This is without a doubt one of the most popular questions when it comes to electric shavers.
And it makes perfect sense — lots of men switch to electric razors just to avoid the discomfort caused by shaving with a blade.
Regardless if you’re coming directly from traditional wet shaving or you just want to upgrade your current electric razor, you’ll most likely want two things: a close shave and a comfortable, pain-free experience.
However, finding that elusive best shaver for sensitive skin is not always easy and straightforward.
I’ve been dealing with sensitive skin for my entire teenage and adult life and shaving was always a challenge.
After testing and owning dozens of electric razors, these are my personal picks in 2022 for men with sensitive skin.
Hopefully, this article will help you find the right shaver so you can finally enjoy an irritation-free shave.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Are electric shavers good for sensitive skin?
- What are the qualities of a shaver suitable for sensitive skin?
- Rotary vs foil shavers for sensitive skin
- What are some of the best electric shavers for sensitive skin (2022)?
- Effective shaving tips for men with sensitive skin
- Final word
Are electric shavers good for sensitive skin?
Yes, they certainly can be.
With the right shaver and proper technique, I think most men will find electric shavers to be beneficial when dealing with certain skin issues.
For example, using a blade while dealing with razor bumps will only make things worse.
If your facial hair has a tendency to become ingrown, an electric shaver is a much better option.
Granted, a mild DE razor and a high-quality shaving cream can also work well (definitely better than cartridge razors and canned foam), but your skin will still take a toll compared to using a gentle electric razor.
The actual cutting blades don’t come in contact with the skin and oscillate behind a perforated thin metal screen, cutting the hairs as they protrude through the holes.
In addition to the standard perforated holes, most modern electric razors have at least one cutting element specifically designed to cut difficult hairs.
And by difficult hairs I mostly refer to longer, flat-lying hairs that are sometimes left behind by the less advanced shavers.
In the image above you can see two such elements on the shaving head of the Braun Series 9 (for a total of four).
What are the qualities of a shaver suitable for sensitive skin?
Even though many electric shavers out there will work just fine for some men, there are some aspects to keep in mind if your skin is prone to irritation, razor burn, or ingrown hairs.
As someone who had to deal with this for years, I tried many shavers in order to find the ones that wouldn’t leave my face looking and feeling terrible.
In my opinion, these are the most important hallmarks of an electric shaver suitable for sensitive skin:
It may be a bit surprising to start off with this one, but high-quality, sharp blades are one of the key elements of a shaver suitable for sensitive skin.
Dull blades can cause the razor to pull the hairs and the closeness of the shave will suffer as well.
This will eventually lead to more pressure being applied and will force you to do excessive passes, increasing the risk of razor burn and irritation.
A great example of quality blades is Panasonic’s 30 degrees nano blades that have an aggressive 30 degrees bevel (as the name implies).
This allows the blades to cut the hairs clean, efficiently and without pulling or yanking them.
You should also check out the replacement foils and blades when looking to buy a new electric shaver; they should be readily available and ideally not too expensive.
Gentle and fast.
Razor burn, rashes, and irritation occur when a very thin layer of skin cells is actually being scraped off by the blades (it’s usually the skin around hair follicles that pokes through the perforations in the foils).
Some electric shavers are more aggressive than others and will leave you with a nasty, painful rash even if you’re extremely careful and use light pressure.
Also, you will definitely feel the difference between a shaver fitted with a motor that runs at around 7000 CPM (cycles per minute) and with one that operates at 10 000 – 14 000 CPM.
An electric razor that has a more powerful motor will shave faster, smoother and with fewer passes, needs little to no pressure applied and contributes to a comfortable shave.
Yes, there’s more to an electric shaver than just numbers and specs, but a punchy and torquey motor is definitely a good starting point.
A shaving head that doesn’t get hot during operation.
This is yet another important and poorly documented aspect in most reviews out there.
If the shaving head gets very hot due to the friction between the blades and the foils, it will cause a great deal of discomfort.
You should also lubricate your razor regularly to reduce the heat generated during use and to minimize the wear of the blades and foils (more on that later on).
There are shavers that remain perfectly cool and comfortable during use (even in the case of an extended shaving session) as we’ll see later on.
Being able to shave longer hairs that stay flat on the skin.
As someone with sensitive skin, you’ll sometimes have to wait a couple of days or even more between shaving sessions.
Your skin may need some time to recover and heal before subjecting it again to a potentially irritating factor, like shaving.
Therefore, the shaver must cope well with longer hairs.
Many electric shavers have some trouble when shaving flat-lying hairs that grow in different directions, especially on the neck, requiring multiple strokes and thus increasing the chances of irritation.
An electric razor suitable for sensitive skin should also perform well on a longer beard (up to 4 days between shaving sessions).
Wet & dry operation.
Wet shaving with an electric razor can be extremely beneficial to men with sensitive skin.
Even though it takes longer and requires more prep work, it can make a big difference in some cases.
I encourage you to give it a try if your razor is suitable for wet/dry operation.
Some electric razors (like the ones from Panasonic) are a lot more gentle to the skin when used with a quality shaving cream vs just shaving dry.
Rotary vs foil shavers for sensitive skin
Recommending one type of shaver vs another based on anecdotal evidence will always be somewhat personal and subjective.
And that’s the case here as well.
I personally prefer foil shavers as I’ve always found them to be more comfortable and easier to use.
I also feel more confident and in control with a foil shaver compared to using a rotary razor.
Moreover, some rotary razors, especially the ones in the lower-end segment, have a tendency to pull and yank the hairs when you’re a bit sloppy and can also cause some stinging and discomfort.
There are of course users that are not affected by these issues (or only to a small degree) and that’s perfectly fine as well.
However, most men that have used both types seem to be on the same page as me when it comes to rotary vs foil shavers for sensitive skin.
For these reasons I consider foil razors to be generally a safer choice.
Choosing a shaver ultimately comes down to the user’s particular needs and personal preference and there’s no absolute truth here.
You should always choose whatever seems to work best for you.
Now that we’ve covered the boring part, it’s time to check out some actual shavers so you can hopefully narrow down your options.
What are some of the best electric shavers for sensitive skin (2022)?
1. Braun Series 9 9390cc
- Extremely comfortable and gentle to the skin
- Close shaves
- Great for longer, wiry, flat-lying hairs
- Suitable for very sensitive skin, ingrown hairs
- Practical cleaning station
- Fast and powerful, suitable for coarse beards
- Similar closeness to the less expensive Series 7
- Overkill for light beards
- Manual cleaning can be more difficult in time
The Series 9 is the latest and greatest from the popular German brand and represents an evolution of the iconic Series 7.
Building upon an already solid foundation, the Series 9 is a more powerful and more advanced electric shaver that’s also an excellent choice for men with sensitive skin.
Shaving with the Series 9 is a really enjoyable experience: the foils remain cool during use and the shaver is supremely comfortable, with no hairs getting pulled even when shaving a three-day beard or even more.
The addition of the fourth cutting element, called a Direct & Cut trimmer, makes the Series 9 very effective at cutting longer hairs that grow in different directions, requiring fewer strokes compared to most other foil shavers.
The Series 9 is really impressive at how it manages to provide close shaves while being very gentle to the skin.
It feels effortless to use and will have no trouble shaving even very coarse stubble.
For these reasons, the Series 9 is probably the best electric razor out there for men with sensitive skin, provided that the budget is not really a constraint.
Side note: you’re probably aware that Braun recently released an update to this line called the Series 9 Pro.
After using both the Pro and the Standard Series 9, I can confirm that the original one is actually more comfortable, thus a better choice for users with sensitive skin.
There are several variations of the Series 9, all of them offering pretty much the same performance.
The cc models include an automatic cleaning station, while the s models do not.
The 9390cc seems to be the best option (at least in the USA) as it generally costs less than other Series 9 cc models and is suitable for wet and dry use.
However, most users will probably stick to shaving dry and with the Series 9, that’s perfectly fine because the razor is already very gentle and forgiving.
Since all Series 9 models starting with 92 or 93 shave the same, you should simply buy the one available in your country for the best price.
For more details, you can read a comprehensive comparison between all the different Series 9 variations here.
I’d recommend you opt for a cc Series 9 that also includes an automatic cleaning station.
It works great, it’s very practical and makes cleaning a non-issue.
Even if you don’t use it after every shave (and you probably shouldn’t), it’s really handy to have and to get the shaving head thoroughly cleaned and lubricated every once in a while.
This will prevent dirt from accumulating inside the head that would normally be more difficult to remove manually.
Besides, there are cheap third-party cleaning solutions available as well.
With that said, the Series 9 is a bit pricey and for most men, other less expensive options can also work just fine.
2. Braun Series 7 790CC
- Very comfortable (even during a dry shave)
- Suitable for very sensitive skin
- Close shaves
- Cheaper than a Series 9
- Works surprisingly well with longer, flat-lying hairs
- Suitable for coarse beards
- Difficult to find in 2022
The Series 7 is a shaver that needs no introduction, being one of the most acclaimed shavers out there for its performance and supremely comfortable shaves.
Also, due to the so-called micro-pulsations and specially designed middle trimmer, it’s very effective at shaving coarse, long or short hairs that grow in different directions.
It has a powerful motor, a 3-blade cutting system and a foil that was designed to be gentle to the skin.
The Braun 790cc is one of the most popular variations of the Series 7 family and it’s also widely available in the USA/Canada and Europe as well.
Being an older model, it’s only suitable for shaving dry (even though it is fully waterproof for easy cleaning with tap water).
However, since the Series 7 is already very comfortable during a dry shave, most users won’t see a significant benefit in the addition of shaving cream.
If you’re willing to give wet shaving a try, a Panasonic electric shaver would probably be a better option as the comfort will be greatly improved in that case.
The Series 7 can also be a more budget-friendly alternative to the pricey Series 9.
As I said in the direct comparison of the Series 7 and Series 9, for most users the Series 7 will work perfectly fine and only a few will see a significant difference when using the Series 9.
In fact, the Series 7 with its slimmer shaving head feels more nimble and maneuverable, making it a better option, especially for someone just getting started with electric shavers.
I think a Series 7 model like the 790cc that includes a cleaning station is the way to go here as well; it’s very effective and you won’t be saving a lot by going for a solo variation.
You can also opt for a third-party cleaning solution and keep the cost of ownership very low.
For more details on all the other Series 7 models, you can read my in-depth comparison and pick the right one for you.
Unfortunately, with the introduction of the new generation, Braun also started to phase out the older and superior Series 7 shavers like the 790cc.
For that reason, finding one in 2022 is a real challenge. But luckily, we do have a viable alternative as you’ll see next.
3. Braun Series 8 8457cc
- Very comfortable (even during a dry shave)
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Similar to a Series 7 performance-wise
- Very good value for money
- Excellent design and build quality
- Suitable for coarse beards
- Noisy during use
- Not as refined and smooth as a Series 7 or 9
Since the old generation Series 7 shavers have sadly been discontinued, the Braun Series 8 is the next best thing.
Performance-wise, the Series 8 is extremely similar to the Series 7 and inherits most of its good traits.
While the name might suggest a superior line of shavers — after all, 8 is greater than 7 — the Series 8 is essentially a rebranded Series 5 (the old and excellent generation).
It comes with a nicer design and a larger battery as well for 60 minutes of cordless shaving.
And while the old Series 7 still has the edge in my opinion, being more refined and better at capturing longer, flat-lying hairs, the Series 8 is an excellent performer as well.
What’s more, it’s very gentle and forgiving, something we’re particularly interested in.
The shaving head is comprised of three individual cutting elements and it’s immediately obvious that it looks almost identical to the one of the Series 7:
The similar performance is no surprise and in 2022 the Series 8 is probably the best alternative to the discontinued Series 7.
Moreover, the price is also pretty reasonable, undercutting the Series 9 by a lot.
It’s particularly the case with the solo models like the Series 8 8330s, but I would personally consider a cc variation (with a cleaning station) like the 8457cc or 8370cc.
I own the latter and I’ve been really happy with it for the last 3 years.
By the way, no matter which Series 8 you end up getting, the shaving performance will be identical.
Also, a solo Series 8 will actually work with a compatible cleaning station purchased later on (more details on that here).
Shaving with the Series 8 is a nice and enjoyable experience, although a Series 9 and Series 7 will feel just a bit smoother.
The closeness is also on par with the Series 7, which for the vast majority of men will be good enough.
I personally prefer to shave with the Series 8 dry with the Speick pre-shave lotion, but you can also use shaving cream or gel.
It works great on short to moderately long stubble (up to 3 days of growth, maybe even 4) and deals surprisingly well with flat-lying hairs.
The Series 9 is still the best in that regard, but again, the Series 8 is quite capable as well.
If you don’t want to spend a premium on a Series 9, the Series 8 is definitely a solid alternative that will be perfectly suitable for sensitive skin.
4. Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV6U
- Very fast and powerful
- Very close shaves
- Can be suitable for sensitive skin
- Excellent wet shaving performance
- High quality, sharp blades
- Great build quality
- Very easy to clean manually
- Not as comfortable as a Braun Series 9 or 7
- Overkill for light beards
- Bulking shaving head takes some getting used to
- Not ideal for long, flat-lying hairs
Braun electric razors, especially the ones from the Series 7 and up, are in my opinion the ones to have if you suffer from razor burn, ingrown hairs or pseudofolliculitis.
That said, they do come with a slight compromise to the closeness of the shave.
But that’s actually beneficial in several cases as a really close shave can exacerbate certain skin issues like ingrown hairs.
If however the problem is less severe and you also want a really close shave, then you should check out the Arc 5 line from Panasonic.
Currently in its third generation, the defining characteristic of this family of shavers is the (rather excessive) 5-blade shaving head.
Coupled with an industry-leading 14 000 CPM linear-drive motor, the Panasonic Arc 5 is a fantastic performer that excels at providing very close shaves.
While the previous generation did so at the expense of comfort, the latest models are better in this regard and can represent a viable option for men with sensitive skin that also need a really close shave.
The foils were redesigned to be gentler and two rollers were added to improve the glide on the skin and prevent you from applying too much pressure.
I will admit that I was very skeptical at first, but after using several of the new Arc 5 models I can honestly say that they really work.
There are lots of different shaver models available and you can read my Arc 5 comparison guide if you want all the details.
But the one I would recommend is the 2021 Arc 5 which was launched outside of Japan and you’ll also find it under the Series 900 name.
I own the ES-LV5U model (blue), but the black ES-LV6U is currently the easiest to get worldwide and the one I’d recommend for precisely that reason.
I picked this Arc 5 generation over the other ones mainly because of the redesigned outer foil which is in my experience the most comfortable and forgiving Arc 5 foil.
The Panasonic Arc 6 is maybe slightly more comfortable, but the price is still outrageously high, which is why I still chose the Series 900 as my Panasonic shaver of choice for sensitive skin.
This thing shaves incredibly close while still remaining adequately comfortable.
There is a caveat though — it works best on short facial hair and you must be a bit more mindful about the pressure as it’s not as forgiving as the Braun shavers above.
But the Arc 5/Series 900 should nevertheless be comfortable enough.
I’m able to shave dry with it without any issues, again, provided I use it every two days or so.
Panasonic razors aren’t as good at catching those flat-lying hairs, which is why shaving more often would yield the best results.
The Arc 5 (Series 900) also has a massive shaving head, so it will take some getting used to. A Series 7 or 8 is definitely nimbler and easier to use.
Despite some impressive flexing of the S900’s shaving head, it’s not as effective in practice as the simple up and down swivel of the Series 7, 8 or 9.
But it will reward you with one of the closest shaves of any electric razor.
The Panasonic is also really powerful and smooth and works effortlessly on coarse and dense stubble.
It’s very easy to clean manually and I would actually get one of the models that don’t include a cleaning station.
Despite being an excellent cleaning system, the Panasonic stations aren’t as practical as the ones from Braun.
The concentrated detergent is mixed with water in the station’s tray and you cannot just take it out and store it like you can with the Braun cartridges.
Moreover, you don’t have nearly as many options for third-party cleaning solutions.
I personally always clean my Panasonic razors with water and soap, it’s fast and effective and I also save some money.
The Panasonic Series 900 works incredibly with shaving cream.
While it can definitely be comfortable when shaving dry, adding a quality shaving cream will give you one of the closest and most comfortable shaves of your life.
My shaving cream of choice is Speick, but I also use the Beard Lube shaving balm from Jack Black.
Both work incredibly well if you have very sensitive skin. I also wrote a detailed guide on how to wet shave with an electric razor if you want to check it out.
The shavers listed so far are definitely some of the best out there, but they may not fit within a tight budget.
Sharp blades, fast motors, premium features and an overall high-quality shaver usually come with a higher price tag.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good razor that’s also easy on the wallet.
Granted, they won’t match the performance of the high-end razors, but they can do a very decent job, especially if you shave more often.
5. Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Inexpensive replacement shaving heads
- Very good value for money
- Wet & dry use
- Excellent for beginners
- A bit underpowered for coarse, dense facial hair
- Works best when used on shorter hairs
- Doesn’t shave as close as the more advanced shavers
A great inexpensive option is another razor from Braun, the Series 3 ProSkin 3040s that I reviewed in detail here.
It’s a really good budget shaver for sensitive skin, providing very comfortable shaves.
You won’t get the same closeness and performance as with the more advanced Series 5 or 7, but then again the 3040s is significantly cheaper and will be good enough in many situations.
If you have light to medium facial hair, the Series 3 will definitely be a suitable choice.
You should also consider it if you shave daily or every other day and you’re more interested in comfort than getting a very close shave.
Compared to other similarly priced foil shavers like the Panasonic Arc 3, it does a surprisingly decent job at shaving a 2 to 3 days beard as well.
But again, don’t expect Series 8 performance.
I highly recommend the use of a pre-shave lotion with any of the razors recommended in this article, but particularly with the less advanced ones like the Series 3.
My personal favorites are the ones from Speick and Tabac, they really do make a difference when shaving dry.
The Series 3 3040s also offers excellent value for money as it has a very reasonable price and the replacement shaving heads (32b) are inexpensive and durable.
It’s no surprise that this particular model continues to be one of the most popular Braun models even in 2022.
6. Philips Norelco Series 3000 (Shaver 3500)
- Close and comfortable shaves
- Good performance on longer stubble
- Reasonably priced
- Integrated pop-up trimmer
- Cheap and durable replacement heads
- Cordless only use
- Not quite as comfortable as a good foil razor
Finally, I will also share an option for men who prefer rotary shavers.
As mentioned in the beginning, I think a foil shaver would be a safer choice if you don’t know what to choose.
But if you know from previous experience that you get along better with rotaries, the new Series 3000 from Philips is in my opinion the best budget-friendly rotary.
It’s surprisingly comfortable as well — I can’t shave dry with any rotary, but this one was adequately smooth for my skin.
In the Series 3000, you basically have two options: the Shaver 3500 or the Shaver 3800.
Apart from the fact that the latter also includes a charging stand, they are absolutely identical.
Since for most men the stand isn’t a must-have and the 3800 is usually a bit more expensive, I think the Shaver 3500 would be the best option for most users.
I own the 3800 and I’ve never used the stand, to be honest.
This Philips rotary is very enjoyable and easy to use and I actually prefer the form factor and shaving head to the more expensive Series 6000, 7000 and even 9000/Prestige.
I’d say the closeness and comfort are maybe a bit below the Series 3 ProSkin from Braun, but still perfectly adequate for a rotary.
The comfort is really good and I never experienced and pulling or pinching (many other rotaries did that in the past).
It’s very effective on longer, flat-lying hairs as well, so it should be a good option even if you don’t shave very often.
The SH30 replacement blades are durable and reasonably priced which will make this shaver one of the most economical in the long run.
It works well wet or dry and the battery life is really good.
If you want a budget-friendly rotary that’s not aggressive to the skin, then look no further.
Effective shaving tips for men with sensitive skin
Now that you’ve hopefully decided which electric shaver would be more suitable for your needs and budget, it’s time to put it to good use.
There are a few, but very important aspects to keep in mind that can make the difference between a poor and a great shave, so I highly recommend reading the above-linked resources as well.
Getting the basics right is key to getting the most out of your shaver, especially if you’re dealing with post-shave rashes, pseudofolliculitis or ingrown hairs.
So how do you shave with an electric razor without irritation?
Here are a few tips that I consider to be particularly important and effective.
1. Your skin should be as dry as possible during a dry shave.
Most men that use electric razors prefer to shave dry because it’s fast and convenient.
And a dry shave will always be more effective, more comfortable and will also take less time if the skin is properly dry.
If you take a shower or wash your face right before shaving, it will likely have a negative aspect on the quality of the shave.
So you may want to shave before that or if your routine doesn’t allow it, a pre-shave lotion could help.
Some users are affected to a lesser degree by this and actually prefer to shower before a dry shave.
However, in most cases, having your skin as dry as possible will be beneficial.
2. Do not apply excessive pressure and use short, slow, controlled strokes.
This is pretty self-explanatory and really important for users with irritation-prone skin.
Even if the razors recommended in this guide are more forgiving than most out there, you should still proceed with caution and patience, especially when shaving the neck area for example.
Let the razor do the work and simply guide it using the slightest pressure.
You may be tempted to press harder in order to get a closer shave or capture some stubborn stray hairs, but that will only result in discomfort.
As mentioned in the beginning, pressing the foils too hard will cause some small bits of skin to poke through the holes and get cut by the blades.
This will be even worse if your skin is already tender from a previous shave.
3. Always shave against the grain.
If you’re switching from a cartridge or DE razor, this may sound a bit counterintuitive to someone with sensitive skin.
You’ve probably read countless tips saying that you should shave with the grain (or possibly across) in order to avoid all the bad stuff.
And that’s true in the case of traditional shaving.
With electric razors, you’ll want to shave against the grain in order to get a smooth and comfortable shave.
That’s because of the very way they work: shavers are only effective at capturing and cutting hairs when going against the grain.
Make sure to also adjust the direction of the stroke if you have patches of hair that grow in a different direction than the rest.
4. Allow your skin a few days to heal before shaving again.
As mentioned previously, if the skin is still tender from the previous shave, you’ll probably make it worse by shaving again.
In this case it’s best to let it heal for another day or two.
Try experimenting with shaving more or less often to see what works best in your case.
If shaving every few days seems to yield the best results, a Braun shaver like the Series 9 or 8 will be ideal since those can deal with longer facial hair really well.
5. Try a pre-shave lotion.
Most men will notice an improvement in both comfort and closeness when applying a pre-shave lotion before a dry shave.
Again, how significant this will be tends to vary a lot, but it’s worth giving it a try, especially if you have flat-lying hairs that get left behind by your shaver.
A word of caution: most pre-shaves contain alcohol and fragrance, so if those are known to be irritating factors to your skin, you may want to stay away from them.
6. Clean and lubricate your shaver regularly.
This is always good practice, but even more important if you have some post-shave skin issues.
Cleaning your shaver after every use, either manually or via an automatic cleaning station is vital for the hygiene of your shaver.
Here’s my guide on how to properly clean an electric razor manually (spoiler: it takes less than a minute).
Lubricating your shaver will however have the greatest impact.
It will reduce the friction and heat generated during use, it will shave faster, more efficiently and with greater comfort.
I find lubricating sprays to work the best, but you can also use any light mineral lubricants like clipper oil.
You can refer to this guide for information on how and when to lubricate your shaver.
7. Use a calming, hydrating aftershave balm.
Rinsing your face with cold water and following up with a soothing balm are the single best things you can do after shaving.
There are various options out there that are both inexpensive and effective.
I would stay away from the ones that contain alcohol unless you know from past experience that your skin gets along well with alcohol-based products.
You may find it strange that I only recommend a single rotary shaver; as mentioned in the beginning, I find foil razors to be better suited for very sensitive skin.
This was simply my personal experience after using both types and I think in most cases a foil shaver will have a greater chance of providing a comfortable shave.
Ultimately, a shaver fit for sensitive skin is not a whole different machine that does some kind of magic.
Getting a pain-free shave is a matter of doing the prep work right, taking your time, using the right technique and, of course, the right shaver.
If you have any other questions make sure to post them in the comments below.