What’s The Best Foil Shaver (2023)? A Complete Guide

Switching to electric shavers can offer quite a few benefits — convenience and comfort being among the most compelling ones.

Electric razors, as you probably know, come in two flavors: foil and rotary.

Personal preference aside, there are some specific advantages to using one or the other.

In this article, I’ll go over the most important traits of foil shavers and why I consider them to be a better option for most users.

We’ll also take a close look at some of the more popular models in 2023 and hopefully help you decide which foil shaver would be best for you.

What is a foil shaver?

Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LF51-A foil.

The foil shaver was a major evolution of the original electric shaver patented by Jacob Schick.

Before the foil, shearing blades were being used (similar to a hair clipper) and that design had significant limitations.

The closeness wasn’t great and the exposed blades could easily nick the skin.

Remington was actually the first company to use the micro-foil: a thin, perforated metal screen that covered the blades and vastly improved the comfort during use.

The design has been constantly refined throughout the years, but the basic principle remained the same.

A foil shaver with 3 cutting elements (Braun Series 8).
A foil shaver with 3 cutting elements (Braun Series 8).

New machining techniques allowed manufacturers to come up with very thin foils, allowing the shavers to cut the hairs very close to the skin.

Foil shavers use sharp reciprocating (oscillating) blades that move sideways at very high speeds behind a protective screen, cutting the hairs that poke through the perforations in the foil.

The inner blades of a Panasonic Arc 5 foil shaver.
The inner blades of a Panasonic Arc 5 foil shaver that move behind the foil screen.

Most of today’s modern electric shavers feature at least two micro-foils, but also include specially designed cutting elements that are able to capture and trim longer, flat-lying hairs.

The Braun Series 3 with its 3-blade shaving system.
The shaving head of a Braun Series 3 ProSkin, featuring a middle trimmer with a micro-comb, designed to capture longer, flat-lying hairs.

The more advanced electric foil razors can have two or even three specialized cutting elements besides the regular foils.

Let’s check out some of the more popular approaches.

Below you can see two different implementations of a 4-blade cutting system.

The Braun Series 9 and the Panasonic Arc 4 feature a foil head with 4 individual cutting elements.
The Braun Series 9 and the Panasonic Arc 4 feature a foil head with 4 individual cutting elements.

On the left, the Braun Series 9 uses two special trimmers flanked by two regular foils.

These trimmers have very specific roles. One is designed to capture hairs that grow in different directions, while the other one (gold trimmer) lifts and cuts flat-lying hairs.

The two outermost foil cutters will then cut the remaining stubble at skin level.

Series 9 shaving head.
The breakdown of the Series 9 shaving elements.

The Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA63 on the other hand only has one trimmer for tackling longer hairs and three foils for cutting hairs very close to the skin.

It’s the same story with all the different Arc 4 variations:

Panasonic Arc 4 shavers. The foil systems are pretty much identical.
Panasonic Arc 4 shavers. The foil systems are pretty much identical.

As a result, the Series 9 is better at shaving longer, flat-lying hairs that grow in different directions, while the Panasonic generally offers a closer shave, but it’s not as good at shaving those longer whiskers.

While having more blades doesn’t necessarily translate into a massive performance bump, foil shavers that feature 4 or even more individual cutters are usually top performers.

They generally have more powerful motors, superior flexing capabilities of the shaving head, and are more feature-rich.

The Arc 5 line from Panasonic for example features a 5-blade shaving unit.

Panasonic Arc 5 shavers.
Various Arc 5 models with 5-blade foil heads.

Below you can see a closeup of the Panasonic ES-LV65-S shaving head, comprising of 4 micro-foils and one middle trimmer.

Panasonic Arc 5 shaving head structure.
The 5-blade shaving block of the ES-LV65-S: 1) Finishing foils 2) Reversed tapered foils 3) Slit foil

The recently launched Panasonic Arc 6 takes things to the extreme with 6 individual cutters.

It uses 4 foil elements and two slit trimmers that capture and cut difficult long hairs as opposed to the Arc 5’s single trimmer:

Panasonic ARc 5 vs Arc 6 shaving heads.
The Panasonic Arc 5 shaving head (left) vs the Arc 6 (right). The latter comes with two slit trimmers.

As mentioned previously, Panasonic’s take on the ultimate foil electric shaver shows an emphasis on closeness, while Braun razors excel in comfort and when shaving longer, wiry hairs.

We’ll take a closer look at the different models later on.

Advantages of foil shavers

Rotary vs foil electric shavers: which one is the best?

Foil shavers use a different approach compared to their rotary counterparts, but both can yield excellent results.

This difference leads to specific advantages in the case of both, making them more or less suitable for a particular situation.

Let’s see what are the pros of foil electric razors.

Foil shavers offer the closest shave.

The Panasonic ES-LV65-S next to ES-LV9Q-S.
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S next to ES-LV9Q-S, two foil shavers that excel at providing very close shaves.

This seems to be generally accepted among men that use electric shavers and it also reflects my personal stance on this matter.

I’ve been using electric razors for 20 years and have come across quite a few, both rotary and foil.

At least in my particular case — coarse facial hair and sensitive skin — I almost always get better results in terms of closeness when using foil shavers.

The reason for this is probably the micro-foil itself, being extremely thin.

The metal combs found on rotary razors are usually thicker and they act as a physical barrier between the blades and the skin.

The thinner the barrier, the closer the shave.

There are of course men who prefer rotary razors and actually get better results using them and that’s perfectly fine as well.

You should always use whatever works best for you.

They’re better suited for sensitive skin.

This is another case of a generally accepted idea in the electric shaving community: foil razors seem to work better for sensitive, irritation-prone skin than rotary shavers.

The Braun Series 9 Pro 9477cc.
The Braun Series 9 Pro, a shaver suitable for sensitive skin.

Some rotary shavers, particularly the ones in the lower-end segment, tend to pull the hairs and even pinch the skin.

Philips Norelco’s older models that use the so-called Lift&Cut blades are notorious for doing that.

I find them to be less forgiving than a decent foil shaver, especially when you’re a bit sloppy with your technique.

Again, this may not always be the case and your mileage may vary.

Anecdotal findings should be considered a starting point, they’re not by any means absolute truths.

Foil shavers are easier to clean manually.

Giving the foils and blades one final rinse.

A cleaning station can be very practical for cleaning, sanitizing and lubricating your razor after every use.

However, not all electric razors come with one; plus, some of these stations aren’t as good as others and the associated costs are higher (purchase price, cleaning solution).

In this case, your only option is to clean your razor manually.

Rotary razors require a thorough cleaning that must be performed every once in a while; this implies completely taking apart the shaving head and individually cleaning each cutter.

Taking apart the Philips Norelco S9000 shaving heads.
A rotary cutter taken apart for cleaning.

This is a fiddly and time-consuming operation; also, the cutter and comb pairs must not be intermixed since they are matching pairs and doing so will affect the performance of the razor.

Things are usually a lot simpler with foil razors.

Rinsing everything with tap water.
Cleaning a Panasonic foil razor with warm tap water.

For the majority of foil shavers, a manual clean is very easy and straightforward and only requires warm tap water and (optionally) some liquid soap.

However, some foil shavers are easier to clean than others.

For example, in the case of most Panasonic and Remington shavers, you can separate the inner blades from the foils and you have better access to clean them thoroughly.

The inner blades of a Panasonic Arc 3.
The inner blades of a Panasonic Arc 3.

On the other hand, Braun uses these so-called cassettes, with the blades and foils merged into a single piece, offering limited access and making it more difficult to remove hardened dirt buildups.

Panasonic foil head (left) vs Braun cassette (right).
Panasonic foil head (left) vs Braun cassette (right).

In the above image, you can see the outer foil of a Panasonic Arc 4 (left) vs the cassette of a Braun Series 9 (right).

That’s why regularly cleaning your shaver is so important, it will make your life easier in the long run.

Also, I consider Braun stations more practical and actually useful to have compared to Panasonic for example, particularly in the case of more advanced models that also come with more complex cassettes.

I will get into more detail about the stations and their pros and cons when we’ll take a look at the actual shavers.

Foil shavers are better for touch-ups and finesse work.

Arc 3 and Series 3 shavers.
Panasonic Arc 3 and Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3-blade foil shavers.

A straight edge allows you to have more control when shaving tricky areas, like around your sideburns or goatee.

By using just the top foil you can get very close to the nose for example when shaving the upper lip area.

Doing that is a lot more difficult when shaving with a rotary.

Also, by using straight, shorter strokes as opposed to circular overlapping motions you have more precision compared to a rotary razor.

This very straightforward operation also makes foil shavers an excellent choice for beginners.

A wider selection of brands and models.

While your only viable option for a rotary razor is Philips (Norelco), there are a lot of options from Braun, Panasonic, Wahl, Andis, Xiaomi and Remington in the case of foil shavers.

Finding a suitable foil shaver for your needs

The Braun Series 7 is still one of the best electric shavers you can buy today despite its age.

The best foil shaver is ultimately the right foil shaver.

When deciding which electric razor to buy, you should consider things like the coarseness of your beard, how often you shave, budget constraints, or if you have sensitive skin that is prone to razor burn and irritation.

In the next section, I’ll go over some of my favorite foil shavers; for each one, I will try to point out its key features and what exactly makes it a suitable option in a particular situation.

Side note: I own all the shavers I’m about to recommend and I’ve been using some of them for years. These are in my opinion the best picks right now for various budgets and use cases.

The best foil shavers you can buy in 2023

1. Braun Series 9 9390cc

Braun Series 9 9390cc.

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Deal alert: You can sometimes get the (slightly) better Braun Series 9 PRO 9465cc for even less money than the standard Series 9.

While the Series 9 is probably the most comfortable shaver you can buy today, the performance difference between it and the Series 7 couldn’t justify the premium price tag of the Series 9 a few years ago.

However, the price of the Series 9 has seen a drop lately and it now represents an attractive option in the high-end segment.

With an additional cutting element, a powerful motor and a more advanced flexible shaving head, the Series 9 is a beefed-up Series 7 that will have no issues mowing through a few days of growth with ease.

Braun Series 9.

This is in my opinion the greatest asset of the Series 9 and its main advantage over most other foil razors.

Braun’s implementation of specially designed trimmers makes the Series 9 better at dealing with longer, flat-lying hairs than any other foil razor.

The cutting elements of the Braun Series 9.

The Series 9 that I reviewed a while back is also the most comfortable electric shaver I’ve used so far. It’s an ideal option for men with very sensitive skin.

If you have very coarse facial hair, you don’t shave very often, want one of the most comfortable and fast shaves and the price is not an issue, then the Series 9 is the one for you.

Also, it’s one of the better choices for men who also shave their head and don’t want a separate tool for that.

The closeness is very good, but not quite the best among high-end shavers.

The Panasonic Arc 5 and Arc 6 are still the best when it comes strictly to the closeness of the shave, but the comfort of the Series 9 is unmatched, especially during a dry shave.

For a detailed comparison of the Series 9 and the Arc 5, you can check out this article.

I would personally go for a variation of the Series 9 that includes a clean & charge station, like the 9390cc/9385cc or even one of the older models like the 9290cc/9291cc (whichever you can find at a better price).

Braun Series 9 cc station.
The Series 9 9390cc during the automatic cleaning process.

The 9390cc and 9385cc are usually available in many countries and the price is also better compared to other similar Series 9 variations.

However, if you can’t get these models, you can safely opt for another 92xx or 93xx Series 9 as the actual performance will be identical.

It also comes with the same, very useful cleaning station.

Manually cleaning a Braun shaving head can get fiddly in time and the station is really practical.

Inserting the cartridge into the 9385cc station.
Series 9 station with a cleaning cartridge inside.

And if you follow a few simple steps, the cleaning solution will last a very long time.

You can even take the refill cartridge out of the station, put the cap back on and store it for future use.

You cannot do that with a Panasonic station for example.

Moreover, you can find a few inexpensive and excellent third-party cleaning solutions that will save you a lot of money in the long run.

As for why I chose the standard Series 9 over the latest Series 9 Pro, that’s simply because the former can usually be found for less money and the performance difference isn’t that significant.

Braun Series 9 Pro 9477cc vs Series 9 9385cc.
Braun Series 9 Pro vs Series 9.

Precisely, the standard S9 is a bit more comfortable, while the Pro models seem slightly more powerful and faster, with a small tradeoff in comfort.

But again, these differences are subtle.

If however you can get the Series 9 Pro for only a few dollars more, it is an excellent option as well that will be suitable in exactly the same situations as the regular Series 9.

For a comprehensive overview of all the different Series 9 models and the differences between them, you can check out this guide.

2. Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65-S

Panasonic ES-LV65-S Arc5

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Deal alert: The newer Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV67 can sometimes be found can at a lower price and it’s identical in terms of performance (it uses the same foil and blades).

The Arc 5 is a premium line of electric shavers from Panasonic, the other big name in the foil shavers camp alongside Braun.

And until the launch of the Arc 6 in 2021, the Arc 5 was Panasonic’s most advanced foil razor.

Currently, there are three generations of Arc 5 shavers and they’re all still available.

While they are different in terms of design, price and included accessories, the performance is similar, especially regarding the closeness.

The newer generations bring along a host of improvements, like an all-metal body for several models and two comfort rollers, but the price of the shavers is still pretty high and the availability in the USA for example is limited.

The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9Q.
The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV9Q features a premium brushed aluminum body.

And that’s the main reason why I think the Panasonic ES-LV65-S/ES-LV67-K from the previous generation represents the best choice for most men.

It costs a whole lot less, but it’s still very similar performance-wise, particularly with regard to the closeness of the shave.

The Panasonic Arc 5 ES-LV65.
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S, one of the top-rated foil shavers out there.

And because it doesn’t include an automatic cleaning station, it costs significantly less than other Arc 5 razors that come with one.

And to be perfectly honest, you don’t really need one.

Cleaning the ES-LV65-S is very straightforward.

Panasonic shavers are extremely easy to clean manually and even include a special cleaning mode that makes the blades vibrate extremely fast, dislodging any stubborn dirt.

I’m personally not a fan of Panasonic cleaning systems because of the way they handle the cleaning fluid.

The Panasonic ES-LV95-S, a model that comes with an automatic cleaning station.
The Panasonic ES-LV95-S, an Arc 5 model that comes with an automatic cleaning station.

They use this open tray where you mix the concentrated detergent with water and you cannot store it safely like you can with a Braun cartridge.

The tray of the Panasonic stations where water must be mixed with the concentrated detergent.
The tray of the Panasonic station.

There are also almost no third-party alternatives to Panasonic’s cleaning detergent.

With Braun, there are quite a few, very affordable and you can even make your own from scratch.

I never end up using Panasonic stations, so I personally just buy the single shaver variations and also save some money doing that.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with the station, it’s very effective and works flawlessly, I just don’t consider it as practical or necessary.

The area where the Panasonic Arc 5 shavers excel is shaving performance, particularly the closeness of the shave.

The Panasonic ES-LV65-S is one of the best foil electric razors you can buy right now.
The Panasonic ES-LV65-S is one of the best foil electric razors you can buy right now.

With a very fast 14 000 CPM motor, 5 cutting elements and blades that are honed at a very aggressive 30 degrees angle, the Panasonic ES-LV65-S is capable of providing extremely close and fast shaves.

In my personal experience, Arc 5 shavers outperform even the Series 9/Pro when it comes strictly to the closeness of the shave.

On the other hand, Braun has the edge in terms of comfort.

I would like to point out that the Series 9 is also better when used on longer facial hair, especially if your whiskers tend to lie flat on the skin and grow in different directions.

Therefore, the Arc 5 performs the best when used on shorter facial hair, making it ideal for shaving more often.

How often actually depends on how fast your beard grows, so you can get great results even if you shave every few days.

The ES-LV65-S is a great choice for men who want very close and fast shaves. The powerful motor and very sharp blades make it ideal for coarse hair.

All Panasonic razors are waterproof and also perform outstandingly when used with shaving cream; so if wet shaving is your thing, you won’t be disappointed with the ES-LV65-S.

The massive foil covers large surfaces with ease and can be successfully used for shaving your head as well.

Also, the new outer foil of the latest Arc 5 models is actually backward compatible with the ES-LV65-S, so you can give it an upgrade when it’s time to replace it (here’s a complete guide on Arc 5 foils & blades).

3. Panasonic Arc 6 ES-LS8A-K

Panasonic ES-LS8A-K

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As mentioned earlier, the Arc 6 (aka Series 900+) is now Panasonic’s flagship shaver.

Initially a Japan-exclusive release, the Arc 6 was finally made available in the USA in June 2022, almost one year later.

The official global launch was delayed for unknown reasons as it was initially set for April.

The two available models are the ES-LS8A-K (no cleaning station) and the ES-LS9A-K (which includes an automatic cleaning station).

The performance of the two is identical.

And while the Arc 5 was really pushing it with its 5 blades, the Arc 6 features a massive shaving head with 6 active cutters.

The shaving head of the Lamdash 6/Arc 6 showcasing the pair of newly designed trimmers.

Yes, it is overkill and they probably could have achieved similar performance with fewer blades, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work well.

In fact, it shaves amazing and the Arc 6 is Panasonic’s best shaver yet.

Panasonic 6-blade shaver (Arc 6).

That said, there are a few reasons why most users should probably stick to the aforementioned Arc 5, at least for the time being.

While the availability it’s not an issue anymore in most countries, the Arc 6 still has a premium price tag.

Also, after using an Arc 6 for almost 3 months and alternating between it and an Arc 5, I can safely say that the main improvement the Arc 6 brings is in the comfort department.

It is noticeably gentler and more forgiving than let’s say an ES-LV65-S.

Panasonic Arc 6 vs Arc 5: Which one is better?
The Arc 5 ES-LV65-S next to the Arc 6.

So men with irritation-prone skin will benefit from using an Arc 6 over the Arc 5, especially when shaving dry.

The Arc 5 can come across as too aggressive if you have sensitive skin.

If you don’t have that problem, then you probably should save some money and get the Arc 5.

If however you want the closest possible shave and need a comfortable razor as well, the Arc 6 is arguably the best out there right now.

Granted, it’s not quite as comfortable as a Series 9, but it can cut the hairs closer to the skin, particularly if you have a dense and coarse beard.

I can definitely notice a smoother shave, especially below the nose and on the chin.

The Panasonic Arc 6.

I would rate the closeness on the same level as the Arc 5 though, so I don’t think it’ll be an upgrade in that regard.

The Arc 6 will however provide the same closeness while being gentler to the skin.

The foils also remain cool to the touch provided they are regularly lubricated.

Where the Arc 6 falls short, especially when considering the supposed upgrades it brings in that area, is when shaving longer, flat-lying hairs.

It is more effective than other Panasonic shavers with its two slit trimmers, but still nowhere near as good as the Series 9 or Series 9 Pro.

If you tend to shave twice a week or less, I think the Braun S9 would be a better choice.

You will work harder with the Arc 6 in order to get those longer, flat-lying hairs, especially on the neck.

So definitely consider a Series 9 or Arc 5 before splurging on the Arc 6.

The Panasonic Arc 5 (Series 900) next to the Braun Series 9.
The Panasonic Arc 5 (Series 900) next to the Braun Series 9.

Depending on your needs, those could actually be better and more economical options.

Tip: The newer Arc 5 (also marketed as the Series 900) that comes with the latest foil is a particularly compelling alternative to the Arc 6 as it costs less and shaves almost the same.

4. Braun Series 7 790cc

Braun Series 7 790cc

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The Series 7 790cc from Braun is an electric shaver that ticks pretty much all the right boxes.

It’s a great all-rounder and there are only a few situations where the 790cc wouldn’t be an excellent choice.

As one of the best-selling electric razors in recent years, it was often regarded as the benchmark in terms of performance and comfort.

Tip: If you can find a similar Series 7 for less money, you can confidently get that one instead. The performance throughout the Series 7 range is pretty much identical.

For example, the 7865cc is a great alternative, especially in Europe/UK, where it tends to cost a lot less than the 790cc.

The Braun Series 7 7865cc.
The Braun Series 7 7865cc.

Let’s see what makes the 790cc/7865cc one of the best foil shavers on the market.

Comfort during the shave.

The Series 7 is notorious for its gentle and smooth operation, making it a prime candidate for men with sensitive skin.

The Braun Series 7.

Close shaves.

The Series 7 790cc is capable of providing very comfortable shaves without major trade-offs in closeness.

It’s not the closest shaving razor in this price range — the Panasonic Arc 5 and even the Arc 4 are still the best in this regard — but most men will be happy with it.

Excellent cleaning station.

Braun’s cleaning stations use an alcohol-based solution that cleans, sanitizes, and lubricates the shaver.

Braun old Series 7 station.

While Braun ditched the induction heating mechanism of the Series 7 station, it still works really well and you’ll probably want the station as it’s very practical — just like in the case of the Series 9.

Who shouldn’t buy the Series 7 790cc?

In my opinion, the 790cc is one of the best foil shavers in this price range especially for being a great all-rounder.

However, it won’t always be the best choice.

First of all, if your budget is limited, there are more affordable options below, like the Series 8 or the Panasonic Arc 4.

Secondly, if you shave every three days or so and have wiry, flat-lying hairs that grow fast, a Braun Series 9 will be more suitable.

And finally, if the closeness of the shave is particularly important to you, there are other shavers that will outperform the Series 7 for roughly the same money, like a Panasonic Arc 4 or a second-generation Panasonic Arc 5 like the ES-LV65-S.

Important: there’s a newer Series 7 360 Flex as well that is in fact a downgrade in performance from the previous one like the 790cc.

UPDATE 2023: Since the 790cc and 7865cc from the old Series 7 are getting really difficult to find, I recommend the Series 8 as an alternative. The shaving performance is overall very similar.

5. Panasonic Arc 4 ES-LA63AA


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The ES-LA63 is a very popular electric razor from Panasonic and the reason for its success is quite simple: it represents a very compelling package.

It comes in two color options: ES-LA63-S (silver) and ES-LA63AA (blue).

As of 2023, the silver variation that I got doesn’t seem to be available anymore. The performance of the two is however identical.

This Arc 4 provides very close and fairly comfortable shaves, has the same 14 000 CPM motor as the more expensive Arc 5 and Arc 6 shavers, uses the same 30 degrees nano-blades and is generally reasonably priced.

The ES-LA63-S from the Arc 4 family is a great shaver for the budget-oriented buyer.

The Arc 4 in its name refers to the 4 cutting elements, still plenty enough for anyone’s needs.

Moreover, this shaver has a second motor inside the actual shaving head that causes the foil to vibrate, making the hairs stand up for a more efficient shave.

Having used it, this doesn’t seem to make a notable difference compared to other Arc 4 shavers that lack this feature, but it is there.

The performance of the ES-LA63AA is remarkable for its price, making it a great deal in terms of cost and performance.

You will not get a cleaning station, but as mentioned previously, Panasonic shavers are very easy to clean manually.

Being an older model, you can often find it at a discounted price.

However, if the cost is similar to an Arc 5 ES-LV65-S, I recommend going for the latter in this case.

For more details, make sure to check out my Panasonic ES-LA63 review.

6. Braun Series 8 8457cc


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Deal alert: If you don’t need a cleaning station, you can get the Braun Series 8 8417s for less money. The shaving performance will be identical.

The Series 8 from Braun is a very interesting line of electric shavers.

The Braun Series 8.

Performance-wise, they’re right up there with the old Series 7, even though they lack some of their features, like the personalization modes.

Also, given the series’ name, you would expect it to be better than the outgoing Series 7 (like the 790cc). Because 8 is greater than 7, right?

Well, that’s not really the case here.

I would still give the Series 7 the edge, but the Series 8 is nevertheless a highly capable shaver and it’s pretty similar to the 7 in all regards.

Series 7 and 8 shaving heads.
The Series 7 next to the Series 8. The two use almost identical shaving heads.

So if you liked the Series 7 790cc but it’s not within your budget or you can’t get one anymore, the Series 8 would be the next best thing.

The S8 really is a viable alternative to the Series 7 in 2023.

The 8457cc is probably the pick of the Series 8 range as it’s widely available and costs less than other cc Series 8 models (that perform identically).

In fact all Series 8 models, regardless if they start with 83 or the newer 84, will shave exactly the same.

The differences only consist of color, accessories, price and so on.

The Braun Series 8 8370cc during the automatic cleaning process.
The Braun Series 8 during the automatic cleaning process.

You can also consider the Series 8 8370cc which also comes with an automatic cleaning station if you can get a good deal on one.

However, the station included with the 84 Series 8 models is more advanced as it includes a fan that dries the shaving head.

In fact, it’s the exact same station that comes with the Series 9 9390cc at number 1 in the list.

Tip: a solo S8 like the 8417s will work with a compatible station purchased later on. More details here.

Just like the Series 7, the Series 8 shines when it comes to comfort, being very gentle and forgiving, perfectly suitable for men with sensitive skin.

The Braun Series 8.

The foils remain cool during use and you shouldn’t experience any razor burn or hairs getting yanked.

If you’re mostly interested in the closeness of the shave, the Panasonic Arc 4 or Arc 5 would be better options.

Keep in mind though that those aren’t as good with long, flat-lying hairs as the Series 8.

7. Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S

The Panasonic ES8103S, an affordable shaver that offer excellent performance

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UPDATE: If you can’t find this model anymore, a perfectly good alternative would be the newer ES-LT67-A or the ES-LL41-K. The shaving performance will be pretty much the same.

If you’re looking for a very capable, but inexpensive wet & dry foil shaver that you’ll be using daily for the majority of the time, then the Arc 3 line from Panasonic represents a very solid option.

As it’s the case with the Arc 5 family, you have quite a few razors to choose from in the Arc 3 category.

My personal pick would be the older ES8103S or the newer ES-LL41-K/ES-LT67-A because they offer the best performance for the money.

Panasonic ES8103S.
The Panasonic Arc 3 ES8103S.

There are other newer Arc 3 shavers as well, but apart from a different color and design, they shave the same and are difficult to get.

For example, the latest Arc 3 shavers (now called Lamdash 3) are only available in Japan. That may change in the future though.

But again, in terms of actual performance, no real improvements.

The comfort and especially the closeness of the older Panasonic ES8103S are very good.

ES81103S held in hand.

You’ll still get an impressively fast 13 000 CPM motor and Panasonic’s sharp nano-blades.

It’s worth pointing out that you’ll get the best results with this electric razor when shaving more often (daily or every other day).

Men that don’t have very thick facial hair can get away with using it every two days.

As mentioned above, getting this model nowadays is becoming more difficult, in which case I recommend checking out a couple of alternatives like the aforementioned ES-LT67-A or ES-LL41-K.

Just make sure you’re always getting an Arc 3 variation that comes with a 13 000 CPM motor.

8. Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s

Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s

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The Series 3 ProSkin represents Braun’s alternative to Panasonic’s entry-level Arc 3 line.

With a reasonable price, good performance and excellent comfort during use, the Series 3 represents a very attractive package, especially when you have a limited budget.

The foil shavers from the Series 3 are available in several variations that cater to different needs.

Therefore, we have dry-only shavers, wet & dry shavers and optional cleaning stations.

However, all of them use the same shaving head and the performance is identical. Picking one comes down to the features you actually need.

My personal favorite is the 3040s that I reviewed a while ago.

The Series 3 3040s, an affordable foil shaver.

It is a wet & dry razor that works great when used more often and it’s generally very affordable.

It also has an integrated slide-out trimmer (not all Series 3 models have it).

The Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s.
The Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s with the integrated slide-out trimmer.

The shaving head (32b/32s) only needs to be replaced once every 18 months and costs half the price of a similar Panasonic Arc 3 foil & blades set.

In my personal experience, the Panasonic is slightly better in terms of closeness.

The Series 3 is however a bit more comfortable and better suited for sensitive skin.

The Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s.

It’s also better with longer hairs, even though you can’t really compare it to a Series 8 in this regard.

A full comparison between the Arc 3 and the Series 3 is available here.

I would also like to point out that both the Panasonic Arc 3 and Braun Series 3 are entry-level foil shavers.

This means that while the results are quite good for this price range, they cannot match the speed and performance of the more powerful, advanced razors presented above.

The disadvantages of foil shavers

The Panasonic Arc 5 and the Braun Series 9.

So far I’ve only talked about what makes a foil shaver great and I haven’t mentioned anything about their shortcomings.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any, so let’s get right to it.

First and foremost, foil shavers are definitely noisier during use

A rotary shaver is generally very quiet due to the slower speed of the motor and the lack of vibrations (caused by the reciprocating blades in the case of foil shavers).

Also, the straight edge of the shaving head makes shaving certain portions of your face a bit more difficult, like the jawline.

Rotary razors, especially the more advanced ones, have cutters that can flex and tilt inward and maintain constant contact with the skin.

This can be beneficial for men with very prominent facial features.

Some may also argue that rotary razors are better for coarser facial hair.

While this may be the case against some low-end foil shavers, I haven’t found rotary razors to be significantly better in this regard compared to a similarly priced foil shaver.

Entry-level rotary razors do seem to fare better with hairs that grow in different directions though.

Some foil electric shavers have difficulties when shaving a longer beard and you will need to work harder to capture all the hairs, especially if they grow in different directions.

If that is the case and you still want a foil razor, I think investing in a more advanced Braun shaver would be the right decision (Series 8 or 9 depending on the budget).

Finally, the blades and foils tend to wear out faster. There’s a lot of friction, the foils are very thin and the blades move at a very fast rate.

That’s why is vital to lubricate a foil razor regularly.

For more details, you can check out my guide on how and when to lubricate an electric razor.

Final word

Hopefully, you now have a clear picture of what makes a particular foil razor better than other options in a given situation.

And more importantly, you’ll be able to decide whether a foil shaver would be suitable for your needs.

Don’t forget to also check out the reviews section as well for thorough, in-depth reviews of more foil shavers.

If you have any other questions make sure to post them in the comments below.

Article by

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.

If you found the information useful, consider subscribing to the ShaverCheck newsletter as well. It’s free and I only send a few emails a year. Unsubscribe at any time.

66 thoughts on “What’s The Best Foil Shaver (2023)? A Complete Guide”

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  1. What would you recommend for a first time razor for my teenager who just started shaving? He does have sensitive skin and our dermatologist recommended using an electric razor.

    • Hi Jason,

      I think a Braun Series 3 like the 3040s ProSkin would be a very good option to start with. It’s easy to use, cost-effective and it’s also one of the most comfortable entry-level electric shavers. It’s not the most powerful razor out there, but for a teenager that’s just getting started with shaving, it should easily be good enough.

      • Hi I bought the Braun Series 3 3040s Pro Skin for my teenage son as his first shaver but he would like something that removes the longer whiskers he is developing higher up his cheeks – he doesn’t think the shaver he has cuts them close enought to the skin.
        Any suggestions? Many thanks your advice is really apprecitated

        • Hi Gaby,

          Those longer, finer hairs on the cheekbones (and closer to the eyes) can be a bit of an issue. I think a better approach would be to carefully wax them every once in a while as shaving may not be ideal. If there are only a few, plucking them with tweezers will also work. A manual razor would cut them at skin level, but they’re in a sensitive area and will also grow back pretty quickly.


  2. Hello,

    I have thick hairs and very sensitive skin therefore I am looking for a shaver that does not irritate me. I usually shave every two days.

    I do not live in the United States so it would be difficult for me to buy the replacement cartridges for the cleaning station, I would have to do the cleaning manually.

    Also I have a reduced budget for which the Braun Series 9 is not an option.

    Which shaver would you recommend me to buy?

    • Hi James,

      The Series 9 would be ideal, but since it is very expensive my recommendation would be to get a Series 5. It’s powerful enough and very comfortable during use. It’s not quite as good as the Series 9, but it’s definitely the best you can get in this price range. I would look for a solo model like the 5040s, 5030s or any equivalent model you can get.

      Hope this helps.


    • Hi mate, thanks for the detailed reviews! Can you apply all of the pros and cons to shaving a head also? I’m currently using a razor every second day and while Ive pretty much ‘mastered’ with a sub10 minute shave, I’m looking for a more convenient option with less tidy-up.

      Thank you.

      • Hi Matthew,

        Thank you for your comment. I’d say yes, you can pretty much apply these when it comes to shaving your head as well. As a side note, my barber uses a Series 9 to shave his customers’ head and he’s really happy with the performance. I cannot recommend a particular shaver from my personal experience as I don’t shave my head.


  3. Ovidiu,

    You do a really great job of evaluating these razors. Very thorough and comprehensive. Really appreciate it.

    So I have a silly question regarding the Panasonic Arc5. You refer to the “5 blade shaving assembly”. Yet there are only 2 cutters under the foils. I didn’t think that the foils did anything other than lift the whiskers so that they could be cut. So what other “blades” are there? Or is this just foil razor terminology?


    • Hi Les,

      Thank you for your comment.

      That is a very good question. Panasonic shavers always feature only two removable inner blades, while the rest of the blades are actually integrated into the foils block itself. That is the case with all of their shavers — be it an Arc 3, Arc 4 or Arc 5. If you take a look at this photo that depicts the back of an Arc 5 foils block, you can see the blades in the two outermost foils and in the central trimmer as well. On either side of that middle trimmer there are two (empty) foils that will accommodate the two inner blades. So there really are 5 active shaving elements in the case of the Arc 5. I hope this makes sense.


      • I would tend to shave every day using a Gillette razor. I had a Philishave rotary shaver a few years ago but stopped using it sometime ago as they no longer do the gel packs for it.
        I have semi-sensitive skin, would you recommend rotary or foil.

        • Hi Darren,

          For most users I think foil shavers are the way to go, especially when dealing with sensitive skin. So I’d say foil in this case as well.


  4. Hello I’ve had a beard for a couple of years now and now it’s time for the beard to go. In the past I’ve always had a wet shave with a standard razor blade and it always use to leave me with rashes and red patches so I’m looking into getting an electirc one been looking at the series 7 and series 9 but seen a few comments saying there’s not much difference in the overall shave between the two. What would you think is best. Thanks

    • Hi Dan,

      That’s my stance on this matter as well, in most cases the Series 7 will be good enough. You can check out this post for a very detailed comparison between the two.

      Hope this helps.


  5. our braum shaver started flashing a pad lock icon and I can’t turn on the shaver. Please advise me what is wrong and what I should do. thank you

    Judy Koch

    • Hi Judith,

      That means you have accidentally turned on the travel lock. You must press and hold the on/off switch for at least 3 seconds to unlock it.


  6. Hi Ovidiu,

    I’m a woman looking for a foil shaver and trimmer for legs. Would the Braun series 3 “shave and style” work for me, or is it exclusively for men?

    • Hi Haley,

      The Series 3 Shave & Style is a foil electric shaver that also comes with a few comb attachments. It is intended to be used on the face and while it could work on your legs, it definitely won’t be ideal. Electric shavers are designed to be used on short, dense hair. I would rather consider something like a Philips Bodygroom BG 7030. It is marketed as men’s groomer, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be successfully used by women as well. It is a two in one body trimmer and (foil) shaver.

      One thing to keep in mind is the closeness though. No electric shaver out there can shave quite as close as a blade. For us men that’s not really a problem, but for women that may be a deal breaker.


    • Hi Rick,

      None that I know of, unfortunately. Electric shaver manufacturers are still way behind when it comes to adopting USB instead of using proprietary chargers. There are some Chinese brands, but I wouldn’t honestly recommend them. The ones from Xiaomi could be decent, but I am yet to try one.


  7. I need a foil shaver for an elderly gentleman….he’s 89 and still shaves himself. However he will not unplug the rechargable shavers and he over charges etc….we’ve been through a few now. Is there a shaver that uses a plug? The few times I have taken him for a proper shave at a barber shop they have small ones that are plugged in. Would something like that be available?

    • Hey,

      Most modern electric shavers cannot be overcharged and leaving them plugged in will not affect battery longevity. They will simply stop charging. However, most are wet/dry shavers, so they will not work when plugged in. Your only option would be to get a dry only model. There are a few options out there (foil-based shavers):

      – Braun Series 3 3000s, 3020s
      – Braun Series 5 5030s, 5020s
      – Braun Series 7 720s, 760cc
      Some of them can be more difficult to find as they are older models and in the process of being replaced with newer wet/dry versions. Either of these should be good enough in this situation, with the Series 3 being the more affordable one.


  8. Are Ronson (foil) shaves still available in new condition? I tried one thirty years ago and it was wonderful and, I am now in the market for a new electric shaver.

    • As far as I know, Ronson was bought by Remington approximately 20 years ago, but they stopped making electric shavers even before that. So it’s extremely unlikely to find a Ronson shaver in new condition nowadays.


  9. Thanks for the great reviews. I’ve always been a razor shaver as my hair is very course. Never got a close shave with an electric, noting that was about 50 yrs ago. Given circumstances a razor is not the best option now. I found your reviews & was happy to learn that some foil shavers work relatively well on course hair. Due $ restraints, & your excllent reviews, (read most of them) I’m looking at the Panasonic Arc5 Electric Razor, Wet/Dry, ES-LV65-S. Thanks again.

    • You are very welcome, Glen. Glad you found the website useful. I think the ES-LV65-S would be a really good choice given its performance on coarse hair and the often discounted price. In fact, I’d even say it’s one of the best shavers you can currently buy at any price point.


  10. By FAR the best review site I found. Extremely helpful because you get into the mechanics of the blades. The decision was easy after reading and looking at comp prices. With your info on this site a person can actually determine if some particular item is “worth it”.

  11. Thanks for your reviews, it’s great to have the detail you have provided. I was curious that you haven’t included any Remington shavers in your list; what are your opinions on that brand? Thanks again.

    • Thank you, Craig.

      Unfortunately, for the past 10 years or so, Remington just hasn’t been able come up with a compelling foil shaver, except for maybe the F5-5800, but even with that one there are better alternatives for roughly the same price. Things like build quality, the longevity of the foils, comfort and even value for money in some cases just make them very difficult to recommend over similarly priced Braun or Panasonic shavers.


      • I used the Remington XL3000…in fact, I had 2 of them….Wonderful…close shaves, quiet…but them Remington stopped making them and their quality went downhill….I have in fact had the Braun Series 7 and Panasonic ES-LA93…Bothe are very good,,,,Braun is somewhat quieter or at least the high pitch is lower than the Panasonic….my decision is really a hard one….looking at the ES-LV67, LV95, LV97 and ES-LV65 and Braun Series 9

        • I haven’t got the chance to try it, I’m afraid. Like I said in the other reply, I think the ES-LV65 is probably the one to get since you like your ES-LA93 more. It’s basically a better ES-LA93 — to me it feels more comfortable and forgiving and shaves closer, particularly the areas with dense and thick hair (those being my chin and below the nose).


  12. Excellent site, but I have a question concerning Babyliss’ line of foil razers and what your opinion is of them. My barber uses them and they provide a very nice shave, with a decent pricetag.

    • Hi Patrick,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m afraid I can’t answer that from my own experience as I am yet to try a BaByliss shaver. But I’ve also heard good things about them and I know many barbers use them as well. I will be getting one for sure in the near future and post a detailed review.


  13. The Braun 3040s is a good and inexpensive shave, so much better and easier to clean than the razor I had before

    • Thank you for your comment, Neil. The 3040s is indeed a solid, budget-friendly foil shaver.


  14. What about a good Foil shave that does not come with the feature of a middle trimmer with micro-comb, designed to capture longer, flat-lying hairs? I have long hair on top of my head but shave the sides. My current foil shaver works great but sometime cuts my long hair as well which I don’t want.

    • There are actually a few shavers designed specifically for fades. In my opinion, the Andis ProFoil is the best pick thanks to its lower price. Other options would be the Wahl Finale or BaBylissPRO, but both of them cost more and perform similarly. You can check out my review of the Andis ProFoil here.


  15. I used a rotary shaver for atleast 20years. Now I am using an Andis foil shaver and it does a good job. Rotary shave did do after 20strokes, this foil shaves atleast 5strokes.

    • Thank you for your comment, Shital. While I definitely prefer foil shavers over rotaries, my Andis ProFoil was just way too harsh on my face, so I mainly use it now for skin fades (I’ve been cutting my own hair since the first lockdown/pandemic).


  16. I’ve been going back and forth weekly shaving with foil and rotary razors and I must say… the rotary is more comfortable. Using both dry with pre shave lotion. I was surprised at the difference. The closeness also wasn’t much different. I’m using Braun 3040s vs Norelco 5588.

    • Hey Robert,

      It seems like a rotary razor works better for you. It’s usually the other way around for most users, but definitely stick to what works best.


  17. My name is Jim and I have been using a triple foil Remington shaver for many years and they have always given me a shave as close as as a blade as they advertised many years ago. My last one is finely wearing out and I can not find another as they do not make them anymore so they tell me. Can you find one use or new anywhere? Please respond.

  18. Hi Ovidiu, My son asked for a foil razor for his 18th birthday. He says his rotary shaver pinches and pulls. He shaves about once a week, after his facial hair has grown maybe 1/8″ or more. What foil razor is
    a) best with longer hair,
    b) has reasonably priced replacement blades, and
    c) can be cleaned under running water instead of needing a big fancy cleaning station with the added cost of cleaning solution cartridges (and more parts to break)?

    Thanks very much for your site and the time you put in to it! Very helpful for non-razor users who want to buy for others.

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you for the comment, much appreciated.

      I can totally relate to your son’s problem as rotary shavers (even the high-end ones) pinch my skin and pull some of the hairs.

      Braun foil shavers are in my opinion the ones to get for shaving longer facial hair. That said, the ones that are really good at this also tend to cost more. The same goes for the replacement heads.

      My advice would be to try and get a good deal on either an older generation Series 5 (like 5030s, 5040s, 5045s — doesn’t really matter as they all shave the same, just get the cheapest one) or a solo Series 8 (with no cleaning station), like the 8330s or 8413s.

      If you can’t find one within your budget, the next best thing would be a Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s. It should still be good enough for a teenager, although the ones above are superior (but also cost a lot). The replacement head for the 3040s is also cheaper. All of them can be easily cleaned with warm tap water.

      Also, one week between shaves is really a lot, so my advice would be to try and reduce that by a few days if the shave doesn’t go as smooth. Foil shavers also require a bit of a different technique (short, controlled, straight strokes against the grain), so it may take a bit until he gets the best results.

      Hope this helps.


  19. Looking for a foil shaver to get my head shave down to feeling like a razor has done it. I clip it to zero first, but have quite dark, coarse hair. Is there one you’d recommend above others?

    • Hi there,

      The ones that get the closest to a razor blade are the double foil shavers with really thin staggered foils: Andis ProFoil, BaBylissPRO FOILFX02, Wahl Finale. These do come with their own specific cons as I’ve mentioned in my reviews. Among those: they’re not the most comfortable (especially the ProFoil), the foils/blades wear out faster, shaving takes longer compared to a Panasonic Arc 5 or Braun Series 9/Series 9 Pro. But strictly regarding to the closeness of the shave, these would be my pick.

      I personally like the FOILFX02 the most as it’s more comfortable than the Andis (on par with the Wahl Finale), but shaves just as close and has the best build quality. It’s also the most expensive of the three though.


  20. Hello, I have extremely sensitive skin and from your very helpful breakdown, the Braun series 9 would be my choice if it weren’t for the price tag. With that being said, I believe my finalists would be the Braun series 7 (specifically the 7085cc) with the 360 head and the the Panasonic Arc5 ES-LV65-S. I was wondering your thoughts. I dont have much facial hair and definitely on the thinner side. My biggest problem is that when I say I have sensitive skin, I mean it and am EXTREMELY prone to redness, bumps, and ingrown hairs. Again comfort is all I care about and my hair is not thick enough to require any significant power. Thanks for your article and just let me know even if you think other options would be best!!!

      • Hi Cole,

        Considering your very sensitive skin, I don’t think either would be suitable. The 7085cc is part of the new Series 7 generation (with the 360 head) and it’s noticeably less comfortable than the previous one. Speaking of which, I think the old Series 7 like the 790cc, 7865cc etc. would be ideal for your skin. You should still be able to find one and at a lower price compared to a Series 9. The Arc 5 is definitely not my first choice for someone with your skin issues.


        • Thank you for the feedback, one more question then…. do you think with the information given the 790cc/7865cc would be the absolute best option or would you have other recommendations??

          • You are very welcome. I would absolutely go with a 790cc/7865cc in your situation. The Series 7 still is the most comfortable and gentle shaver I’ve ever used (on par with the Series 9, but cheaper and easier to use — smaller head).


  21. Hello,
    Thanks for the extensive and informative review (I am a woman and know nothing about shavers).
    I am shopping (in Italy) for my brother who can no longer use a manual shaver due to parkinson disease.
    I looked for the panasonic you suggested Panasonic ES-LV65-S but it seems nowhere to be found.
    Was it discontinued?
    Should I opt for the next up? It is almost 140 euros.. but if it is a good choice then I bite the bullet. And, is the review for the vanished one still valid for the new one?
    Thank you very much

    • Hi Dalila,

      Thank you for the comment, much appreciated.

      The Panasonic ES-LV65-S is not discontinued, but this model can be difficult to find in Europe. I think the ES-LV67-A is the most widespread Arc 5 in Europe and also the more sensibly priced. It shaves just like the ES-LV65-S and if you can get a good deal on it, it’s a really good shaver.


  22. Hi I’m a female and am looking for an electric shaver for my face, my hair is very fine and skin is very sensitive, what would you recommend?

    • Hi,

      I think the Braun Series 3 ProSkin would be a good option. If your hair is very fine it will be more than enough for the job. Do proceed with care and only apply minimal pressure if it’s your first time using an electric shaver, but make sure to jeep the foils flat on the skin to avoid the hairs getting yanked. Also, if the hair is quite long it may need to be pre-trimmed before using the foil head.


  23. Hey!
    I know rotary shavers are generally quieter, but I would really like a foil shaver, which one would you recommend that isn’t so loud?
    Preferably in the 50-150$ price range.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Tim,

      I’m afraid all of them are loud, I haven’t used a foil shaver that stood out in particular as being (significantly) quieter. The more expensive ones to tend to vibrate less which can in turn make them sound a bit more muffled. Another thing that can affect this perception is the frequency of the sound. Panasonic shavers make this high pitched whine, while Braun shavers are raspier (lower frequency buzz). I’ve got many comments from users that own both and the opinions are extremely divisive, so it’s a very personal thing.

      I guess choosing one comes down to the type of sound you think it would be less annoying.

      In that price range I would probably avoid the Braun Series 8 and 3, those two are maybe a bit louder than the rest in the post. But again, that’s just how I (subjectively) perceive that noise.



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