Electric shaver buying guide
Say goodbye to nicks and cuts.
Say goodbye to nicks and cuts.
Sick and tired of arriving at work late covered in scratches from a hasty shave with your old manual razor? Here’s what to look for and tips for getting the best shave.
Foil shavers are the earlier technology, and use an oscillating blade like a barber’s shaver covered by a curved metal foil.
Our tests show foil shavers give a closer, more precise shave than rotary models. But they can struggle with long, thick or uneven hair, and their rectangular shape means it can be difficult dealing with facial contours (though some foil models have a head that pivots in three dimensions). They’re best for those who shave every day or two. If they’re used every day they’ll need new foils every 6-10 months and new blades every couple of years.
Rotary shavers use rotating razor blades covered by pivoting circular heads, making them easier to manoeuvre around tricky areas like the jawline and neck.
They don’t shave quite as closely as foil models but better for long, thick or uneven growth. Rotary models are a good option if you often go several days without shaving. They also require less maintenance than foil shavers, with new heads only required every 2-4 years.
Wet+dry shavers can handle a ‘wet’ shave with foam, lotion or a soapy face. Be aware that many models labelled wet+dry can’t handle shower use or immersion under a tap.
Waterproof shavers can be used in the shower and washed under a running tap.
Batteries: most models now use a Lithium ion (Li-ion) rechargeable battery, which are lighter and recharge faster than Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) cells (Li-ion cells usually only take around an hour to recharge from flat, as oppose to 4-8 hours for NiMH). Most shavers can be operated on the mains as well, but shaving with the cord is only meant to be a back-up measure, in case the battery runs out.
Ease of use: choose a model that's easy to clean and comfortable to hold. If it has a separate blade for trimming beards and sideburns, make sure your view isn't obstructed when you use it. Cleaning is easier and quicker if the shaver can be washed under a tap, rather than brushed out.
Cleaning stations: are becoming common on high-end shavers. They’re a dock filled with cleaning liquid which cleans your shaver at the touch of a button. Some models also features sonic cleaning mode which enable more thorough cleaning when you run them underwater.
Trimmers: are intended for keeping sideburns in check or maintaining that 3-day shadow look.
Wet shavers: if you feel that a lather gives a better shave, or you like to save time by shaving in the shower, look for a "wet and dry" shaver. These can't be used on mains power, and have a charging stand.
Washable models: cleaning out electric shavers can be a messy and fiddly job. A "washable" shaver will be easy to clean, as you can just run it under the tap, but may not be intended for wet shaves.
Travel case: a pouch is easier to pack than a hard case when you're travelling. If your model has a charging stand or power pack, make sure it will fit into the travel case. Also handy for travelling shavers is a locking on/off switch (it ensures the power switch remains "off"), and a shaving head cover to protect the foil or cutters.
Indicators: a rechargeable shaver should warn you when it is about to run out of power. It's also handy to have a charging light (so you can be sure you've plugged it in properly), and a more precise display of the charge level. Other indicators may include a light to warn you that the foil or cutters need replacing, or the shaver needs cleaning.
Docking station: this can provide a convenient base to recharge your shaver and can also incorporate a cleaning solution.
Conditioner dispensing system: dispenses shaving conditioner onto the skin while shaving.
Price: when shopping for shavers it also pays to look around. Many shavers seem to spend more time on sale than at their nominal retail price, so if you don’t like the current price you can often wait a month or so for it to come on sale.