardless of your reasons for switching sides and joining the electric camp, you will be faced with the task of choosing your first electric shaver.
And from my own experience, it can be pretty difficult. There’s a plethora of options out there and often conflicting information.
But fear no more, as in this article we’ll address all the important bits and we’ll even share some of our favorite shavers that will make great choices for first-time users.
Let’s dive right in.
Rules of thumb when choosing your first electric shaver
Don’t overlook the costs of ownership and have a clearly defined budget.
I remember that in my wet shaving days, multi-blade cartridges were crazy expensive and the costs added up pretty quickly over the course of one month.
Having said that, make sure you do some research with regards to the cost and availability of replacement parts before buying a particular razor; some can cost almost as much as a brand new shaver.
You can check out our reviews section as well where we provide detailed information regarding running costs for every electric razor we test.
Always consider an electric razor that is suitable for your particular needs.
Your requirements for an electric shaver may and probably will be different than somebody else’s.
Make sure you take into account the things that really matter.
For example, what interests you the most? Is it the closeness of the shave, the comfort or the razor’s ability to shave longer facial hair? Or maybe you have sensitive skin or have to deal with ingrown hairs.
Whatever the case may be, make sure to prioritize and choose a shaver that is a good match for you and you alone.
Resist the hype and don’t buy a shaver with a gazillion number of blades and features.
Also, four or five blades are often overkill, especially if you shave daily. On top of that, these shavers also tend to be very expensive to buy and the replacement foils & blades are pricey as well.
You may also find that electric shaving isn’t for you, and since you have to wait up to a month for your skin to get used to the new way of shaving, you may not be able to return the product.
You don’t want to be the guy that spent a few hundred dollars on a product he won’t be using. In other words, one doesn’t have to break the bank for a razor that will do the job just fine.
Foil vs Rotary: which one is better for beginners?
While there is no straight or right answer to this question, I will give my 2 cents on the matter.
I prefer foil shavers as my skin tends to get along better with them. Personal preference aside, foil shavers do have some particular traits that make them more suitable for absolute beginners.
Here are what I consider to be the main advantages of foil shavers in the context of first time use:
- Foil shavers have a less steep learning curve. They’re dead simple in construction and operation: sharp blades oscillate behind a thin, perforated micro-foil that you move against the grain, applying very little pressure. Rotary shavers tend to cause some trouble to first time users and it takes more time for your technique to improve.
- Foil shavers are better for hard to reach areas like under your nose or for shaving around a goatee. This one is pretty self-explanatory; due to the construction of the cutting elements, foil shavers are just easier to work with when performing some maneuvers that require more precision and finesse.
- A wider selection of brands and models. The rotary razors market is dominated by Philips Norelco; there isn’t really any other viable option. On the other hand, there are loads of models from Panasonic, Braun and even Remington in the foil category.
- They are easier to clean and to maintain. We are of course not talking about razors that come with automatic cleaning stations. Manually cleaning a foil shaver is usually simpler and faster; some liquid soap and rinsing under tap water are all it takes. And this is how a basic cleaning goes for a rotary razor as well, but every once in a while you must perform a more thorough cleaning. This implies taking the whole shaving head apart and cleaning each individual blade, one by one, then carefully putting them back together in the exact same order. And that’s a bit of a hassle. After all, we switched to electric shaving to avoid doing stuff.
- Foil shavers usually provide a closer and more comfortable shave. Because the foil screens are very thin and the blades oscillate at a very high speed compared to rotary razors, foil shavers are considered to be better at shaving hairs closer to the skin and with greater comfort.
Some rotary shaver users may disagree with me and that’s totally fine, everyone should use what suits them best. But for me, and I think for the majority of first time users, a foil razor is the safer choice.
Again, it is just my personal opinion on this rather polarizing topic.
As a side note, I started out with a foil Braun razor that my parents gave to me as a present. I don’t remember the exact model, but I do recall it being pretty awful. After every shave, my face would be a mess but for some reason, I just stuck with it.
My first electric razor that I bought after doing some research was a wet/dry Panasonic that provided much better comfort and performance.
But enough with the boring stuff. Let’s put the advice into practice and check out some razors!
What are some of the best electric shavers for beginners?
In your quest for finding the best electric razor for first time shavers, here are a few of our favorite shavers to get you started.
1. Panasonic ES8103S Arc 3
The ES8103S is a tried and tested shaver from Panasonic that’s been a best-seller for quite some time. And it’s easy to see why it would make a great choice for a beginner.
It offers excellent performance for the money by featuring a powerful 13 000 CPM (cycles per minute) motor, excellent 30 degrees sharpen nano-blades and wet & dry operation.
The Arc 3 (and Panasonic shavers in general) are able to provide very close shaves and they’re efficient at catching facial hairs as long as you shave more often. For example, daily or every other day.
The ES8103S is dead easy to use, clean and to replace the foil and cutters. Speaking of which, you’ll be needing a new set every year, but the cost is pretty reasonable.
For more in-depth details, make sure to check out our review of the ES8103S.
2. Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3010S
The Series 3 is an entry-level line of electric razors from Braun that offers great performance and comfort at reasonable prices.
Available in several variants, some of them suitable for dry shaving only, the Series 3 razors are another solid option for someone just getting started with electric shaving.
The ProSkin 3010S is one of the most popular razors from the 3 Series line; with wet & dry operation, it provides close and irritation-free shaves, being suitable for sensitive skin as well.
And while it doesn’t feature an integrated slide-out trimmer like other Series 3 models, it does cost less and the actual shaving performance is identical.
The Braun Series 3 is the direct competitor of the Panasonic Arc 3 present above in the entry-level segment of foil electric shavers.
While both are excellent choices, the Series 3 is more comfortable and better at shaving longer, flat-lying hairs. However, I still don’t recommend it for shaving every three days or more as it will struggle, just like any other basic razor.
One of the best things about this shaver is Braun’s reputation for reliability and the low price of the replacement parts.
Unlike Panasonic, Braun uses a cassette that integrates both the blades and the foil and must be replaced only once every 18 months.
To make the deal even sweeter, the price for a replacement cassette is significantly lower compared to other manufacturers.
If you’re in the market for your first electric shaver, the Series 3 3010S is definitely worth considering, especially if you have sensitive skin.
You can read our detailed review of this shaver here.
3. Panasonic ES-LF51-A Arc 4
While the two shavers above will be good enough for most users, the Panasonic ES-LF51-A Arc 4 takes things a bit further and will cater to those that are more demanding.
With its four cutting elements, it goes a bit against our third rule of thumb, but the overall size of the shaving head is quite compact despite the addition of a fourth blade and Panasonic did a great job in the ergonomics department.
Highly similar in design and function to our first choice (the ES8103S Arc 3), the Panasonic ES-LF51-A Arc 4 has a superior cutting head with four sharp nano-blades that will provide very close shaves.
Moreover, it’s fitted with a very snappy 14 000 CPM motor. All of these result in one of the closest shaving electric razors you can currently buy, especially in this price range.
Those more concerned with the closeness of the shave and fast shaving times should really consider this one.
Having said that, the ES-LF51-A is more expensive, but still reasonable and offers excellent performance for the money.
As stated in our review, the replacement parts are however a bit pricey.
5. Braun Series 5 5030s
The Series 5 is a very compelling lineup of electric shavers from Braun.
Priced lower than their well-know Series 7, the Series 5 offers excellent performance and would be a great choice for a beginner (if it fits within the budget).
The 5030s model is usually the most reasonably priced, but you should also check out the 5040s Series 5 as that one can also be found at an excellent price.
The performance is basically identical, so it should really come down to price.
The Series 5 has 3 cutting elements and it’s a very comfortable shaver. While the Arc 4 above will provide a closer shave in most cases, the Series 5 is a lot more forgiving and comfortable, especially during a dry shave.
It’s also a lot better with longer, flat-lying hairs.
Based on these aspects you should have a preference toward one or the other.
The Series 5 models above don’t come with an automatic cleaning station as those are usually more expensive and again, since we’re talking about your first shaver, we don’t want to spend a lot of money on things that aren’t absolutely necessary.
For a complete guide on the Series 5 by Braun, you can check out this article.
5. Philips Norelco 4100
If you think a rotary razor would be a better fit for you, then by all means you should get one.
There is a wide variety of reasonably priced models from Philips Norelco to choose from. They generally offer good performance and the Aquatec models can be used for wet & dry shaving.
A razor worth checking out is the Norelco 4100 that we reviewed in the past.
It offers great performance for the price, provides close and comfortable shaves, has an integrated pop-up trimmer and, being a rotary shaver, it’s also very quiet during operation.
The fact that it’s pretty basic in its construction and function is definitely a plus, while the replacement HQ8 heads are durable and inexpensive. All of these make the Norelco 4100 a great choice for a beginner that is looking for an affordable, but still decent rotary shaver.
Is an automatic cleaning station necessary?
You have probably noticed that none of the recommended shavers come with a cleaning and charging station.
I don’t think that the added costs (the cleaning cartridges can also be quite expensive) are justified, especially since most of these are pretty basic, easy to clean and maintain razors.
Some shavers do offer variants that come with a cleaning station (usually for a higher price) like the Braun 3 Series 3050cc that I reviewed here. Whether the convenience of a cleaning station is worth the extra money is totally up to you.
Personally, I would consider one for the Series 5 as the rest of the shavers recommended here are very easy to clean manually.
Simple tips to get the most out of your shaver
Most shavers recommended in this post are budget-friendly options, making them ideal for someone just getting started.
In order to get the most out of your shaver and improve your results, here 5 easy to implement tips.
1. Shave more often.
Longer hairs are almost always a problem for basic razors, but they fare a lot better with short stubble. Therefore, shaving daily should improve the performance of an entry-level razor.
2. Use a pre-electric shave lotion or gel.
If you prefer to shave dry, a pre-electric shave product will likely improve the closeness and the comfort of your shave. Check out this post for more details.
3. Clean and lubricate your shaver.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Thoroughly cleaning your shaver after every use and lubricating the blades are mandatory to keep it in great condition and performing optimally.
4. Try new techniques to improve your results.
As a beginner, the closeness and comfort of your shave with an electric razor will likely need some improvement. This is perfectly normal and your technique will get better pretty quickly.
Make sure to check out my guide on how to shave with an electric shaver for the first time.
5. Give wet shaving a try.
Yes, you can shave wet with an electric razor as well (if it was designed for wet/dry operation). While it implies a lengthier prep work, it can work wonders for some men. Give it a try and see how it goes.
Hopefully these tips will come in handy when choosing your first electric razor. Just remember that the first time using it probably won’t go as smooth as you’d expect in terms of closeness and comfort.
Your skin needs at least a few weeks to get used to electric shaving and your technique will eventually improve as well. So take your time and enjoy your shave!