Getting the closest possible shave with an electric razor is something that pops up in pretty much every discussion related to electric shaving.
And there’s really no surprise in that; we all just want a close and comfortable shave.
However, switching to an electric shaver usually implies some sort of a compromise: we’re trading off a bit of closeness for the added benefit of comfort and practicality.
Naturally, we’re interested in trading off as little as possible from that much sought after closeness.
Luckily, today’s modern electric razors are capable of providing very close shaves while still remaining adequately comfortable.
But to put it bluntly, some electric shavers are simply better than others when it comes to cutting the hairs very close to the skin. And that begs the question:
Which electric shaver gives the closest shave?
Well, when it comes to closeness, the more advanced, powerful shavers will usually provide significantly better results and we’ll be taking an in-depth look at some of the razors that deliver the closest shaves.
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
- What to look for in a razor if closeness is the main concern?
- Foil vs Rotary — which one shaves the closest?
- What are some of the closest shaving electric razors in 2020?
- Tips to further improve the closeness of the shave
What to look for in a razor if closeness is the main concern?
- A high-quality shaving head. This is by far the most important part of an electric razor and it’s particularly relevant in the context of closeness; sharp blades and a thin outer foil, machined with very low tolerances, are vital for a close shave.
- A powerful motor. An electric razor that is fitted with a more powerful motor will shave closer, faster and with greater comfort. As an example, Panasonic uses very fast 14 000 CPM (cycles per minute) linear-drive motors for its top of the line razors. Compared to entry-level, basic shavers that use 7 600 CPM units, the difference is night and day.
- Adequate comfort. A razor that is comfortable during use will also allow you to shave closer, do more strokes and even apply a bit more pressure. Comfort is also correlated with the heat caused by the friction between the blades that operate at high speeds and the foils. Therefore, you’ll want a razor that remains reasonably cool during operation.
Foil vs Rotary — which one shaves the closest?
While the foil vs rotary debate is multifaceted and there are solid arguments from both sides, when it comes to the closest shave an electric razor can provide, it is generally accepted that foil razors are better.
This is also my personal stance on the matter.
Having used quite a few foil and rotary razors throughout the years, I constantly found foil shavers to be that much better at providing a closer shave.
In my opinion, there are a few reasons why foil shavers generally offer a closer shave:
- The micro-foils are thinner than the metal combs used on rotary shavers, meaning the physical barrier between the skin and the actual cutting blades is smaller in the case of foil shavers, allowing a closer shave.
- They use reciprocating blades that oscillate at much higher speeds; as a downside, this also means more noise during operation compared to rotary shavers and possibly more heat generated by the friction between the foils and blades.
- The actual design and operation of the foil razor; the straight edge of the cutting elements and the use of short, linear strokes allow more control and precision.
- Foil electric razors are generally more comfortable. Most users will get a closer shave when using a razor that is more forgiving and that allows them to be more thorough.
There are of course users that get better results using rotary shavers and that’s perfectly normal. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference and anecdotal findings should not be regarded as absolute truths.
But again, in most cases, a quality foil shaver should be a safer choice.
Let’s now see which electric shavers will give you the closest shave.
What are some of the closest shaving electric razors in 2020?
1. Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S
Panasonic electric razors represent a very solid option if you’re mainly concerned with shaving performance.
In my experience, they even manage to outperform the other big name in the foil shavers camp (Braun) if we consider strictly the closeness of the shave.
If you want the absolute best in terms of closeness, then look no further than Panasonic’s range-topping line, the Arc 5.
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S is a more budget-friendly, but still very capable razor from the previous generation Arc 5 line of shavers.
There are various models included in the Arc 5 family, but all of them share the same important features:
- high-quality stainless steel blades that are sharpened at a very aggressive 30 degrees angle and ensure efficient, close and effortless cutting;
- 5 slightly curved cutting elements that together form a massive shaving head, capable of shaving large areas with ease and also very fast;
- 14 000 CPM linear-drive motors that provide plenty of cutting power at a constant rate.
All these features work together seamlessly to provide an extremely close shave.
As mentioned above, my personal pick from the second generation Arc 5 line has to be the ES-LV65-S as it offers the best performance for the price.
The ES-LV65-S is the razor that paved the road for the newer Arc 5 models.
However, they are very similar specs-wise and the ES-LV65-S is still a highly capable machine today, definitely one of the best electric razors for getting a really close shave.
While the comfort of the newer Arc 5 models is slightly superior, this razor will be more than adequate for most men looking for a very close shave at a more affordable price.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying that they’re pretty much identical if we only consider the closeness of the shave.
The performance is pretty similar throughout the Arc 5 family of shavers and picking one mainly comes down to your budget, availability of certain models, and the need for a cleaning station.
Speaking of which, my recommendation would be to skip the station as Panasonic foil shavers are dead easy to clean manually.
By opting for a shaver without a cleaning station like this ES-LV65-S, you’ll also be saving some money. And being an older model, it’s likely to be found at an excellent price too.
For these reasons I consider the ES-LV65-S to be the ideal choice for most users looking for an electric razor that shaves very close.
The price and performance make this model unbeatable in 2020.
For more details, you can check out my complete Panasonic ES-LV65-S review.
As a result, choosing between them should strictly come down to price and availability in your country.
The older ES-LV65-S is almost always cheaper, sometimes by quite a lot, which is why it’s still my pick.
2. Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9Q
The ES-LV9Q represents the flagship of the third generation Arc 5 family from Panasonic and just like the ES-LV-65-S above, it’s one of the electric razors that can get as close to a blade with the current technology.
This shaver uses the same high power 14 000 CPM motor and excellent 30 degrees blades as the previous Arc 5 razors, but comes with a few novelties of its own:
- Two comfort rollers that prevent the foils from being pressed excessively into the skin;
- The shaving head can also be depressed; this, combined with the 360-degree swivel makes this razor extremely adaptable and capable of maintaining constant contact with the skin, even when shaving difficult areas like the jawline or the neck;
- The body of the shaver is made out of brushed aluminum.
The aesthetics and build quality of the razor compared to previous, second-generation Arc 5 models are vastly improved, with the use of more upmarket materials and a classy color scheme.
The massive head with its 5 cutting elements is able to shave close to the skin even the coarsest facial hair.
The middle trimmer and the two flanking foils are designed to cut longer hairs that lie flat on the skin, reducing them to a more manageable length for the two outer finishing foils.
Panasonic shavers don’t excel at this, meaning they work best when used on shorter facial hair (2 to 3 days at most), so in order to get the best results, it would be recommended to shave more often.
The comfort rollers ensure a smooth and gentle glide of the shaver, slightly improving the comfort of previous Arc 5 razors.
This makes the ES-LV9Q also somewhat suitable for men with sensitive skin.
While shaving is a very personal matter and the results depend on many factors, I think it is safe to say that the Arc 5 models probably shave closer than any other electric razors you can currently buy without making too many compromises.
As you’ll see later on, there are other razors that can shave closer, but they have some serious limitations.
The ES-LV9Q also comes with a cleaning & charging station. While Panasonic’s cleaning stations aren’t absolutely necessary, they can be useful if you want a complete fuss-free experience.
The only downside of this Arc 5 razor is the price; being a new model, it is rather high. The same goes for the replacement foils and blades, which can be pricey.
But again, if the purchase price is not a constraint and you want one of the closest shaves of any electric razor, this is the one to have.
If you live in UK/Europe, the ES-LV9Q is widely available and cheaper than for example in the USA as Panasonic never officially released it there.
Otherwise, you can safely opt for the number 1 in this list, the ES-LV65-S; while it doesn’t look as posh, it will shave just as close and for significantly less money.
3. Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA63-S
If your budget is limited, but still want the closest shave for the money, you’ll have a hard time finding a better razor than the Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc 4.
Considering its price, the performance of this particular shaver is quite spectacular.
I can only attribute this to the fact that it incorporates some of the technologies found on the more expensive razors from Panasonic, like the ones presented above.
Here are the key features that make the Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc 4 an excellent choice for a close shave:
- A powerful 14 000 CPM motor;
- 30 degrees high-quality stainless steel blades;
- 4 individual cutting elements;
- A second motor located in the shaving head that vibrates and helps capture longer hairs.
The result of these features is a very close shave, definitely one of the best you can get in this price range.
While the effectiveness of that second motor is questionable — this razor is still not great with long, flat-lying hairs — when used on reasonably short beards it will deliver excellent results.
Granted, the newer, more advanced (and much more expensive) razors will be slightly better, but this one is no slouch either.
I highly recommend it as a more affordable, budget-friendly option to the razors above.
4. Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LF51-A
Another fantastic performer when it comes purely to closeness is again a shaver from Panasonic’s excellent Arc 4 family, the ES-LF51-A.
This particular model is a personal favorite of mine and a great alternative to the ES-LA63-S presented above.
The ES-LF51-A comes equipped with the same punchy 14 000 CPM motor, has 4 individual cutting elements, and uses the same excellent 30 degrees nano-blades.
To keep the price low, it lacks the second vibrating motor located inside the shaving head.
However, when it comes to getting a very close shave, that doesn’t make any difference at all.
Moreover, the shaving head of the ES-LF51-A is more compact, making the shaver a lot easier to maneuver.
Unsurprisingly, the closeness provided by the ES-LF51-A is identical and maybe even slightly better thanks to the more compact shaving head.
I would also recommend it over the ES-LA63-S to men just getting started with electric shaving as the smaller head makes it easier to use.
Like all Arc 4 models, the ES-LF51-A can often be found at a bargain price.
To keep the price low, there’s no cleaning station included with the ES-LF51-A either, but again you really don’t need one.
Since it’s completely waterproof, you can clean it with some warm tap water and (optionally) a bit of liquid soap.
5. Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S
At this point, you’re probably starting to see a trend — Panasonic is by far the most popular brand in this list.
But objectively, they are better than the rest at what we’re interested in.
Braun excels at comfort and shaving flat-lying hairs and while Remington has a few affordable models that shave surprisingly close, they aren’t as comfortable and the reliability and build quality of their current shavers aren’t the best.
So my pick for a budget-friendly electric razors that also shaves close is another Panasonic, precisely the Arc ES8103S.
This one is an older model that was launched more than 12 years ago, but it’s still a great option.
In fact, newer Arc 3 models don’t bring any significant improvements as far as performance goes, so if we factor in the (usually) excellent price of the ES8103S, it’s by far the more sensible choice.
As the name implies, it only has 3 cutters, but with a punchy 13 000 CPM motor and the same 30 degrees blades, it’s a really good performer.
In this price range you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better one.
It’s also a great choice for a beginner thanks to its slim shaving head, it’s easy to use and to clean and, of course, it shaves close.
For more details, make sure to check out my review of the ES8103S.
6. Andis 17150 Pro Foil
I was extremely hesitant about including this one in a list of the closest shaving razors.
Objectively, I think it does manage to get closer than pretty much all the shavers mentioned here, but it comes with a lot of caveats that make it difficult to recommend in most cases as you’ll see next.
Getting back to the closeness, it manages to achieve it by using what are likely the thinnest foils I’ve ever seen on an electric razor.
The Pro Foil is marketed by Andis as a tool designed for finishing fades and removing stubble.
While the first part of that statement is pretty straightforward, the latter is quite vague.
But after using it myself to shave my face on a regular basis, I can’t really say that it’s a viable option.
There are a few reasons for that.
First of all, it works best on really short hair. So you’ll absolutely have to use it daily.
I tried shaving a 2 or 3-day beard and it wasn’t a good experience.
The razor would vibrate excessively when cutting longer stubble and it felt quite rough on the face. Also, while it isn’t the most comfortable shaver, it’s even worse when trying to shave longer facial hair.
For me it was impossible to shave my neck without constantly getting some small nicks and stinging.
Flat hairs were constantly left behind as well.
But even so, I can’t really blame the Pro Foil as it wasn’t designed for this. Again, when using it to shave short hairs it performed a lot better.
But because of this limitation, it’s not very practical or versatile. Having it as a second, complementary shaver does make more sense.
You’ll be able to get a perfectly smooth and close shave on those areas where your regular electric razor just doesn’t seem to do a good job.
I was really impressed by the closeness of the Pro Foil when I used it in this manner.
Another minus that further impacts the practicality is that you cannot clean it with water.
This basically means that you’ll have to rely on a small brush or maybe using a can of compressed air to blow out the hair clippings.
And since it manages to shave so close, it also produces some of the finest hair dust I’ve seen. And it tends to go all over the place and on the outside of the shaver as well.
I really missed being able to just rinse it clean under the tap.
So in conclusion, unless you always shave daily (it also works great to shave your head) or have a second, main electric razor, the Andis Profoil is not the best option, despite the fact that it is probably the closest shaving razor in this list.
Also, because the foils are so thin, they tend to wear out a lot faster than usual and need to be changed every 6 months. On the bright side, the blades and foils are quite cheap.
The battery life is also really good at 80 minutes worth of cordless shaving and it will also work with the cord plugged in.
7. Braun Series 9 9290cc
The Series 9 represents Braun’s flagship line of electric razors and incorporates the best technologies the company has to offer.
Braun’s electric shavers are notorious for being supremely comfortable during use.
The very popular Series 7 remained for many years the benchmark in terms of comfort but was often thought to be not quite as good as some of the offerings from Panasonic with regards to closeness.
The Series 9 was designed to address this issue and to offer the closest possible shave, while also remaining very comfortable and gentle to the skin.
And it almost lives up to the expectations.
Being basically a Series 7 on steroids, with more blades, more torque, and more technology on board, the new Braun Series 9 builds upon an already solid foundation and represents a very compelling package.
There are a few variations of the Series 9, suitable for dry only (now discontinued) or wet & dry operation. They are also available with or without a cleaning station.
My personal pick would be the 9290cc as it can be used wet & dry and comes with Braun’s excellent cleaning station, arguably one of the best in the industry. You can also check out my detailed review of it here.
The shaving performance of the Series 9 9290cc is overall outstanding.
So why only the last position for Braun’s range-topping razor?
While it’s difficult to objectively say if it shaves as close as the Panasonic models, in my experience, it wasn’t quite as good.
It was definitely more than adequate and I think most men will be perfectly satisfied with the closeness, but compared side by side, even the Arc 4 models were better.
Panasonic shavers are generally better at providing a closer shave, while Braun shavers excel at comfort.
And the Series 9 really is supremely comfortable and shaving with it is a real treat.
If you have very sensitive skin, but still want a close shave, the Series 9 9290cc is probably the best you can currently buy.
In fact, it may even be better for you than an Arc 5 in this situation, even though the latter is objectively superior with regards to the closeness of the shave.
While a cleaning station was not really necessary for the Panny, you’ll probably want one with your Series 9.
A manual cleaning can be fiddly and time-consuming and you never seem to get all the hair clippings and dirt out of the shaving head, no matter how thorough you are.
The alcohol-based solution that provides excellent cleaning and lubrication, along with the reasonably quiet and fast operation make this cleaning & charging station a must-have.
There are also a few tips and tricks you can use in order to make the cleaning refills last a lot longer.
The Series 9 gets a bonus point for the purchase price of the shaver, being lower than the one of the newest Arc 5 shavers. But it’s still overall a pricey shaver.
The cost of the replacement blades and foils (92s/92b cassettes) has also dropped significantly and the price is now almost reasonable (for a high-end shaver).
To sum it up, I recommend the Series 9 to users with very sensitive, blemish-prone skin as it is by far the most comfortable shaver on this list.
Tips to further improve the closeness of the shave
Now that you’ve hopefully settled for one of the closest shaving electric razors out there, let’s see how you can make the most out of it.
I wrote a comprehensive article on how to improve the closeness of the shave with an electric razor and I highly recommend reading that one as well. You can do so here.
With that said, here are a few quick tips that can help you with getting the closest possible shave using an electric razor:
- Try shaving with a quality shaving cream. Apart from the Andis Pro Foil, all the recommended shavers in this article can be used wet and dry. Oftentimes the addition of a shaving cream improves the closeness and the comfort of the shave. Give it a try and see how it goes.
- Use a pre-shave lotion. If wet shaving is not an option, try the next best thing: a pre-electric shave lotion. This can significantly improve the performance of your razor during a dry shave and help you get a closer shave. They’re cheap, widely available and take seconds to apply.
- Properly charge, clean, and lubricate your razor. This one is pretty self-explanatory. You can read more about how and when to lubricate your electric shaver here.
- Use a spray lubricant. They work incredibly well, especially for getting that extra bit of performance out of slightly worn blades. My favorite is the Remington Shaver Saver spray as it seems to work the best out of all the brands I’ve tried. The closeness is constantly better when I use it and it will also extend the lifespan of the cutting elements.
- Always shave against the grain, using controlled strokes and keeping the shaver perpendicular and flat on the skin. You can use your free hand to keep the skin taut.
- Replace dull blades and worn foils. The foils and blades of your electric razor will eventually wear out and you’ll need to replace them with new ones. Always buy original replacement parts that were designed specifically for your particular razor. Spending money on replacement foils and blades is no fun, but it’s vital for a close shave and safe operation.
This pretty much concludes this guide. If you have any other questions, make sure to post them in the comments below.
What was your experience? Do you have any other suggestions of electric razors that should be on this list?