Pepsi or Coke? Braun or Philips? Everyone has a favorite product. For me, I can’t live without my rotary shaver. I made the switch from foil to rotary five years ago and haven’t looked back.
Why? Well, I found that rotary shavers cut more hairs per pass. They reduce my shaving time by upwards of ten minutes. Add up that time over five years and you can see why I love these machines!
Yet with all my years of rotary experience, I’ve learned that some rotary electric razors perform better than others. And price isn’t the only sign of a good shaver. You can find great shaver deals in both entry-level models and the high-performance flagships.
To help you navigate the complicated world of rotary shavers, I’ve written this ultimate guide. Below, you’ll not only find the best rotary shaver for you, but how to use it and how to keep it running for years and years.
Table Of Contents
- Best Rotary Shaver – Comparison
- The Top 7 Rotary Shaver Reviews
- Philips Norelco Shaver 9700
- Philips Norelco Shaver 8900
- Philips Norelco Shaver 6800
- Skull Shaver Pitbull Gold Electric Razor
- Philips Norelco Shaver 4500
- AsaVea Men’s 5-in-1 Electric Shaver & Grooming Kit
- SweetLF 3D Rechargeable Waterproof IPX7 Electric Rotary Shaver
- 7 Considerations While Choosing the Best Rotary Shaver
- Why Use a Rotary Shaver?
- A Quick Guide on How to Shave with a Rotary Shaver
- Important Rotary Shaver Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
- My Verdict
Best Rotary Shaver – Comparison
|Model||Contouring||Run time||Charge times||Price|
|Philips Norelco Shaver 9700||8 directions||60 minutes||60 minutes|
|Philips Norelco 8900||8 directions||50 minutes||60 minutes|
|Philips Norelco 6800||8 directions||50 minutes||60 minutes|
|Skull Shaver Pitbull Gold||Any directions||90 minutes||150 minutes|
|Philips Norelco 4500||4 directions||50 minutes||60 minutes|
|AsaVea Men’s 5-in-1||Any directions||60 minutes||120 minutes|
|SweetLF 3D IPX7||4 directions||120 minutes||60 minutes|
How Do Rotary Shavers Work?
A rotary shaver isn’t hard to spot on a store shelf. The general design has stayed the same for the last 80 years. A rotary shaver has three circular blade elements in a triangular configuration. Each of the three elements has its own foil screen, blade, and rotating drive.
When you turn the device on, a motor sends power to the three rotating blades. Rotary shavers boast advanced articulating head technology to reach hard to cut hairs on your neck and face.
With a rotary shaver you must rotate the head in circular motions so that the foils can pick up hair. This makes them a perfect choice for consumers with facial hair sprouting in many directions. Foil shavers are quiet and easy to clean. Because there’s less stress on the individual elements, they wear slowly.
The Top 7 Rotary Shaver Reviews
We start the list with my favorite, the Philips Norelco 9700 rotary shaver. This model wasn’t my first rotary purchase. But ever since I used this device, I haven’t found a product that can replicate its performance or smooth results.
The 9700 boasts Philips’s advanced articulating technology, with 8-directional movement. The company argues that the additional contouring boosts the number of hairs cut by 20% and the closeness of your overall shave by 30%.
In practice, I can’t speak to the exact percentages. But I can say that the shaver cuts noticeably closer. I shave for less time than I did with previous models in the Norelco lineup.
There’s a lot more here that could contribute to the peppy performance of the 9700. For example, the V-Track Precision Blades PRO self sharpen as they spin and can slice your three-day growth in one pass. And the unique dual foil design captures hairs from multiple angles.
It used to be the case that consumers with sensitive skin shouldn’t buy rotary shavers. The Philips Norelco 9700 kicks that assumption to the curb with multiple speed settings. By switching the device over to sensitive mode, the blades spin less frequently to reduce irritation. You can up the speed to normal for the classic Philips experience, or click it over to Fast to save time before work.
I love the all-digital screen and smart design choices. And I’m not the only one. The device won at the 2015 iF Design Awards for its sleek handle and eye-catching interface. You can feel the difference as you use the 9700, too. It sits in your hand comfortably no matter how you grip it. The buttons are high enough on the device that you won’t hit them by accident.
As the 9700 is one of Norelco’s premium packages, it ships with the SmartClean system. The tank housed in the bottom of the unit slides out so you can fill it with detergent.
The detergent lasts around three months and a cleaning cycle takes around three hours. Once the cycle has completed, the shaver is clean and smells fresh. All this said, I don’t see the SmartClean as a necessity. The shaver cuts just as well without it.
I found the shaver worked best in the shower and with shaving cream, but you can just as easily use it without water and achieve a clean shave. The results are continually smooth, and the blades won’t need replacing for at least a year. If you can afford the Philips 9700, I highly recommend it.
Philips has been the leading manufacturer of rotary shavers since its inception in the mid-20th century. And in the robust lineup of Philips Norelco Shavers, the 8900 achieves a rare balance between utility, speed, and features.
Like the 9700, the 8900 boasts 8-directional contouring or what Philips has dubbed its Contour Detect Technology. With a 360-degree articulating neck and multiple back-and-forth movement pivots on the individual blades, achieving a butter-smooth shave with fewer passes is within your reach.
This is a wet and dry shaver than can be used in the shower or at the bathroom sink. Regardless of your preferred method of shaving it will deliver an excellent shave. Their patented Aquatech technology has been an industry standard since its release on the first waterproof shavers.
Another ingredient in the recipe of success of the 8900 is the V-Track Precision Blades. By engineering the blades to angle directly against the foil’s surface, they self sharpen while also cutting your hair. Replacing the blades is easy, too.
By pressing a button on the neck of the shaver, the head pops off. That gives you access to the blades and foils to clean them or replace them. But don’t worry, you won’t have to swap out blades for at least a year. Even better, the shaver will tell you when the time arrives.
I liked the 8900’s interface. There’s just enough information to know when charge the rotary shaver, when to replace the blades, and when you’ve locked the articulating head during travel.
I also enjoyed the twist on beard trimmer. This is a tough and well-built trimmer. Better than what you’ll find on other shavers, foil or rotary. The comb guard won’t help you trim a long beard, but for sideburns and mustache maintenance, it’s a terrific add-on.
The Philips Norelco 8900 ships with a charger, beard trimmer, and hard-shell travel case. You cannot use the shaver when it’s plugged in. Thankfully, zero to full with this Li-ion battery takes less than an hour. Additionally, I found I had to recharge this shaver every seven to ten days.
This is a great option for those looking into a rotary shaver that offers a close shave. If you can find it on a sale, even better.
While it may seem like I’m just picking Philips Norelco models at random, there’s a method to my madness. There are many models that Norelco has produced that have purchase-worthy innovations.
If the 9700 added a digital interface and high-performance blades, and the 8900 provided a durable hand unit, then the 6800 revamps the three-head shaving system to be more comfortable for those with sensitivity.
Using the 6800 is a smooth and nick-free experience. This isn’t just because of the Contour Detect technology, which I’ve mentioned a few times now. Instead, this shaver boasts comfort rings and a Skin Protect blade system.
By installing large, soft rubber rings around the three rotating blades, Philips achieved another level of skin protection. The unique coating they applied to the rings recalls the gel strips on safety razors. But this stuff doesn’t wear off or goop up on your face. You just get a smooth experience one shave after the next.
I really liked the Skin Protect blade system. The blades are fabricated in a way that keeps them sharp for over a year. Instead of catching too many hairs and pulling your skin, the shaver will pass by the hairs and allow another rotating head along the path to pick them up.
If you’re prone to redness and irritation even with the comfort rings and Skin Protect blades, you can switch on Skin Guard Mode. This patented feature drops the rotational speed of the blades to further reduce tugging or catching hair. Admittedly, there’s a downside to this feature. The 6800 won’t shave as fast as the 9700 and the 8900, but it makes up for it in less irritation and redness.
Like most of the Philips Norelco shavers, the 6800 can be used wet and dry thanks to the Aquatech seals installed throughout the device. I found the electric rotary shaver performed well either wet or dry. Looking back on it now, however, I’d give the slight edge to dry shaving. The comfort rings can get sticky in the shower.
To round out the package, you get a pop-up trimmer that’s well suited for cleaning up your hairline or cutting down your five-day stubble. Remember that, like many of the newer Norelco rotary shavers, you cannot use the 6800 while it’s charging. But the li-ion battery and 5-minute quick charge should make that issue moot for most consumers.
Skull Shaver began in 2013 when the owner Neel Kulshreshtha could not for the life of himself find an electric shaver that smoothed out his balding head. Since product launch, the company has fostered a dedicated following across North America of balding men with similar woes.
The obvious difference you’ll notice with the Skull Shaver Pitbull Gold Electric Shaver is the unique design. Unlike every other rotary shaver on the market, you hold the shaver’s base and press the blades directly down onto your face or head.
You would think the Skull Shaver would take some getting used to, but the concept clicked with me after a few minutes. The feeling reminds me of buffing a car. By holding the shaver in your palm, you can move your arm in circular motions easily and smoothly.
Smoothness is a word you’ll hear often with the Pitbull Gold. With five rotary blades, the device ups the standard three blades of other rotary shavers. The extra blades cut down your shaving time, especially for those who shave their heads.
Without advanced contouring, the five rotary blades would be useless. Thankfully, the blades sport multi-directional flexing to accurately follow the shape of your face, neck, and head.
The Pitbull series by Skull Shaver flaunts IPX5 water-resistant technology. This feature enables you to shower with the device without shorting the circuitry. Even better, the shaver head is fully washable. From my research, the blades should last you about a year.
I found the battery to be one of the few features on the Skull Shaver that was less than stellar. Although the shaver ships with a Li-ion battery, you won’t get over thirty minutes of charge. That’s around five days, far below the seven-day norm of other rotary shavers.
To counteract this issue, Skull Shaver installed a fast-charge system that quickly charges the device within an hour. And unlike most modern rotary shavers, the Pitbull can be used when plugged in.
I recommend this shaver for those of you that don the bald look and are tired of missing spots with your current shaver. Those that plan to only shave their face should look elsewhere on my list.
Sometimes all you need is the essentials. Whether you’re looking for the perfect travel rotary razor or you want the best Philips Norelco offers at the lowest price, the 4500 is your top choice.
When customers ask me to point them towards the best budget shaver, my finger lands here. The 4500 has everything you’ll need for a smooth shave without the inflated price for all the extras and conveniences.
The Pivot, Flex, and Float System installed in the shaver’s head creates four contouring movements. The blades tilt and pivot independently and the head flexes inward to conform to the shape of your chin, jaw, and head.
The responsive movements wouldn’t matter if you didn’t have sharp blades and innovative foils to snatch up and cut your beard. Thankfully, the 4500 introduces Philips’ DualPrecision technology. The foils on this shaver contain two blades and three different foil patterns. This helps cut more hair per pass and lift troublesome whiskers that sit close to the skin.
This is a wet and dry rotary shaver, thanks to the company’s AquaTech seals. In my tests, I found it performed adequately as both a dry shaver on the road and a wet shaver in the shower. That means it’s perfect for the consumer that likes to mix up their shaving routine.
One of my favorite aspects of the Philips Norelco 4500 is that it’s dead simple to clean and maintain. A latch on the side of the shaver pops open the head. After every shave, just rinse out the inside and behind the blades.
Some of you may balk at its lack of LED indicators. But I think there’s enough here to tell you everything you need. Although you have no timers or battery percentage readouts, you will know when the shaver has reached full charge, when to change the blades, and when to charge the battery.
I think this is a great shaver for those that want a bare-bones rotary shaver that provides consistently smooth shaves. You won’t find all the extras found on other Philips models, but who cares?
Were you enticed by Skull Shaver’s innovative rotary shaver but couldn’t justify the price? Then consider AsaVea’s robust and affordable palm-sized rotary shaver.
AsaVea has been a name in the beauty industry for decades. When they entered the men’s hygiene space, they wanted to bring the same value and smart design choices that propelled them into the homes of millions of American women.
Their 5-in-1 Men’s Electric Shaver and Grooming Kit isn’t just an affordable alternative. It’s a product I found worthy of my list, and I think it’s worthy of your bathroom, too.
This is a five head rotary electric razor that you hold in the palm of your hand. This design makes it ideal for head shaving, but AsaVea has included enough extra materials to deem it worthy of those solely focused on shaving their face.
The five heads come installed with Precision Ultra blades capable of cutting hairs of different lengths in one pass. And with the HyperFlex technology, each head pivots on its own axis to match the curves and bumps of your face.
The quality of shave with AsaVea’s device shocked me. At this price point, I didn’t think it could match Skull Shaver’s patented technology, but it does. I liked the added Li-ion battery which provides a steady and reliable shave upwards for five to six days.
Holding the shaver is easy and moving it around your face and head feels intuitive. You won’t see many indicators on the handle, just a charging light and low battery indicator. But what it lacks in LED display it gains in extras.
This little device ships with a trove of extras. You get a beard and hairline trimmer, a pre-shave massage brush, a deep-clean facial brush, a nose hair clipper, and the shaving head. That’s a lot of extras packed into a small box.
I recommend AsaVea’s 5-in-1 Electric Rotary Shaver for those that want to shave their head and face. Alternatively, it’s a great product for anyone combing the internet for a worthy alternative to Philips products.
SweetLF’s rotary shavers have garnered a steady stream of praise from their online customers. In fact, it was an online customer that originally turned me onto this Chinese brand.
Their IPX7 Rechargeable Waterproof Electric Rotary Shaver seemed like a dud when I pulled it out of the box. The device was as light as an empty soup can and just a hollow. But once I turned it on and tried it, I realized what those rave reviews were getting at. This device works way better than it should.
With 120 minutes of use before requiring a recharge, I shaved for two weeks prior to plugging this thing in. That’s well above the rotary shaver average.
I like how close the shaving heads are to one another. There’s only a small gap in the middle, and thanks to the large foils, shaving took me a brisk six minutes.
This is a four-direction contouring rotary device, which means you get a pivoting head and tilting heads. The blades are sharp, and the device had no problem cutting through my three-day growth.
As a waterproof razor, you can take this device in the shower and use a lather. For those that enjoy dry shaving, I found SweetLF’s IPX7 to work just as good without shaving cream as it did with shaving cream.
The pop-up trimmer and shaving head work identically to the Philips Norelco 4500. I had no problems with the set up on that device and I have no problems here.
I will admit that, at times, I felt like I was using a bargain version of the Philips brand. But when the results are just as good as the 4500 and replacement blades cost a fraction of the price, I see no reason not to recommend this shaver for bargain hunters. If you’re looking to save money while buying the best rotary razor, SweetLF’s IPX7 is an easy pick.
7 Considerations While Choosing the Best Rotary Shaver
There’s a lot that goes into every purchasing decision you make, even if you aren’t entirely aware of it. Below, I’ve listed the top considerations that you should think about before choosing which shaver to buy.
Battery Life Rating
Although all 7 products on my list are cordless, the battery you’ll find hidden inside the handle can be either a Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) or Nickle-Metal Hydride (NiMH).
Whenever possible, buy Li-ion batteries. NiMH is an old technology and batteries composed of this substance age poorly, losing their memory and operating for shorter and shorter amounts of time.
Li-ion is more expensive, but the shaver will last longer. Remember, when a battery dies, you must buy a new shaver.
Quality of Contouring System
Depending on your reason for buying a rotary shaver, you may want to invest in upgraded contouring. Rotary shavers depend on the number of articulating pieces to cut more hair per pass than foil shavers. So if you shave your head or have trouble shaving your neck, consider a shaver with at least four articulating joints.
Including a Cleaning Station
There are a few reasons to spend the extra money on a cleaning station. For one, if in the past you haven’t bothered to clean your razors, then the investment is likely worth it. And two, if you’re spending the money on a more expensive shaver, cleaning stations ensure that the costly blades will last longer.
These stations are by no means required. You can just as easily wash the shaver on your own. It’s more about being realistic with your habits.
Wet Versus Dry Shaving
If you plan to use the electric razor in the shower, check that the product is waterproof. Unlike foil devices, most rotary shavers can be used both wet and dry.
The cheaper rotary shavers, however, often toss out wet shaving. You can find fantastic deals on dry rotary shavers. But you’ll lose out on the ability to take your shaver into the shower.
Quality of Included Trimmer
Pop-up trimmers matter more to some men than others. Personally, I like the peace of mind. Knowing the trimmer included with my shaver can edge my sideburns and trim my face saves me money on buying a dedicated device.
For those of you that don’t enjoy shaving every day, or shave once every three to four days, buy a rotary shaver with a well-rated trimmer. The razors that ship with detachable trimmers are of higher quality than the ones built into the device.
Travel-Worthiness of Shaver
I love it when a rotary shaver comes with a hard-shell travel case. Even better is when the shaver has a travel lock. That way, the head doesn’t bend or snap on the road or while being loaded by gorilla-armed airport luggage handlers.
If you travel coast to coast or continent to continent, I highly recommend buying a shaver with fantastic travel features. I make sure to mention my favorites in the reviews.
Stay Within Budget
The biggest consideration you should have in your mind is money. Don’t over-spend, even on features you deem worth the expense.
While you’re okay with spending more than you should, once you have the shaver for a week or two at home, the buyer’s remorse will creep in. I found the best way to be content with your purchase is to realistically arrive at a number you can afford to spend and stick to it.
Why Use a Rotary Shaver?
No doubt you’ve pondered why some people buy rotary shavers and some people buy foil shavers. The truth is, there’s more to the choice than just your preferences. You’ll find that a rotary shaver excels in certain situations and it may be entirely possible that your ideal choice for a daily shaver is one with rotary blades.
Here are my top five reasons to use a rotary shaver
You Desire a Quiet Shaver
Whether you live with a light sleeper or you simply enjoy silence in the mornings, a rotary shaver is your ideal choice when you want a quiet shave. Thanks to the smaller blade elements, many rotary electric razors operate at near-whisper sound levels.
You Have Thick or Fast-Growing Facial Hair
Rotary shavers share a special place in the hearts of men that have a lot of facial hair or that have fast -rowing facial hair. The head of a rotary shaver is much bigger than most foil shavers, so a rotary shaver can cut more hair in less time.
Also, a rotary shaver’s foils catch long hair in one or two passes. So if you have longer facial hair and miss a day or two, you won’t stand there for thirty minutes trying to cut down that jungle-thick beard.
You Do Not Have Sensitive Skin
The circular motions required by rotary shavers have some drawbacks. The biggest issue I find with consumers is that the shaver head can irritate sensitive skin.
Some manufacturers have added gel strips or soft plastic guards to ease the sensitivity issues on their higher-end devices. But if you can’t afford a sensitive skin rotary shaver, you may need to buy a foil shaver.
You Have Hair That Grows in Many Directions
If you look in the mirror after shaving and notice stray hairs on your neck, face, or head, then it may be time to switch to a rotary shaver.
The combination of foil design and concentric shaving patterns increases the likelihood that a rotary shaver can pick up more hair in fewer passes. The rotating motion also lifts hairs that stick close to your skin.
You Shave Your Head
A rotary shaver performs much better on round surfaces, like your chin and your head. So those of you that desire a shaver that can clean up your face, neck, and head, then buy a rotary. Many of the devices today have articulating heads that contour incredibly well to your head, saving you time going over troublesome areas like the back of your head.
A Quick Guide on How to Shave with a Rotary Shaver
While the basics of shaving with a rotary shaver differ little from a foil shaver or straight razor, there are some important quirks and tips. Before you shave with your new rotary shaver, check out by useful guide below.
Step 1: Pre-Trim (if Necessary)
If you’re like me, one reason you like rotary shavers if that they can handle three-day stubble. But alas, sometimes you go four or five days without shaving, especially after a week-long Game of Thrones binge. So pop open or snap in the included trimmer and cut down your whiskers.
Step 2: Wash Face and Neck
While you may think you’re clean enough to shave, oil and dirt can reach your follicles and reduce the efficiency of your shaver. Use warm water and an oil-free cleanser to wash away any dirt that built up through the day or as you slept.
Step 3: Lather or Wet Face
This is the part where you choose your shaving method. Most rotary shavers can work with lather, a dry face, or a wet face, like in the shower.
The choice is yours. I’ve noticed that certain shavers operate better with lather and some work better without. So if your shaver is new to you, don’t be afraid to try various methods.
Step 4: Check Shaver, Choose Setting
Always double-check the foils and moving elements of your shaver before turning it on. Your kids, wife, or roommate could have accidentally knocked it over and damaged the foil.
By getting into the habit of checking your shaver, you reduce the chances of cutting your face. Also, if your shaver has multiple settings, such as high intensity or sensitive skin mode, now is the time to choose.
Step 5: Shave with Circular Motions
When you shave with a rotary electric razor, it’s crucial that you use the right technique. You must move the shaver in small circles. Clockwise and counter-clockwise, it doesn’t matter. That’s because the blade moves very fast, thousands of rotations per second.
Step 6: Rinse Face and Shaver
Never forget to rinse your shaver after each use. This is doubly true if you use a shaving cream or lather.
I like to rinse and set my shaver to dry before I rinse my face. That way, when I’m done cleaning up my face I just have to walk away. If your rotary shaver shipped with a cleaning station, now is the time to set it and forget it.
Step 7: Don’t Forget to Dry the Shaver!
I can’t stress enough how important it is that you store your shaver after it has dried. I like to rest mine upside down on the counter. Some shavers ship with a holster, too. Whatever you do, don’t lay it flat on your bathroom countertop. Dry shaver blades will last you months longer than permanently wet ones, saving you money on blades.
Important Rotary Shaver Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
Regardless if you purchased an entry-level shaver to test the basics of the product or splurged on a top-of-the-line model, you need to protect your investment. Money is money, right? Aside from safely stowing the shaver away when you’re not using it, the most important way to protect your shaver is to maintain it.
The entry-level rotary shavers are usually the easiest to clean. Products like the Philips Norelco rotary shaver have a latch that pops open the head of the shaver. This allows you to clean out the basin inside the shaver. I recommend doing this after every few shaves.
Other shavers ship with a cleaning station. I recommend using the station once a week. Some consumers like to wash the shaver after every shave, but I think this is overkill. The blades and foils on most rotary shavers are stainless steel or another composite that wards off grime.
Once every two months, consider a deep clean. This is when you separate the rotary blades and rinse them under warm water. You can take this a step further and soak the blades and foils in isopropyl alcohol for thirty minutes to disinfect them.
Last, always make sure your blades are entirely clean before storing them away in a dark place. Droplets of water left in the foils can degrade the blades within weeks!
We’re blessed to live in a world with such abounding choices. But with that choice follows the overwhelming cascade of choices.
Whether you’re looking for a rotary shaver for the first time, or you’re looking to replace an older model, I know that my list can help you decide on the best rotary electric shaver for your skin and facial hair type.
While I believe there’s something on my list for everyone, I have a favorite of my own. That would be the Philips Norelco 9700. This svelte and powerful device achieves a level of precision and customization that’s unparalleled.
I believe the 9700 is worthy of your time and money, so try it today and take advantage of Philips’s 30-day money-back guarantee!