For guys who want a clean shave that’s quicker (and often, closer) than using a manual razor, there’s no better option than a good electric rotary shaver.
Though I’ve gone on record stating that I personally prefer foil shavers, even I have to admit that modern rotaries provide a great shave.
Having three rotary heads moving in a circular motion helps make short work of coarse, long hair, resulting in a smooth shave that requires fewer passes than traditional razor blades.
And while older models weren’t always easy to move in different directions, today’s crop of rotaries tend to have a much more flexible head, resulting in less skin irritation, even when you’re dry shaving.
To help you choose the best electric shaver, in this post we’ll round up the best rotary shavers on the market, and explain how each one can meet your shaving needs.
A (Quick) Note on Who Makes the Best Rotary Shavers
(Spoiler Alert: It Ain’t a Long List)
In the world of rotary shavers, there’s really only one big player in the game: Philips Norelco.
Whereas the Panasonic Arc and Braun Series duke it out for top spot in the foil razor market (followed closely by the Remington F and other second-tier options), the rotary market is a lot less crowded.
Most of the best electric razors in this space are made by Philips Norelco, which is why you see so damn many of them listed below.
While it’s possible to find a few cheaply made models from other brands, as a rule of thumb Norelco is going to be your best option for a good rotary.
The good news is that they offer a nice mix of high-end models that come with all the bells and whistles, and cheap-and-cheerful shavers that come at a more reasonable price point.
So even though you don’t have much choice in who makes your rotary, each of the different model numbers below differ quite a bit in terms of features, performance and price range.
The (Absolute) Best Electric Rotary Shavers
Breaking Down the Best Rotary Razors for a Clean, Comfortable Shave
Overall Best Rotary Shaver ↓
- 4.6 Stars
- 3,236 Reviews
Our top pick is the model that Norelco calls “the Prestige,” and it easily earns top spot on our list because it lives up to its (admittedly lofty) nickname.
It’s got a powerful motor that can easily handle coarse, curly and longer hairs, a sensor that checks your hair density 15 times per second and automatically adapts to your hair’s length and density, and Norelco’s “nanotech” precision blades, which deliver the closest shave of any rotary model on the market.
But what’s particularly appealing about the Prestige is the way it balances power and precision.
In addition to enough blade speed to give you a close cut in a lot less time than manual razors, it also has what Norelco calls their “skin comfort rings,” which are covered in an anti-friction coating that helps the pivoting head glide smooth and provide a gentle shave.
It can be used on both wet and dry skin (though I recommend wet shaving with a bit of shaving cream for best results), and has a lithium ion battery that provides up to 60 minutes of shaving time on a single charge.
LThe 9000 Prestige shaves incredibly close (I use closeness setting 2), literally glides over your skin, and if it was any quieter, it would be silent.
You get 100 minutes on a full charge and it recharges in an hour. The display is easy to read and gives you the complete status of your razor. It is very well balanced and feels great in your hand…
You owe it to indulge yourself and splurge on the 9000 Prestige.
Highest Quality Rotary Shaver ↓
- 4.6 Stars
- 802 Reviews
While the 9000 Prestige listed above was our pick for the overall best rotary shaver, part of our consideration was price, and the great value for money proposition it provides.
But the 9800 may actually be a better choice for those who aren’t constrained by budget concerns, and don’t mind paying a little extra money for more expensive shavers that offer even more features.
With the 9800, by far the biggest upgrade it provides over previous models is a color-coated pressure guard sensor under the shaving head that dramatically increases its ease of use.
The sensor lights up while you’re shaving and changes color to indicate whether you’re pressing the shaver head too hard, too soft, or just right.
This is a super handy feature, because it essentially trains you to use the perfect amount of pressure each time, which not only makes for a quick shave, but also helps prevent razor burn and irritation (especially in sensitive areas).
In addition to the sensor feature, the 9800 also scores bonus points because it comes with a cleaning station that makes it easy to maintain the foil heads, and a quick charge feature that lets you plug in for just five minutes to get enough power for a good shave.
For those who don’t mind shelling out for a top-of-the-line model, this is probably the single best rotary shaver for daily use.
I have used several Philips razors and this by far is the best!
I like the color coded light on the head that indicates the right amount of pressure for a nice close shave. The trimmer is easy to use too!
Best Value Rotary Shaver ↓
- 4.6 Stars
- 802 Reviews
The Norelco 9500 is essentially the exact same shaver as the 9800 model listed above, but it’s significantly cheaper, for one good reason:
It doesn’t come with the charging/cleaning station that the 9800 comes with.
This is a bit of a bummer for guys like me, who hate cleaning and maintaining rotary blades manually.
But it’s a huge plus if you want to get all the other features of the 9800 (including the multi-color pressure sensor) without breaking the bank.
If you know how to maintain sharp blades manually (or don’t mind learning), this is easily the best-value deal on the market.
Switched from Braun that was irritating my skin while leaving stubble even with aggressive “scrubbing”. The Norelco is gentle, quiet, and gives a much closer shave in half the time.
(Shaver) Head to (Shaver) Head:
Comparing the 9500 and 9000 Prestige
If you’re still not sure whether you should opt for the 9000 Prestige or the 9800/9500, I found a great video from Amazon user Chris’s and Krzysztof’s video Gear that provides a pretty good head-to-head comparison.
(It only compares the 9000 to the 9500, but since the 9800 and the 9500 are identical shavers, it essentially covers all three of the models listed above.)
For some reason you can’t embed Amazon videos the way you can with YouTube videos, but you can click the button below to view the three-minute video.
- 4.5 Stars
- 3,383 Reviews
The 7700 was Philips’ flagship rotary model a few years back, but has since been supplanted by the 9000 series, which includes all of the shavers listed above.
With only 90,000 cutting actions per minute it’s not quite as powerful as the three models above, but this is still a great razor that can cut through all hair types, including coarse, dense and curly hair, with minimal resistance.
Plus, while it may not have the same power as the newer models, it still comes with Norelco’s “ComfortGlide” rings and “SkinProtect” blades, both of which help you avoid razor bumps and irritation.
My old Philips Norelco shaver gave up the ghost, so I ordered this one as a replacement and I love it.
I get a very close shave, and the guided shave feature really helps me get a close shave with no irritation.
The self-cleaning feature is really nice, and the fact that it connects to my iPhone via bluetooth is really helpful. It tracks my shaves, the cleanings and when I need to order more cleaning pods.
Best Rotary Shaver for Bald Head ↓
- 5 Stars
- 16,035 Reviews
One of the few non-Norelcos on our list, we named Freebird’s rotary head shaver the overall best clippers for shaving your head.
Specifically designed for head shaving, the FlexSeries is for shaving your head what the Manscaped Lawn Mower is for shaving your pubes:
A purpose-built device designed for a specific task—shaving body hair in sensitive and hard-to-see areas.
It has a unique shape that makes it easy to grasp and maneuver around your dome and uses soft alloy blades that give you a close shave while minimizing the risk of nicks and cuts.
(Which are even more common when shaving your head, since you have to hold the device at weird angles and don’t always have the best visibility.)
Took me 30 minutes to use the first time. Why? Because I actually enjoyed shaving my head for the first time in my life and used everything it came with.
Instead of looking like a ragged mess per usual, I would deem myself presentable at this point!
bought the bare package and couldn’t be happier- simple, easy to clean, quick to use (if you need to).
– Tyler T.
- 4.5 Stars
- 32,171 Reviews
Another older model, the 5300 is the precursor to both the 7000 and 9000 series, so it doesn’t have quite as many features as its successors.
(Though it does offer a respectable 90,000 cutting actions per minute, which is on par with the 7700 listed above.)
Its rechargeable battery provides 60 minutes of use on a single one-hour charge and it can be used as either a dry or wet razor.
But the real benefit of going with older models like the 5300 is the price.
Much as last year’s iPhone becomes significantly cheaper once this year’s model comes out, Norelco’s shavers fall in price with each successive new release, allowing you to grab the previous generation’s flagship for a song.
So if you don’t mind foregoing some of the more modern features, this is a good shaver at a great price.
This is my first electric shaver and I gotta say I’m impressed. I always just used a simple razor and it took too long and was tedious.
This thing blew my expectations out of the water at a great price. I don’t have a lot of facial hair but I was able to finish in about 10-15 mins if not less.
It was quick, easy and satisfying.I highly recommend it!
- 4.5 Stars
- 32,171 Reviews
The newer Norelco shavers listed above include all manner of features and upgrades to offer a premium shave.
But models in Norelco’s more basic 3000 and 2000 lines are geared toward guys who just want a decent shave at a reasonable price.
And within that no-frills group, the 3800 is easily the best of the bunch. It’s got a
It’s got a five-directional pivot head that does a pretty good job following the contours of your face and maintaining close contact with your skin, a three-level battery indicator that lets you know when it’s getting time to recharge, and a pop-up trimmer for detail work around your sideburns or mustache.
This is a very good razor. The battery life is excellent. I can get two or more shaves out of the battery. Most razors I only get a little more than one.
The blade quality is very good. It doesn’t scrape my face or hurt. It’s easy to clean. I
buy a couple a year so I’m someone that samples many electric razors. I really like it. I’m buying another one.
- 4.3 Stars
- 39,780 Reviews
Moving down in terms of both features and price, the 2300 is essentially an older, less advanced version of the 3800 listed above.
Its shaver head only pivots in four directions, as opposed to the five directions offered by the 3800, so it’s not quite as flexible.
And it’s older battery offers a shorter lifespan: the 2300 provides just 40 minutes of use on a single charge, whereas the 3800 (and all the models above) give you up to an hour.
I recently purchased the Philips Norelco Shaver 2300 and I am extremely impressed with its performance.
The shaver is very easy to use and provides a close, comfortable shave every time. The pop-up trimmer is a great feature and makes it easy to trim and shape my facial hair.
- 4.2 Stars
- 699 Reviews
Another non-Norelco option, Remington’s WeTech shaver boasts blades that are coated in titanium, which helps them stay sharper longer than your standard stainless steel blades.
But the real advantage of the Remington is that it comes with a plastic attachment that can be added to the shaver head so that it leaves you with some stubble, rather than shaving you clean.
Attachments like this are pretty rare for rotary shavers, and some guys will appreciate having the option of maintaining a little growth.
(And as Irreverent Gent founder Dave Bowden has pointed out, keeping some stubble is one of the best ways to up your attractiveness and look more handsome.)
This was a birthday present for my husband. He likes it very well…for the trimmer and for the way it shaves.
He’s also been impressed with the ability to run it under the faucet to clean out. Definitely worth a few extra bucks.
- 4.5 Stars
- 32,171 Reviews
Another entry from the 3000 series, the 3500 is essentially the same shaver as the 3800 model listed above, just as the newer generation 9500 and 9800 are the same.
As with those newer models, the big difference here is that the 3500 doesn’t come with a charging station, while the 3800 does.
I was skeptical about it giving a good wet shave but it does exactly that. Very comfortable, quick shaving with a wet face and traditional white shave cream.
As I age the shape of my face changes and so using the old safety razor was getting difficult, particularly at the corners of my mouth.
With this shaver I can shave closely there without cutting myself.
How to Use a Rotary Shaver
By now you should have a pretty good idea of which rotary shaver will be right for you.
But owning a good rotary is one thing; knowing how to use it is another.
Whether this is your first time rocking a rotary or you’ve been at it for years, follow the tips below to make sure you’re getting the most out of whichever model you choose.
Prep Your Skin
Before you start shaving, it’s important to prepare your skin.
If you’re using a wet shaver, make sure to wet your face with warm water to soften the hairs and open up your pores.
If you’re using a dry shaver, it’s still a good idea to wash your face to remove any dirt or oils that could get in the way of a close shave. (Just make sure to dry your face thoroughly before beginning to shave.)
Choose the Right Blades
As mentioned above, different rotary shavers come with different types of blades, so it’s important to choose the right ones for your skin type.
If you have sensitive skin, look for hypoallergenic blades that are gentle on the skin.
But if you have thicker, coarser hairs, you may want to opt for blades with a higher cutting power.
Hold the Shaver Correctly
(You’d be surprised how many guys [email protected] this part up)
To get the best results with a rotary shaver, it’s important to hold it correctly.
The shaver should be held at a slight angle, with the blades facing downward towards your skin. This will help to cut the hairs more effectively and reduce the risk of nicks and cuts.
Remington has a good video on YouTube that shows you how to use their products, but the techniques apply to pretty much any rotary shaver.
Shave in the Direction of Hair Growth
When shaving with a rotary shaver, it’s important to go in the direction of hair growth to minimize irritation and reduce the risk of ingrown hairs.
Start at the neck and work your way upwards, following the natural contours of your face.
Rinse and Dry the Shaver – Every. Single. Time.
After you’re finished shaving, make sure to rinse the shaver thoroughly under running water.
This will help to remove any stray hairs and keep the blades in good condition. Then, dry the shaver thoroughly before storing it away.
More Resources ↓
More Men’s Style Advice & Grooming Tips From Irreverent Gent:
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Banner image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock; Illustration by Irreverent Gent