What’s The Best Electric Shaver For Beginners (2020)?

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What’s The Best Electric Shaver For Beginners (2020)?

So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and switch to an electric shaver. Or maybe you just need to get one for someone just treading on that path.

Whichever the case may be, shaving is such an integral part of a man’s life and we should strive to make this process 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.

Rules of thumb when choosing your first electric shaver

Have a clearly defined budget and don’t overlook the cost of ownership.

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.

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 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.

Foil shavers are usually a safer choice for beginners.

Your shaver requirements may and probably will be different than somebody else’s.

So it’s recommended to take into account the things that really matter.

For example, things like comfort, closeness, value for money, ease of cleaning, .etc are among the most important ones to consider.

I will highlight the pros and cons of all the recommended shavers that make them more or less suitable for a given situation.

So make sure to prioritize the things that matter the most to you and choose a shaver that is a good match for you and you alone.

Going for a basic electric shaver is probably a good idea.

Resist the hype and don’t buy a shaver with a gazillion number of blades and features.

The Arc 5 and Series 9, two shavers with 5 and 4 blades respectively.

Panasonic Arc 5 and Braun Series 9, two of the most advanced electric shavers out there.

As a first-time user, you’ll be better off with a more basic shaver that’s easy to use, clean and to maintain in good working condition.

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.

Norelco 3100 S3310/81 vs Braun Series 5 size comparison.

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 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 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?

In your quest for finding the right electric razor for a first-time user, here are a few of my favorite shavers to get you started.

1. Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S

The Panasonic ES8103S, an affordable shaver that offer excellent performance

See the price on Amazon

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, sharp 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 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.

Also, 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

Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s

See the price on Amazon

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.

Braun 3040s held in hand.

The ProSkin 3040S 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.

It also features an integrated slide-out trimmer something that not all Series 3 models have (for example, the 3010s).

Braun Series 3 3040s trimmer

The integrated slide-out trimmer.

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.

The Series 3 3040s has a very slim shaving head, making it a great first shaver for a beginner or a teenager.

It’s also very easy to clean with a bit of soap and tap water.

Cleaning the 3010s

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.

The Braun 32b cassette used by the Series 3.

The Braun 32b cassette used by the Series 3 ProSkin.

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 3040S is definitely worth considering, especially if you have sensitive skin.

You can read my detailed review of this shaver here.

3. Panasonic Arc 4 ES8243AA

ES8243AA

See the price on Amazon

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.

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.

Rinsing the shaver with tap water.

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 inner blades of the ES8243AA.

The Arc 4 range and Panasonic shavers in general don’t excel at providing the most comfortable shave.

However, the ES8243AA was surprisingly comfortable, 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

5140s

See the price on Amazon

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.

Braun Series 5 shaving head.

Braun Series 5 shaving head.

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 3100 (S3310/81)

Philips Norelco 3100

See the price on Amazon

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 3100 that I reviewed in the past.

It offers good performance for the price, provides reasonably close and comfortable shaves, has an integrated pop-up trimmer and, being a rotary shaver, it’s also very quiet during operation.

Philips Norelco 3100 S3310/81

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 3100 a great choice for a beginner that is looking for an affordable, but still decent rotary shaver.

Is an automatic cleaning station necessary?

Cleaning stations.

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 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 5195cc) 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.

However, the basic ones like the Series 3 can’t match the performance of higher-end shavers, like the Panasonic Arc 5 or Braun Series 9.

In order to get the most out of your shaver and improve your results, here 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 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 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.

Final word

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.

19 comments on “What’s The Best Electric Shaver For Beginners (2020)?

Leave a comment
  1. Warren

    Would you recommend wet and dry over dry alone? I am a beginner and the new job requires me to shave a bit more regularly. How do they cope with 3-4 days growth.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Warren,

      the answer to wet vs dry is not so straight forward as it is a very personal matter. For some, myself included, wet shaving gives significantly better results, while for others the improvements are negligible. You must experience it yourself in order to make a correct assessment. As for a 3 to 4 days of growth, it again depends on how coarse is your facial hair and how fast it grows back. If you have very thick stubble that grows back pretty quickly even the more advanced and expensive razors can have some problems getting you a fast and smooth shave. Budget shavers are usually recommended for daily or every other day shaving. But if your facial hair is light to medium you can get away with more days between shaving sessions.

      The Panasonic ESST29 should be a good choice for a beginner, like all Arc 3 models that have a 13000 cpm motor (this one does).

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
  2. PRANAV

    I am just a high school boy & have hairs mostly on my chin & under the nose . As a Beginner , I am quite confused if I must buy a FOIL or ROTARY Blade shaver .
    I may need to shave once a week only .
    Please advise an economical , easy to use , easy maintenance & cleaning and of course gives the BEST SHAVE .
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Pranav,

      I would personally go for a foil shaver, they’re very easy to use and clean. Plus, I find foil shavers much easier to manoeuvre when shaving the area just below my nose, so I think they will be a perfect fit for you.

      Since you are a teenager your facial hair is probably light to medium, so a Braun Series 3 or Pansonic Arc3 are two very good options. The most economical of the two is the Braun, you can find them at great discounts and the replacement cassette is inexpensive. Check out the 340s recommended in this article or the 3040s, they are identical in terms of performance and also suitable for wet & dry use. I find the Panasonics to give a slightly closer shave and are also a bit faster, but their price and running costs are higher compared to the Series 3 from Braun. Performance-wise, I think you’ll be satisfied with either of them.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
  3. Cyndi

    Thank you for this article! I’m searching for my son who needs to shave for the very first time. He’s 14, and he is Autistic so I need the safety and ease of an Electric razor for him.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      You are very welcome, I’m glad to know you found the article useful.

      Best wishes,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  4. Mark

    Hi. I’m 15 and for the past couple of months have been trimming my facial hair with a hair clipper. Which foil shaver would you recommend? I have a small moustache, a small goatee and a bit on the chin. It doesn’t grow back fast. I trim it 3-4 times a month. Something beginner friendly?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Mark,

      A Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S would be my recommendation in your case. It is very easy and straight forward to use, cleaning is a breeze and it has more than enough cutting power. It is a wet/dry electric shaver, fully waterproof so you can rinse it under hot tap water without any worries. It’s also reasonably priced and since you have very light facial hair, the foils and blades will last for a long time before needing to be replaced. Another equally good option is the Braun Series 3 3040s ProSkin. It is very similar to the Panasonic with regards to costs and performance, but I find it to be a bit gentler to the skin.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  5. Anudeep Roy

    Hello I am a teenager ..I have facial hair mostly in my chin and upper lip light hairs…so what would be best ..
    Trimmer or shaver? And in case o shaver which would be best dry or wet? … Eagerly waiting for your answer.. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi,

      There’s no right or wrong answer here and it mostly depends on your preferences. A trimmer will only trim facial hair, while an electric shaver will get you a clean shave. Since you have a light beard, the Panasonic Arc 3 or the Braun Series 3 recommended in this post will be more than suitable for the job. Both can be used wet or dry, so you can give each method a try and see which one works best for you.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  6. Mari Scholtz

    Thank you so much for this article. I also have a son who has to start shaving off the bit of hair on his lip. We waxed it a couple of times but I think its time for one of those Braun jobs.
    Regards Mari

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Mari,

      Thank you for your comment, I’m really glad you found the information helpful.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  7. Jayne Mortenson

    Any thoughts on what shaver would be best to provide for nursing home staff to use for a resident who cannot shave himself? I have purchased three shavers for him in 12 months – recommended Braun twice and recommended Philips once. Nursing home reports his beard is so tough it wears out the shavers that quickly. Philips was returned to me, with guard that holds rotary blades in place missing and one rotary blade broken into two halves, so I suspect a different issue. What I need is a shaver that is easy for care aids to use, clean and maintain. I cannot expect them to read a manual. I am grateful for their care of the resident. Replacing the shaver every 4 months is little to pay for their care, and luckily the resident can afford it.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Jayne,

      The lifespan of a shaver’s foils and blades depends on several factors. Those include how often it is used and how well it’s being cared for (cleaning and lubrication). In this particular situation, a Panasonic shaver would probably be suitable for the job. They’re really good for coarse beards and are very easy to clean manually with a bit of liquid soap and hot tap water. Two models that I highly recommend are the ES-LA63-S Arc 4 and the ES-LV65-S Arc 5. Those two are also available with automatic cleaning stations (ES-LV95-S Arc 5), but again in this situation a cleaning station may actually complicate things instead of making them easier. A cleaning station takes care of cleaning and lubrication, but requires changing the cleaning fluid on a regular basis (and that one must be supplied as well). If that’s not a problem, then performing an automatic cleaning after every use will no longer require any other intervention from the caretaker.

      I highly recommend getting a spray cleaner & lubricant like the Remington Shaver Saver if the shaver won’t come with a cleaning station. I’m pretty sure that the premature wear of the previous Braun and Philips shavers was accelerated by the lack of lubrication. A spray is cheap and very easy to apply — it literally takes seconds, but it will make a difference. It could also be a more practical alternative to cleaning the shaver with soap and water.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  8. Susan

    I’m looking for a shaver for a first time shaver,he doesn’t even know how to shave, he just can’t get it but he needs shaved for work. He recently lost his dad who used to shave,. So which one should I purchase for him to try. Thank You

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Susan,

      That really depends on your budget. If it’s rather limited, the Braun Series 3 3040s or the Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S (both mentioned in this post) will do, especially if the shaver will be used more often. Entry-level shavers aren’t great with longer facial hair. If you can stretch a bit more, there’s the Panasonic Arc 4 which is a step up in performance, but consider it only if his facial hair is rather coarse and dense.

      All of them are easy to clean and to use, just make sure to read the user’s manual as well.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply

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