Coarse, thick facial hair is both a blessing and a curse.
You can grow a majestic beard and it’ll never look patchy, but that’s pretty much where the silver lining ends.
As you can see, it mainly has to do with those times when you don’t actually have to shave.
When it comes down to it, a heavy beard is more challenging regardless if you’re using a manual razor or an electric shaver.
To get a close and comfortable shave you must — among other things — use the right tool for the job.
Therefore, in this article, we’ll take a close look at some of the best electric razors for coarse hair.
I’ve owned and used all these shavers, most of them for years, and they proved to be the most effective without any major compromises.
But first, let’s get a few things out of the way.
Table of Contents
- What qualifies as coarse hair?
- The importance of assessing your beard type
- What are the traits of a shaver that’s suitable for coarse hair?
- The 5 best electric shavers for coarse hair (2024)
What qualifies as coarse hair?
Determining the coarseness of your beard is pretty straightforward.
A thick, coarse beard tends to have that short, dark, dense look and grows back pretty quickly.
It often feels very rough to the touch, especially when the stubble is very short.
A visible 5 o’clock shadow on the same day is also common for men with thick and dense beards.
Thick facial hair can sometimes appear patchy in certain areas — like on the cheeks — and very dense around the chin, upper lip and neck.
Apart from the visual cues mentioned above, another indicator of a heavy beard is how fast it grows back and how challenging it is to get a smooth and close shave.
Also, if you need to shave daily and your face feels rough to the touch after just one day, then you most likely have coarse hair.
The importance of assessing your beard type
When choosing an electric razor it’s important to have a clear picture of your needs in order to find a suitable product.
The coarseness of your beard should be an integral part of your search for the right shaver.
Not all electric razors are suitable for coarse hair.
You could use any shaver to get it done, but that won’t necessarily result in a comfortable, smooth, close and enjoyable shave.
Nobody wants to spend money on something that will cause discomfort, frustration and unsatisfactory results.
A bad experience with one particular shaver that wasn’t right for the job could even cause someone to stay away from electric razors altogether.
So let’s see how we can avoid this.
What are the traits of a shaver that’s suitable for coarse hair?
An electric razor fitted with a powerful motor will be beneficial in pretty much any situation, but they are particularly important if you have a coarse beard.
The difference in cutting power between a decent, but basic razor like the Series 3 from Braun and an advanced one like a Panasonic Arc 5 is even more obvious in this case.
Cutting thick, dense stubble requires serious power and a motor that operates at a high speed will perform significantly better and the time it takes to shave will be reduced as well.
Sharp, high-quality blades
This one is pretty obvious as well. A dull blade can yank the hairs while the closeness of the shave will suffer as well.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you have a tough beard and need to shave very often the blades and foils will probably need to be replaced sooner.
Some shavers that use low-quality blades and foils don’t last much until they become dull.
Lubricating the blades regularly will also be important (more details on this later on).
Multiple cutting elements
While having more blades won’t always improve the shaving experience to a significant degree, it most likely will in the context of coarse facial hair.
Men with heavy beards almost always have very dense stubble, which means that during a shave more hairs will need to be cut compared to a medium or light beard.
For this reason, I would say that a suitable electric razor will need to have at least three individual cutting elements.
Also, the perforations in the foil will need to handle thicker hairs as well. Some foil shavers have very small perforations which can be a problem.
A rotary shaver might be a better pick if the stubble is very thick as the more advanced models have both slits and holes in the metal combs.
Wet & dry operation
This one is not a must, but I strongly recommend giving wet shaving a try, especially if you also happen to have very sensitive skin.
You can check out my tips for wet shaving with an electric razor here.
If using shaving cream with your electric razor doesn’t sound too appealing, the next best thing would be a pre-shave lotion that takes just seconds to apply and in most cases, it’s very effective.
The 5 best electric shavers for coarse hair (2024)
We all have the same reasonable expectations from an electric razor — a close and comfortable shave.
And the first step in achieving this is to choose the right shaver.
Now that we know what to look for in a razor suitable for coarse hair, let’s check out some of the best you can currently buy.
1. Braun Series 9 Pro
The Pro models come with a tweaked shaving head that should handle even better longer, flat-lying hairs.
And while I’ve found both the Pro and the regular Series 9 to be equally impressive in that regard, the Series 9 Pro feels a bit more powerful and fast, which is definitely a good thing if you have coarse hair.
If for some reason you cannot get it or you’ve found a great deal on the non-Pro Series 9 (like the 9370cc), it’ll still be an excellent option.
Braun Series 9 9370cc (standard)
But the Pro models have the edge, even though the difference is not by any means huge.
Side note: The latest Series 9 PRO+ shaves exactly the same as the Series 9 Pro, but the latter costs less.
An evolution of the iconic and extremely popular Series 7, the Series 9 and 9 Pro are beefed-up, more powerful and more advanced razors that should satisfy even the most demanding users.
The Serie 9 Pro comes in different variations, with or without a cleaning station.
My personal pick would be one of the cc variations like the 9465cc for the excellent and practical cleaning station.
It also seems to cost lower than other similar Series 9 Pro models, at least in the USA.
Mine is the silver 9477cc Series 9 Pro which also comes with a charging case.
However, the performance is identical for all the S9 Pro models.
Further reading: You can check out a comprehensive comparison of all Series 9 variations here.
So what makes the Braun Series 9 Pro suitable for coarse beards?
First of all, we have a torquey motor and an excellent cutting system.
These features work together to provide a smooth and enjoyable shave even if you have a very tough beard and shave every three days, maybe even more.
I personally don’t think there is any other shaver at this moment that can outperform the Series 9/Series 9 Pro as a whole; the comfort, speed, and effortless operation are excellent.
If you are “blessed” with sensitive skin and a thick beard like I am, the Series 9 Pro would be a perfectly suitable choice.
It is arguably the best compromise and the most versatile shaver, making it a safe choice for most users.
As for the downsides, the Series 9 Pro is definitely not affordable.
If you need a Braun shaver that offers better value for money and still works well with tough whiskers check out the Series 8 or even the standard Series 9 if you can get a great deal for one.
Also, while the Series 9 Pro should be good enough for most men when it comes to closeness, it’s actually not the best in class, being edged by Panasonic’s Arc 5 shavers.
2. Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S
Deal alert: The newer Panasonic Arc 5 ES-ALV6HR is an equally good option if you can get a better deal on it.
The Arc 5 is a high-end line of electric razors from Panasonic, Braun’s main competitor in the foil shavers segment.
And until the launch of the 6-blade Arc 6 range, the Arc 5 was the most advanced Panasonic electric shaver.
This shaver offers the best value for money and the way it can deal with even very coarse stubble is impressive.
In terms of shaving performance, all Arc 5 razors are similar, so the differences between them come down to design, price and the inclusion of an automatic cleaning system.
In the UK for example, the blue ES-LV67 is usually the best pick thanks to its reasonable price.
Since a cleaning station is not really necessary in the case of Panasonic shavers as they’re very easy to clean manually, it makes sense to buy one of these models like the ES-LV65-S or ES-LV67.
If the cleaning base is a must-have for you, there is the more expensive ES-LV97-K Arc 5 variant that includes one.
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S is fitted with an extremely fast 14 000 CPM motor and very sharp blades that are honed at an aggressive 30-degree angle.
This allows them to cut thick hairs extremely close, fast and efficiently.
The massive shaving head with the 5 blades can cover very large surfaces with ease, reducing the number of strokes and the shaving time to a minimum.
Personally, I would place Panasonic’s Arc 5 line in the first spot with regard to the closeness of the shave.
While the Series 9 and 9 Pro are more comfortable out of the box, in my experience, the Panasonics are better at providing a closer shave.
However, the Arc 5 works best when used more often (when the hairs are shorter).
The Series 9/9 Pro works great even if the beard is longer and the difference is even more noticeable if the hairs stay flat on the skin.
But generally, if you are mainly concerned with getting the closest possible shave, I recommend the Arc 5 over Braun’s Series 9 or Series 9 Pro.
3. Panasonic Arc 6 ES-LS8A-K
The Arc 6 (or Series 900+ in Europe) is Panasonic’s most advanced shaver yet.
Objectively, I think it’s their best shaver.
It shaves just as close as the Arc 5, but it’s more comfortable and feels a bit more refined as well.
Unsurprisingly, with the same fast motor and arguably the best blades in the industry, it’s an ideal shaver for men with very tough beards.
So why only the third sport then?
Well, the Arc 6 is very expensive compared to the aforementioned Arc 5 shavers.
And while the comfort is better, I still think the Arc 5 would be the better option for most users.
If you have the budget and also deal with irritation and razor burn, then sure, it’s a fantastic shaver.
Otherwise, you should probably just get the Arc 5.
In other ways, the Arc 6 is very similar to the 5-blade Arc 5.
Despite the use of two specialized trimmer elements to tackle longer (5 and 6 in the image below), flat-lying hairs, it’s still not as good as a Braunb Series 9 Pro.
So using it more often would still be required to get the best results.
The larger 6-blade head will also take some getting used to.
It’s available globally in two variations, the ES-LS8A-K (no cleaning station) and ES-LS9A-K (includes an automatic cleaning station).
However, it is very easy to clean manually and the variation with the cleaning station also costs more.
For more details, you can check out my Arc 6 review as well.
4. Philips Norelco S9000 Prestige
Rotary shavers also fare very well with thick stubble and according to some, they are even superior to foil shavers.
I will however say that this is usually the case with the more advanced models that have dual track shaving heads.
These heads will use perforations and wide slits, so the hairs will poke through them and get cut at skin level.
One of the best rotary razors in terms of performance is the Philips Norelco S9000 Prestige.
It is an evolution of Norelco’s former premium line, the Series 9000 (with models like the 9500 and 9800).
With a torquey motor and very effective, comfortable cutters, its performance is among the best you can expect from any rotary shaver.
It’s particularly impressive at how well it can handle longer hairs, being very effective at catching and cutting them in fewer strokes.
So if you are a rotary shaver type of guy, definitely check this one out.
It would be an excellent choice if you shave less often, like twice a week for example.
Unfortunately, the S9000 Prestige doesn’t come with an automatic cleaning station and the price is pretty high compared to other shavers on this list.
The SP9841/84 Prestige model does include a so-called Quick Clean Pod.
This is a very compact and basic cleaning system that uses the shaver itself to power it.
It’s not quite as effective and feature-rich as a full-fledged station like the one that comes with the Series 9 Pro, but it is practical and easy to store and transport.
For all the details, make sure to also check out my in-depth S9000 Prestige review.
5. Braun Series 8
The Series 8 is a mid-range 3-blade foil shaver in Braun’s current lineup.
We can think of it as a more budget-friendly Series 9 with three cutting elements instead of 4.
The Series 8 models starting with 84 and 85 (like for example the 8457cc) even come with the same cleaning station as the Series 9 and 9 Pro.
So if you think the Series 9 or 9 Pro would be a good match for your needs but you’re not willing to spend that much on a shaver, the Series 8 is a worthy, more affordable alternative.
It still has quite a bit of power and should be good enough for men with coarser facial hair.
And while I don’t find it to shave quite as close as let’s say a Panasonic Arc 5, it’s very comfortable and more effective than the Arc 5 if the stubble is longer.
I think you can comfortably shave a 3-day beard with it.
All Series 8 variations shave exactly the same, so I would only be concerned with price and the inclusion of a cleaning station.
As mentioned earlier, it’s the same station with 3 cleaning modes included with the latest Series 9 and I think it’s worth getting.
The 8457cc is usually the Series 8 to buy, but again, any model starting with 84 or 85 will shave the same.
For all the details you can read my review of the Series 8 as well.
Before wrapping up, I want to point out that in order to get the most out of your shaver, the single most effective thing you can do is to set up an appropriate pre-shave routine.
A few simple and easy-to-implement steps can significantly improve your results.
And since coarse hair makes things more difficult for an electric razor, prep work should not be skipped.
If you have any other questions, make sure to post them in the comments section below.