So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and switch to an electric shaver. Or maybe you just need one for someone just treading on that path.
Whichever the case may be, shaving is an integral part of a man’s life and we should strive to make it as enjoyable and pain-free as possible.
In order to achieve that, using the right electric razor is key.
It can really transform the whole shaving experience into something you look forward to 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 get pretty difficult. There are a lot of options out there and the available information is often conflicting.
But fear no more, as in this article we’ll address all the important aspects and I’ll even share some of my favorite shavers that will make great choices for first-time users and beginners.
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
- Rules of thumb when choosing your first electric shaver
- Foil vs Rotary: which one is better for beginners?
- What are some of the best electric shavers for beginners (2021)?
- Is an automatic cleaning station necessary?
- Simple tips to get the most out of your shaver
- Final word
Rules of thumb when choosing your first electric shaver
Have a clearly defined budget and don’t overlook the cost of replacement foils/blades.
I remember that in my wet shaving days, multi-blade cartridges were crazy expensive and the costs added up pretty quickly.
One of the side benefits of electric shavers is not having to spend money every month on refills.
You do however have to replace the cutters and foils, but usually only once every year or so.
Having said that, make sure you do some research with regards to the cost and availability of the 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.
Pick a shaver suitable for YOUR needs.
Your shaver requirements may and probably will be different than somebody else’s.
You should therefore take into account the things that matter the most for you.
For example, things like comfort, closeness, value for money, ease of cleaning, .etc are among the most important ones to consider.
So make sure to prioritize and choose a shaver that is a good match for you and you alone.
I will highlight the pros and cons of all the recommended shavers to get an idea of what makes them more or less suitable in a given situation.
Going for a basic electric shaver is probably a good idea.
Resist the hype and don’t buy a shaver with a gazillion blades and features.
Also, four or five blades are often overkill, especially if you shave daily or if you have a light to medium beard.
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, you don’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 right or wrong 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. However, I also think that they will be a safer choice for most users.
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 or sideburns. 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 a quick rinse under tap water and you’re all done. 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 and guard, one by one, then carefully putting them back together exactly the same. 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 Philips fans may disagree and that’s totally fine, everyone should use what suits them the best. For me, and I think for the majority of beginners, a foil razor is the safer choice.
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 (2021)?
1. Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S
The ES8103S is a tried and tested shaver from Panasonic that’s been a best-seller for quite some time.
And it would also make a great choice for a beginner.
This shaver offers excellent performance for the money with its powerful 13 000 CPM (cycles per minute) motor, sharp blades and wet & dry operation.
The Arc 3 (and Panasonic shavers in general) are able to shave very close to the skin and they’re efficient at catching facial hair as long as it’s reasonably short.
So shaving more often will get you the best results.
Also, because it only has 3 cutting elements, the shaving head is quite slim, which is ideal for a beginner.
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.
Alternatively, if the ES8103S is not available, you can go for any other Arc 3 model that is fitted with a 13 000 CPM motor.
I would stay clear of the ones with less powerful motors, as the performance drop will be significant.
As for downsides, while it shaves close, the Arc 3 is not the most comfortable foil shaver out there (for sensitive skin, check out the next option below).
And while still reasonable, the price of the Arc 3 is usually higher than what the competition has to offer.
Lastly, Panasonic shavers work best on short stubble, so they’re not ideal if you plan on shaving every 3 days or so.
2. Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040S
The Series 3 is an entry-level line of electric razors from Braun that offers great performance and comfort for a reasonable price.
Available in several variants, suitable for dry only or wet/dry operation, the Series 3 razors are another solid option for someone just getting started with electric shaving.
The 3040S is one of the most popular razors from the Series 3 ProSkin line; with wet & dry operation, it provides close and irritation-free shaves, being suitable for sensitive skin as well.
It also features an integrated slide-out trimmer something that not all Series 3 models have (for example, the 3010s).
The Braun Series 3 is a direct competitor of the Panasonic Arc 3 presented 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.
The Series 3 3040s has a very slim shaving head, making it a great first razor for a beginner or a teenager.
It’s also very easy to clean with a bit of soap and tap water.
One of the best things about this shaver is 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.
Braun 32b cassette
To make the deal even sweeter, the price for a replacement cassette is lower compared to other manufacturers.
If you’re in the market for your first electric shaver, the Series 3 3040S is definitely worth considering, even if you have sensitive skin.
You can read my detailed review of this shaver here.
3. Panasonic Arc 4 ES8243AA
While the two shavers above will be good enough for most users, the Panasonic Arc 4 ES8243AA takes things up a notch and will cater to those that are more demanding.
Tip: If you live in the UK/Europe, the Panasonic ES-RF31 is a great alternative that’s available there.
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 Arc 3 ES8103S), the Panasonic Arc 4 ES8243AA has a superior cutting head with four sharp blades that will provide very close shaves.
It’s also fitted with a very snappy 13 000 CPM motor.
All of these result in one of the closest shaving electric razors you can buy in this price range.
Those more concerned with the closeness of the shave and speed should really consider this razor.
Like all Panasonic shavers, the ES8243AA is waterproof and can be easily cleaned manually.
Having said that, the ES8243AA is more expensive, but still quite reasonable and usually offers excellent performance for the money.
As stated in our review, the replacement parts are however a bit pricey.
The Arc 4 range and Panasonic shavers in general don’t excel at providing the most comfortable shave.
However, the ES8243AA was surprisingly comfortable during my test, definitely better in that regard than other Arc 4 variations.
And for most users, it will be adequate, unless they have very sensitive skin.
In this case, you’d probably be better off with the next shaver.
4. Braun Series 5 5140s
The Series 5 is a very compelling line of electric shavers from Braun.
Priced lower than their notorious Series 7, the Series 5 offers excellent performance and would be a great choice for a beginner (if it fits within the budget).
The 5140s model is usually the most reasonably priced, but any Series 5 model you can get will be just as good.
The performance is basically identical throughout the entire line, so the choice should really come down to price.
The 5140s is a wet/dry model and can be used dry or with shaving cream or gel.
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 more forgiving and comfortable, especially during a dry shave.
It’s also a lot better with longer, flat-lying hairs, so it will still perform really well if you shave less often.
Based on these aspects you should have a preference towards one or the other.
The Series 5 5140s doesn’t come with an automatic cleaning station; those that do are usually more expensive and again, since we’re talking about your first shaver, you 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 Shaver 2300
If you still 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.
A razor worth checking out is the Philips Norelco Shaver 2300 that I reviewed here.
It offers good performance for the price, it shaves reasonably close and comfortable, has an integrated pop-up trimmer and, being a rotary shaver, it’s also very quiet during operation.
Being a rotary shaver, it’s also generally better at cutting longer, flat-lying hairs than most similarly priced foil razors.
The fact that it’s pretty basic in its construction and function is definitely a plus, while the replacement SH30/52 heads are durable and inexpensive.
All of these make the Norelco 2300 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 comes 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 razors.
Some of them do offer variants that come with a cleaning station (usually for a higher price) like the Braun 3 Series 3050cc.
Whether the convenience of a cleaning station is worth the extra money, that is totally up to you.
Personally, I would consider one for the Series 5 (like the 5190cc) if the price isn’t significantly higher.
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 shave, here are 5 easy to implement tips for a beginner:
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.
If you prefer to shave dry, a pre-electric shave lotion will likely improve the closeness and 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 and find what works best for you.
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 is suitable 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 smoothly as you’d expect in terms of closeness and comfort.
Your skin needs at least a few weeks to get used to the new method of shaving and your technique will eventually improve as well.
So take your time and enjoy your shave.
If you have any other questions, make sure to post them in the comments section below.