Panasonic is one of the three major electric shaver brands, with a rich history and a great reputation for making some of the best men’s grooming tools.
Their foil electric razors are in my opinion at the very top for things like closeness of the shave, power and build quality.
However, when it comes to effectively communicating the differences between the various models and generations, things aren’t so great for Panasonic.
In fact, trying to make sense of the dozens of model names is a real challenge.
On top of that, the performance of many Panasonic shavers is identical, but the price difference between them can be significant.
So you don’t necessarily have to shell out for the latest or the most expensive Panasonic razor in order to get the best performance.
You just need to make an informed buying decision.
And to top it off, you can actually upgrade some of the older shavers with the newest foils and blades — they will fit perfectly.
I will address all of these aspects in this practical, actionable and simple Panasonic shavers comparison guide.
I’ve actually bought and used almost every Panasonic shaver of the last 15 years, so I’m able to compare and review them from a user’s perspective.
I am confident that after reading this buyer’s guide you’ll be able to easily choose the right Panasonic shaver for your needs and budget.
Table of Contents
- Panasonic electric shavers: a quick overview
- Key features of Panasonic electric razors
- Making sense of the model names
- Panasonic shavers comparison and differences (2023)
- Panasonic Arc 3 vs Arc 4 vs Arc 5 vs Arc 6
- Panasonic automatic cleaning stations: all you need to know
- Which Panasonic shaver should you buy?
- Importing a Panasonic shaver from Japan
- Top 5 tips for using and taking care of your Panasonic shaver
- When you shouldn’t buy a Panasonic shaver (and what to get instead)
Panasonic electric shavers: a quick overview
Panasonic first started making electric shavers in the 50s in collaboration with another giant in the industry, Philips.
The partnership was a successful one and carried on for around 20 years, during which Panasonic made both foil and rotary razors.
Once both companies decided to part ways, Panasonic focused exclusively on making foil electric shavers and has been doing so until the present time.
Side note: a foil electric shaver uses reciprocating (oscillating) blades that move sideways behind a thin, perforated metal screen (or foil).
The hairs would poke through the holes and get sheared by the fast-moving blade.
Foil shavers have some specific advantages (but also a couple of shortcomings) compared to rotary shavers.
Generally, foil shavers will cut the hair closer to the skin thanks to the very thin screens; they’re also more comfortable.
As for the downsides, foils work best on short facial hair, so ideally you should be shaving more often in order to get the best results.
And finally, a foil razor is usually a lot louder than a rotary since they’re fitted with much faster motors.
Panasonic men’s foil shavers in particular feature what I consider to be the best motors in the industry.
Their linear-drive motors (first introduced in the mid 90’s) have been constantly refined and improved to the point where they are so compact that can be fitted in the actual shaving head.
This comes with several advantages, like a more direct power transfer from the motor to the blades and reduced vibrations.
Most Panasonic models feature 13 000 CPM and 14 000 CPM (cycles per minute) versions of this motor which ensures phenomenal cutting power.
In comparison, Braun’s range-topping Series 9 Pro uses a 10 000 CPM motor.
Of course, specs aren’t everything and there’s a lot that goes into making a great shaver, but in terms of raw power, Panasonic is in its own league.
The motor, along with the high-quality steel blades and the foils machined with great precision makes Panasonic electric razors a great option even for men with very coarse stubble.
A Panasonic electric shaver is usually my default recommendation to anyone who is primarily interested in getting a very close shave.
As of 2023, Panasonic makes a lot of electric shavers at different price points that are suitable for a wide variety of budgets and use cases.
Fun fact: the actual Panasonic shavers are made in Japan, while some of the accessories (chargers, cleaning stations, etc.) are made in China.
Key features of Panasonic electric razors
Before we get to actually comparing different models, I think we should first check out some of the defining features and strengths of a Panasonic shaver.
This will be very helpful when figuring out the family of Panasonic shavers that would suit your needs the best.
Number of shaving elements/blades
This is in my opinion one of the most useful ways of categorizing electric shavers.
In the case of Panasonic shavers, it refers to the number of individual, foil-type cutting elements.
In general, the more blades a shaver has, the better the performance will be.
However, the number of shaving elements only tells half the story.
And after a certain point, adding more blades will only result in diminishing returns.
Personally, I think having more than 4 blades on a foil shaver is usually overkill, but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.
For example, most (newer) 5-blade Panasonic shavers are gentler than the older 4-blade models.
That isn’t because of that extra fifth blade, but mainly because the newer foils have been tweaked and are more forgiving when you apply more pressure.
The Panasonic shavers with more blades are usually better than the ones with fewer because they also have slightly faster motors, better designed foils and blades and so on.
In general, entry-level Panasonic razors have fewer blades — usually 3 — while the more advanced, premium models come with 4, 5 or even 6 cutters.
You’ve probably noticed that I use the term shaving elements or cutters as opposed to foils.
And that’s because most Panasonic shavers have specialized cutting elements in addition to the classic foil cutters.
These are designed to capture and trim longer, flat-lying hairs that also grow in different directions.
A basic foil element will only work best on short hairs that grow relatively straight.
But a versatile foil shaver will need to be able to tackle difficult facial hair as well.
That’s why all Panasonic shavers that have at least 3 cutting elements will feature at least one of these special cutters.
In fact, only Panasonic travel shavers feature just basic foil elements (one or two).
The takeaway is that a Panasonic shaver with more blades is likely to provide better shaving performance, but again, not necessarily because they have a lot of blades.
A 5-blade Panasonic is pretty much as capable as a 6-blade flagship shaver.
However, the latter can be better in other ways and not related to the extra blade (more comfortable, less noisy and so on).
Different motor speeds (CPM)
As mentioned at the beginning, the motors fitted to Panasonic electric razors are some of the best in the industry.
However, they’re not all the same in terms of power — the so-called CPM, standing for Cycles Per Minute.
This spec refers to the number of times the blade completes a left-to-right and back motion (cycle) over the course of one minute.
And the higher that number, the better the performance.
Luckily, most Panasonic shavers come with the highly-powerful 13 000 or 14 000 CPM units.
Apart from the number of blades, this is the most important thing in the specs sheet that will have the biggest impact on the performance of a Panasonic shaver.
So as long as the motor is rated at 13 000 CPM or 14 000 CPM (in the case of the more premium 4, 5 and 6-blade shavers), the performance will be top-notch.
Some of the older models (3 or even 4-blade shaves) are still available with 10 000 CPM or even 7600 CPM.
The performance difference between a shaver powered by a 7600 CPM motor and a 13 000 CPM unit is night and day.
So as a general rule, always consider a 13 000 CPM (3-blade) or 14 000 CPM (4-blade and up) Panasonic shaver.
I will recommend my personal picks from the different shaver families later on.
Fun fact: in addition to the CPM rating, Panasonic sometimes includes another spec that they call cutting actions per minute or cross-cutting actions.
You might have seen that and wondered what it is.
In my opinion you should simply ignore it as it’s just a marketing move (most likely to counter Braun).
Precisely, Panasonic takes the CPM rating we saw earlier and multiplies it by the number of blades, resulting in that cutting actions number.
For example, in the case of an Arc 5 (5 blades) with a 14 000 CPM motor, the number of cutting actions per minute would be 14 000 * 5 = 70 000.
Panasonic only started doing this recently and my guess is that it was in response to Braun’s practice of marketing their Series 9 with 40 000 cutting actions per minute (10 000 CPM x 4 blades).
Since Braun’s 40 000 (cutting actions) was greater than 14 000 (CPM) — the only metric Panasonic used to mention — they had to do something.
And for good reason in my opinion, since strictly from a power output perspective, Panasonic shavers are superior (14 000 > 10 000) and that should be reflected in the specs as well.
Mentioning cutting actions instead of CPM is confusing and maybe even misleading.
So that’s pretty much the gist of Panasonic CPM and cutting actions.
In conclusion, look for the CPM rating and aim for 13 000 (for the 3-blade shavers) and 14 000 (for the 4, 5 and 6-blade Panasonic shavers).
Arc and non-Arc foil shavers
You’ve probably stumbled across the term Arc a lot when researching Panasonic shavers.
The name was introduced by Panasonic in 2004 when the first models featuring an arched profile of the shaving head were launched.
And as of this day, almost all the shavers in Panasonic’s lineup have this distinct design feature.
According to Panasonic, the purpose of the arched cutters is to allow optimum contact with the skin for a close shave.
While its effectiveness is debatable, Panasonic has adopted this design across almost all of its families of shavers.
There are only a handful that still come with a straight edge: the Panasonic travel shavers and a couple of old 3-blade models.
So unless you’re in need of a compact travel shaver, you’re probably getting an Arc model.
The number after the Arc in the shaver’s name stands for the number of blades.
For example, an Arc 3 has 3 blades and an Arc 6 has 6.
What’s important is that a shaver belonging to an Arc x family will share a lot of important features with other shavers from the same family.
Precisely, things like motors, foils and blades, batteries and different technologies are usually common throughout an Arc family, sometimes even in the case of different generations.
This allows us to buy the Panasonic shaver (in a given series) at the lowest price, knowing that we’ll basically be getting the same performance.
With or without a cleaning station
One of the more important decisions you’ll need to make once you’ve settled on a family of Panasonic shavers is whether you should get it with or without a cleaning station.
There are usually variations of the same shaver that are sold with or without the station.
The models that include one are generally more expensive (unless you can get a great deal on a certain model).
But you will need to decide on this matter from the beginning as getting the station separately later on is not an option — it will not work.
There’s a lot to discuss about Panasonic cleaning stations and manual vs automatic cleaning, so I will address this separately later on.
Wet & dry vs dry-only use
Most Pansonic shavers you can buy nowadays are wet&dry models.
This means the shavers are waterproof and they can be used in the shower or with shaving cream/gel.
As is the case with other brands of electric razors, the wet/dry Panasonic shavers will only work cordless (as a safety precaution).
Unfortunately, the ones that can also be used with the cord plugged in (while charging) are sold almost exclusively on the Japanese market.
While those are still waterproof and can be rinsed with water (with the cord removed), they are marketed as dry-only (again, as a safety precaution).
In the USA, Canada, Europe and pretty much the rest of the world, Panasonic only sells wet&dry, cordless-only electric shavers.
Which brings us to the last point of interest.
Global vs Japan-exclusive models
Since Panasonic is a Japanese brand and the domestic market is a very important one in terms of sales, they release a lot of Japan-exclusive shavers.
For example, the third generation of the Arc 5 family has been updated 8 times in Japan (between 2016 and 2023), while the USA only got a single generation (the original one) which was also discontinued years ago.
Things are better for the European markets, but still not great.
Europe also only gets the wet/dry, cordless-only models.
I personally don’t think a cordless-only shaver is a deal breaker, but it’s always nice to have the option of using it with the cord plugged in.
Also, some of the Japanese models come in really nice colors (apart from the bland black/silver colorways we usually get) or have some really premium features like all-aluminum bodies.
So if you absolutely want such a model, you will likely need to import one from Japan.
I did buy a few Panasonic razors from Japan and I will share my experience later on.
Making sense of the model names
One thing that makes choosing a Panasonic electric shaver so cumbersome is the inconsistency in the shaver names.
Precisely, that very same model can be listed differently by certain shops, review sites or by Panasonic themselves.
And that can cause a lot of confusion and for good reason, leading to the impression that there are in fact multiple variations with potentially significant differences between them.
So let’s address this with a practical example.
Let’s take the Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S, one of the most popular 5-blade Panasonic shavers in 2023.
We have the following components of the name:
- The shaver family: Arc 5
- The actual model of the shaver: ES-LV65-S
- ES stands for Electric Shaver
- L stands (probably) for Linear
- V stands for the number of blades (5 in this case)
- 65 designates the actual model
- –S stands for the color (Silver)
Fun fact: almost all Panasonic electric shaver models start with ES (standing for Electric Shaver).
Most of the time you’ll find a Panasonic shaver listed as above (ES-LV65-S), but sometimes certain parts of the name will be skipped.
For example, you might see something like this: ES-LV65, ES-LV65S or ES-LV65-S803.
These all refer to the very same shaver.
Usually the last letter in the name, in this case –S, is the part that gets left out the most.
The last letter always refers to the color of the shaver, so it’s probably not considered of utmost importance.
In case there’s a number after the color letter, like for example -S803, that’s usually there to identify the country/region where the shaver is sold.
Here are the letters used by Panasonic to designate the color of a shaver:
- -S (Silver)
- -K (Black)
- -A (Blue)
- -R (Red)
- -T (Brown)
These all make sense, including –K (Key) and –A (blue is Azul in Spanish). The T that stands for brown is the only one I haven’t figured out.
Here’s another example: Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV67-K.
When you see it listed as ES-LV67, it can either refer to the black variant ending in –K (ES-LV67-K) or the blue one ending in –A (ES-LV67-A).
The letter following the L (right after the ES-L part) usually refers to the number of blades.
- Three blades: ES-LT (for example, the Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LT67-A)
- Four blades: ES-LF (for example, the Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LF51-A)
- Five blades: ES-LV (for example, the Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV95-S)
- Six blades: ES-LS (for example, the Panasonic Arc 6 ES-LS8A-K)
I say usually because there are of course exceptions to these rules.
For example, the ES-LA63 is a four-blade shaver, but there’s no F after the L. Instead, there’s an A.
And finally, another thing worth mentioning about the newer Panasonic shavers is that the model names often include the revision they’re part of.
Side note: a revision in the case of Panasonic electric razors is a new, refreshed generation of a family of shavers, but the changes are usually minor and don’t have an impact on the actual shaving performance.
For example, the ES-LV6A-S is a 5-blade silver shaver part of revision A, while the ES-LV6B-S is part of a newer revision B.
The ES-LV7J-S belongs to the newest (as of 2023) Arc 5 revision J — and so on.
The revision letter in the model name is somewhat consistent in the case of the Arc 5 and Arc 6 lines, but it’s not a thing for the rest.
I will get into more detail about old and new generations and which one should you get in the next section.
Panasonic shavers comparison and differences (2023)
Let’s now take a close look at the currently available Panasonic electric razors.
We’ll check out the various models in a series, the differences between them and the features that actually matter.
I’ll also address important aspects like performance, old and new generations, replacement foil & blades and cleaning stations (where available).
To keep things consistent, I’ll start with the basic, entry-level series and gradually move toward the advanced, high-end models.
I will mainly focus on the shavers that are still available and only mention the discontinued models when it’s relevant.
Panasonic single and 2-blade travel shavers
Travel electric shavers are usually very compact, lightweight and inexpensive.
They also have a very basic shaving head and the performance is rather underwhelming when compared to a full-fledged shaver.
While using one as your main shaver is probably not ideal (unless you have a very light beard), they can represent a viable option when traveling.
Panasonic has a few travel shavers in its lineup and all of them are powered by a pair of replaceable AA batteries.
These are either single or double-foil shavers and the shaving performance is quite good for a small travel razor.
They’re usually waterproof and suitable for wet/dry use, but there are exceptions to that rule.
Considering their price, availability and performance, there are only three Panasonic travel shavers you should be checking out.
Here they are (with links to my full review of each):
And here’s a table that shows the main differences between them:
|Shaver||Wet/dry use||No of blades|
All these compact shavers, despite being very similar in terms of price, design and use case, have their own specific pros and cons.
As an owner of all three, my personal pick would be the ES4815P for two main reasons.
First of all, it is waterproof, a must in my opinion for a travel shaver.
It makes cleaning so much easier since I can simply rinse it clean with warm tap water.
The ES-RS10 on the other hand is not waterproof and having to resort to a brush (which cannot get all the fine hair dust) got frustrating pretty quickly.
The second reason for picking the ES4815P is the performance.
The closeness and power are very decent for this type of razor and the comfort is generally good as well.
Apart from some post-shave redness above my upper lip, I didn’t have any major complaints.
It will however only work decently on short hair, so you will definitely need to use it daily in order to get a decent shave.
Otherwise it will miss a lot of hairs.
You can get away with more days between shaves if your beard grows back really slowly.
The other two have the same problem when shaving a two or three-day beard.
But that’s the thing with these simple, inexpensive compact shavers that only use one or two foil elements.
The ES-RS10 is the cheapest and the most comfortable, but slightly less powerful than the other ones.
In my opinion its biggest drawback is the lack of waterproofing.
As mentioned earlier, this is a problem when cleaning the shaver.
While the waterproof models can be used with shaving cream as well, that didn’t help much except for making the shavers slightly more comfortable.
But overall I don’t think it’s worth the extra work.
And that is specific only to these small travel shavers because in general, a Panasonic electric razor will work great with shaving cream.
I think the cost of ownership is particularly important when buying a small travel shaver.
It can be a deal breaker if the parts are not available or if they cost more than the shaver.
Things are generally good in the case of the ES-RS10 and ES3831K.
The blade and foil sets are readily available and the price is reasonable.
But in the case of the double-foil ES4815P model, the one that is better performance-wise, you’ll have to buy the blades and foils separately and the total price can be quite high — oftentimes buying the whole shaver will cost less.
Here are the part numbers needed for all three shavers:
|ES4815P||ES9857 (foil), ES9852 (blades)|
|ES-RS10||ES9943 (foil), ES9942 (blade)|
Overall, I would still pick the ES4815P for the better performance despite the replacement parts price issue.
A travel shaver is intended to be used during a trip, so the blades and foils will need to be replaced a lot less often.
Also, the ES4815P just feels a lot sturdier and more substantial than the other two.
The foil and blades assembly is particularly impressive and it reminds me of a shaver from a superior line like the Arc 3.
So if you’re looking to buy a compact, inexpensive Panasonic travel shaver to help you look sharp on your away holiday, I would go with this one.
Side note: Panasonic also makes a compact Arc 5 travel shaver and I’ll get to it as well, but it’s in a whole different price category.
In fact, it often costs a lot more than a regular Arc 5, so it doesn’t really belong next to these AA battery-powered inexpensive shavers.
Panasonic 3-blade shavers: Arc 3 (aka Lamdash 3)
Panasonic’s 3-blade shavers represent their entry-level range of high-quality, capable electric razors.
Almost every 3-blade Panasonic foil shaver you can buy in 2023 will feature that trademark arched profile of the cutting elements, so we can collectively refer to them as Arc 3.
Fun fact: on the Japanese market, Panasonic gradually dropped the term Arc 3 and replaced it with Lamdash 3.
If you ever want to buy a Japanese model, you will likely find it listed as Lamdash 3.
The shaving head of a 3-blade Panasonic has the following structure:
- Two foil elements for cutting short hairs at skin level
- One slit-blade element for cutting longer, flat-lying hairs
The blades corresponding to the foil elements are removable and you can see them when removing the foil frame:
The blade of the middle slit trimmer is integrated into the foil block itself.
We will find this type of structure (with two removable inner blades) on all Panasonic families of shavers with the exception of the Arc 6.
The Arc 6 is the only one with all the blades integrated into the foil block (similar to Braun’s cassettes).
The Arc 3 is intended to be a balanced compromise of features, price and performance and for most users, the performance should also be satisfactory.
The direct competitor of the Arc 3 is Braun’s Series 3 ProSkin line.
They are quite similar in many regards — 3-blade shaving heads, decent performance for the money, easy to use and beginner-friendly.
However, the Panasonic Arc 3 has the edge when it comes strictly to the closeness of the shave, being slightly better in that regard and also more powerful.
Since the Arc 3 was first introduced in 2008, there were a few updates, some of them minor, other significant and almost all the various models are still available.
The differences are poorly documented and out of all the different Panasonic razors, the Arc 3 is probably the messiest when it comes to making sense of the changes.
However, there are only a few things that are truly important when it comes to comparing and choosing between different Arc 3 models.
1. Motor speed
All Arc 3 shavers fitted with 13 000 CPM motors will shave exactly the same regardless of model name or how old or new that model is.
In fact, most of the newest Arc 3 even use the same foil and blades as the original Arc 3, so it’s no surprise that they shave the same.
So as long as a Panasonic 3-blade shaver (Arc 3, Lamdash 3) comes with a 13 000 CPM motor, it will shave great.
However, there are a few variations that have 7600, 8500 or 10 000 CPM motors, like the ES-SL41-S, ES-SL83-S or the ES-RT17 respectively.
I would avoid those as the performance drop will be significant compared to the 13 000 CPM models.
2. Old and new generations: it doesn’t really matter
As mentioned earlier, the performance of all Arc 3 shavers is pretty much identical provided the motor is the high-speed 13 000 CPM variation.
The updates rolled out by Panasonic between 2008 and 2016 were minor for the most part, consisting of visual makeovers or different materials used.
The first major update to the Arc 3 family occurred with the introduction of the LT Arc 3 shavers in 2016.
This represented a rather big step forward in terms of build quality and design, but not that significant performance-wise.
The Arc 3 models belonging to that LT series are among the ones you should consider nowadays since the older ones were discontinued and can’t be found anymore.
For example, the Arc 3 ES-LT67 is one of the more popular ones and it comes of course with the powerful motor, so the performance is excellent.
Finally, in 2022, Panasonic launched what is arguably the most radical update (design-wise) so far.
Called the Lamdash 3, these models are (at least for now) only available in Japan and in my opinion you shouldn’t really go through hoops to get one.
The design is really slick and modern, but apart from that, I wouldn’t say they’re better than the globally available (older) Arc 3 models like the aforementioned ES-LT67.
Considering that all the parts that actually matter for shaving performance (foil, blades, motor, shaving head flexing) were carried over from the previous generation, we can safely conclude that they will also shave the same.
So something like the ES-LT67 or ES-LL41-K/ES-LL21-K that you can easily buy anywhere will be just as good.
Further reading: You can check out my complete breakdown of all the new 2022 Arc 3.
3. Price and availability
Finally, there’s the matter of being able to actually buy an Arc 3 and doing so at a reasonable price.
After all, this is the budget Panasonic shaver and you shouldn’t have to pay a premium to own one.
I definitely wouldn’t pay high shipping or import fees on the newest Japan-exclusive Lamdash 3 since I can easily pay less on an older, widely available Arc 3 that shaves the same.
That said, let’s check out the Panasonic Arc 3 models you should be considering.
In my opinion these 4 models are worth considering if you want to buy a reasonably-priced, but still capable 3-blade Panasonic shaver.
All the models in the table above are waterproof, wet/dry shavers fitted with the 13 000 CPM motor and all of them shave pretty much the same.
None of them comes with a cleaning station and I don’t think you should get an Arc 3 with one (more on that soon).
As you can see, there’s an asterisk for the ES8103S.
And that’s because that model, which was originally released in 2008, has been sadly discontinued.
It was the most popular Panasonic shaver probably ever and there are a lot of men still using one, so I thought it would be useful to include it as well.
The ES8103S was for many years my default recommendation for an Arc 3.
It used to cost less than other variations, it was extremely easy to use thanks to the very compact foil frame and the performance was excellent.
Moreover, it had a very impressive 10-stage battery level indicator, something you don’t see even on most high-end Panasonic razors.
Luckily, the performance of the newer models that are readily available is exactly the same.
The ES-LT67-A (blue) is extremely popular, especially in Europe, but it can also be bought in the USA, even though it wasn’t officially released there.
You’ll sometimes find it listed as ES-LT67 (without the A that stands for the color blue).
The ES-LL41-K (USA) and ES-LL21-K (Europe) are two newer entries to the Arc 3 line and come with a couple of quirks.
First of all, they feature a fixed head instead of a flexing one (like the ES-LT67-A).
I didn’t find this to be a major issue though as the flexing on pretty much all Panasonic shavers doesn’t do much to significantly improve the experience.
On top of that, they have a more compact foil frame than the ES-LT67-A, which makes them feel nimbler when shaving below the nose for example.
The second quirk is related to these unique adjustable combs that snap on the pop-up hair trimmer and can be used to pre-trim or maintain a beard.
They work quite well and are very useful if you alternate between clean shaven and stubble look.
The only difference between the USA model (ES-LL41-K) and the European one (ES-LL21-K) is that the former comes with two combs and the latter only with one.
|ES-LL41-K, ES-LL21-K||WES9087PC||WES9068PC||WES9013 (WES9013PC)|
Fun fact: all Arc 3 models, regardless of generation (including the newest 2022 Lamdash 3 from Japan), use the exact same inner blades (WES9068PC).
The PC at the end is sometimes left out, for example WES9013 instead of WES9013PC (it’s the same part).
Panasonic recommends replacing the foil every year and the two inner blades every two years.
In practice, how soon you will need to buy new foil and blades will depend on several factors.
Among those are how often you shave, how coarse is your beard and how well you maintain the shaver (cleaning, lubrication).
So you can expect to need new parts sooner or later than that.
I usually recommend changing both the foil and blades at the same time.
Using a new foil with blunt blades won’t allow you to get the most out of the foil.
The price of an Arc 3 set of foil and blades used to be quite reasonable.
Unfortunately, during the last couple of years, the price of Panasonic shavers and replacement parts has gone up.
So the cost of ownership will be higher compared to let’s say owning a Braun Series 3 ProSkin.
In that regard, Braun fares better.
You can buy the Panasonic Arc 3 foil and blades separately or as a set.
Getting the set is usually more convenient.
The different generations of Arc 3 electric razors have always included some variations that came with an automatic cleaning and charging station.
However, there are far fewer of those, especially now with the currently available Arc 3 models.
Panasonic seems to focus more on the high-end 5 and 6-blade shavers when it comes to cleaning systems.
And for good reason — a cleaning station will increase the price by a lot and the Arc 3 is after all their budget-oriented shaver.
Moreover, a 3-blade Panasonic foil shaver is extremely easy to clean manually.
That said, if you still want a cleaning station with your Arc 3 the only option would be the ES-LT7N if you can still find one.
Even though it’s part of the relatively recent 2016 LT series, it seems to have disappeared.
There are also the 2022 Japan-exclusive models I mentioned above, but those aren’t really accessible to most of us.
Performance-wise, the ES-LT7N is identical to the ES-LT67 (it even looks the same except for the color).
The station that comes with it is quite capable and uses a detergent concentrate that must be dissolved in water.
It automatically cleans, lubricates, dries and charges the shaver.
However, the ES-LT7N is pretty much gone, so realistically, your options for getting an Arc 3 with a cleaning station are very limited.
As with all Panasonic shavers, a station purchased separately will never work with a shaver that didn’t originally include one.
And that’s because the shaver always connects to the station via 3 contact pins on the back.
Those pins are missing on the shaver that didn’t originally include a station.
In the image below you can 3 dummy pins instead of real, metal contacts.
It’s the same situation for all the other Panasonic families of shavers.
In my opinion that’s not really a deal breaker.
I generally recommend buying a Panasonic Arc 3 razor without a station since it costs less and the razor is very easy to clean (with warm tap water and optionally some liquid soap).
The Arc 3/Lamdash 3 is the entry point to Panasonic’s highly capable electric shavers.
A Panasonic Arc 3 shaves close, is generally gentle on the skin and easy to use, so first-time users will get comfortable with it pretty quickly.
The Arc 3 has traditionally been Panasonic’s budget-oriented offering, but over the past couple of years, the prices have gone up, especially when compared to Braun’s Series 3 ProSkin and the Series 3000 from Philips (Norelco).
The Arc 3 edges all of them for things like closeness of the shave, build quality and sheer power, but in terms of value for money and costs of ownership, it’s not at the top anymore.
However, you can still get a great deal on a 3-blade Panasonic with a powerful motor, excellent hair trimmer and arguably the best build quality in that price range.
Again, it doesn’t matter which model you buy as long as it has the 13 000 CPM motor.
Panasonic 4-blade shavers: Arc 4
Next in Panasonic’s hierarchy of electric shavers is the Arc 4.
As the name suggests, these shavers feature 4 active cutting elements.
While the Arc 3 had two foil cutters and one slit trimmer, the Arc 4 models have one extra foil cutter for a total of four cutters.
So at least in theory, this should provide some performance gains.
Moreover, most Arc 4 variations come with a super capable 14 000 CPM linear drive motor, so it’s even more powerful than the 13 000 CPM Arc 3 unit.
The Arc 4 shaving head itself — outer foils and inner blades — is of great quality and workmanship.
All these small upgrades add up and actually improve real-world performance, not just in the specs sheet.
Even though an Arc 4 has 4 cutters, there are still only two removable inner blades, the other two being integrated into the foil.
The Arc 4 series is a bit of an odd case compared to the rest of the Panasonic shavers.
While in the case of the Arc 3 and especially the Arc 5 there have been many constant updates, the Arc 4 has been completely ignored.
Ever since the handful of Arc 4 models were released (some of them a couple of years apart), we didn’t get any updates at all.
But that’s not entirely a bad thing.
First of all, it makes choosing an Arc 4 a lot easier since there are only a few models available.
Then there’s the price — the cost of older models tends to go down as time passes, while a new generation usually comes with a price bump.
Finally, the performance of these 4-blade Panasonic razors is still really good even after all these years.
In my opinion the main selling point of a 14 000 CPM Panasonic Arc 4 is the closeness of the shave.
I have constantly found them to be among the closest shaving electric razors and not just in this price range.
For example, I think the closeness is better compared to a more expensive Braun Series 9 Pro or Series 9 PRO+.
Granted, that one has other specific advantages — it’s gentler on the skin and can capture longer, flat-lying hairs a lot more effectively — but in terms of pure closeness and speed, the Arc 4 is better.
So let’s check out the Panasonic Arc 4 models that are still available in 2023 and which one should you actually buy.
Panasonic first released the 4-blade Arc 4 in 2008 (a few years after the 3-blade Arc series).
They came with a premium price tag at that time, so unsurprisingly, they didn’t sell particularly well.
For only a small price difference you could simply buy the range-topping (at that time) Arc 5.
But the price of the Arc 4 models has gone down and they now represent a viable, reasonably priced option for a foil shaver with excellent shaving performance.
However, not all of them are still available and some are slightly better than others.
So let’s first check out the main differences in the table below:
|ES-LA63AA (Blue)||14 000 CPM||5 level battery display, travel lock,|
second vibrating motor
|ES-LA63-S (Silver)||14 000 CPM||10 level battery display, elapsed time, travel lock,|
second vibrating motor
|ES-LA93-K (Black)||14 000 CPM||Cleaning station, 10 level battery display, elapsed time, travel lock,|
second vibrating motor
|ES-LF51-A (Blue)||14 000 CPM||5 level battery display, travel lock||Available (USA)|
|ES8243AA (Blue)||13 000 CPM||10 level battery display, elapsed time||Not available|
|ES-RF31-S (Silver)||10 000 CPM||3 level battery display, travel lock||Available (Europe)|
Out of the 6 Arc 4 models worth checking out, 3 basically can’t be bought anymore in 2023.
You may still be able to find one on eBay for example, but generally, these aren’t an option anymore.
But that’s not a problem as the available alternatives are just as good.
For example, the ES-LA63-S is just the silver variation of the still available and excellent blue ES-LA63AA.
I got the silver one but performance-wise it is identical to the blue version.
The ES-LA93-K is the black variation which also includes a cleaning station.
It also can’t be bought anymore, but you really don’t need a station for the Arc 4 as we’ll see later on.
The motor, blades and performance are identical for the ES-LA63AA, ES-LA63-S and ES-LA93-K.
Finally, there’s the ES8243AA which used to be a very popular Arc 4 because it was usually the most affordable variation.
It did lack some of the features of the rest though: travel lock, second vibrating motor and came with a slightly less powerful 13 000 CPM motor.
Despite that, it was still a really good performer — similar to an Arc 3 with an extra blade.
But as mentioned earlier, this model was discontinued and can’t be bought anymore.
From the still available 4-blade Panasonic razors, the ES-LA63AA will probably be the best option for most users.
It has a reasonable price, the shaving performance is very solid and you can easily buy it, at least in the USA.
As you can see from the table above, its distinct feature is a second vibrating motor that is placed in the shaving head itself.
The purpose of it was to induce vibrations into the foil and help catch the difficult hairs that stay flat on the skin or grow in different directions.
I honestly wouldn’t say it’s any better than other Arc 4 models that lack this feature, but it’s there.
My personal pick for an Arc 4 model would actually be the ES-LF51-A.
And the main reason for that is its smaller shaving head.
Even though there are still 4 distinct cutters, the foil frame is a lot narrower compared to the one on the ES-LA63AA for example, so it feels a lot nimbler when shaving a tricky spot.
It disappeared for a while from pretty much all the shops, but luckily it’s available again and if you can get it for a similar price to the ES-LA63AA, I would actually suggest this one instead.
It’s one of my favorite shavers for getting a really close shave.
Panasonic pretty much ignored the European market and none of the above-mentioned Arc 4 models were made available.
Instead, we only get in Europe some of the older, less capable 4-blade shavers that don’t come with the powerful linear motors.
For example, the ES-RF31-S has a 10 000 RPM rotary motor.
It’s not as fast or as advanced as the linear-drive units, but the performance, especially at that price, is still solid.
Fun fact: notice the R in the name of the shaver that stands for Rotary: ES-RF31-S. The ES-LA63AA on the other hand has a fast Linear motor, hence the L.
So if you live in Europe/UK and want a 4-blade Panasonic shaver, the ES-RF31-S is a very affordable and decent performing razor.
All the Arc 4 models that came with a cleaning station have been phased out.
The ES-LA93-K was by far the most popular one.
It used to come with the older Panasonic cleaning system called Vortex Hydra.
That cleaner was very bulky and used a cleaning cartridge, unlike the current Panasonic cleaners where you need to mix the detergent concentrate with water yourself (in the station’s tray).
The old Vortex Hydra station would also leak sometimes and since the Arc 4 is very easy to clean manually, I never really considered the Arc 4 station a must-have.
Also, an Arc 4 that didn’t originally come with a cleaning station will not work with one.
The reason is the same as with any Panasonic razor — it lacks the contact pins on the back that connect the shaver to the station.
Even though the Arc 4 models are quite old, the replacement foil and blades are generally available and easy to find.
They are quite pricey though, especially when compared to Braun replacement heads (like the Series 8 for example).
All Panasonic Arc 4 models need two inner blades and one outer foil.
The pair of blades is always the same, but the foils can however be different for different Arc 4 models.
You can find them in the table below:
|ES-LA63-S, ES-LA63AA, ES-LA93-K||WES9165PC||WES9068PC||WES9025PC|
Fun fact: all Panasonic Arc 4 models use the same exact inner blades, the WES9068PC (sometimes listed as WES9068). These are the same ones used by the Arc 3.
As usual, Panasonic says you need to replace the blades every year and the foil every two years.
But as we saw, that can vary a lot depending on various factors.
So you should really replace them when the shaving performance drops and the razor can’t give you a decent shave anymore.
The Panasonic Arc 4 shavers — especially the ones that come with the most powerful 14 000 CPM motors, the ES-LA63AA and ES-LF51-A — provide outstanding shaving performance.
These shavers work particularly well on short, coarse stubble and if you’re someone who shaves regularly and doesn’t have particularly sensitive skin, you should really shortlist the Arc 4.
Despite their age, these Arc 4 models can take on pretty much any other newer shaver in the same price range (and even beyond that).
I think it’s a missed opportunity for Panasonic to focus only on the Arc 3 as their more affordable line and not show any interest in promoting and updating the Arc 4 series.
But if we can still buy these top-performing 4-blade shavers for a fair price, that’s really all that matters.
Panasonic 5-blade shavers: Arc 5 (aka Lamdash 5, Series 900)
In my opinion the Arc 5 is Panasonic’s most important line of electric shavers and has been for some time.
This is fairly obvious from the extensive Arc 5 marketing efforts and the continuous updates brought to this series.
The very first Panasonic shaver with 5 curved blades was introduced in 2009, soon after the Arc 4.
And until 2021 when the 6-blade models made their debut, the Arc 5 was Panasonic’s most advanced electric razor.
The 5-blade shaving head of a Panasonic Arc 5 is an impressive feat of engineering and is one of the key elements that make the Arc 5 a top-performing shaver.
Here’s the structure of a typical Arc 5 shaving system:
1. Two finishing foils. These are the outermost shaving elements and are responsible for cutting short hairs very close to the skin.
2. Two reverse tapered foils called Lift Tech foils that supposedly lift and cut hairs that grow flat on the skin.
3. One slit blade. This middle trimmer has specially designed slots for capturing and cutting longer hairs; the remaining stumps are then cut at skin level by the other foil cutters.
In typical Panasonic fashion, there are two removable inner blades and three non-removable blades that are part of the foil itself.
The second defining feature of a Panasonic Arc 5 is that fantastic 14 000 CPM motor.
For most Arc 5 shavers (from 2013 onward), that motor was shrunk down in size and placed in the actual shaving head, and that comes with a host of specific benefits.
The shaving head of the latest Arc 5 iterations (generation 3) also features some impressive flexing capabilities, although in practice the effectiveness is rather questionable.
But nevertheless, the shaving performance of a Panasonic Arc 5, regardless of generation, is outstanding.
The closeness, power, speed and refinement are some of the best I’ve ever experienced from an electric shaver.
And the more recent models that come with a revised foil are also more comfortable.
The comfort used to be a concern for men with sensitive skin with the older Panasonic shavers, but it’s really not a big issue anymore.
So let’s take a closer look at the current state of the Panasonic Arc 5 razors and check out the differences that matter.
As mentioned earlier, Panasonic updated the Arc 5 range multiple times and going over all the models in detail really requires a separate topic.
And I did just that a while back, so if you really want to dive into the nitty-gritty you can check out my Arc 5 model comparison.
But for the purpose of this guide, I will only summarize the main ideas so we can see what’s the deal with all the different Arc 5 models and generations.
|Arc 5 generation||Status||Popular models||Shaving head/foil|
|Generation 1 (2009)||Discontinued||ES-LV61-A, ES-LV81-K||Old style|
|Generation 2 (2013)||Available||ES-LV65-S, ES-LV95-S, ES-LV67-K, ES-LV97-K||Old style|
|Generation 3 (2015), 8 different revisions||Available||ES-LV9Q, ES-LV6Q, ES-LV6U, ES-LV9U||New style (more comfortable)|
The very first Arc 5 Generation 1 was discontinued many years ago, so we don’t have to worry about it anymore.
The Generation 2 is in my opinion of particular interest since those Arc 5 models are still widely available, they shave great and the price is usually very reasonable for a flagship shaver.
The motors are the same punchy 14 000 CPM units fitted to the latest generation, so we’re not missing out on power.
What is different however compared to the latest Generation 3 is the shaving head. Precisely, the outer foil.
The first and second generation Arc 5 come with the old-style foil:
This foil is more aggressive and capable of delivering a phenomenal closeness.
The downside? It can be a bit irritating for users with sensitive skin.
Panasonic was aware of this issue and with the Generation 3 Arc 5, they made some changes to address the discomfort.
So they tweaked the foil elements and also added two so-called comfort rollers.
You can see them as two golden bars in the image above.
These would prevent the user from exerting excessive pressure and also make the shaving head glide easier on the skin.
I was really skeptical when I first saw the changes but having used quite a few Arc 5 shavers with this foil style, I must say that it really is gentler and more forgiving, especially during a dry shave.
The good news is that these newer Arc 5 foils with the comfort rollers are backward compatible and will fit a generation 1 or 2 Arc 5 perfectly.
So the foil is one of the major differences between a Generation 2 and a Generation 3 Arc 5.
The second one is the design.
With the Generation 3, the Arc 5 came with a sleeker design and some models like the ES-LV9Q even have an all-metal body that looks and feels premium.
The entire shaving head of the third-generation Arc 5 also flexes more, but it really doesn’t bring any real improvements to the shaving performance.
So apart from the nicer design and the gentler foil, there isn’t really any other significant difference between a newer Generation 3 and a Generation 2 Arc 5.
At least in terms of shaving performance, they are really similar.
The Generation 3 Arc 5 is comprised of 8 different revisions, from A to J, and most of them are only available on the Japanese market.
The only ones that were released globally are the revision A (currently discontinued), revision C (still available) and revision H (aka Series 900, still available).
So basically, the Arc 5 revision H (Series 900) is the newest Arc 5 that was officially released outside of Japan.
However, the North American market was skipped, so if you live in the USA (or Canada), your best option would be a second-generation Arc 5 (like the ES-LV65-S and ES-LV67-K).
If you want the newest 2023 Arc 5 (revision J, aka LAMDASH 5 PRO), you will need to import it from Japan.
In my opinion it’s not worth the trouble since the shaving performance of the generation 3 Arc 5 has remained pretty much the same since the revision C.
And you can easily get a revision C model in the USA or Europe (like the ES-LV6Q or ES-LV9Q).
Moreover, you can always upgrade the foil of an older Arc 5 model with the latest one and basically get all the major benefits of the latest revisions.
Panasonic Arc 5 foils: compatibility and upgrade options
As we now know, the Panasonic Arc 5 models in the second generation come with the old shaving system (foil) and the ones in the third generation have new foils.
You can easily spot the new ones as they feature two rollers (which can be silver or gold).
As of 2023, there are four different foils in this third generation.
And that’s because Panasonic constantly tweaked this foil (of the third generation Arc 5) from 2015 until the present in an effort to improve its performance with longer, flat-lying hairs.
But having used all of them, I can safely say the differences between all new foils are minor and it really doesn’t matter which one you get as long as it’s got two comfort rollers.
In fact, you should just buy the one you can find in your country at the lowest price.
As mentioned earlier, any Arc 5 foil (regardless of how new or old it is) will fit any Arc 5 shaver (regardless of generation).
The pair of inner blades is the same for all Arc 5 shavers ever released (WES9170).
In the table below you’ll find all the foil and blades sets for all the different Arc 5 generations, from the oldest to the newest.
|Arc 5 generation/revision||Foil and blades set|
|First generation||WES9032P (ES9032, WES9032Y)|
|Second generation||WES9032P (ES9032, WES9032Y)|
|Third generation (rev A and B)||WES9034P (ES9034)|
|Third generation (rev C and D)||WES9036 (WES9036Y, ES9036)|
|Third generation (rev E and F)||ES9038|
|Third generation (rev G, H and J)||ES9040|
The newest is the ES9040 set which features silver rollers and a golden slit trimmer.
But to be honest, it performs just as the previous ES9038 and ES9036, so if you can only get those, you’re not missing out on anything.
On the other hand, the original ES9032 set (with no comfort rollers) can often be found at a lower price and it’s an option even if own a newer Arc 5.
It will be a downgrade in the sense that it will make the shaver more aggressive, but it should only be a problem if you have sensitive skin.
The closeness will be just as good.
In fact, some users say they’re able to get an even closer shave with the old-style foil since the rollers don’t get in the way.
I personally find both equally good in that regard.
So when it comes to buying Arc 5 foils and blades or upgrading your older ones to a newer set, things are actually a lot simpler than they appear.
And that’s simply because regardless of which Arc 5 you own, any set will be compatible.
The newest ones with the comfort rollers are more comfortable and will fit an older Arc 5 shaver from the first or second generation.
Further reading: for an in-depth analysis, you can read my Arc 5 foil replacement guide.
Unlike the Arc 3 and Arc 4, the Arc 5 models that also include a cleaning station are plentiful.
Regardless of generation, there are quite a few that are readily available.
And fortunately, things are pretty straightforward with the Arc 5 cleaning stations.
The ones from the discontinued Generation 1 Arc 5 were the old Vortex Hydra stations that we also saw with the Arc 4.
These can’t be bought anymore, so we’ll only focus on the second and third generations.
When Panasonic launched the 2013 Arc 5 models (second generation), they also introduced a new cleaning station to replace the old Vortex Hydra cleaning system.
The new station was a lot more compact and quite feature rich.
For example, it is among the very few out there that use both a fan and a heating element to dry the shaving head.
This makes the drying phase of the cleaning cycle extremely effective.
In order to make the station’s footprint smaller, Panasonic had to do away with using cleaning cartridges.
Instead, you must mix the detergent concentrate with water in this tub.
All the cleaning & charging stations that Panasonic ships with the Arc 5 (generations 2 and 3) look almost the same and work identically.
However, the opening (cleaning chamber) is different to accommodate the various shapes and sizes of the shaving heads.
For example, an Arc 5 cleaning station from the second generation cannot accommodate the shaving head of a third-generation Arc 5.
As for compatibility, an Arc 5 razor that didn’t come with a cleaning station (like the ES-LV65 or ES-LV67) will not work with one.
The reason is again the same — those shavers lack the physical hardware to connect to the station.
So if you want a cleaning station with your Arc 5, you will need to get a model that comes with a station from the get-go.
Unlike most Braun Series 9 models for example, you can’t just buy a station later on — it will not work.
The Arc 5 (aka Lamdash 5, Series 900) is by far Panasonic’s most extensive family of electric razors.
Luckily, choosing one is a lot easier than one might think.
And that’s simply because the shaving performance of all Arc 5 models that are available in 2023 is very similar and the real difference comes down to the outer foil.
And as we saw, you can always upgrade it to a newer one and get basically the same performance.
So as long as a particular Arc 5 comes with the accessories you want (for example a cleaning station) and you can easily buy it in your country for a reasonable price, that’s really all that matters.
I would never pay (a lot) more just to get the newest revision from Japan because it will shave pretty much the same as the older, widely available models.
And considering the price, availability and performance, there are only a few Arc 5 models that the vast majority of users should really consider.
Often times you can find great deals and you can buy an Arc 5 for roughly the same money as an Arc 4, maybe even for less.
It’s a great choice for men who want a very close, fast, no-compromise shave.
Panasonic 6-blade shavers: Arc 6 (aka Lamdash 6, Series 900+)
One of the ways to improve the performance of an electric shaver is to add more cutting elements.
But doing so past a certain point will only offer diminishing returns.
For example, the original Braun Series 7 was a 3-blade electric shaver and arguably the most successful ever.
And Panasonic already had a beastly shaver in the form of the 5-blade Arc 5.
But this more is better approach is very easy to market.
When your shaver has objectively more things than the competition’s, it’s a lot easier to make a case for it and say that it’s better.
And after some extensive rumors and speculation, Panasonic dropped the 6-blade Arc 6 in 2021, initially only in Japan.
One year later, the world’s only 6-blade shaver was released globally as well.
But all of them are essentially the same.
The 6-blade shaving head of the Arc 6 has some interesting features.
Compared to the Arc 5 head, it has an extra slit trimmer, again in an effort to improve the shaver’s performance with longer hairs, the Achilles heel of all Panasonic razors.
But this time, we only have a single comfort roller instead of two — that slim long bar at the very middle of the foil (number 7 in the image below).
Using only one roller is likely a compromise in order not to make the shaving head larger than it already is.
And the final difference which is also a first for a Panasonic shaver is that with the Arc 6, there are no removable inner blades.
All the blades are built-in and non-removable, so the foil head is now a Braun-style cassette.
This makes changing it a lot easier and there’s no more confusion with different part numbers for the foil and a pair of inner blades.
There’s a single piece you need to replace and that’s it.
The Arc 6/Series 900+ is powered by the same 14 000 CPM motor just like the Arc 5.
This should give you a hint about the Arc 6 performance — extremely similar to the Generation 3 Arc 5.
Let’s now see which Arc 6 models are available and which one should you buy.
|Arc 6 revision||Popular models||Availability|
|Revision A (2021)||ES-LS8A-K, ES-LS9A-K||Available (globally)|
|Revision B (2022)||ES-LS9BX, ES-LS5B, ES-LS5P||Available (Japan only)|
|Revision C (2023)||ES-LS9CX, ES-LS9C, ES-LS5Q||Available (Japan only)|
As of 2023, there are 2 revisions (B and C) to the original Arc 6 (revision A).
However, most users should only be concerned with revision A — widely available and easy to buy.
There are two A models that were released globally, the ES-LS8A-K (no cleaning station) and ES-LS9A-K (includes a cleaning station).
You will find them listed as Panasonic Series 900+ (instead of Arc 6) in Europe.
Performance-wise, these global (revision A) models are identical to the newer revision B and C Arc 6 (aka Lamdash 6 Pro in Japan).
They use the exact same shaving head and motor and the shaving performance will be the same or almost the same.
And I say almost because the only real difference is that with the revision C, there’s also a slightly faster beard density sensor.
The one fitted to the revisions A and B could perform 220 readings per second, while the one in the revision C can handle 233.
In practice, you will probably never notice anything.
The two global models in the revision A, ES-LS8A and ES-LS9A are wet/dry, cordless-only models.
Some of the Japan-exclusive models like the ES-LS5P and ES-LS5Q are dry only, meaning these will also work with the cord plugged in.
In my opinion this is the only difference that could justify importing a newer Arc 6 from Japan instead of buying a global model.
Performance-wise, the newer revisions B and C aren’t any different than the original one.
For more details you can check out my Arc 6 comparison.
Since the Arc 6 comes with a single-piece shaving head, things are so much simpler compared to the Arc 5 and the multitude of available parts.
There’s a single replacement head for all Arc 6 revisions and has the part number ES9600.
It was initially only available in Japan, but it is now pretty easy to get in most countries.
I think it’s rather pricey, but that was to be expected.
Panasonic recommended different replacement intervals for the foil and inner blades: 1 and 2 years, respectively.
So that was the case with the Arc 3, Arc 4 and Arc 5.
With the Arc 6 which doesn’t have removable inner blades, they made a compromise: 1.5 years.
So in theory, you would need to buy a new head for your Panasonic Arc 6 every 1.5 years.
Some of us will need to buy it sooner, others later depending on the same factors: frequency of the shave, coarseness of the beard, cleaning and lubrication.
The cleaning station shipped with the Panasonic Arc 6/Series 900+ is identical in function to the one of the Arc 5.
It even looks the same, but the opening is different in order to fit the larger 6-blade head.
The ES-LS9A-K is likely the one you’ll be getting if you want a cleaning station for your Arc 6.
Just as expected, the ES-LS8A-K for example will not work with a station because it doesn’t have the necessary hardware (contact pins).
The Arc 6 station cleans, dries, lubricates and charges the shaver.
It uses the same detergent sachets that must be mixed with water in the station’s tray.
The station is as we know excellent, but I don’t consider it a must-have.
I personally would just buy the ES-LS8A-K (for less money) and clean it manually with water (and soap).
Are 6 blades excessive? Probably yes.
But that aside, the performance of the Panasonic Arc 6 is outstanding.
It’s probably the most refined and comfortable Panasonic shaver you can currently buy.
If you can get past the large head (it will take some getting used to) and the price tag, you’ll probably be very happy with it.
But let’s see how it compares to the other Panasonic shavers with fewer blades and more reasonable prices.
Panasonic Arc 3 vs Arc 4 vs Arc 5 vs Arc 6
Choosing between an Arc 3, Arc 4, Arc 5 or Arc 6 will depend on your personal needs, shaving habits, and budget.
So the shaver that represents the best option will be different for different users.
I intentionally left out the single and double-foil Panasonic travel razors as those will be viable options only in one specific use case — when you need an inexpensive, small travel shaver.
Shaving performance is what matters the most when buying an electric razor, so we’ll kick off this comparison with that.
In my opinion, when assessing the performance of an electric shaver there are a few aspects you should be interested in:
- The closeness of the shave
- The comfort during (and after) the shave
- How the shaver deals with longer, flat-lying hairs
- Effectiveness: How long it takes to complete a shave
- Build quality and ergonomics
- Value for money
Let’s see how the different Panasonic shavers fare in each category.
1. The closeness of the shave
Furthermore, when it comes to the closeness provided by various foil shavers, it’s also commonly agreed that Panasonic is the best in that regard.
Having used quite a few Panasonic shavers myself, I find this to be true as well.
Actually, let me rephrase that.
Panasonic electric shavers generally provide the best closeness without any major compromises in other areas.
There are foil shavers that can objectively shave a bit closer but do so at the expense of comfort, versatility or the longevity of the foil.
For example, the Andis ProFoil can shave extremely close, arguably the closest, but it’s nowhere near as comfortable as a Panasonic and can only capture very short stubble.
Moreover, the very thin foils will wear out a lot faster.
When it comes to closeness, Panasonic shavers really deliver.
This is one of the main advantages of Panasonic shavers over the competition (if not the most important one).
And this is consistent throughout all the Arc series, starting with the entry-level Arc 3 shavers.
I am only referring to the Arc 3 models fitted with the 13 000 CPM motors as they outperform the ones with the less powerful units by a large margin.
Panasonic uses throughout their entire lineup their so-called 30 degrees nano- blades.
These are the blades that oscillate behind the thin perforated foils and do the actual cutting.
As we already saw, these blades can be either removable or integrated into the foil itself.
The Arc 6 is the only one that has all six blades integrated into the foil head.
What differentiates Panasonic’s blades from the competition’s is the aggressive 30 degrees bevel that ensures very efficient and clean cutting.
A combination of high-quality sharp blades, arched thin foils and powerful motors allows Panasonic Arc models to shave closer than pretty much any other electric razors currently on the market.
Again, without major compromises in other important areas.
The Arc 3 with its 3 cutting elements is one of the closest shaving affordable electric razors.
Compared to similarly priced models from the competition, like the Braun Series 3 ProSkin or Norelco Series 3000/5000, the Arc 3 is clearly better when it comes to closeness.
The newer LT Arc 3 models like the ES-LT67 feature a nicer design and better build quality, but the shaving performance has remained the same compared to older Arc 3 models fitted with the 13 000 CPM motors.
The more advanced Arc 4, Arc 5 and Arc 6 with their 14 000 CPM motors and more shaving elements are even better than the Arc 3 for closeness, although not by a huge margin.
This difference will be more obvious if you have a very coarse beard and you will need less work for a close and smooth shave.
The Arc 4 has an additional shaving element compared to the Arc 3 models — a finishing foil — that cuts hairs very close to the skin.
The Arc 5 takes this to the extreme with an extra foil for a total of 5 active cutting elements: 4 foils and one slit trimmer.
Finally, we have the Arc 6 which also has 4 foil cutters like the Arc 5, but two slit trimmers instead of one.
So in terms of closeness, I’d say the Arc 5 is identical to the Arc 6.
The advantage of a massive shaving head with 5 or 6 cutters is that it takes less time to complete a shave, even though the end result won’t be that much different.
As it was expected, when it comes to closeness, you will see slight improvements as you go from the Arc 3 toward the more advanced Arc 6 models.
In the case of very coarse, dense facial hair, the improvements will be more obvious.
The Arc 3 is perfectly suitable for shaving daily and is an excellent budget-friendly option.
If you have light to medium, even coarser hair, the Arc 3 would be a very good option.
For coarser beards and even for shaving every other day, the Arc 4 is a better option and you will appreciate the extra cutting power.
The Arc 4 offers this while still being reasonably priced.
I actually think the Arc 4 would be the best option for most men who are mainly concerned with getting a very close shave.
Again, that is if you can get one in your country and for a decent price.
The Arc 4 ES-LF51-A is my personal favorite; it has a 14 000 CPM motor and a slimmer shaving head compared to other Arc 4 models, making it easier to maneuver around tight spaces.
The closeness is really good, in fact, I’d say it’s as good as an Arc 5 or Arc 6.
The only drawback is that an Arc 4 isn’t quite as comfortable as an Arc 5 or especially an Arc 6, arguably the most comfortable Panasonic shaver to date.
But if your skin is not sensitive and you just want a very close shave, the Arc 4 would be an excellent option that won’t break the bank.
I will say however that the Arc 4 is a viable option in the USA where you can still get the ES-LF51-A or the ES-LA63AA.
For the rest of the world, I think you’d be better off with an older Generation 2 Arc 5 if you want a really close shave and not pay a premium.
The newer Generation 3 Arc 5 like the ES-LV9Q or a Series 900 shave just as close, but usually cost more.
The takeaway is that in terms of closeness, the Panasonic Arc 4, Arc 5 and Arc 6 are extremely similar.
So you don’t have to shell out for an Arc 6 if you’re only interested in getting a very close shave.
Considering the price and availability in 2023, the best option for most men would be an Arc 4 ES-LF51-A or an older generation Arc 5 like the ES-LV65-S or ES-LV67-K.
The newer Arc 5 and Arc 6 have other advantages (more comfortable, premium build), but in terms of closeness, they are pretty much the same.
2. The comfort during (and after) the shave
Closeness aside, how comfortable and forgiving a particular shaver is should also come high on your priorities list.
For the most part, Panasonic shavers are adequately comfortable and can even be an option for men with sensitive skin — sometimes with some minor adjustments.
However, there is a trade-off for that extreme closeness; some can be a bit aggressive if you press harder and the foils can get hot after prolonged use.
There are various workarounds that can make Panasonic shavers more comfortable.
Since almost all of them are suitable for wet & dry use, you can try shaving with cream, soap or gel.
I personally find this to be an excellent compromise as I am able to get a very close shave with no irritation or razor burn.
If the thought of using shaving cream is off-putting, you can try using a pre-shave lotion or gel that should improve the dry shave performance and comfort.
The shaving head of Panasonic shavers can get quite hot and cause discomfort. I’ve experienced this with several Arc 4 and even Arc 5 models.
One way to reduce the heat would be to always lubricate the cutters before you shave. This should be done for any electric shaver actually.
Using an automatic cleaning station takes care of this, but if you don’t have one, then you should lubricate the blades regularly.
So how do the Arc 3, Arc 4, Arc 5 and Arc 6 fare with regards to comfort? Which one is better?
Having used all of them, including the newer and older generations, I can safely say that the Arc 5 models with the new foils (comfort rollers) and the Arc 6 are the most comfortable Panasonic electric razors.
In fact, I think these are even suitable for men with sensitive skin, for both wet or dry shaving.
While it may seem like a gimmick, these rollers reduce the friction and prevent you from pressing the shaver too hard into the skin.
Tip: as we now know, you can retrofit a new foil with comfort rollers to an older Arc 5, it will work perfectly fine.
The Arc 4 models are, at least in my experience, the most aggressive ones.
Without proper lubrication to keep the heat in check and a pre-shave lotion, these can inflict some razor burn and irritation, especially on the neck and above the upper lip.
If you don’t have very sensitive skin, you should be fine with either of the Arc 3, 4 ,5 or 6 provided that they meet your other requirements (closeness, accessories, and budget).
A quality shaving cream or pre-shave lotion can also help.
If however you have blemish-prone skin and constantly get razor burn and bumps, then you might want to consider a Braun shaver as they are a better option in this case.
3. How the shaver deals with longer, flat-lying hairs
When choosing an electric shaver you must also consider your shaving habits.
Precisely, how often you shave.
If you always shave daily, then you can get away with a more basic shaver, like the Arc 3 — it’s a perfectly suitable shaver for everyday use.
It’s the longer, flat-lying hairs that most shavers struggle with.
And this seems to be worse with foil shavers.
Usually, the more advanced shavers with specially designed elements that capture and cut longer, flat-lying hairs, fare a lot better.
If you shave every other day or every two days then you should consider at least an Arc 4.
Getting a smooth shave when you have longer, flat-lying hairs that grow in different directions will always be more difficult and time-consuming.
The extra cutting elements of the Arc 4, Arc 5 and especially Arc 6 will improve the performance and the overall shaving experience, but only up to a point.
Panasonic shavers are not the best for longer, wiry hairs.
If you will constantly be in this situation you may want to consider other options like the Braun Series 9 which is in my opinion the best performing foil shaver when dealing with longer hairs.
Panasonic constantly tried to address this shortcoming with the multiple Arc 5 foil tweaks and the Arc 6 with its two slit trimmers.
But the improvements have been incremental and underwhelming, unfortunately.
To sum it up, the Arc 3 is suitable for shaving daily or every other day at most (maybe more if you have a slow beard growth).
For anything more than that, I suggest going for an Arc 4, Arc 5 or Arc 6, but don’t expect a miracle, especially if the hair stays flat on the skin and grows in different directions.
Shaving more often will still be the most effective way of improving your shaver’s effectiveness.
The newer Arc 5 revisions like the Series 900 and the Arc 6 are marginally better, but still way behind a Braun Series 9 or 9 Pro for example.
4. Effectiveness: How long it takes to complete a shave
Cutting power, sharp blades and effectively capturing the hairs are what it takes to complete a shave with ease.
The massive shaving heads of the Arc 5 and Arc 6 are able to cover large areas fast, while the sharp blades mow through a coarse beard with little effort (provided that the hair length is reasonable).
Moreover, the shaving heads can even be depressed, supposedly helping to maintain constant contact with the skin even if you have very prominent facial features.
A Panasonic Arc 5 and Arc 6 will be able to complete a shave faster than any other electric shaver (again, if your facial hair is not very long).
The Arc 4 is no slouch either and it will also be faster than other similarly priced razors from the competition (like the Braun Series 7 360 Flex) when shaving a relatively short beard.
With only 3 cutting elements, the Arc 3 obviously falls behind the more expensive Panasonic series, but its performance is more than adequate for the price.
The Panasonic Arc 5 and Arc 6 with that large and high-quality shaving head provide top-notch performance for a fast shave, even if you have a very coarse beard.
The limiting factor (for all Panasonic shavers, but even more so for the less advanced ones) is the length of the hair.
Provided you use it regularly, so the hair is relatively short, you can get a fast, smooth shave.
The Arc 6, Arc 5 and even the Arc 4 have an advantage in that regard over the 3-blade Arc 3.
5. Build quality and ergonomics
Historically, Braun always had the spotlight for build quality and industrial design innovation, especially when considering the shavers from the Dieter Rams era.
But Panasonic is right up there; in fact, the durability and build quality of their shavers, particularly the ones of the last 20 years, are in my opinion industry-leading.
The high-quality plastic, the excellent fitting and the even panel gaps, along with the high-quality shaving heads, are all details that make Panasonic shavers stand out.
Some parts even seem over-engineered compared to Braun.
For example, even an inexpensive travel shaver like the ES4815P has a pair of foil release tabs, while the foil head of a Braun Series 7 360 Flex for example is just friction fitted and you’ll have to pry it off using your fingernails.
My old Panasonic ES7036, the straight foil grandfather of the Arc 3 shavers still runs like a champ after years of use and abuse.
While the battery can’t hold a decent charge anymore, the razor works flawlessly and looks great.
In my opinion, durability is one of the strongest assets of a Panasonic shaver, regardless if it’s an Arc 3 or Arc 6.
The materials are of high quality and everything looks and feels extremely solid.
For an entry-level shaver, the build quality of the Arc 3 shavers is excellent.
In my opinion it’s even better compared to Braun’s Series 3, their direct competitor in this segment.
That’s especially the case with the LT Arc 3 models like ES-LT67.
The Arc 4 shavers can look a bit dated today as Panasonic never released any updates to this line.
Despite this, the quality is still there and they feel extremely sturdy.
My very own ES-LF51-A shows minimal signs of tarnishing after years of use:
The Arc 5 shavers have seen improvements in the build quality with every new update.
The first generation was very similar to the Arc 4 in terms of build quality and design — not a bad thing to start with at all.
The second generation Arc 5 was more adventurous with the design, while the materials looked and felt a bit more premium.
For the third generation of the Arc 5, Panasonic upped their game considerably and went for metal on several models instead of plastic for the shaver’s body.
The result is impressive, these models being the new benchmark in terms of design and build quality.
No other shaver, regardless of brand, comes close the premium feel of a metal Arc 5.
Braun should really take some notes about how a high-end shaver should look and feel.
For the price you’re paying, plastic with a high gloss chrome finish simply won’t cut it.
The Panasonic shavers with metal bodies like the ES-LV9Q or the compact ES-LV51/ES-LV70 are available globally and can even be bought for a reasonable price.
The Arc 6 is of course just as impressive in terms of build quality, although there aren’t any full-metal variations.
But even the plastic used by Panasonic looks and feels a lot better compared to the competition.
Let’s now see how the Arc models fare in the ergonomics department.
Unsurprisingly, the Arc 3 feels the most nimble out of all due to the compact size of the shaving head.
This makes them perfectly suitable for beginners.
With one or two additional blades on the Arc 4 and Arc 5 respectively, the shaving heads are large and harder to maneuver over tricky areas.
One thing worth noting is that the shaving head of the latest generation Arc 3 LT models is noticeably larger compared to the older ones.
And this is without adding other cutting elements — it’s still a 3 blade shaver. Here it is compared to a 4-blade ES-LA63 Arc 4:
The ES-LL41-K Arc 3 has a slimmer foil frame compared to an ES-LT67, making it easier to use when shaving below the nose for example.
The implementation of the pop-up trimmer is consistent throughout all the Arc series.
The cutter is located on the back and sits perpendicularly to the shaver when deployed.
On older Arc 3 and on all Arc 4 models, the trimmer is positioned lower on the shaving head.
And that is unfortunate as you can’t really see what you’re doing and the head gets in the way.
One way to get around this problem is to remove the foils and the blades before using the trimmer.
Things are better with the Arc 5 and Arc 6 models.
Despite the large number of blades, the shaving head is not that tall and the trimmer is positioned toward the foil.
Moreover, if you remove the foil frame and the two inner blades you end up with the perfect setup.
But you really don’t need to do that anymore.
And speaking of the trimmer, Panasonic shavers have hands down the best integrated hair trimmer.
It works flawlessly, it’s comfortable and very effective at cutting the hairs quickly and close to the skin.
It’s perfect for tweaking your sideburns or cutting a very stubborn flat-lying hair.
For trimming your entire beard you should definitely use a regular hair trimmer.
Finally, there’s the shaving head.
Just like the ability to catch longer and flat-lying hairs, the flexing of the shaving head has been a constant issue with all Panasonic shavers.
And despite the efforts and the really impressive flexing heads of the newer Arc 5 and Arc 6, it’s still something they need to work on.
The usually large head of a Panasonic shaver just seems to wobble excessively in practice and all that flexing is not particularly useful.
The individual cutters do move independently.
However, the range of motion is very short and it takes a lot of force to move them. In practice, you would never press the shaver that hard.
So while the build quality is top-notch, this is still an ongoing issue. I don’t think it’s a big deal and won’t affect most users that shave often.
However, it’s one of the things that prevent Panasonic shavers (including the latest Arc 5 and Arc 6) from being a suitable option for men who don’t shave often.
Braun for example has a really simple up and down flexing system even on their latest Series 9 Pro which is a lot more effective.
That, along with the extensive range of motion of the individual cutters makes them a lot more suitable for shaving longer, flat-lying hairs, especially on the neck.
They can’t match the closeness of Panasonic shavers though, so you will need to choose one depending on your needs.
6. Value for money
With Panasonic, the shavers that offer the best value for money are constantly changing.
For example, in the past, the ES8103S was a very reasonably priced Arc 3 which came with a powerful motor and some really nifty features like a percentage-based battery display.
The ES8243AA in the Arc 4 series was also a really compelling shaver as it would often be offered at the same price as an Arc 3.
These two models have been discontinued and don’t represent an option anymore.
The Arc 3 models have gotten a bit pricey and unless you can get a really good deal on one, you might as well up your budget a bit and get an Arc 4 or even an older Arc 5 like the ES-LV65.
And speaking of the latter, it’s probably the one that offers the best bang for your buck.
An older Arc 5 which is globally available, but offers the same performance as the newest models is hard to beat.
And we already know that you can upgrade the foil, so it’ll be even more similar to the more expensive and newer revisions.
Moreover, with the latest Arc 5 iterations, Panasonic actually removed some of the nicer features, like the feature-rich displays, metal bodies and even some accessories.
For example, with the newest revision J (Japan exclusive), they don’t even include the faux leather case and only offer a textile pouch.
As for the Arc 6, value for money is not among its strengths.
In fact, it’s probably the most expensive electric shaver you can currently buy.
It is arguably the best Panasonic razor, but only by the slimmest margin compared to an Arc 5 with the new style foil.
And considering the price difference, it’s difficult to recommend it over an Arc 5.
I think you should definitely wait for a good deal if you plan on getting the Arc 6.
Panasonic automatic cleaning stations: all you need to know
If you want a completely fuss-free shaving experience, an automatic cleaning & charging station can help you achieve that.
And Panasonic offers such shavers that include a cleaning base, from the Arc 3 to the Arc 6.
These stations will clean, dry, lubricate and charge your shaver automatically.
We can group Panasonic automatic cleaners into two categories.
1. The old Vortex Hydra Systems.
These stations were available with the first generation Arc 3 shavers like the ES-LT71-S, the first generation Arc 5 shavers (ES-LV81-K) and the Arc 4 shavers (ES-LA93-K).
They used the older WES035P detergent cartridges.
The older cleaning stations were quite large and took up a lot of space on your countertop. Moreover, they were noisy and would sometimes leak.
However, these models aren’t really available nowadays, which does make things simpler.
2. The new (current) stations that use detergent concentrate.
These updated models are available with the latest generation Arc 3 LT models (ES-LT7N-S), second-generation Arc 5 (ES-LV95-S) and third-generation Arc 5 (ES-LV9Q, ES-LV9E etc) and of course, the Arc 6 (ES-LS9A-K).
They use concentrated detergent packets instead of cartridges that must be mixed with water in the station’s tray.
These cleaning stations are more compact, quieter and the leaking problem was addressed entirely.
Panasonic stations use detergent for cleaning, unlike Braun which uses an alcohol-based solution.
The use of detergent is very economical and the costs associated with using the stations are reasonable.
Unlike alcohol, a detergent-based solution won’t evaporate as quickly and Panasonic’s cleaning solutions last longer before needing to be replaced.
The cleaning cycles are relatively short (10 minutes), while the drying cycles take just over one hour.
The result is a perfectly clean, dry, lubricated and fully charged razor, ready for the next shave.
You can also just dry the shaver without going through a complete cleaning cycle, which is something you cannot do with Braun or Philips stations.
So far everything points in favor of getting a Panasonic cleaning station as well.
And if you don’t mind paying more for one then you should by all means get it.
However, as I said in my comparison of the best cleaning stations, you don’t really need one with a Panasonic shaver.
Foil shavers are generally easy to clean manually and Panasonic models are the best in this regard as the blades and foils can be taken apart — except for the Arc 6.
Thoroughly cleaning your Panasonic shaver manually is a breeze and it literally takes less than a minute.
A bit of liquid soap and a thorough rinse with warm tap water is all it takes.
Moreover, Panasonic includes a so-called sonic cleaning mode with all the Arc shavers, even the entry-level Arc 3.
When activated by a long press of the ON/OFF button, the blades will oscillate extremely fast for around 20 seconds, dislodging any stubborn dirt.
So my take on Panasonic cleaning stations is this:
For the Arc 3, you should probably skip it completely.
The models that come with one cost significantly more than the ones that don’t and the shavers are dead easy to clean manually.
Not to mention that the Arc 3 is an entry-level shaver and paying a premium price doesn’t really make sense.
For the Arc 4, you should skip it completely.
The old Vortex Hydra system is the only one available with the ES-LA93-K and as we saw it has some downsides.
Moreover, the Arc 4 shavers that don’t include it, like the ES-LA63 or ES-LF51-A usually cost (a lot) less.
For the first-generation Arc 5 models, you should probably skip it.
The reasons are the same as in the case of the Arc 4 above.
For the second and third generations Arc 5 (ES-LV95-S, ES-LV9Q) that have the updated station, you can get it if you want one and it’s within your budget.
The same goes for the Arc 6.
I personally always clean my Panasonic shavers manually.
Even though the station is objectively among the best, I don’t find it necessary or as practical as a Braun station for example.
My main gripe is that a Panasonic station has the cleaning fluid in this open tray, so you must be extra careful not to tilt the station and always be extra careful when moving it.
But the biggest drawback of that design is that once you’ve dissolved the detergent in the tray, you are stuck with it.
With my Braun stations, I can simply remove the cartridge, put the cap back and store them until I need the station again.
I don’t always clean my shaver with the station after every shave, so in the meantime, there’s no need for it taking space on the sink or countertop.
There are also a lot more options for third-party, inexpensive cleaning solutions for Braun.
With Panasonic, the only alternative is Shaver Shebang and it’s not the best out there as the lubricating properties are quite poor.
As mentioned previously, the old Vortex Hydra stations use cartridges containing a detergent solution, while the newer stations use concentrated detergent gel that comes in small packets and must be mixed with water in the station’s tray.
The price of the detergent is reasonable when compared to the OEM offerings of other manufacturers like Braun.
Depending on how often you’ll be cleaning with the station, you can get away with replacing the detergent every two to three months.
Using the station once or twice a week for example would be a very good compromise that’ll minimize your costs.
This will result in a low cost of ownership if you decide to opt for a model that comes with a cleaning station.
All the stations use the same detergent packs, so there’s no difference in costs between running an Arc 3 station vs an Arc 6.
The Panasonic cleaning station is excellent, but as I already said, it is not really necessary and it’s up to you to decide if you should get it or not.
I haven’t used my Panasonic stations in years and cleaning (and lubricating) my shavers manually always worked great.
So my default recommendation is always for a model without a station, but again, nothing wrong with getting one that includes the cleaner.
But as I mentioned throughout this guide, you will need to buy such a model from the beginning.
A Panasonic shaver, regardless of family or generation, will not work with a cleaning station if it didn’t originally come with one.
Which Panasonic shaver should you buy?
The purpose of this guide was to make it easy for anyone to choose the right Panasonic shaver.
Even though there are so many models, generations and revisions available, I believe only a handful should be considered.
Things like availability, price and the similar performance of various Panasonic shavers make choosing one a lot easier.
For example, if a Japanese-exclusive Arc 5 with a premium price and limited availability shaves just like a globally available model that costs less and it’s easy to source, the choice should be pretty obvious.
I will now share what I consider to be the best Panasonic shavers depending on the user’s specific needs and budget.
1. The budget pick
In the past, this would have been the venerable ES8103S from the Arc 3 family.
It was easy to use and clean, reasonably priced and provided a close and comfortable shave.
But as of 2023, there are two problems.
First, the ES8103S isn’t available anymore.
Second, almost all other available Arc 3 shavers have gotten pricier.
The ES-LV67 or the ES-LL41-k/ES-LL21-K which are generally the Arc 3 variations to buy nowadays cost quite a lot more than let’s say a Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s.
The replacement foil and blades are also more expensive.
So my recommendation would be to buy an Arc 3 if you can get a great deal on one.
Panasonic Arc 3 ES-LT67
Otherwise, you might as well buy an Arc 4 or even an Arc 5 for not a whole lot more.
And you’ll be getting a superior shaver.
If you live in the UK, definitely check out the Arc 4 ES-RF31.
It usually costs significantly less than an Arc 3 ES-LT67 and even though it has a rotary motor, the performance is still probably the best you can get at that price.
2. The mid-range pick
Just to make things clear, by mid-range I’m referring to the price, not necessarily to the performance of the shaver.
I know, these things are usually related — the more a shaver costs, the better it performs.
But with certain Panasonic shavers, you can actually get a top-performing model for less money.
First, we have the Arc 4 models.
The ES-LF51-A is my favorite because it’s the most compact 4-blade shaver out there and it shaves incredibly close.
Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LF51-A
Alternatively, the ES-LA63AA is just as good, but the foil frame is wider which means it isn’t as nimble as the ES-LF51-A.
But overall I don’t think it’s a big issue and you should just get the one you can find at a better price.
Unfortunately these Arc 4 shavers aren’t as easy to find as they used to. In that case you should definitely consider an older Arc 5.
The Generation 2 Arc 5 models like the ES-LV65-S and ES-LV67/ES-ALV6HR can often be found at a great price.
Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S
In fact, I would recommend them over the Arc 4 because they’re a bit more comfortable and you can upgrade the foil to the newer models (with the comfort rollers).
The ES-LV65 shaves exactly the same as the ES-LV67/ES-ALV6HR, the differences being mostly related to design. They even use the exact foil and blades.
With the ES-LV65-S you can disable the shaving sensor (and always shave in full power mode) and you’re also getting a more feature-rich display.
These are the reasons why I usually prefer the ES-LV65, but overall the performance is identical, so you should just get the one that costs less (or the one you like more design-wise).
The ES-ALV6HR can also be bought at a great price and it’s essentially a red ES-L67.
Personally, I think it looks great in this unusual color for an electric razor.
Panasonic Arc 5 ES-ALV6HR
There are variations of these Arc 5 models that come with a cleaning station, namely the ES-LV95-S and ES-LV97-K.
However, those cost more and as I already said previously, the station isn’t a must-have.
If you do want it, it’s actually one of the better ones out there.
Finally, the last Arc 5 you should check out if you want a cleaning station is the ES-LV9Q.
This one is part of the Generation 3 revision C and it is in my opinion the most premium-feeling shaver that Panasonic ever made.
Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9Q
It has an all-metal body and a Smart lock function (it automatically unlocks the power button when you grab the shaver in your hand).
It comes with the new foil and an automatic cleaning station.
Even though it used to cost a lot, the price has dropped significantly, especially in Europe.
However, you can even find it in the USA for a reasonable price nowadays.
Compared to the ES-LV65 or the ES-LV67, it shaves just as close, but it is more comfortable and maybe slightly better with flat-lying hairs.
But upgrading the foil of the ES-LV65 or ES-LV67 will basically give you the same shaving performance.
So you’re getting the ES-LV9Q for the premium metal build and the cleaning station.
3. The high-end pick
If you care less about getting the best value for money and don’t mind spending more for slightly better performance or for getting the newest version, here are my picks.
First, we have the latest Arc 5 that was released globally, the Series 900.
The Panasonic Series 900 ES-LV6U comes with the latest foil iteration and it’s the most comfortable Arc 5 out there, although an older ES-LV9Q for example is extremely similar in that regard.
The closeness is however the same as in the case of the older ES-LV65 or ES-LV95.
In Europe, the Series 900 is quite reasonably priced, so I placed it in the high-end category mainly because it has a premium price tag on the North American market.
But it is the newest Arc 5 you can buy without importing a Japan-exclusive model.
I think it’s particularly appealing to European buyers.
If you live in the USA, you might as well get an ES-LV65 or ES-LV67 for a lot less and just upgrade the foil when it’s time to change it.
Alternatively, you can even get the ES-LV9Q (metal body, cleaning station) for less and in my opinion it shaves the same as the Series 900 ES-LV6U.
It’s just that it’s not as new, which in my opinion isn’t something that should matter too much.
The Arc 6 or Series 900+ as it is known in Europe is of course the model that you’ll want to get if you want the ultimate Panasonic shaver.
While I consider the Arc 5 just as capable for most users, the Arc 6 does feel like the most refined, comfortable and overkill Panasonic you can currently get.
For most users, the ES-LS8A-K will be the one to get.
It doesn’t have a cleaning station (and won’t work with one), but it’s easy to clean despite the integrated blades.
Panasonic Arc 6 ES-LS8A-K
The Arc 6 is a beast of a shaver, it will have no issue mowing through a coarse beard and give you and incredibly close and comfortable shave.
But you will still need to use it more often in order to be the most effective — I wouldn’t use it on a beard that’s more than 3 days of growth.
The large head doesn’t feel a lot larger compared to using an Arc 5, so if you’ve had an Arc 5 before, the switch will be seamless.
The ES-LS9A-K is the Arc 6 version that comes with an automatic cleaner.
Finally, the last premium model I want to mention is a very special Arc 5.
Precisely, it’s a compact 5-blade travel shaver that performs almost identically to the full-size Arc 5.
The ES-CV70 (dry only, corded & cordless) and the ES-CV51 (wet/dry, cordless only) come with a full metal body, a 14 000 CPM motor and the same foil and blades as the full-size revision C Arc 5 models.
As a result, these are the best-performing compact shavers you can buy.
But the price for getting that performance in such a compact form factor is high.
So while most of us think of an inexpensive, AA-powered travel shaver, this is the exact opposite.
The performance is phenomenal — the shaving head is however fixed, but I really didn’t find any problems with that.
If you want a no-compromise travel shaver, this is the one to have.
Actually, there is one compromise, the price. You really don’t want to forget this razor in a hotel room.
As you can see, from the plethora of Panasonic shavers you can buy, only a few really deserve to be on your shortlist.
And I’ll make it even shorter:
For most users, the best Panasonic shaver would be the Arc 5 ES-LV65 or the ES-LV67 when you can get a great deal on either.
You can even upgrade the foil to the latest revision and get most of the benefits of the latest Arc 5 models for a fraction of the price.
Importing a Panasonic shaver from Japan
I think there are two main reasons why you’d want to import a Panasonic electric razor from Japan instead of getting a globally available model.
1. You want a shaver that can work both corded and cordless
All Panasonic models released in Europe and in the USA/Canada are cordless-only models, so you cannot shave while the shaver is charging.
For some users, corded operation is a must-have feature.
There are quite a few Japanese Arc 5 models that will work corded and cordless, so that’s the only way of getting such a shaver.
2. You want the latest model
Panasonic will often ignore several markets, especially the North American one and will not officially release many of the newer iterations in the Arc 3, Arc 5 and Arc 6 series.
And some of us just really want to have the newest model, even if they’re not significantly better and they cost more.
And you will have to pay shipping and maybe even import fees on top of the price.
Apart from the latest model of the shaver, you may want the latest model of the foil (in the case of the Arc 5).
Depending on where you live, you may not be able to get that foil in your country, so you will again need to import it if you want to give your old Arc 5 a quick upgrade.
Important: the Panasonic shavers bought from Japan can be charged without any issues in the USA or Europe or anywhere in the world.
The chargers are fitted with universal voltage adapters (100–240v), so you will only need a simple (and inexpensive) plug adapter.
I’ve bought quite a few shavers from Japan over the years, mainly because they weren’t available yet in Europe or the USA.
For example, I got my Arc 6 ES-LS5A from Japan because it would be more than a year for the Arc 6 to become available globally from the initial launch.
I bought my Panasonic shavers from Amazon.co.jp as I would always find the exact model I wanted.
However, because the items couldn’t be shipped to my location in Europe, I had to use a proxy service.
One of the readers of this site suggested forward2me.com and I’ve used it successfully for the last few years.
They act as a middleman for orders from countries that won’t ship to your address.
Thus, you’re given a physical address in that country (in Japan for example) so you can order and ship the item to that address.
Once the package gets there, they will ship it to you for a reasonable fee.
You will still need to pay import taxes depending on your country’s regulations though, that is still entirely on you.
The whole process is however seamless and I’ve never had any issues, therefore I can recommend them in case you want a specific Japanese Panasonic shaver and the vendor won’t ship to your location.
I am not sponsored or endorsed by forward2me, I just happened to use this service and was quite happy with it.
I’m sure there are plenty others as well, so you can of course use a different one.
The final price of a Japanese exclusive model bought in this manner ends up being quite high, at least in my case.
New products are pricey from the get-go, so if we also factor in the shipping fees and import taxes, you’re really paying a premium.
As I said earlier, I don’t think this is the best option for most users unless you really want the newest model or a very particular one — for example, a Panasonic razor that works cordless and corded.
Otherwise, you can get the same or very similar performance from some of the older, globally available versions.
Top 5 tips for using and taking care of your Panasonic shaver
Maintaining your electric razor in top shape usually means taking care of the basics: cleaning and lubrication.
And it goes the same regardless of the shaver brand.
However, some of the things you must do are of particular importance in the case of Panasonic shavers.
Having used dozens throughout the years, here are my recommendations for making the most out of your Panasonic electric razor.
1. Clean it after every use with water and (optionally liquid soap).
If your Panasonic comes with a cleaning station, things are simple: just toss it in there and press a button.
However, you may not want to use the station after every shave.
In that case, you will need to do what everyone does with a shaver that didn’t come with a station: a manual clean.
Luckily, Panasonic shavers are among the easiest to clean manually.
The quickest and most effective way is to rinse it with warm tap water.
I am of course assuming that you own a waterproof Panasonic shaver.
Luckily, almost all of them are waterproof, except for a couple of compact travel shavers.
A quick cleaning involves taking the foil head off and rinsing it inside out with warm tap water.
You would also need to rinse the two inner blades (not the case with the Arc 6).
You don’t even need to remove them.
This routine is fine as long as you shave dry, but at least every once in a while I recommend doing a more thorough cleaning using a bit of liquid soap.
If you shave with shaving cream or gel, then you absolutely must use soap for cleaning.
Regular liquid hand soap will work perfectly fine.
Once you do the quick rinse detailed above, put the foil head back on, pour a few drops of soap on the outside of the foil, then press and hold the power button for a few seconds.
Doing so will activate the so-called Sonic cleaning mode.
You will immediately notice the change in the sound pitch and there will often be a special animation on the shaver’s display.
This cleaning mode is available on almost all Panasonic razors (except for AA-powered travel models).
When active, it makes the blades move a lot faster and dislodge hardened dirt.
It will also prevent water splashes.
Spread the soap evenly on the foils and add a few drops of water if needed.
The cleaning mode automatically turns off after 20 seconds, but you can do it sooner by pressing the power button.
You would then activate it again and rinse the foil head generously with water.
With the shaver turned off, remove the foil and give everything one final rinse.
Shake off the excess water and let everything air dry overnight with the foil head removed.
If you don’t remove the foil head, the moisture will likely not evaporate completely.
You can put the foil back on the next day then store the shaver in a cabinet or drawer.
Also, do not put the protective cap over the foil for extended periods of time or store the shaver in the travel case if you use it frequently.
Those accessories are meant to offer protection against mechanical shocks and should be used occasionally.
For example, while you’re traveling and the shaver is in your luggage.
Otherwise, the foil head will stay damp and develop a funky smell.
2. Make sure your Panasonic shaver is properly lubricated
This is one of the things that are even more important in the case of Panasonic shavers compared to let’s say Braun or Philips.
In fact, in the case of rotary Philips razors, regular lubrication is probably not even needed.
Because Panasonic uses blades machined with high precision and very tight tolerances, proper lubrication is extremely important.
Moreover, those blades can oscillate at 14 000 CPM (compared to 10 000 CPM in the case of most Braun razors), so there’s a lot of friction.
If the moving parts lack lubrication, they will get uncomfortably hot, the metal will wear out faster and your shave will be less close and less comfortable.
Panasonic includes a small bottle of lubricating oil with some shavers, but if yours didn’t come with any, you can use clipper oil like the one from Wahl or Oster.
It’s really the same stuff — highly refined mineral oil (paraffin).
Alternatively, a spray lubricant for clippers or shavers will also work wonderfully.
The best I ever used was the Remington Shaver Saver.
Sadly, it’s been discontinued.
You can however use other brands like the Andis CoolCare Plus.
So how often should you lubricate your Panasonic razor?
In my opinion, once or twice a week should suffice if you clean your shaver with water (no soap).
If you always clean the shaver with water and soap, then you should lubricate it after every cleaning — just make sure the foil and blades are dry before applying the oil or spray.
Also, if you use a spray like the aforementioned Andis, allow the product to dry before shaving, you don’t want it on the skin.
That’s not an issue if you use a lubricating oil — you can proceed to shave immediately.
Oiling a Panasonic shaver is really straightforward.
You just put a drop or two of oil on the outside of each shaving element, then turn the shaver on for a few seconds to spread the oil evenly.
Gently pat any excess with a paper towel and you’re all set, you can now shave as usual.
If you use a spray, make sure you spray the inner part of the foil as well and also the removable blades. Let the product air dry and then you can shave as usual.
All this discussion about lubrication concerns you if you don’t have or don’t use a cleaning station.
Panasonic’s cleaning solution also lubricates the blades, so if you use the station regularly — like twice a week — there’s no need for additional (manual) lubrication.
For a very thorough overview, you can check out my guide on how and when to lubricate an electric shaver.
3. Never store your shaver in direct sunlight or a very hot environment
This goes for any appliance with an internal (rechargeable) battery.
Heat is the number one enemy of batteries, so if you want to use your Panasonic shaver for many years, make sure you always store it in a cool, shaded place.
A bathroom cabinet or drawer would be perfect.
4. Make sure your Panasonic shaver has enough charge before you start shaving
I’ve noticed that when the battery charge drops past a certain point (roughly 30%), the performance of a Panasonic shaver will take a hit.
And it’s not just with the lower-end models — an Arc 5 or Arc 6 will do the same.
Precisely, that high-output motor that moves the blades blazingly fast won’t function at peak power — despite what the manufacturer says.
So in order to make to most out of it, I recommend not letting the charge drop below 30% or 20% (this is also good for the battery lifespan).
Charging your shaver more often will not affect battery life in time, that was a thing back in the day.
Modern rechargeable batteries can be safely charged at any time.
This power drop when the charge is low is again something I don’t really notice with some other shaver brands — Philips or Braun.
There are a few reasons for that in my opinion.
- There’s more friction between the blades and foil of a Panasonic, so the shaver needs maximum power to move the blades
- A Panasonic shaver usually has more blades than a Braun, so again it needs more power
- Panasonic uses smaller batteries compared to Braun and Philips
In short, always make sure you have enough charge to get the absolute best performance out of a Panasonic electric razor.
If you have one of the corded&cordless models, that obviously won’t be an issue as you can always shave with the cord for maximum power.
5. Shave more often and use a pre-shave lotion
Most men will benefit from doing so with any shaver, but the improvements should be even more significant when using a Panasonic.
A longer beard will make things more difficult, so you’ll want to shave every two to three days at most.
A Panasonic electric razor is ideal for shaving daily or every other day.
A pre-shave lotion will make shaving faster, more comfortable and closer, so definitely consider using one.
My favorite pre-shave is from the brand Speick and I highly recommend it.
Finally, if you’re not totally against using shaving cream or gel, give wet shaving a try. You will probably get the closest and most comfortable shave ever.
When you shouldn’t buy a Panasonic shaver (and what to get instead)
I consider Panasonic electric razors to be some of the best you can currently buy.
And in certain aspects, they really are the best: closeness, build quality, technology (motors, blades).
But a Panasonic shaver won’t always be the best option for everyone.
Depending on your needs, budget, beard and skin type, you may be better off with a different brand.
Here are three such cases.
1. When your budget is low and want an inexpensive shaver with the lowest costs of ownership
For the past couple of years, the prices throughout the entire range of Panasonic shavers have gotten up.
Even the entry-level Arc 3 models, especially with the introduction of the LT generation (ES-LT67), aren’t exactly budget-friendly.
Add to that the cost of the foil and blades and things can get costly.
There can be exceptions, like the ES-LL21-K and ES-RF31 which are very reasonably priced in Europe.
But generally, if you want an inexpensive, decent foil shaver that also has a low cost of ownership (replacement heads), you may want to consider other options.
For example, the Braun Series 3 ProSkin, with models like the 3040s, fares a lot better in that regard.
It usually costs a lot less than let’s say an Arc 3 ES-LT67, the replacement head also costs less and it generally lasts longer as well.
Granted, it’s not as impressive as the Panasonic which feels like a more premium product, but if value for money is your priority, it makes more sense to get the Braun.
It doesn’t shave quite as close, but it is a bit gentler to the skin and also slightly better with longer, flat-lying hairs.
The hair trimmer of the Braun is nowhere near as good but at least it has one.
The Philips Norelco Series 3000 is another option worth considering and for the same reasons: purchase price and cost of ownership.
Rotary heads tend to last longer than foils.
Do keep in mind that for most users, a rotary isn’t able to provide the same closeness as a good foil shaver.
It is however a lot better at catching longer hairs, so a rotary can be a good option if you shave less often.
The comfort used to be a problem as well, but Philips improved it significantly with the more recent shavers.
2. If your skin is very sensitive and prone to getting razor bumps
The newer Panasonic shavers in the Arc 5 family (the new foils, to be precise) and the Arc 6 are very comfortable and gentle and will even work for users with sensitive skin.
But the older Arc 5 foils (included with the ES-LV65 or ES-LV67), as well as some Arc 4 and Arc 3 shavers can be too aggressive for someone with very sensitive skin.
Shaving wet with a quality shaving cream can improve the comfort a lot, but most men will prefer to shave dry.
If you’re getting razor bumps and irritation constantly, such a Panasonic shaver that also cuts the hair very close to the skin is probably not ideal.
If you don’t have the budget for an Arc 5 or Arc 6, a Braun foil shaver could again be a better option.
Depending on your budget, a Series 3 ProSkin, Series 8 or Series 9 will generally be more comfortable and better suited for someone with very sensitive skin.
And since Braun shavers don’t cut the hair that close to the skin, the risk of razor bumps will also be reduced.
3. If you don’t shave often and have difficult facial hair
Panasonic electric shavers excel at cutting short hair close to the skin.
Whenever they need to tackle a different (more difficult) type of beard, things won’t always go so smoothly.
For example, if the hair is longer (you shave once or twice a week) and stays flat on the skin or it grows in multiple directions.
In that case, shaving with a Panasonic will require more work and multiple passes to capture all the hairs.
Not even the newest 5 and 6 blades models aren’t great at this.
A 3-blade Braun Series 8 for example does a better job on this type of facial hair.
Even though an Arc 4 or Arc 5 can shave closer, they’re not as effective at capturing difficult hairs.
The ideal use case for a Panasonic shaver involves someone who shaves often and has facial hair that grows relatively straight.
Otherwise, a Braun razor like the aforementioned Series 8 or a Series 9/9 Pro will, at least in theory, be better.
A rotary will also work impressively well on difficult hair, but for most users, a Braun foil shaver will be a safer choice.
Rotaries don’t shave as close and you may need more time to get used to one.
If you’ve managed to get to the very end of this guide, I commend you and I appreciate your patience.
Writing a Panasonic buying guide was probably the most challenging of all due to the large number of shaver models and generations.
But I truly hope that you now have a better perspective of the differences between them and you know which one would make more sense for you to buy.
Shavers get discontinued and released all the time, so I will update the post regularly.
You can simply come back and refer to it whenever you need to know something specific about a particular Panasonic razor.
And if you can’t find that in the post above, make sure to leave a comment below.