Panasonic ES-SL41-S Review: Should You Buy It?

Review Summary

Pros: good build quality, compact and lightweight, comfortable, nimble shaving head, quiet, excellent protective cap, wet & dry use, doesn’t get warm during use

Cons: slow motor, shaving takes a lot of time, doesn’t shave as close as other Arc 3 shavers, can only be charged via the bulky stand, no information display, no low battery indicator, charging takes a lengthy 15 hours, small battery capacity (21 minutes), no quick charge mode, pricey

Our Rating:

[2.5 out of 5 stars]

Buy the Panasonic Arc 3 ES-SL41-S

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The ES-SL41-S is part of the entry-level Arc 3 line from Panasonic, arguably one of the best series of budget-oriented electric shavers.

This particular model is however more affordable than other Arc 3 variations, which makes it quite appealing to the potential buyer.

But is it really offering better value for money or are there some serious compromises that you should know about?

Well, in this review we’ll put the Panasonic ES-SL41-S through its paces and find out if it lives up to the expectations.

Let’s get started!

Features overview

Important: The Panasonic ES-SL41-A is identical to the ES-SL41-S, the only difference being that it comes in a blue color scheme instead of silver. So this review will be relevant in the case of the blue ES-SL41-A as well.

Here are the most noteworthy features of the Panasonic ES-SL41-S:

3 blade cutting system

The shaver uses the familiar 3 blade setup of the Arc 3 family, with a slightly arched profile of the shaving head that ensures optimal contact with the skin, thus increasing the closeness of the shave.


The two inner blades are the same excellent 30 degrees nanoblades that Panasonic uses for all its shavers.

Panasonic es-sl41 blades

7600 CPM linear motor

Upon glancing over the shaver’s specs this was the first thing that caught my eye as a potential red flag. And that’s because most Arc 3 shavers are fitted with 13 000 CPM units.

This is a significant difference in power and at least on paper, the motor used for the ES-SL41-S looks like a solid downgrade.

We’ll see how this impacts the actual shaving experience in the performance section of the review.

Cordless, wet & dry operation

This is also common for Panasonic as pretty much all the shavers in its lineup are waterproof and feature cordless only operation.

Pop-up trimmer

The ES-SL41-S has a built-in pop-up trimmer located on the back of the shaver, useful for light grooming and touch-ups.

Panasonic es-sl41 trimmer.

In what I can only describe as a cost-savings decision, the Panasonic ES-SL41-S doesn’t feature any type of information display, not even a basic LED light for low battery warning.

Also, the shaving head lacks any pivoting capabilities of other Arc 3 shavers. The 3 floating cutting elements can however move independently.

Build quality and ergonomics

The ES-SL41-S is entirely made of plastic and the build quality is generally solid.

The fit and finish are more than satisfactory for an entry-level shaver and it will probably stand the test of time without any issues.

Panasonic es-sl41 front.

The silver and dark blue color scheme is also aesthetically pleasing.

The ES-SL41-S is surprisingly hefty for its compact size, but it’s well balanced and doesn’t feel top heavy.

Here it is alongside the Panasonic ES-LF51-A Arc 4 (you can clearly see the difference in size, especially in the case of the shaving head):

The dark blue part of the shaver looks like rubber, but it’s actually a softer plastic with a matte finish. It has dimples to help with a more secure grip, but it doesn’t seem to work very well as the whole surface is quite slippery.

Panasonic es-sl41 back view.

The slim handle does compensate for the lack of grip and allows you to wrap your hand securely around the shaver during use.

The shaving head is very compact in size; as a result, it feels very nimble and maneuverable.

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Another minor inconvenience is the ON/OFF button. It is made out of soft rubber and feels mushy when pressed. Also, it has quite a lot of travel and this doesn’t help either.

A nice piece of thoughtful design is the protective cap. It covers not only the shaving head, but extends past the ON/OFF switch and acts as a travel lock.

Panasonic es-sl41 protective cap

Moreover, the cap features cutouts that allow water to drain when placed upright and air to circulate.

Battery life and charging

This is the part of this Panasonic ES-SL41-S review where we encounter the first serious problem with this shaver.

As mentioned previously, it can only be used cordless. However:

  • Charging takes a whopping 15 hours;
  • A fully charged battery can only provide 21 minutes of shaving time;
  • There isn’t a quick charge option.

To make matters worse, the shaver can only be charged via the bulky stand. You cannot plug the cable directly into the shaver as it’s normally the case with shavers that also offer a charging stand.

This is pretty bad in terms of practicality.

The compact size of the ES-SL41-S would normally be a compelling reason to use it as a travel/mobile shaver, but it’s not a viable option due to the small battery capacity and particularly the large and heavy charging stand that you’ll be forced to carry around.

The charging stand that comes with the Panasonic ES-SL41-S.
The charging stand that comes with the Panasonic ES-SL41-S.

Finally, there’s no low battery indicator on the shaver to at least let you know when the shaver is about to run out of juice. And since the battery can only last for less than half the industry standard, this is a major issue.

The LED on the charging stand glows red as the shaver charges (and it really takes its time).

Panasonic es-sl41 charging

To sum it up, as far as battery and practicality go, things don’t look too good for the ES-SL41-S.

Cleaning and maintenance

I find Panasonic shavers to be the easiest to clean manually out of all manufacturers.

And that’s the case with ES-SL41-S too.

Due to the fact that it is fully waterproof and you can take apart the shaving head completely, separating the foil from the frame and the two inner blades, you can perform a very thorough cleaning without the need for a cleaning station.

Panasonic es-sl41 shaving head cleaning.

You can use the included brush to remove the bulk of hair clippings from the blades and the inner part of the shaving head. However, do not use it directly on the foils as they are very sensitive and can be damaged.

You can also rinse the foils and the blades with tap water, pat them dry, then let them air dry.

Panasonic es-sl41 cleaning with water.

Every once in a while it is recommended to use a bit of liquid soap for cleaning. If you use the razor with shaving cream, then I strongly recommend doing so after every use.

The Panasonic ES-SL41-S features two slots that can be open and closed (pictured below) that supposedly let water drain when washing the shaving head under tap water — so you won’t have to take remove the foil frame I suppose.

I think you should definitely take it off and rinse the inner blades too; this is just a gimmick with no real use and Panasonic should have in turn fit the razor with a low battery indicator for example.

Also, the Sonic mode that’s present on the newer Arc 3 shavers and the more advanced Panasonic (like the Arc 4 and Arc 5) was also left out.

The Sonic mode makes the blades oscillate at very high speed for 20 seconds which helps to dislodge any dirt or dried shaving cream. It also prevents water splashes.

But even so, cleaning this shaver is as easy as it gets.

Shaving performance

So will the Panasonic ES-SL41-S make up for its shortcomings by providing an excellent shaving performance?

I’m not gonna mess about this. It won’t.

I will start with the good parts (yes, there are still a few).

First, shaving with the ES-SL41-S is very comfortable and smooth.

The head remains perfectly cool even after prolonged use. And this was one of the culprits of other Arc 3 shavers. The foils and particularly the middle trimmer can get quite warm during use.

Luckily, that’s not the case with this one.

Secondly, the slim and compact shaving head is very nimble and you can get into the nooks and crannies with ease. Shaving right under your nose or around the sideburns is a non-issue.

Finally, the ES-SL41-S is remarkably quiet for a foil shaver. But this is probably due to the sluggish motor that was fitted to it. And this leads us to the negatives.

The Panasonic ES-SL41-S can only provide a sub-mediocre shave.

Even with a fully charged battery and one day of beard growth, it feels gutless and underpowered. And don’t even think about using this shaver on longer stubble.

Completing a shave takes a very long time and it simply cannot shave close enough. If I run my hand over my face right after shaving I can clearly feel the stubble. Instant 5 o’clock shadow.

In terms of closeness, this was one of the worst-performing shavers I have used lately, pretty much on the same level as shaving with mobile/travel shaver.

The pop-up trimmer did the job fine, but again, slower than other similarly priced shavers.

Its placement on the back of the shaver still means that it will be obscured by the shaving head, but you can get around this inconvenience by removing the foil and blades:

Panasonic es-sl41trimmer.

Overall, a very disappointing shaving experience.

Included accessories

The retail package is pretty standard for an entry-level shaver.

Panasonic es-sl41 accessories.

Inside you’ll find the following items:

  • ES-SL-41 electric shaver
  • Charging stand
  • Protective plastic cap
  • Cleaning brush

You can also watch my short unboxing video here:

Replacement parts availability

The ES-SL41-S uses the Panasonic WES9013PC replacement inner blades and foil.


See the price on Amazon

They are widely available but they are pretty pricey for an entry-level electric shaver. A Braun Series 3 ProSkin replacement head for example will be cheaper.

Wrapup — Who should buy the ES-SL41-S?

Well, no one. This is quite harsh and bluntly put, but I cannot think of a single compelling reason for anyone to buy this shaver.

This is actually only the second razor that got this treatment here after the Remington XF8700.

I feel like Panasonic cut too many corners with this shaver and there are other options out there that are significantly better and cost pretty much the same.

Alternative shavers

The first obvious alternative is the Panasonic ES8103S from the same Arc 3 line.

ES81103S held in hand.

It features a mighty 13 000 CPM linear motor, the battery lasts for 45 minutes and it takes only one hour to fully charge. And yes, it has a low battery indicator.

In terms of shaving performance, it blows the ES-SL41-S out of the water. And it costs the same or even less if you can find it at a discount.

Unfortunately, this is an older model that’s really difficult to buy nowadays.

Alternatively, you can consider a couple of newer Arc 3 models like the ES-LL41-K or ES-LT67.

These are readily available and the shaving performance is identical to the discontinued ES8103S.

The Arc 4 electric shavers are extremely capable and due to the fact that they have been around for quite some time, you can now find them at bargain prices.

They have 4 cutting elements, improved pivoting of the shaving head and fast 13 000 or even 14 000 CPM motors.

The ES8243AA Arc 4 is an excellent choice.

Other options include the ES-LF51-A (pretty difficult to find nowadays) or the ES-LA63AA.

All of them cost more than the ES-SL41-S in this review, but the difference in performance is night and day.

Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s

Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s

See the price on Amazon

Finally, we have the Series 3 from Panasonic’s main competitor, Braun. This is another excellent budget foil shaver.

It is similarly priced to the ES-SL41-S, at least in the USA, but the performance is clearly superior.

Moreover, it has all the common sense features you’d expect from a decent shaver. And the replacement shaving head is very reasonably priced and lasts longer than the industry standard of 12 months. You can read the full review here.

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Hey. I’m Ovidiu, the founder and editor of ShaverCheck. I independently buy and test electric shavers and I’ve been sharing my findings on this site for more than 10 years, hopefully helping others choose a suitable shaver.

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13 thoughts on “Panasonic ES-SL41-S Review: Should You Buy It?”

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  1. I recently purchased this razor in China for the equivalent of US$25 and disagree with almost every one of your comments except the charging time but if you replace it on the charger stand after each use this would not be a problem. I bought it to replace my 18 month old Philishave AT790 which in South Africa costs abut $67. If you really want to slag-off a shaver that does not give a close shave then any Philishave will do. It is also incredibly difficult to clean. I have had various Panasonic shavers over the years, the last one about 7 years ago and which, at the time, cost almost $200. The performance of the SL41 is as good as any of the more expensive Panasonics that I have owned. Whether it will last as long as the others remains to be seen but I can afford to replace it 7 times over for the price of the last Panasonic I bought

    • Thank you for your comment, Rob. Shaving is very personal and my reviews are based on anecdotal findings after using a particular shaver. And the SL41 is by far the worst Panasonic I have ever used. I own and use quite a few on a regular basis and even the original Arc 3 models are far superior. Just the fact that they use a motor that’s almost twice as fast says a lot about the performance. And these are not just numbers on the specs sheet, the difference between them is night and day. I’ve read many user reviews of the SL41 after my own tests and in many cases the results were similar to mine. For $25 I guess it is decent, but in the USA it costs more than an Arc 3. If it works great for you then by all means continue using it.


  2. I made the mistake of getting this as an affordable replacement. I can confirm every single point of this negative review. This thing is useless! I usually have to shave the excess (more than one day’s growth) with another shaver first, and then use this one for the nooks and crannies. Using it on longer growth either does nothing, or gets yanked (ouch!). It is useless for shaving my head as well. Testing with a new blade, I counted the number of passes over a patch before it did anything, and it was a few hundred. Perhaps the product engineers should be ashamed of this one, or perhaps Panasonic for possibly cutting so many corners as to release such a subpar machine.

    • I am sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience. This shaver is just plain bad and most users seem to be on the same page with regards to its performance. However, don’t let this steer you away completely from Panasonic shavers. There are quite a few fantastic models out there, some of them mentioned at the end of this review.


  3. Well, I should have chanced upon your review prior to purchasing this lemon! It will now reside in my “shave graveyard” of emergency electric shavers. On the strength of one of your reviews and others, I will soon be getting a Braun 7, which seems to be a nice balance of performance and price point. I suppose you are right that I cannot malign Panasonic entirely given that they do have some incredible shavers, but the fact they released that one certainly caused me to question brand loyalty in this case.

    And thank you, Ovidiu, for your reviews. If they help steer us toward products that perform much better, it also spares us a lot of excess time in shaving! 🙂

    • Hi Bjørn,

      I would try to reach out to Panasonic in Norway or better yet, order the part online from Amazon.


  4. I made the unfortunate mistake of buying this “Wet/Dry” shaver four years ago. My first ever electric shaver was some twenty years ago when my parents bought me a Philips rotary shaver (it was a really cheap one that was connected to a cord) and the thing gave me an unpleasant skin burn/ rash.

    That ultimately put me off every electric shaver there was and I was happy using the Wilkinson’s Sword/ Mach 3 turbo razors for the next fifteen years until I grew tired of spending >ten minutes shaving. Being put off by the Philips (and rotary shavers as a whole), I went into the local electronics store and saw this bad boy on the shelf for all $448 HKD (that’s roughly forty five British pounds) and as I was apprehensive about the risk of having another rash after use, I plumped for this one as I saw that the box stated that it could be used in the shower (thus eliminating my fear of said rash).

    I did notice that the shaver needed to charge for well over twelve hours, but such was my fear for “the rash” that I overlooked this and also the bookend that served as a charging base (I had nothing to compare all those years).

    The shaving quality was good (as I had nothing to compare) but as the years grew and so did my shaving time, I got more and more disappointed with its worsening speed no matter how long I charged it (I was now charging it a full 18- 24 hours) and the poor shaving quality that left so many unsightly hairs on my face and under my chin, even though I bought new blades from the Panasonic shop.

    I’ve since upgraded to the Panasonic ES-CV50 and not looked back, thanks to the great review made by Ovidiu. Everything he wrote about this shaver was spot on and in general, the same thing I experienced. There was a gentleman who disagreed with the review here and that’s OK. As long as he feels satisfied like I did two years ago, then that’s his prerogative. However, there will come a time when one regrets making this purchase, and I would like to endorse this product as one shaver to avoid and because I bought this at such a premium, I’m unhappy to report that I feel fleeced by the high price for such a questionable product.

    Thanks for another honest and spot-on review, Ovidiu. I just wish this review came out four years ago and stopped me from buying this.

    • Josh, thank you for the detailed and excellent insights on this shaver. It was a real let down for me and I dare to say that it’ll be the same for most users. There are far better options out there for the price. Panasonic usually makes really good electric shavers, but I would advise anyone to only consider the models fitted with the high-speed linear drive motors (13 000 or 14 000 CPM). Anything less will feel gutless and shaving will become a chore as time passes. Also, these lower-spec models usually have other less than great components (like the battery in the case of the ES-SL41).

      Glad to hear you enjoy shaving with the ES-CV50.


  5. Hi there,

    Stumbled upon your website as I am researching to replace this very Panasonic. I wanted to chime in and say that I’ve had a good ~5+ years of use from this shaver and has only recently started to die out due to poor battery life. I’ve had no issues with it, albeit I have been blessed (or cursed) with light facial hair and shave at most 3-4 times a week. I have not changed the head, or done any real maintenance on it and it’s really been solid.

    I was looking at high-end Arc 7 / Series 7 for about $200 CAD, but thought that with my light use that it wouldn’t be a good use of my dollars. Will go for the Braun 3040 as my upgrade at $60 CAD 🙂

    • Hi Bernie,

      I don’t think it’s worth forking out that amount on an Arc 5 or Series 7 in these conditions. If you were satisfied with this Panasonic model, I think the 3040s will definitely be good enough.


  6. Here’s a reason why someone should buy one – because it’s the cheapest way to get a replacement foil & cutter for their existing Arc 3 shaver! Currently can be bought for the same price as a replacement foil in the UK (£20). New cutters are about another £20 on top.

    But even better than that – pickup an RT37 model for £24, and that comes with Li-ion battery as well, which fits most other Panasonic models. It’s an absolute bargain way to get a full service kit for any of the older Arc 3 shavers (I think the newer models have a slightly different foil unfortunately). And you even get a new pot of oil and a spare charger out of it. Just throw the rest of the RT37 away.

    I’ve just used this method to rejuvenate my 15 year old ES8101 which was on the original cutter and foil, and the battery wasn’t holding much charge.

    • Chris, thank you for your comment. That’s actually a perfectly valid reason to buy it. I personally can’t talk myself into disposing of a perfectly good (working) razor, it just seems wasteful, but I would totally understand an Arc 3 owner doing so. At the time I posted the review the ES-SL41 was pricier and the Arc 3 replacement foil and blades were definitely cheaper than they are now.



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