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.
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 shave.
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?
- 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 7600 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 tightly 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 that 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.
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?
1. Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9Q
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 and budget is not really an issue, then look no further than Panasonic’s range-topping line, the Arc 5.
The ES-LV9Q represents the latest and greatest from Panasonic and is 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 older 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 aesthetics and build quality of the razor compared to previous, second-generation Arc 5 models are also 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 effortlessly 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, 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 ES-LV9Q (or other models from the latest Arc 5 generation) probably shaves closer than any other electric razor you can currently buy.
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 cost quite a lot at this moment.
But again, if the purchase price is not a constraint and you want the closest shave of any electric razor, this is the one to have.
2. Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc 5 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 ultimately provide an extremely close shave.
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 paved the road for the newer Arc 5 models like the ES-LV9Q presented above.
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 it is 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 it altogether 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. Being an older model, it’s likely to be found at an excellent price.
For these reasons I actually 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.
For more details, you can check out my complete Panasonic ES-LV65-S review.
UPDATE: In 2019, Panasonic released an update to the ES-LV65, the ES-LV67. Apart from a revised design, this newer shaver doesn’t bring any significant improvements to the shaving performance. In fact, it uses the exact same foil and blades.
As a result, choosing between them should strictly come down to price and availability in your country.
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 an incredibly close shave, definitely one of the best you can get in this price range.
While the effectiveness of that second motor is questionable — it’s 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 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. Braun Series 9 9290cc
The Series 9 represents Braun’s flagship line of electric razors and incorporates the best technology the company has to offer.
Braun’s electric shavers are notorious for being supremely comfortable during use.
The very popular Series 7 was 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 outstanding.
So why only the fifth 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 slightly better.
Panasonic shavers are generally better at providing a closer shave, while Braun excels 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.
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.
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).
I recommend the Series 9 for 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 tips that can help you with getting the closest possible shave with an electric razor:
- Try shaving with a quality shaving cream. 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.
- 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.