Phillip’s have long been the go-to name for men’s rotary shaving. While rotary heads sometimes suffer a little in reputation next to the closeness of a foil shave, no one can dispute that Phillip’s have long since mastered the best of rotary technology and keep improving.
Here’s our guide to the current best razor products offered by the ‘Phillip’s Norelco’ company.
Who are Phillips?
As we mentioned, Phillip’s have a significant history as the ‘it’ brand for rotary razors. Of course, as a quick glance around your kitchen will tell you, razors are far from the only products they offer, but the fact they invented the rotary electric razor head certainly makes their razors a driving feature of the company’s product catalogue. And all this from one founder’s small company in the Netherlands.
The company actually originally specialised in radios and lightbulbs, but a keen eye for business meant they were always keen to get involved in new markets. This is why the range, still today, encompasses everything from baby bottles to kitchen appliances.
They learnt the lesson of diversification early. They survived the slump in economies of the 1930’s, but were not particularly impressed by their sample American electric razors at first.
However, one of their young engineers eventually took another look at these early electric razors and decided they just weren’t good enough as they were- he knew how to improve them.
Ironically, it was the company’s bicycle dynamo that gave him the idea to upgrade the units to the rotary technology that would make Phillip’s famous. The PhilliShave was born and the company never looked back.
Of course, the outbreak of World War 2 had a profound effect on most of Europe, but innovations after the war started winning them a fan base and their ‘Mr Steelbeard’ mascot. By 1947, feeling outdated and under loved, significant revamps were made and the shavers released to the US market under the Norelco brand.
Double heads were introduced in 1951, and in many ways this innovation sealed their success on the US market under the Norelco brand name.
Many of the same gadgets present today- flip tops for cleaning, built in beard trimmers and the triangular three head design- all came into play through the 60’s and 70’s, with the 80’s seeing the rise of the cordless shaver as battery technology improved enough to allow it.
The flexibility technologies that enabled the rotational heads to conform better to the planes of the face also began to creep in through this decade.
Surprisingly, the 90’s became the era, not of technical innovation but of the recognition that form and function can sometimes work well together. Colours, better grips and more all began to be a feature of this flagship range.
This is a contributing factor to why Phillip’s remains known as a stylish brand to this day.This decade was also the rise of the return to the wet-shave, and electric razor brands were left scrabbling to keep up, and mesh their electric-driven gadgets with the dangerous power of water safely and effectively.
Although the concept of the wet/dry razor seems very simple on paper, developing a safe, mold resistant, effective electric razor that can be used in water is actually one of the most difficult feats achieved in razor technology to date.
Doing it for rotary heads was even harder, but Phillips managed to transform the rotary razor world with their new wet shave razors.
Phillips continue to innovate by design, with ranges constantly updated to maintain both high standards and conform to trends.
Aren’t rotary razors ineffective, though?
For many users, the power of rotary razors remain a mystery. We simply find the straight blade foils a little easier to understand- they snip like scissors.
The spinning action of the rotary head is pretty simple, though…the hairs slip in at the side and are snipped short. This actually makes them both easier to use on awkward areas like the chin, as well as better for thick and wiry hairs.
It does tend to mean that you don’t get quite as close a shave as with a foil razor, however, and some people take this to be a sign of a ‘poor quality’ razor rather than just a facet of the design of rotary technology.
Rotary razors are, however, better for you if you have hair that grows in different directions, the coarse hair types we mention, or don’t like the loud motors of foil razors. They aren’t particularly kind to sensitive skins, though, and should be used with care if you are prone to razor burn.
It’s worth remembering that while the foil razor does best in long up and down strokes, rotaries can work their best when you move them in a last circular motion on the face instead.
Regular use will tame even the worst beards, although in the end which style of razor you opt for will be a matter of personal preference. If you want rotary, you really can never go wrong with the style pioneers, Phillip’s Norelco.
With that said, let’s look at some of the best electric razor’s Phillip’s offers.
The Most Popular Phillips Electric Shavers
When it comes to a simple rotary shaver, no company does it better then Phillips. That is certainly their reputation. As pioneers of rotary technology, they are the go-to company for most men looking for a good, high quality and long lasting rotary shaver.
Here we look at some of their top-selling favourites in a little more detail. All of these razors give a great dry shave that feels good on the skin.
4 way flex heads to conform to facial contours
Washable, one touch open head
Cordless but works on cord
Feels a cheap build quality in the hand
Beard trimmer slightly underpowered
As budget buys go, if you are looking to experiment with rotary technology the Phillips 3100 series is a great place to wet your feet.
- The lowest cost Phillip’s razor to have the Dual Precision technology heads
- Able to use both wet and dry although intended as a dry razor.
- Cordless and washable
- Solid but slow shave
- Can irritate some sensitive skins
- Some feel newer models do not have shaving capacity of older
The 4100 isn’t a bad purchase if you aren’t’ looking for bells and whistles, although suffers from the usual perception that rotary doesn’t cut as close as foil. The 4100’s only real fault is seeming too normal!
- We’re up to the multi-precision blade system of high end Phillips razors here.
- 5 flexible heads and wet/dry technology for a close shave no matter your style.
- Faster, close shave
- Entire head removed to attach beard trimmer
- Difficult to handle for a lot of men
- Build feels fragile and many don’t like the click-on heads
While there are those who feel the 5100 series doesn’t really shine next to the 4100, the 5100 in fact is a popular razor with a strong following of happy customers who particularly appreciate the close shave. The click on beard trimmer was a big no-no however, and it’s puzzling why several ranges still offer such a silly design flaw.
Phillip’s Wet&Dry electric shavers- our favourites
Most modern men are finding that a wet and dry shaving option is far more appealing then dry shave only. It can help reduce burn and ingrown hairs on sensitive skins, and many enjoy the sensation more too.
If you’re fussy about skin care you will certainly want to go the wet/dry route, and it can substantially moderate the amounts of ingrown hairs you get if you are prone to them. Here’s some of Phillip’s best rotary wet and dry razors.
You don’t always want a ton of attachments and a massive charger base. Sometimes you just want a quick, slick shave. The Caretouch is basically a very standard rotary razor that’s fully able to be used in water, and we love the simplicity of design.
- Integrated pop up trimmer
- Designed to combat ingrown hairs
- Not great for tough hairs
- No accessories and attachments
It’s not great for the gadget geeks, but a simple, wet and dry razor for the man who likes ease in his life has a huge place in the world.
Channels to catch both long and short hair
Combination of features to provide powerful contouring for closeness
Surprisingly simple to clean
Cannot be used on AC power-charges in a cradle
A change in quality between original head and replacement has angered some users
The SensoTouch 3d certainly deserves some of its fame- this is a very good, albeit pricey, razor- but certain recent product line decisions and changes seem to have upset the very user base that loves it. Let’s hope the trend doesn’t continue.
- Very close shave for rotary
- Comfortable to hold
- Clear charge indicators
- Difficult to put down mid shave- rolls. Has to be placed in charger
- Trimmer on a separate head
- Cordless but can only charge in cradle.
The 6400 series wet and dry razor provides an exceptionally close shave that feels good, and despite a few hitches- and the irritating swap out heads Phillips seems to love- most men find this a pleasurable razor to shave with.
What about Phillip’s best epilators?
Epilator technology sounds scary at first glance- pairs of snapping tweezers lurking under the surface to yank hair by the roots- but an epilator is basically the second cousin of both a lady’s wax and the foil razor.
Because hair is removed from the root, the results last longer then shaving, and many women find them a convenient choice for personal grooming. Here’s some of Phillips’s best epilators.
7. HP 6401 Satinelle epilator
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- Gentle Efficiency cap ensures use in more delicate areas or on sensitive skin
- Works on hair down to 0.5mm
- Extra-long cord for ease of use
- Less painful than some other models
- Does not work well on coarser hair [eg African-American]
- Can break hairs
- Casing seems a little flimsy compared to other lines
The Satinelle is a good choice for those experimenting with epilation or looking for a budget purchase that will still deliver reliable results.
- Ceramic discs are both hypo-allergenic and good for very fine hairs
- Massage system to soothe pain
- Has light
- 4 different heads
- Has an annoying travel lock system that is more hassle then it’s worth- tends to turn on by accident
- Advertising glitch claims it is for the face when the product itself is not and the manual discourages this-be aware
- Quieter than average
- Shortish battery life
If you’re not particularly interested in a ton of hype and features, but want a clever epilator that delivers consistent good results with a few higher-end features, the Satin Perfect is the right epilator for your needs.
9. Satinelle Advanced Wet and Dry epilator
- Anti-slip grip
- 6 heads including shaver, bikini and face caps.
- Ceramic discs for skin safety and allergy avoidance
- No massager- only in prestige edition. Massage head inefficient.
- Two speeds both seem slow
The Satinelle advanced is a nice, mid-price epilator for use in the shower and dry, and many women favour it, especially as it has a shaver head as well.
Phillip’s most popular beard trimmers
The beard trimmer is a must for any man who enjoys keeping his stubble or beard, but doesn’t want to look like a shambling disaster wearing it.
Whether it’s for the corporate boardroom or your own pleasure, a good beard trimmer is a man’s best friend when it comes to looking good, and Phillip’s have long had a reputation as some of the very best beard trimmers on the market. Let’s see how they stack up in practice.
10. Phillips Norelco 5100 Beard Trimmer
- Beard Guide System to lift more hairs
- 17 length settings, wheel operated
- Some found the plastic guards awkward
- Design makes the grip a little weird
- Not the best for long beards
A solid workhorse in the Phillips range of beard trimmers, the Phillips Norelco 5100 is a solid choice.
11. Phillips Norelco 7200 Beard Trimmer
- Vacuum to catch clipped hair for less mess
- Lift and trim guides to prevent stray hairs
- 20 length settings
- Battery cannot be replaced
- Head design is slightly awkward to clean
- Trimmer heads prone to wear and tear damage
The 7200 provides a few innovative features for users, while maintain Phillips quality and reputation, although a few users do feel that it has taken a few design steps backwards from earlier models.
- Laser guided precision system
- Very close clipping
- Smaller trimmer head on other side of main head for hard to reach areas
- Some feel it’s underpowered next to some of the other trimmers in the range
- Rotating shear head introduces a weak spot
- No Case
Surprisingly for the current flagship of the range, the 9100 doesn’t perform as well as some of the older Phillip’s Norelco beard trimmers according to many testers. All the same, it’s still a solid investment with some gimmicks that may appeal.
Phillip’s best wet shavers
The art of the wet shave remains the beacon of hope for men with those awkward, difficult skins that seem to find sensitivity in just about any shaving method. Of course, an electric razor doesn’t ever quite replicate the technology of a wet shave, nor do they ever really come as close to the skin with the shave quality.
However, Phillip’s have a most intriguing, wet and dry use shaver that will appeal to wet shavers and sensitive skins alike.
Not so fast! We strongly disagree with the market they targeted this specific razor for- it does way better on gentle, wet close shaves then on maintaining beards.
- Pivoting head
- Dual Protection design
- Trimmer included
- Slim and compact with the look of a traditional razor
- Short lasting- recommended lifespan is 4 months
- Claims it cuts any hair rather overrated- better on short lengths
- Slightly gaudy- upgrading to an ‘executive’ type look requires buying higher in the range
If you’re looking for an interesting hybrid to provide the best of electrical razors with the art of the wet shave, this may well be the razor for you.
It also has the benefit of being an exceedingly economical, very simple razor with few gadgets and gee-gaws. If you’re looking for a convenient travel buddy, the size will appeal, and if you just want a simple razor already, this is the Phillip’s for you.
Whatever your shaving preferences, and wherever you turn, you will see ‘Phillips Norelco’ as an industry standard. From hard-fought beginnings, this pioneer of rotational shaving technology makes a range to suit and budget and taste, and deliver solid quality while doing so.
They remain the market force behind rotary shavers to this day, and a current focus on increasing closeness and comfort while maintaining stylish, trendy looks makes them an appealing buy, as does their consistent build quality and high reputation.