Rotary or foil? Corded or cordless? Wet or dry? Read our expert advice to help you find the best electric shaver for you and your budget.
The best electric shavers will give you a close shave in next to no time as well as leaving your skin smooth and unblemished.
But electric shavers can be very expensive, and not all will give you such a close or comfortable shave. Plus, there are a host of extra features to choose from when buying an electric shaver. As well as deciding if you’d prefer a foil or rotary model, you should also consider whether you’ll need a quick-charge function, a beard comb or a model that can be used in the shower.
Our tips below will help you decide if you want an electric shaver, and if you do, which type of shaver will best suit your needs.
Once you’ve decided what type is best for you, take a look at our electric shaver reviews to discover the models that Which? recommends.
What are the pros and cons of electric shaving?
Speed In our most recent consumer survey, 67% of you said that using your electric shaver is quicker than a wet razor
Convenience You don’t need water or gel, so you don’t need to be in the bathroom (although many electric shavers can also be used wet if you prefer). Electric shaving is less messy.
Holidays You can carry a shaver in your hand luggage and some will stay charged for up to three weeks, long enough for a stubble-free holiday or business trip.
Electric shavers can be expensive Although you can pick up an electric shaver for less than £30, a top-end shaver with extra features can cost more than £300.
The foils or heads need to be replaced every two years or so, which will typically set you back £15-£40.
Not as close as a razor blade
What types of electric shaver are there?
Foil shavers have straight heads that use oscillating blades beneath a fine perforated foil to cut hair. Braun and Panasonic electric shavers have foil heads, as do some Remington models. You can find as many as five cutting elements on the head of a foil shaver, but three of four is more typical. More cutting elements don’t necessarily mean a closer shave, though. Our tests haven’t shown any difference in shaving performance between foil and rotary shavers, so deciding which to go for is really a case of personal preference.
This type of electric shaver usually has three circular heads that rotate to lift and then cut stubble captured by the outer, stationary guard. All Philips electric shavers and some Remington models have rotary heads. The heads on a rotary shaver usually flex inwards, which in principle should allow you to make easier work of shaving around the contours of your face. Opinion is divided over which type is best. Our lab tests have uncovered models of both types that excel at shaving and are comfortable enough to earn our Best Buy recommendation, so we believe it’s largely a matter of personal preference.
Mains rechargeable shavers
Mains rechargeable shavers can be used while they’re plugged into the mains or cordless. The mains option is useful if you forget to charge up your shaver before you need to use it.
Most other shavers, including all ‘wet and dry’ models, are rechargeable and have to be used cordless. This gives you more freedom to move around while you shave, but means you can’t use them while it’s charging. Electric shavers that can be used wet are always cordless to ensure that you can’t plug them in while you’re in the shower.
Mains shavers aren’t rechargeable and need to be plugged in to work. These days, mains only models tend to be basic, entry-level shavers.
Electric shaver prices range from £13 to over £280. Our reviews can help you save money by showing you the models worth paying more for and the ones that will leave you frustrated and out of pocket. We’ve found Best Buy electric shavers for less than £60.
What shaver features should I look out for?
Some electric shavers come with a pop-up trimmer that means you don’t have to swap gadgets to complete your grooming regime. You may have to pay a little more for one, but it’ll save you time in front of the mirror, as you won’t have to stop and hunt around for a separate attachment midway through your routine.
Wet and dry
This means the electric shaver can also be used in the shower with foam or gel. For those with sensitive skin this is a good feature to look out for if you’re eager to avoid rash or irritation. Wet shaves tend to be a little bit closer, too.
If you want to maintain a beard or other facial hair, look for a shaver that includes a comb attachment to help keep your goatee at the perfect length.
Waterproof electric shavers
As well as dry use, some cordless electric shavers can be used with gel or shaving foam. The theory is that this gives you the best of both worlds – wet and dry shaving. Some can even be taken into the shower – so you can kill two birds with one stone. But always read the instructions before getting your shaver wet, as not all are suitable for use in this way.
Some top-of-the-range cordless shavers have a digital countdown display that shows you how many minutes of shaving time you have left before you’ll need to recharge it. Other shavers have green or red indicator lights or bars to show you when your shaver is charging, fully charged, how much charge is left and whether the battery needs topping up.
The electric shavers with the best batteries will provide enough power for over twenty shaves at about five minutes a time, while the worst we’ve tested will lose their charge in half that time. You should also look out for a useful quick-charge function, which can help spare your blushes if the battery dies mid-shave.
Many cordless shavers have a quick-charge feature, so you can plug yours in before you hop in the shower and it will be ready for you to have a shave when you come out.
In 2017, Philips introduced the world’s first ‘smart’ electric shaver. It uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone app that can provide you with real time feedback on your shaving technique. The aim is to help tackle skin irritation issues such as redness, ingrown hairs and soreness.
How do I clean my shaver?
Most electric shavers need cleaning to get rid of cut hair and skin particles. You can do this manually by brushing or by tapping the stubble out, but you’ll also find that many shavers can be cleaned under a running tap. Always read the instructions before getting your shaver wet, though, as not all can be cleaned in this way.
Some top-of-the-range shavers come with a cleaning station, that cleans, lubricates, dries and charges your shaver all at the same time. Simply pop your shaver into the base unit and relax. Although most shavers aren’t particularly difficult to keep clean, this feature can save you the hassle of taking apart the shaver to give it a deep clean every week or so – all you need to do is replace the cleaning cartridges from time to time.
Refills can be bought online or at larger chemists, and typically cost £4-£8 for a cartridge that should provide up to 30 cleaning cycles.
For more information on how to keep your electric shaver in great condition read our full guide on how to clean and maintain an electric shaver. 18 months How long your foil shaving head should continue to give you a close shave.
How can I make sure I get the best shave?
Pull your skin taut: This will allow the shaver to get up close and personal with your hairs.
Stretch your top lip over your teeth: This gives a close shave under your nose.
Moisturise: Use an after-shaving moisturiser to keep your skin in tip top condition.
Replace shave heads regularly: To maintain a close shave, change the heads every 18 months for foils and every two years for rotaries.
Shaving different hair textures
From the risk of nicks to razor burn, shaving comes with a set of problems that all men face. But for those with coarser, curlier facial hair, which many Black men have, shaving presents another tricky issue: razor bumps. Razor bumps form when hairs that have been cut close to the skin curl back in as they’re regrowing and become ingrown.
The ingrown hairs can lead to painful bumps and irritation, which rules out shaving for a few days at least. At worst, these ingrown hairs can become infected and eventually lead to scarring.
Razor bumps tend to be more of an issue when wet shaving, as cutting hairs right at skin level in pursuit of a smooth finish increases the chance of them developing. So, an electric shaver can be a great alternative to wet shaving for Black men in particular, as these shavers won’t cut the hair as close to the skin, lessening the chance of ingrown hairs and bumps developing.
When looking for the right type to use, one with a foil cutting mechanism is typically recommended for Black men with coarser facial hair. These cut the hairs a bit straighter than rotary shavers, which can help to reduce the chance of them becoming ingrown.
The cutting mechanism of rotary shavers – twisting and lifting before cutting – can leave the stubble slightly curled at the end. Curled ends can increase the likelihood of ingrown hairs developing, and if your facial hair already tends to curl, this isn’t going to help.