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Updated: December 19, 2012 7:16 AM

Electric razors

Electric shavers are popular on men's gift lists for several reasons: They let you shave without the muss and fuss of lather and water, a real plus when you're traveling or if you like an afternoon touch-up at the office. And unlike blade razors, they avoid nicks, since the blades don't touch your skin.


Getting started

Electrics shavers cost more than a bucket load of blade razors. Expect to pay at least $60 for most models, and $150 or more for some. They're also expensive to maintain. You'll need to replace the head every six months to two years, at about $25 to $45 each. And once the rechargeable battery no longer holds a charge, replacing the entire shaver is often less expensive and easier than replacing the battery.

As this electric shaver guide will show, you needn't agonize too long over which electric shaver to buy. All the models we tested offer a money-back trial of 30 days or more—a good idea, because some manufacturers suggest that your skin and beard might need a while to adjust to a new shaving method. If you switch from a razor blade to an electric shaver, or even from a rotary shaver to a foil type or vice versa, give yourself at least a three-week trial period. If you've chosen the wrong model, simply return it and try another or ask for a refund.

How we tested

We bought samples of foil and rotary men's shavers and asked 16 male panelists to test the type of shaver they usually use. The panelists tried each shaver at home for a week. At the end of each week, they shaved in our lab and let our sensory staffers feel their faces, using sandpaper as a reference. The closest shave made the panelists' faces feel like fine, 1,000-grit polishing paper. We also judged noise and ease of cleaning, and we measured how quickly the batteries ran down.

Types

Men's electric shavers come with either foil or rotary cutting blades. Each type of electric shaver has its devotees. Women's shavers use foil cutters. (We haven't tested any women's models lately because they've consistently performed relatively poorly in our tests. But then, there's no reason why women can't use a men's shaver.)

Foil

Foil shavers have one or two floating heads designed to glide over facial contours, with cutters that oscillate behind a perforated screen. In the race for the closest shave, the men's foil shavers, on average, beat the men's rotaries by a whisker.




Rotary

Rotary shavers have three or four floating heads designed to glide over facial contours, with cutters that spin behind a fine grid. They tended to be quieter and easier to clean than foil shavers in our tests.




Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on MSN. Copyright © 2007-2011 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

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