So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and switch to an electric shaver. Or maybe you need one for someone just treading on that path, like your teenage son.
Whichever the case may be, shaving is an integral part of a man’s life and we should strive to make it as easy, 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 (2023)?
- Is an automatic cleaning station necessary?
- Effective tips to get the most out of your shaver
- Final word
Rules of thumb when choosing your first electric shaver
Before pulling the trigger, here are a few things I think you should consider.
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 regard 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.
For the shavers I’m about to recommend I will also be providing info and links to the replacement blades.
Pick a shaver suitable for YOUR needs.
Your requirements for an electric razor may and probably will be different from somebody else’s.
You should therefore take into account the things that matter the most to you.
For example, things like comfort, closeness, value for money and cost, 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 less advanced electric shaver is generally a good idea.
Resist the hype and don’t buy a shaver with a gazillion blades and features.
Also, more than four blades are often overkill, especially if you shave regularly or if you have a light to medium beard.
The latter is often the case with teenagers.
On top of that, high-end shavers 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 definitive 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 beginners or teenage boys.
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. 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. That one 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 shavers will pull and yank hairs, especially if your technique isn’t spot on (which is often the case if you’ve never used an electric razor).
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 a 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 (2023)?
1. Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040S
The Series 3 is an entry-level line of electric razors from Braun that offer great performance and comfort for a reasonable price.
But most importantly, it would also make a great choice for a beginner.
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 in the entry-level segment of foil electric shavers.
While both are excellent choices, the Series 3 is a bit 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 foil razor.
The Series 3 3040s has a very slim shaving head, making it a great first electric 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 Replacement 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.
2. Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LL41-K
Side note: For the UK market, this shaver is available as the Panasonic ES-LL21-K model. It is absolutely identical except it only comes with one comb attachment instead of two.
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 provided it’s reasonably short.
So shaving more often will usually get you the best results.
Also, because it only has 3 cutting elements (just like the Series 3 above), the shaving head is quite slim, which is ideal for a beginner.
The pop-up trimmer is excellent and way better in my opinion than the one on the Series 3.
It’s very practical and effective and comes in really handy for some on the fly grooming like your sideburns. You can even use it to edge your beard if you rock one.
And speaking of beards, the Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LL41-K comes with two unique adjustable combs that allow you to pre-trim or maintain a beard.
I don’t know how many of you will actually be using them, but you have that option and they do work great.
They fit over the extended hair trimmer and you won’t have to swap the foil head for example like you would with most other accessories of this type.
The ES8103S is dead easy to use and to clean.
Changing the foil and blades is also very straightforward. Speaking of which, you’ll be needing a new set every year, but the cost is pretty reasonable.
Panasonic WES9013PC Replacement foil & blades
However, the cassette of the Braun Series 3 3040s above costs less. Also, as you can tell from the image above, the Panasonic Arc 3 uses two removable blades and a foil with a built-in third cutting element.
For more in-depth details, make sure to check out my review of the ES-LL41-K.
The ES8103S actually used to be my default recommendation for a Panasonic Arc 3. It shaved exactly like the newer ES-LL41-K that took its place, but it was even cheaper (older model, no travel lock).
But as of 2023, it’s getting really difficult to find, so the ES-LL41-K is now the one to buy.
I would stay clear of the Arc 3 models 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 if you have really sensitive skin.
Also, the price of the Arc 3 is usually higher than what the competition — mainly the Braun Series 3 ProSkin — 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.
3. Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA63AA
While the two shavers above will be good enough for most users, the Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA63AA 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.
There are two versions of this Arc 4: silver (ES-LA63-S) and blue (ES-LA63AA).
I got the silver one, but it’s not available anymore, so you can only buy the blue ES-LA63AA. But both shave exactly the same.
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.
Similar in design and function to the Arc 3, the Panasonic Arc 4 ES8243AA has a superior cutting head with four sharp blades and a slightly faster motor (1 4000 CPM) that will provide very close shaves.
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.
The integrated pop-up trimmer is again excellent, better than what you’ll find on any Braun razor, including the Series 9.
Like all Panasonic shavers, the ES-LA63AA is waterproof and can be easily cleaned manually.
Having said that, the ES-LA63AA is more expensive, but still quite reasonable and usually offers excellent performance for the money.
As stated in my review, the replacement parts are however a bit pricey.
Panasonic WES9025PC foils & blades
Therefore, I recommend getting this shaver only if you have a coarse beard or you’re extremely demanding with the closeness.
Otherwise, an Arc 3 like the one above will be good enough.
The Arc 4 range and Panasonic shavers in general don’t excel at providing the most comfortable shave.
But 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 8 8417s
The Series 8 (S8) is a very compelling line of electric shavers from Braun.
While the Series is positioned like a mid-range in Braun’s lineup, the performance is excellent.
Priced lower than their notorious Series 9, the Series 8 shaves great and would be a good choice for a beginner (if it fits within the budget).
It is the priciest option on this list, so again should be considered by the more demanding users, especially with regard to comfort.
The Series 8 also works really well on longer facial hair, being able to shave with great comfort and effectiveness a 3-day beard, maybe even more.
The 8417s and 8330s models are usually the most reasonably priced, but any Series 8 variation 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 Series 8 is a wet/dry shaver and can be used dry or with shaving cream or gel.
It has 3 cutting elements, thus a slim and manageable head and it’s a very comfortable shaver.
While the Arc 4 above will provide a slightly closer shave in most cases, the Series 8 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 for one or the other.
The replacement shaving head of the Series 8 called 83M usually has a pretty reasonable price and is widely available.
Braun Series 8 83M Replacement Cassette
The Series 8 8417s 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.
Overall, the Braun S8 is a highly capable shaver and just like the Panasonic Arc 4, it’s pretty future-proof.
With a Series 3 or Arc 3, you may feel the need to upgrade in the future; you won’t be a beginner forever.
The S8 is however on the pricier side, so unless you think you would really benefit from it (for example if you have coarse stubble and usually don’t shave too often), a Braun Series 3 3040s will be a lot cheaper and probably good enough.
For a complete guide on the Series 8 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 comfortably, has an integrated pop-up trimmer and, being a rotary shaver, it’s also very quiet during operation.
It’s 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 heads are durable and inexpensive.
Philips SH30 Replacement Blades
All of these make the Norelco 2300 an excellent choice for a beginner that is looking for an affordable, but still decent rotary shaver.
In my opinion, unless you absolutely know you would be better off with a rotary, the Braun Series 3 or a Panasonic Arc 3 will be better options in most cases.
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 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 is totally up to you.
Personally, I would consider one for the Series 8 (like the 8457cc) if the price isn’t significantly higher.
Effective 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 perform 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 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 end even pure enjoyment.
Your skin requires at least a few weeks to get used to the new method of shaving and your technique will need to improve as well.
So take your time and try to enjoy the process.
If you have any other questions, make sure to post them in the comments section below.