The neck area has always been the Nemesis of a good shave for many men, myself included.
More often than not, the neck plays a major part in the unpleasant side of shaving: rashes, razor burn, ingrown hairs, irritation.
Electric shavers add yet another dimension to the problem: stubborn, stray hairs that are left behind even after multiple passes.
And going over and over the same area can cause even more discomfort and irritation.
Therefore, in this article we’ll take a close look at what makes some electric shavers better than others at shaving the neck.
I’ll also share a few recommendations that’ll hopefully help you narrow down your options and choose the shaver that will suit you the best.
Table of Contents
The problem with shaving the neck
There are a few reasons for the trouble associated with shaving the pesky neck area.
Here are the most important ones:
- The skin on the neck is more sensitive and prone to irritation. The skin is also a lot thinner than on your cheeks for example. As a result, the discomfort is greater and can be triggered easily.
- On your neck, the hairs are more likely to lie flat on the skin and to grow in different directions. And this can be a serious issue for many electric shavers, particularly for the basic ones. This will often lead to more strokes, more pressure applied and greater chances of irritation and razor burn. Also, the longer you use an electric shaver, the hotter it will get. And a hot shaving head is never good news for sensitive skin. Luckily, there are a few shavers that don’t get warm during operation as you’ll see later in the article.
- There’s a higher probability for ingrown hairs and razor bumps. A hair becomes ingrown when is cut close to the skin and then starts growing and curls back into the skin. As said previously, hairs on the neck tend to lie flat on the skin which increases the chances of the hair penetrating back into the skin. Since the body sees it as a foreign object, it will trigger an inflammatory (and painful) process.
- The oddly shaped surfaces and little leverage makes it difficult to shave efficiently. There are a few very tricky spots, like the area right under your chin or jawline. You have to constantly adjust the length of the strokes, angle, direction and so on in order to get a clean, smooth shave.
If we take into account the above-mentioned points, a good electric shaver for the neck will basically have to:
- Be suitable for sensitive skin
- Be good at shaving flat-lying hairs that grow in different directions
Which leads us to the next question.
Rotary or foil for shaving the neck?
In the electric shaving community, there is a consensus that one type of electric razor is better than the other depending on the situation.
And I definitely agree, with one additional note: these are only general guidelines and in real life, things won’t always turn out as expected.
For example, foil shavers are generally thought to be more suitable for sensitive skin, but there are men who can’t use anything apart from a rotary shaver.
The shaving technique required for foil and rotary shavers differs significantly and here is where personal preference comes into play. Using one vs the other can simply feel right and more natural. And that alone can improve the final result.
When it comes to foil or rotary for shaving the neck, here are a few things to keep in mind. Again, these are just anecdotal considerations, not absolute truths.
- Rotary shavers are generally better at dealing with stubborn neck hairs: longer, flat-lying hairs that grow in different directions. By using circular, overlapping clockwise and counterclockwise motions you can capture more stray hairs with different growth patterns than you would with most foil shavers.
- Rotary shavers are better at adapting to the various surfaces and maintaining contact with the skin. The flexing, pivoting and tilting of the shaving unit and individual cutters of an advanced rotary shaver can be very handy when shaving your neck. A foil shaver only has a straight edge; for this reason, shaving the area that starts right below your jawline can be more difficult.
- Rotary shavers are generally better at shaving longer hairs, especially when compared to entry-level foil shavers. If you don’t shave very often, a rotary razor may be better suited for you. The longer hairs are captured more efficiently by the slits in the shaving heads.
- Foil shavers shave closer. This is generally true, even though things can be different if we refer to specific models of foil and rotary razors. This is mainly due to the fact that the foil is very thin compared to the metal guards/combs used by rotary shavers, so the physical barrier that sits between the skin and cutters is smaller.
- Foil shavers are better for sensitive skin. Again, this can vary depending on the specific models. Some rotary shavers can pull longer hairs and irritate the skin, but that’s generally not the case with high-quality razors.
- Foil shavers have a less steep learning curve. Using a foil shaver usually takes less practice than a rotary razor. The use of straight, short strokes against the grain makes foil shavers a better option for beginners.
The takeaway is that you shouldn’t think about foil vs rotary for shaving the neck in absolute terms. I would simply consider my personal needs and go for a razor that meets most of them.
For example, I have very sensitive skin and I always got along better with foil shavers, so in my case a foil shaver would be the more sensible choice.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the best electric shavers for the neck and how to choose one that would suit you the best.
What are some of the best electric shavers for the neck area?
1. Braun Series 9 9290cc
We’ll kick-off the list with a foil shaver, which is a bit odd considering that rotary razors are usually better at catching the hairs on the neck.
However, the Series 9 is in a class of its own.
When it comes to foil shavers, the Braun Series 9 is probably the best in terms of comfort and dealing with neck hairs.
Improving upon the excellent foundation of the iconic Series 7, the Series 9 is more powerful and has a redesigned shaving head.
The most important addition is an extra shaving element, called the Direct & Cut trimmer that it is specifically designed to capture longer hairs that grow in different directions.
This, along with the HyperLift & Cut element (found also on the Series 7) make the Series 9 better than pretty much any other foil for shaving longer, flat-lying hairs that are likely to be found on the neck.
The shave is very close and supremely comfortable.
The foils of the Series 9 remain cool during use and it never pulls or yanks the hairs.
The Series 9 is available in several variations, including models suitable for dry only use (9090cc) or wet & dry use (9290cc). Choosing one or the other comes down to personal preference.
The dry only Series 9 were however phased out and there are currently only wet&dry models available.
However, I do recommend going for a model that includes Braun’s excellent Clean & Renew station as it’s really good at cleaning and lubricating the shaver.
A manual cleaning can be fiddly as the blades and foils of the Series 9 are merged into one piece called a cassette that doesn’t offer the best access for a thorough cleaning.
My personal pick would be the 9290cc that I reviewed in great detail here.
2. Philips Norelco S9000 Prestige
The Prestige line is the latest and greatest from Philips Norelco and arguably one of their best shavers yet.
While they don’t offer the best value for money — they are pricey and don’t even come with a cleaning station — performance-wise they are phenomenal.
The novelty of the Prestige line is ditching the well-known double-blade design of the cutters called Lift & Cut.
Instead, they use a more standard blade that in turn provides a significant improvement in comfort while still cutting the hairs close to the skin.
Together with a special design of the combs, this allows the S9000 Prestige to capture and catch longer, flat-lying hairs better than any other electric shaver on the market.
This makes it an ideal razor for shaving the neck.
It manages to perform impressively well even on a 5-day beard, so if you’re the type that shaves less often, the Philips S9000 Prestige should be on your short list.
The Philips Series 9000 Prestige has 3 personalization modes, allowing you to alter the power output according to your needs (from sensitive to high intensity).
However, in real-world use they don’t seem to make a significant difference and using the highest power setting all the time seems to yield the best results.
So why is the Prestige our second choice?
Well, despite being a very comfortable shaver compared to other rotary models (including the 9300 and 9700), it’s still not as comfortable as some foil shavers like the Series 9 or Series 7.
Also, most users will get probably get a closer shave as well using those.
And finally, being a new model, the S9000 Prestige is priced quite high and as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t offer a cleaning station.
However, for rotary razor fans that also shave less often, the Prestige is unbeatable.
You can check out my review of it here.
3. Braun Series 7 790cc
The Series 7 790cc was regarded for many years as the benchmark in terms of comfort and performance.
And it is still is a very relevant product today.
The Series 7 is edged only by the Series 9 in terms of comfort and many men won’t even notice a difference.
However, the Series 7 lacks the Direct & Cut element of the Series 9. This means that the Series 7 is not quite as good at shaving longer hairs. But it’s still better than most other foil shavers out there and will easily be good enough in most cases.
The shaver is very gentle to the skin and will make an excellent choice for men with sensitive skin on the neck.
The Series 7 is also priced lower than the Series 9 and can be bought in dry only or wet/dry variations.
But just like the Series 9, it’s probably a good idea to choose one that includes an automatic cleaning station.
The Series 7 790cc is usually the best choice as it’s widely available and the price is lower compared to other similar Series 7 variations.
4. Braun Series 5 5090cc/5190cc
An alternative to the Series 7 is the Series 5, which provides an almost identical shaving performance, but it’s usually available at a significantly lower price.
The highlight of the Series 5 is the 5090cc/5190cc because of its reasonable price and the inclusion of an automatic cleaning station.
You also can check out an in-depth comparison between the Series 7 and 5 here.
Side by side, it would be very hard to differentiate between the shaving head of a Series 5 and a Series 7:
As a result, the actual shaving performance is quite similar, with the Series 7 being a bit more refined and faster, but nothing dramatically better.
So the Series 5 is a great choice for men with sensitive neck skin and will perform very well as long as the hairs are not excessively long, in which case a Series 9 or the Philips Prestige would be a better choice.
5. Philips Norelco 8900 with SmartClean
The Philips Norelco 8900 is the next best thing if you are looking for a more budget-friendly alternative to the Prestige.
The Norelco 8900 is very similar to the more expensive Series 9000 (9300, 9700, 9800) in terms of performance. It even uses the same shaving heads.
The only real difference is that the 8900 doesn’t include the 3 personalization modes found on the 9300 and only has basic LED display.
These are mostly gimmicky features that won’t affect the actual performance to a significant degree, so all the things that make the Series 9000 a good electric shaver for the neck are still present in the case of the Norelco 8900.
The shaving heads that flex in 8 directions maintain constant contact with the skin and minimize the number of passes. The shaver is also remarkably quiet and pretty comfortable.
Compared to the S9000 Prestige it is not however as comfortable, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have sensitive skin.
In that case, a Series 7 can be had for the same money, but it will be a lot more gentle to the sensitive skin on the neck.
The SH90 blades of the 8900 use a double edge design, which I find to cause a constant stinging/pinching sensation — again, unlike the S9000 Prestige on the number 2 spot in this list.
The 8900 also comes with a cleaning station that cleans, dries and lubricates the blades.
For more details, here is my detailed review of the Philips Norelco 8900.
Hopefully, by this time you’ll have a general idea of what electric razor would be better for shaving your neck with minimal discomfort and frustration.
These are only a few options meant to put you on the right track as I’m sure there are other electric shavers out there that would make perfectly good choices.
But apart from choosing the right shaver, it’s equally important to prepare, execute and follow-up your shave.
For these reasons I highly recommend reading these articles as well to help you get the most out of your shaver and tame the neck:
- Preparation: A Simple and Effective Pre Electric Shave Routine
- Execution: How to Shave Your Neck with an Electric Razor
- Follow-up: What to Do After Shaving with an Electric Razor
Over to you now: do you have a hard time getting a smooth, pain-free shave on your neck? What are your thoughts on improving the shaving experience? Please leave your comments below.