The Best Braun Shavers (and the Differences Between the Series)
We're big fans of Braun electric shavers—we've used them for a while—but to be honest, a lot of their product offerings can be kind of confusing. There are a bunch of different "Series" (Series 3, Series 5, Series 7, and Series 9) and a bunch of different models in each series, and that can all get pretty overwhelming. It can be a little difficult to figure out what features you'll need, what's important and what's not, and how the models are different.
In this post, we'll try to make sense out of everything, discuss the pros and cons of each model, and list our favorites. We'll provide some product recommendations, and hopefully by the end of the post, we'll have a better idea of what might be the best Braun shaver for your morning routine.
What Do the Braun "Series" Mean?
Braun shavers are incredibly popular, so it's a little surprising that buying one can be so complicated. Here's how it plays out:
Braun offers five "Series" of electric shavers: Series 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. Series 1 is the oldest model, and Series 9 is the newest. Each of the shavers get better and more efficient and have more features as you go up the line: Series 1 is OK, but Series 3 is better; Series 3 is better, but a Series 5 will be even better than that; and so on. Series 9 is (currently) the most advanced product that Braun (currently) manufactures, and it's pretty high-tech. Each of the Series offers different shaving capabilities with different "bells and whistles," and some are truly helpful, while others are "helpful but not mindblowing," and we'll go into detail about each of the bells and whistles in our reviews below.
Here's something to keep in mind as we talk about each Series: in most cases, the different models in each series usually have the same shaving ability, and the differences between the shavers in that series are mostly secondary features. For instance, if you look at the Braun website, you'll see that they manufacture the Series 9 9295cc Chrome and the Series 9 9293s Chrome so that both have 2x Opti-Foil, SyncoSonic Technology, AutoSense Technology, and a 10-D Flexibility (and we'll define all those terms below), but the 9295cc usually comes with a clean-and-charge station, whereas the 9293s usually comes with a charge station and no cleaning station. In other words, the shaving capability and the efficiency is usually the same between models in the same Series—or at least very similar—but the perks that come with the shaver might be a little bit different.
OK! Those are the basics. Now let's take a look at each Series and what we consider the best Braun shavers (with the exception of Series 1—those are kind of hard to find these days, and believe it or not, we've never used one!).
The Braun Series 3: A Very Simple but Very Decent Razor
Compared to later models, the Series 3 is pretty uncomplicated. It's got two things going for it:
"Free Float" Technology. Free-Float is basically three moving shaving elements on the shaver's head—the two foils and a middle trimmer, which was designed to hack away longer whiskers—all of which are flexible, so they can move over your skin more easily, and
Senso-Foil Capability. The foil is a super-thin layer of metal on the top of the shaver. It's the part of the shaver that connects with your skin, and it creates a barrier between your face and the actual blades of the shaver underneath it. "Senso-Foil" tech refers to the ergonomically designed holes in the foil that are designed to guide whiskers into the cutting area.
Those two features alone make the Series 3 a very good model, but it's also 100% waterproof and fully washable, and can be used with foam or gel. It's also got a long-hair trimmer, which is a nice little perk.
The Series 3 is definitely a "no frills" model, but there still plenty of men who use it, and some who actually prefer it to later models. The Series 5, 7, and 9 (as we'll discuss in a second) feature a multi-directional head, whereas the Series 3 does NOT have that—which means it's easier to shave your face into "strict" lines. The Series 3 can be a little more difficult to use on angled portions of your face, like under the jawline and around the neck—and that's one of the things Braun really worked on for Series 5, 7, and 9.
By the way—one thing you're going to find if you research Brauns is that they looooove fancy names. "Senso-Foil" is a good example of that. All those names may seem kind of silly, but there's a good reason why Braun (and other companies) use them—they've patented the technology (meaning, basically, that other companies can't use that technology) and they need to create a unique and memorable way to refer to that technology. Each of the names they come up with basically describe an entirely new shaving function, so those names are valuable.
As for products, we like the Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3010s. It's colorful—Braun manufactures it in a light blue—which is a nice change from all those black and silver shavers. You can use it wet or dry, at the sink or in the shower, and (in our experience), it provides a nice, tight shave. A really good option.
The Braun Series 5: A Big Step Forward
The Series 5 is a step forward for each of the features that the Series 3 offered. It's waterproof and can be used with gel, or foam, or even in the shower, but it expands on each of the Series 3's features: the Series 5 has the same three cutting elements (the two foils with a trimmer in the middle), but it also has a flexible head that can move back-and-forth, bringing the "moveability" count up to eight directions. That's a feature the Series 3 didn't have, and it allows for closer shaving on tough areas like the neck and chin and jawline—and that's a big plus, because it can allow you to get a close shave using fewer passes, and that can mean less skin irritation (and it can be a great shaving option for older men, too). In retrospect, it's kind of an obvious improvement, but it was a big step forward at the time. It also features an auto-sensing motor that adjusts to the actual thickness of your whiskers, in an effort to provide a closer shave in more heavily-whiskered areas, and a rechargeable battery for extended use.
There a lot of guys who still use Series 5, and they're a good mid-range option. They offer a lot of capability, and if you find the Series 3 to rub you raw a little bit, a Series 5 model can be an improvement.
Among the Series 5s, we're fans of the Braun Series 5 5090/5190cc. We've found it to be great for dense beards, great for the shower or the sink, and good for those hard-to-reach areas underneath the chin. Plus it's got a precision shaver for your sideburns and 'stache. Another really solid pick.
The Braun Series 7: A Fan Favorite
With the Braun Series 7, things start to get fancy. It still features three cutting elements, but it now includes Opti-Foil technology (an enhancement on the Senso-Foil technology they developed for their Series 3), that more effectively guides whiskers into the perforations in the foil. It also incorporates their patented ActiveLift technology, which is basically a middle trimmer bar on the shaver head that oscillates 130 times per second, in order to target hairs that are lying flat on the face. That's another fantastic breakthrough—very often, we imagine that our whiskers grow straight out from our skin, but that's often not the case. Sometimes they grow almost parallel to the skin, and past models had a lot of difficulty shaving them. The ActiveLift was another very fascinating development designed to provide a closer shave and the need for fewer passes.
Lastly, the Series 7 incorporates two different shaving modes—"extra sensitive," if you want to take things easy, and "intensive," if you really like party—and that feature was another big step forward. Over the years, Braun had gotten complaints about their shavers causing skin irritation, and plenty of men had jumped ship to use rotaries or even safety razors. In our opinion, the "extra sensitive" setting was (and is!) a great function if you're worried about razor bumps, ingrown hairs, and so on.
As with all the other models, the Series 7 is 100% waterproof and washable under the faucet. It isn't Braun's most advanced shaver, but it's got a LOT of fans and dedicated users, and we've had great luck with it.
We're big fans of the Series 7, and our favorite model is the Braun Series 7 7865cc. The settings features—for sensitive skin and for non-sensitive skin—is a fantastic option.
The Braun Series 9: We Live in the Future
Remember how we mentioned that the Series 7 was able to target flat-lying whiskers? The Series 9 goes a step beyond that and utilizes a Direct-and-Cut trimmer that targets whiskers that grow in swirls and different directions. That's another fantastic development, because traditional electric razors always had trouble with whiskers that grew every-which-way, and many men avoided them for that reason.
Also, whereas all past models had three moving elements on shaver head, the Series 9 features four moving elements. Those four cutting elements, used in conjunction with "Sonic Technology"—basically an ability to "read" your whiskers and provide the correct cutting power to tackle your whiskers—are what Braun calls "SyncoSonic" technology: the ability to provide 40,000 cross-cutting actions in a single minute, in order to cut different types and thickness of whisker (and, keep in mind, the Series 5 and 7 featured 30,000 cross-cutting actions per minute, so that's a legitimate improvement). All that translates (again, in our experience) to a very close shave.
Lastly, directionality: those four cutting surfaces can each move back and forth, and when you include a head that can fold forward and backward, the Series 9 has 10-direction functionality—pretty impressive, especially when you consider earlier models (like the Series 3) didn't even have a moving head. All that directionality is designed to create a smoother feel, and hopefully fewer bumps and irritation.
The Series 9 has a lot of advancements over previous models, and it's a very sophisticated piece of equipment. It's a pretty deluxe model, and while it's not perfect—the shaver heads may not last as long as they did for previous models—it's a pretty fantastic product.
We're big fans of the Braun Series 9290cc. It's great for showering shaving, foam/gel shaving, and dry shaving, and it's surprisingly gentle on the skin. A great option.
A Matter of Personal Taste: Clean-and-Charge Stations
One add-on that Braun has for each Series of shaver (except, possibly, for Series 1) is a clean-and-charge station. It's not integral—you can manually clean each Braun shaver by hand—but it's an add-on some men appreciate. Something to keep in mind.
A Feature You Probably Don't Have to Worry About: "Usable in Water Up to Five Meters Deep"
So, Brauns are top-of-the-line, incredible machines, and they've gotten consistently more capable with every new model. But there's one feature we can't quite figure out: "waterproof up to five meters."
Why are they telling us this? Who is shaving underneath five meters of water? This seems to be a feature that... isn't really important. Can I use these shavers in space? What are they lava-resistant? These seem to be secondary concerns.
And why do they keep mentioning this? Are there people out there wrote to Braun and said, "Listen, I live under four meters of water, and I'm thinking about going deeper and living five meters under water. What do you got for me?" Or, "I was going to go with the Remington, but I can use this to shave under the surface of the sea, so Braun it is." Why does this matter?
That "Up to five meters" thing always struck us as funny—if you're using an electric razor 15 feet under water, perhaps you've got other problems you need to think about.
Sorry the rant! So...
There You Have It! The Best Braun Shavers
Hopefully that helps a little bit. While each of the Series provides a step up in comfort and capability, we've found that every one offers a really fantastic option for a very close shave, and in particular, we like the Series 3 ProSkin 3010s, Series 5 5190cc, Series 7 7865cc, and the Series 9290cc. Having shaving, amigos!