The 10 Best Electric Shavers
10. Remington F5-5800
9. Panasonic Arc 3
8. Philips Norelco 3100
7. Braun ProSkin
6. Panasonic ES-LF51
5. Norelco 7500
4. Insmart Razor
3. Braun Series 5-565cc
2. Braun Series 7 7865cc
1. Panasonic Arc 5
A Quality Foil Makes The Difference
If you're a fan of the Batman canon and its animated series from the 90s in particular, you'll recognize this image as that of Mr. Harvey Dent, Gotham's former District Attorney, after his accident turned him into "Two-Face." What makes Two-Face such a compelling character in the Batman lore is the incredible similarity between Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne, Batman's true identity.
After all, both men suffer tragic loss that warps their personalities irrevocably, and both men operate outside the law to satisfy the friction between their dual selves. In Dent's situation, his very appearance is a constant reminder of his, and Batman's, internal division.
All this nonsense is to say that Two-Face is the perfect foil for Batman. And in the world of electric shavers, if you don't have a quality foil, you've got nothing. Power shavers all have blades, and those blades move at incredible rates of speed. They've gotten faster and stronger as their technology has developed. If you simply let those blades run rampant across your skin, you'd end up looking a lot like our friend Harvey.
So, in designing electric razors, manufacturers developed extremely thin pieces of perforated foil that catch your facial hair and guide it toward the cutting surface while keeping your skin a safe distance from the blades. This foil has gotten thinner and stronger throughout the years, allowing it to last longer, while getting the surface of your face micrometers closer to the blades, which ensures a closer and closer shave.
The Myth Of Too Thick
I come from a long line of shaver destroyers. In the 1950s, my grandfather's whiskers clogged and tore up the thin foil coverings surrounding his blades, turning those smaller early motors into paper weights. This generally ruined the hope that anyone in my family could ever enjoy the convenience of an electric shave. Of course, this was a man who took his oatmeal with a shot of bourbon. Harder times, I suppose.
My father's situation was much the same, and I recall, as a child, going in with my sister on what seemed like a high quality power shaver for his birthday. He wouldn't even take it out of the box; he said he'd tried them before and they'd all broken. I know I inherited those same vicious whiskers within a beard so dense that, when paired with longer hair and a good pair of aviator sunglasses, you can't see any skin on my face.
But I also know how much the technology has improved in the past 25 years, and I can attest to the close, quality shave I've had from from a quality shaver. It is worth noting, however, that there's something about the rotary design–the shavers with the three pivoting heads–that suits my shaving schedule better.
If you're a daily shaver, required to hover around no more than a 5 o'clock, or maybe 8 o'clock shadow at the office, the straighter profile of the other foil shavers will probably be your best bet. In my case, I shave every three to four days, enjoying the light stubble look until it begins to look a tad vagrant. I find that, for one reason or another, I get a quicker shave on that longer scruff from the rotary style.
So, if you know your routine, you can narrow the list down rather significantly. From there, it's a matter of price and features, as all these five shavers will get you clean.
Shaving With The Sharks
Although we've been shaving one way or another since prehistory, using shark teeth, clam shells, flint, and other found objects, it wouldn't be until the late 1920s that an Army man named Jacob Schick would come around to conceptualize the electric shaver.
Early visions of the shaver relied on an outboard motor the size of a grapefruit, and it was such a monster Schick couldn't find anybody to help him make it. As these things go, once he refined his idea and got some money behind it, it became quite the success, inspiring competitive designs that still define the market as we know it to be today. Philips Laboratories, for example, developed their system of rotary blades on the heels of Schick's success, and it's still their primary design.
Once sealed, battery operated designs allowed for wet and dry use, cleaning and maintenance became easier and sales skyrocketed. Today, manufacturers' focus is on comfort and quiet, building electric razors that work faster and more silently, without the kind of irritation that plagued their predecessors. It's a lineup that, superficially, appears to have changed little over the years, but that has–consistently, if slowly–evolved into an excellent product.