The noise level is usually neglected when choosing an electric shaver. True – the performance of the razor should be the most important buying criterion. Performance is mostly determined by the razor head with its blades and shaving foils and by the motor. But most of the time, the next thing you notice is that the razor is annoyingly loud.
Generally speaking, razors may not be the loudest of personal care electronics. Hair dryers and epilators are strong contenders. Nevertheless, looking at electric shavers, many models reach a considerable and bothersome noise level.
Thinking about it, holding a loud electric shaver so close to your ears does not seem like the best idea and is not particularly gentle on the hearing. Since by design you must use the the shaver in the immediate vicinity of your ears, the noise level should occupy one of the first spots on your list of purchase criteria.
But there are other reasons for looking for an electric shaver without a lot of noise: You may be waking your whole household if you use the razor at an unfavorable time. Your morning shave could be a much quieter business quietly with the right model.
Quiet electric razors thus combine several advantages: they are gentler for the ears. They spare your household from being woken up early in the morning or losing their concentration whenever you decide you need a shave. Moreover, a good deal of people is simply quite sensitive to noise.
Thus, there are many good reasons to pay attention to the sound level of a razor and to try and get a quiet model.
The Philips Norelco AT830/41 is a quiet electric shaver. More precisely, it is a rotary razor and has 3 shaving heads, as is common for this type of shaver.
Rotary razors may have the edge over foils shavers when it comes to hair that grows in different directions. Since foil shavers have razor blades that are aligned in a linear fashion, you may have some difficulty to catch hair that grows wildly in all directions. Probably you will need to try several strokes from different directions until the hair is cut, eventually. This is where rotary razors come into play: with shaving heads moving in 4 directions in order to catch all hair-growth, they are said to be more suitable for people with stubborn hair. Notwithstanding, rotary shavers can be used by people with any type of hair.
Nearly all shavers from the Philips Noreclo series are said to be very quiet. Among others this includes the relatively cheap Philips Norelco S3310/81 and the somewhat more pricey Philips Norelco S8950/91.
The Braun 9370cc from the Braun Series 9 is a quiet shaver that is almost a guarantee for very good shaving results.
The shaving head contains five elements – 4 shaving elements, 2 of them with titanium coating and a skin protection element – in order to achieve a close and smooth shave. Vibrations in the shaver ensure that as much hair as possible is captured. The result is precise and efficient – very thorough and fast, especially considering it is an electric shaver. In all this the operating noise remains quiet and pleasant.
This quiet shaver is suitable for wet and dry use. Water, shaving foam or similar can therefore be used without problem when shaving.
The shaver’s battery takes 1 hour to charge, after which it can be used for 1 hour.
Quiet shaver – 60 dB (A) when shaving and trimming
The Panasonic ES-SL41-S is another electric shaver with a low noise level – both when shaving and trimming. The noise level is about 60 dB (A) for both modes of use.
The shaving head has 3 blades. Two different types of shaving foils have been used in its design. A fold-out long hair trimmer is another feature of this quiet shaver. Furthermore, it has a narrow, ergonomic handle and lies well and securely in the hand. The shaving result is satisfactory, although it might be better and shaving is not done with really fast. With a little time, however, the skin becomes relatively smooth.
The shaver can be used wet or dry. To wash it, open the two cleaning windows and rinse with running water.
The shaver gets charged in a charging station, a power cord is not provided. With about 8 hours for a full charge, recharging takes quite a long time. Overnight recharging or putting it in the charger whenever you don’t need it is a good habit with this shaver.
The charging progress is not displayed anywhere, neither on the shaver nor on the charging station. Thus, you never see when the device is fully charged. Accordingly, you also have no idea when the battery is empty or is about to run empty – the shaver simply stops working at some point.
The accessories that come with this shaver are rather minimalist, but this should not bother anyone who is primarily interested in a good shave.
Another relatively quiet shaver is the Panasonic ES-LV65. However, it is only relatively quiet, not one of the quietest. But this electric shaver can be quite impressive when it comes to its thoroughness, skin-protection and high quality – and all that with an acceptable operating noise. The noise level when shaving is about 63 dB (A), when trimming it is about 64 dB (A).
With its 5 razor blades and 14,000 vibrations, the Panasonic ES-LV65 is one of the best equipped shavers – and this shows not only on paper. The razor delivers very close shaving results.
Due to the 5 blades the razor head is relatively wide. One the one hand this is advantageous, as a larger amount of hair is caught in one stroke. However, on the other hand this can be a disadvantage, as you would need very good fine motor skills if you wanted to work on small skin areas in a very precise fashion.
To adapt optimally to the facial contours, the razor has a flexible, swivel razor head. If a fixed position is required, the razor head can be locked with a latch.
The device has 2 operating modes, firstly the sensor mode and secondly the normal mode. In the first, the beard density sensor automatically adjusts the vibrations of the razor blades depending on what the sensor measures. The alternative setting allows shaving as usual with a fixed number of vibrations.
The operating noise is relatively quiet and somewhat more high-frequency than is common in other razors. When thicker or longer hair is shaved, the electric shaver gets louder as the sensor adjusts the power upwards.
The result of working with this electric razor is a very close shave. Still, it is necessary to make several strokes over the same skin area. But the skin stays excellently protected with this razor.
The razor can be used both wet and dry. It can also be rinsed under running water. A fold-out long hair trimmer is another feature of this shaver.
There is an interlock to prevent accidentally switching the shaver On or Off.
When it comes to energy supply, this electric shaver can only be used with battery. Due to the linear motor the electric shaver does not weaken when the battery is running low, but works with constant power. The battery charging time is about 1 hour and allows for about 45 minutes of use. The battery status, shaving duration and shaving mode are shown on a display. A display also indicates when it is time to clean the razor and replace the shaving foils and blades.
A charging cord, case and other accessories are included with this relatively quiet shaver.
The Panasonic ES-LV95 is another relatively quiet electric shaver. The noise level is about 63 dB (A) when shaving, and about 64 dB (A) when trimming.
This model is quite similar to the aforementioned Panasonic ES-LV65. The 5 razor blades with up to 14,000 vibrations, the beard density sensor, the linear drive motor and the pop up trimmer are also part of this shaver. Furthermore it is suitable for wet and dry shaving.
The obvious decision criterion when looking for a quiet razor would be a decibel rating. However, far from all electric shavers have the manufacturer provide such information.
In general, noises up to about 50 dB (A) are perceived as moderate to quiet and noises up to about 40 dB (A) should fall into the category of quiet.
As obvious and helpful as decibels would be, mostly the manufacturer does not list them. Thus for most shavers you need to read reviews or look for other indicators to get an idea about how quiet they are. One of these indicators may be the following:
Power and noise level
Since a decibel rating is not provided for each and every electric shaver out there, another reference point must be used to estimate the noise level. A good indication of the noise level is given by the power of the electric shaver.
The lower the power of a razor, i.e. the wattage, the lower the noise level.
This general rule may not hold true in all cases, but this is the best you can work with in lack of other information. Thus you should keep an eye on this factor, but keep in mind that there are also relatively quiet shavers with high power. This may be due to their design, construction and technology.
Settings for quieter shaving
Using the shaver at full power all the time, it will not come as a surprise that this can be quite loud.
There are a few razors out there that automatically adjust their power to your beard growth. If the shaver does not work at high speeds all the time, the noise level will decrease.
But the prerequisite for this is that the basic noise level of the razor is already relatively quiet. Otherwise it is of little use if the noise level drops by a little by decreasing the power.
Automatic adjustment of shaver activity is usually implemented with a sensor for the beard density and a power controller.
Are rotary razors or foil razors quieter?
So now, foil razors or rotary razors, which are quieter?
In general, rotary razors are somewhat quieter than foil razors.
But you can also find a quiet foil razor, if you prefer this type of razor. However, it will take some time to wade through all of them, as there is a disproportionate amount of foil shavers that rumble like lawnmowers.
In spite of that, the above chart lists mostly foil razors. Since it is relatively easy to find a quiet rotary razor, it seems more useful to list quiet foil razors as there is quite a large amount of men who manage better with foil razors.
One reason for the generally higher noise level of foil razors is that they produce up to 14,000 vibrations per minute. This shows in the noise level. The change of direction when the blades oscillate doesn’t make it any better. Rotary razors, in comparison, work with far fewer rotations per minute.
The general properties of a foil shaver and a rotary shaver will be dealt with in the next section.
Rotary shaver or foil shaver?
The decision between a rotary razor or a foil razor primarily boils down to skin and hair type, as well as personal preferences and usage habits.
These factors are so individual that the question of which type of razor to choose can only be answered by trying them out and gathering your own experience.
In foil razors, oscillating blades are combined into a blade block and put behind one or more shaving foils. Two to five of these foils are common. The foils may differ as to their structures in order to catch all kinds of hair, which may have wildly different properties.
Rotary razors have rotating blades, which are located behind a round metal plate with perforations. Three round shear elements are common. It is recommended to use this type of razor in circular movements.
Although it is a personal decision in the end, there are a few clues on how to choose the electric shaver that suits you best.
You can use the following criteria to get an idea which type of electric razor may be the better choice for you:
daily shave or at least every 2 days
irregular shaving, sometimes unshaven for more than 2 days
Desired shaving Result
as precise, smooth and even as possible
quick and satisfactory – it doesn’t have to be perfect
all, particularly suitable for fine hair
all, particularly suitable for thick or frizzy hair, or hair that grows in different directions
Exact contours possible?
Control over the shaver
greater control over the razor
less finely controllable
tends to be louder, but quiet models can also be found
tends to be quieter than a foil razor
The shaving result is bound to be the most decisive criterion when choosing a quiet razor – after all, there must be a compromise between functionality and effectiveness, ease of use and noise level.
In the ideal case, the result is a very close shave – thorough, smooth, precise, and clean. No electric shaver will come very close to the result of a classic wet shave, but some models are quite close.
In general, the shaving result with foil razors is said to be more precise and thorough – but this also depends on the hair type. Thick, dense, strong or curly hair may be easier to tame with a rotary razor.
If longer hair is to be shaved, it is definitely advisable to shorten the hair first with a trimmer.
Gentleness to the skin and avoiding of skin irritation
For men with sensitive skin, electric shavers may generally be the better choice.
In contrast to classic wet shavers, the blades of electric shavers don’t come into direct contact with the skin. This reduces the likelihood of cuts and razor burn.
In traditional wet razors with an exposed blade, the hair is cut off below the skin. With electric razors, however, the blades are behind the shaving foil or a metal plate. You can think of this part as protecting the skin. What impact this protection has on your skin compared to mechanical shaving is easy to imagine. Electric razors are also more forgiving than traditional razors if you don’t have the right shaving technique.
You do not only have to decide between electric or classical, but also have to choose between foil razors and rotary razors. Here, individual factors come to the fore. Some men get skin irritation with rotary razors but not so with foil razors. For others it is exactly the other way around.
But especially during the familiarization phase, electric shavers can cause skin irritation. It is recommended to use the razor for at least a month before making a final decision – after this time the skin’s reaction to the shave usually improves considerably. Especially when it is your first time using an electric shaver – and even if you have the right technique – you shouldn’t be surprised at skin reactions in the beginning.
Blades and foils
When it comes to the blades and foils of an electric shaver, sharp blades and a variety of different shaving foils are advantageous. On the one hand, they cut hair as precisely and cleanly as possible, on the other hand, hair of different length and orientations can be caught in just a few strokes.
The angle of blades’ cut is also decisive for their sharpness. An acute angle that is as small as possible brings better results.
Variety of shaving foils
The surface structure of the shaving foils is also relevant for the shaving result.
There are various structures in the shaving foils in order to catch all types of hair – outliers regarding length or direction of growth, firm hair, curling hair, hair that sticks tightly to the skin.
When it comes to the number of shaving foils, 2 to 5 are common in a shaver. Several of the different types of shaving foils are combined and then installed together in a razor:
The basic shaving foils that are present in every shaver are designed to cut short stubble.
They usually work together with shaving foils that are optimized to catch long hair and shorten it so that it can be cut off using the first-mentioned shaving foils that specialize in short stubble hair.
Another type of shaving foil cuts the hair a little closer to the skin than the standard shaving foil. This serves the purpose of achieving a smooth shave.
There are also foils that are designed to lift hair up in order that the other foils can cut it. These foils are also supposed to handle hair that grow horizontally to the direction of shaving.
Rounded edges are an advantage because they do not penetrate the skin and thus help to protect it.
How often do blades and shaving foils have to be replaced?
Another decision criterion in favor of or against a specific quiet shaver is how often the blade block and shaving foils have to be replaced. The manufacturer’s information helps you get the picture.
The actual frequency of replacement naturally depends on the frequency of use. However, there are razors whose blades and foils do not wear out as quickly.
Follow-up costs – blades and shaving foils
Since the replacement of the blade block and shaving foils is associated with follow-up costs, it is advisable to take this point right into account when deciding on a particular electric shaver. With some models, the cost is so exorbitant that you can almost buy a new razor for the same money.
The prospect that replacement blades and foils will continue to be available for some time from now is also important. If several models from the manufacturer use the same blade block and the same shaving foils, it can be assumed that they will not disappear from the market too quickly.
Wet and dry use possible?
Most razor models that recently came on the market can be used both wet and dry. For safety reasons, these are always battery operated, you will not find an electric shaver with a power cord for use in the shower.
Using an electric razor in the wet may be a contradiction for some, as you could just stay with the classic wet razor. However, electric shavers are generally gentler on the skin and lead to less skin irritation. Only very few men achieve a perfectly smooth result with a dry shave. A wet shave with an electric shaver leads to better results. Shaving foam or shaving cream usually improve the result by a quite a bit.
Battery or power cord
The advantage of a battery-powered electric shaver is that it can be used more flexibly. Neither do you have to be near a power outlet, nor do you have to take a power adapter or charger with you on your travels, provided that you charge the shaver at home. You also avoid cable tangle.
Disadvantages of electric shavers with battery might be weakening or erratic shaving performance when the battery is running low. Though, in high quality models this problem is solved with linear motors that ensure smooth operation until the battery empties. Consistent power supply and performance can otherwise be achieved with a shaver with power cord.
Non-replaceable batteries are a nuisance of battery shavers. You should pay attention to this, unless you plan to buy an new shaver anyway once the battery reaches the end of its life.
Use in the shower is possible for some of the battery-operated electric shavers. However, this depends on the specific model. For safety reasons it is not possible with razors with a power cord.
Battery duration and battery charge time
Most of the shavers currently available only need a relatively short charging time of around 1 hour. This usually allows you to use them for around 40-60 minutes. With many models, a quick charging option allows to charge the electric shaver within a very short time frame just enough to use it for one shave. Fast charging is mostly done in a maximum of 5 minutes.
The battery life of your electric shaver should be as long as possible – this comes as no surprise. However, it is difficult to determine in advance if this will be the case. To a degree, it may depend on luck. Nonetheless it is useful to read customer reviews to get a better picture. With lithium-ion batteries you are on the right track.
All of this considered, it may be sensible to check if replacement batteries are available, just in case.
Charging station and cleaning station
Electric shavers come in two varieties with regard to charging: some only need a charging cable, whereas others depend on a charging station. This charging station may be small or large in size, depending on the model.
Some people find a charging station valuable because the shaver has its place and does not lie around randomly.
Combined cleaning and charging stations are particularly common among high-end razors. Inside this station, the shaver is automatically cleaned with an alcohol-based solution and then charged.
If you chose to go without a cleaning station, you can save a lot of money. Cleaning the shaver in the cleaning station mostly requires special cleaning cartridges or solutions for mixing. Especially the cleaning cartridges can be quite expensive – a cost that adds up over time.
Incidentally, cleaning stations are often quite noisy.
Accessories – case, care materials and more
When buying a quiet razor, accessories may be quite secondary. Still, you can take a look:
Most razors come with some accessories – this ranges from minimalist to superfluous bundles.
A case is useful for storing your shaver: hard shell is preferable to a simple cloth bag or a synthetic leather bag. However, you can easily go without one or find one yourself – maybe you even have a case of an old razor lying around.
With many shavers that do not have a cleaning station, cleaning materials such as oil and a cleaning brush are included in the package.
The long hair trimmers of many electric shavers are often very basic. Furthermore they tend to be too narrow, too imprecise or too rattly.
Usually they cannot stand up to comparison with a high-quality long hair trimmer.
If you really need a long hair trimmer to touch up more than a few contours, you usually have to look for a stand-alone long hair trimmer.
Ease of operation
A shaver should be simple and intuitive to operate. Few razors fail in this respect – which is also due to the fact that the only interaction between you and the shaver’s interface is to switch it on and off. The long hair trimmer integrated in almost all razors should be easily folded out and fixed to position.
When it comes to ergonomics, the key points are an ergonomically shaped handle and shaving elements that adapt well to the contours of the face. It is also helpful if you can easily shave your upper lip with the razor. If the shaver is too wide, it can be difficult to use under the nose.
Weight and size
Considering weight and size, the goal should be a light and comfortable razor. Low weight and not too massive design allow the shaver to be held comfortably in the hand for a long time. In addition, the razor should be well balanced. Top-heavy devices can be more difficult to control.
Locking the on/ off switch prevents the shaver from being turned on accidentally. If this happens, it is mostly when the razor ends up in the luggage and is tossed around. Another object pushes against the switch and the shaver starts discharging cheerfully. When you reach your destination, the shaver’s battery is empty. This is particularly annoying if you don’t have a charging cable with you.