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 no surprise in that — a close (and still comfortable) shave seems to be the ultimate hurdle when using an electric razor.
However, switching from a razor blade to any type of 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 giving up as little as possible of that much sought-after closeness.
So can electric shavers give a close shave?
Fortunately yes, some of today’s modern electric razors are capable of providing very close shaves while still remaining adequately comfortable.
But to put it bluntly, some 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 the ones that deliver the closest shaves, including some budget-friendly options.
Unlike most authors of these roundups, I actually bought and tested each of the shavers I’m about to recommend.
In fact, I’ve been using some of them for years and as someone who wants a really close shave, I’m confident that I can provide some valuable info on choosing the right shaver.
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
- What to look for in a razor if closeness is the main concern?
- Foil vs Rotary razors — which one shaves the closest?
- The best electric shavers for a close shave in 2023
- Quick tips to further improve the closeness of your shave
What to look for in a razor if closeness is the main concern?
1. A high-quality shaving unit.
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 tight tolerances, are key for a close shave.
The blades aren’t touching the skin but rather oscillate or rotate behind a metal screen or guard.
That screen must be as thin as possible for the hairs to get cut very close to the skin.
But making the foil too thin would compromise the durability, so the manufacturer has to get this just right.
The blades and foils will eventually need to be replaced, so ideally we’ll want them to be readily available and reasonably priced.
2. A powerful motor.
An electric razor fitted with a 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 on their top-of-the-line electric razors.
Compared to entry-level, basic shavers that use 7 600 CPM units, the difference is night and day.
3. 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 tightly correlated with the heat generated 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 use.
Lubricating the blades will be highly beneficial, not only for the closeness and comfort, but for the lifespan of the foils and blades as well (more details later on).
4. Wet/dry use.
The vast majority of users will prefer to shave dry since it takes less time and it’s generally good enough in terms of closeness and comfort.
That said, using a high-quality shaving cream can result in a remarkably close shave, similar to what you’d get from a razor blade.
In my opinion it’s good to have that as an option, maybe for certain occasions when you want to look extra sharp.
Luckily, most of today’s electric shavers can be used wet or dry.
Foil vs Rotary razors — 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 better at providing a close shave.
In my opinion, there are a few reasons why foil shavers generally offer a closer shave:
- The foils are thinner than the metal guards used on rotary shavers, meaning the physical barrier between the skin and the actual cutting blades is smaller in the case of foil razors, allowing for 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 allows them to be more thorough and even apply a bit more pressure.
There are of course users that get better results using rotary shavers and that’s perfectly fine as well.
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference and what works best for you; anecdotal findings should not be regarded as absolute truths.
But again, in most cases, a quality foil shaver should be a safer choice if closeness is what you’re after.
Let’s now see which electric shavers will give you the closest shave.
The best electric shavers for a close shave in 2023
1. Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S
Buying tip: If you live in the UK/Europe, you can often find the Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV67-A for a lower price. The closeness and overall performance will be identical.
Panasonic electric razors represent a very solid option if you’re mainly concerned with shaving performance.
Further reading: For more options, you can check out my Panasonic comparison guide as well.
In my experience, Panasonic even manages 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 without any major compromises in other areas, 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 Arc 5 generation.
There are various newer models and revisions included in the Arc 5 family, but all of them share the same important features:
- high-quality stainless steel blades that are honed 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 usually 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.
Tip: You can actually upgrade the ES-LV65 to the latest revision Arc 5 foil (it will fit perfectly). More details here.
The performance is pretty similar throughout the entire Arc 5 family of shavers and picking one mainly comes down to your budget, availability, 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 the ES-LV65-S, you’ll also be saving some money.
And being an older model, it’s likely to be found already at an excellent price.
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 2023.
For more details, you can check out my full Panasonic ES-LV65-S review.
As a result, choosing between them should strictly come down to price and availability in your country.
If you live in the UK/Europe, the ES-LV67-A (blue) will likely be the one to buy as mentioned earlier.
The older ES-LV65-S is almost always cheaper in the USA, sometimes by quite a lot, which is why it’s still my pick in this case.
But definitely check out both before pulling the trigger. Performance-wise, they are identical.
2. Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9Q
The Panasonic ES-LV9Q represents the flagship of the newer third-generation Arc 5 family and just like the ES-LV65-S above, it’s one of the electric razors that can get pretty 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 move up and down; this, combined with the 360-degree swivel makes this razor extremely adaptable and capable of maintaining constant contact with the skin;
- The body of the shaver is made out of brushed aluminum.
The aesthetics and build quality of the razor compared to previous Arc 5 models are vastly improved, with the use of more premium materials and a classy color scheme.
Being an Arc 5, the massive head with its 5 cutting elements is able to cut even very coarse facial hair at skin level.
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 addition of the comfort rollers ensures a smooth and gentle glide of the shaver, improving the comfort of previous Arc 5 razors like ES-LV65/ES-LV67.
This makes the ES-LV9Q even 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 might shave closer, but they have some other serious limitations.
The ES-LV9Q also comes with a cleaning & charging station.
Panasonic’s cleaning stations aren’t absolutely necessary, but can be a good option if you want a completely fuss-free experience.
The only downside of this Arc 5 razor is the price; being a newer 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, all in a premium package, this is the one to get.
If your budget is limited, you can safely opt for the number 1 in this list, the older ES-LV65-S (or the ES-LV67); while it doesn’t look or feel as premium as the ES-LV9Q, it will shave just as close and for significantly less money.
Also, if you want the newest Arc 5, I think the ES-LV6U from the latest revision (aka Series 900) would be the best pick right now.
As mentioned earlier, I find it shaves just as close as the ES-LV65, but the new and revised foils are definitely smoother than the one that comes with the older generation (ES-LV65-S, ES-LV67-K).
3. Panasonic Arc 6 ES-LS8A-K
The Panasonic Arc 6 is the latest series by Panasonic and their new high-end shaver.
As the name suggests, it has a massive 6-blade shaving head. That’s one more than the previous flagship, the Arc 5.
And as I’ve mentioned in my Arc 6 review, it’s currently Panasonic’s best shaver.
So why only the number 3 spot for the Arc 6?
First of all, it used to be really difficult to get.
The Arc 6 family was initially only available in Japan, but it has been released globally as well after one year since the initial launch.
Secondly, it comes with a premium price tag.
Compared to the number 1 shaver in this list, the ES-LV65-S, it costs a lot more.
And you’re not really getting 3 times the shaver for that money.
Precisely, in terms of closeness, I find it quite similar to the Arc 5.
That extra blade is intended to pre-trim longer, flat-lying hairs, so it doesn’t really have a direct effect on the closeness.
But there is something that could contribute to a closer shave and that is the comfort.
The Arc 6 is Panasonic’s most comfortable shaver to date and a clear improvement over the older Arc 5 models.
So that could allow you to get a closer shave, especially if you have sensitive skin and you prefer to shave dry.
In the case of a wet shave, both the Arc 5 and Arc 6 are equally impressive in terms of comfort (and closeness).
So these would be my nitpicks with the Arc 6 which is, objectively, a better shaver than the Arc 5.
However, if the price isn’t an issue you can certainly go for it — it’s a fantastic performer.
4. Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LF51-A
If your budget is more limited, but still want the closest shave for the money, you’ll have a hard time finding a better razor than the Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LF51-A.
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-LF51-A 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;
The result of these features is a very close shave, definitely one of the best you can get in this price range.
And because the foil frame is very compact, the shaving head is also very manageable for a 4-blade shaver.
In fact, it feels more like a 3-blade Panasonic. It is noticeably nimbler than an Arc 5 or Arc 6.
Being a Panasonic, cleaning it is a breeze with a bit of warm water and (optionally) some liquid hand soap.
I highly recommend the Arc 4 as a more affordable, budget-friendly option to the razors above.
For more details, you can check out my review of the ES-LF51-A.
5. Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LL41-K
Buying tip: If you can buy it for less, the Panasonic Arc 3 LT67-A is a good alternative that shaves just as close.
At this point, you’re probably starting to see a pattern — Panasonic is by far the most popular brand on this list.
But objectively speaking, 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’re not as comfortable and the reliability and build quality of their current shavers aren’t the best.
So my pick for a budget-friendly electric razor that also shaves close is another Panasonic, precisely the Arc 3 family.
The ES-LL41-K is a newer model that is usually the best pick of the Arc 3 line thanks to its lower price.
It also includes two adjustable combs that fit over the trimmer and can be used to pre-trim an entire beard.
You may or may not have any use for them, but they do work surprisingly well.
The performance is just as good as in the case of any Arc 3 fitted with a 13 000 CPM motor like the ES-LT67.
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 clean and, of course, it shaves close.
6. Braun Series 9 Pro 9465cc
The Series 9 represents Braun’s flagship line of electric razors and incorporates the best technologies the company has to offer.
Braun shavers are notorious for being very comfortable during use.
The very popular Series 7 remained for many years the benchmark in terms of comfort but was 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 lived up to the expectations.
After a couple of incremental updates, Braun introduced the Series 9 Pro range two years ago.
It is more powerful than the standard Series 9 and comes with an updated shaving head (called a cassette).
As a result, the closeness of the shave is also slightly improved over the standard S9.
And while the Panasonic Arc 5 still has the edge in terms of closeness, the Series 9 Pro is really good.
However, it absolutely shines in terms of comfort and shaving longer, flat-lying hairs, even if they grow in different directions.
It manages to do that thanks to the two middle cutters that were specifically designed to tackle this type of difficult hair.
Being basically a beefed-up Series 9, the new Braun Series 9 Pro builds upon an already solid foundation and represents a very compelling package.
There are a few variations of the Series 9 Pro, available with or without a cleaning station (cc and solo models, respectively).
My personal pick would be the 9465cc (or 9460cc) as it comes with a very practical cleaning station, it’s available in most countries and usually costs less than other similar Pro models.
I bought and reviewed the S9 Pro 9477cc variation, however, performance-wise, the 9460cc is identical, but it is cheaper since it doesn’t include a charging case (you are still getting the same cleaning station).
So why only the second to last position for Braun’s range-topping razor?
Well, as mentioned previously, it doesn’t shave quite as close as an Arc 5 (despite having other specific pros, like better comfort and the ability to shave flat-lying hairs).
It was definitely more than adequate in my case and I think most men will be perfectly satisfied with the closeness.
Panasonic shavers are generally better at providing a closer shave, while Braun shavers excel at comfort.
And the Series 9 Pro really is supremely comfortable and shaving with it is a real treat.
Secondly, it’s pricey. Compared to a second-generation Arc 5 like the ES-LV65-S, it costs significantly more.
However, if you shave less often or you often get razor burn, it’s probably a better option than any Panasonic, including the Arc 6.
If you have very sensitive skin, but still want a close shave, the Series 9 Pro is probably the best option for you.
In fact, it may even be better for you than an Arc 5 in this situation, even though the latter is superior regarding 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.
The station is very practical since you can take out the cleaning cartridge, seal it and store it for future use (you can’t do that with a Panasonic station).
The alcohol-based solution that provides excellent cleaning and lubrication, along with the reasonably quiet and fast operation make this cleaning & charging station worth the extra money.
The cost of the replacement blades and foils (92s/92b/92M/94M cassettes) has dropped and the price is now almost reasonable (for a high-end shaver).
To sum it up, I recommend the Series 9 Pro to users with very sensitive, blemish-prone skin; it’s also a better option for men that don’t shave often (every 3 to 4 days or even more).
7. Andis ProFoil Lithium Shaver
To be honest, I was extremely hesitant about including the Andis ProFoil in a list of the closest shaving razors.
I think it does manage to shave 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.
But 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 as your main shaver.
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 (every other day if your beard grows at a slower pace).
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 feels 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.
As a side note, the BaBylissPRO FOILFX02, a similar shaver with two staggered foils, shaves just as close, but it is gentler.
However, it’s quite expensive and I think the ProFoil still offers better value for money if you’re after this type of shaver.
Flat-lying hairs were constantly left behind as well.
But even so, I can’t really blame the ProFoil as it wasn’t designed for this. Again, when using it to shave short hairs it performed a lot better.
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 ProFoil 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 you’ll have to rely on a small brush or maybe use 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 you have a second, main electric razor, the Andis ProFoil is not the best option, despite the fact that it’s one of the closest shaving razors 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 (or even sooner).
On the bright side, the blades and foils have an affordable price.
The battery life is really good at 80 minutes worth of cordless shaving and it will also work with the cord plugged in.
For more details, you can check out my full review as well.
Quick tips to further improve the closeness of your 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.
But here are a few quick and actionable tips that can help you with getting the closest possible shave.
1. Try shaving with a quality shaving cream.
Apart from the Andis ProFoil, all the shavers recommended 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.
2. 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.
Pre-shaves are inexpensive, widely available and take seconds to apply. Here’s a guide where I present some of my favorite pre-shaves.
3. 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.
4. 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.
Unfortunately, it’s getting really difficult to find now, but you can get other ones instead, like the Andis CoolCare Plus or Clippercide.
The closeness is constantly better when I use a spray lubricant and will also extend the lifespan of the cutting elements.
5. Always shave against the grain, using controlled strokes and keeping the shaver perpendicular and flat on the skin.
You can also use your free hand to keep the skin taut on your neck.
6. 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 razor.
Spending money on replacement foils and blades is no fun, but it’s vital for a close shave and safe operation.
Over to you now: What was your experience so far in trying to get a close shave with an electric razor? Do you have any other suggestions for shavers that should be on this list?
If you have any other questions, make sure to post them in the comments below.