Shaving brushes are essential tools that you need to invest in if you want to get the perfect wet shave.
You will ask: “why should I use the slow method when today we have shaving foams and gels which make shaving way faster”. Shaving foam aerosol cans and gels contain surfactant chemicals which are designed to reduce tension between surfaces which also means that they make it difficult for hydrating compounds to penetrate the skin. To fix this problem, artificial lubricants need to be added. These artificial lubricants, with prolonged use, make it more difficult for the skin to naturally hydrate. Also, these aerosol cans are bad for the environment.
Using shaving soap and brushes is the eco-friendly way and it has its own benefits.
You can whip up a nice and rich lather.
Using a shaving brush softens and lifts the hair off the face, making your shaving easier.
You are adding heat to the skin which in turns helps it to lubricate and open the pores.
The bristles in a shaving brush have an exfoliating effect.
Knot & Loft
Before you buy any brush you need to know what these terms mean, if you want to make a well-informed decision. The knot is the foundation of the brush and it usually comes in 20 – 24 mm diameter. The bigger the diameter the pricier the brush. Just stick to 20 – 24 mm and you will be fine.
Loft size is the total height of the hair from the base of the knot to the top. The standard height is 50 mm. If the loft is higher the brush will retain more water and will be softer, but also bulkier and more difficult to handle. It is up to your personal preference really.
There are several types of hairs that are used in brush making.
This is one of the more affordable types of brushes you can buy.
It is made from a type of boar which has longer hair.
Pretty much the process of harvesting boar hair is like wool sheering.
These brushes come in 3 main variants
1) Unbleached, which are mostly yellowish or brown.
3) Sketched, brushes which were bleached and then dyed to look like badger hair brushes.
Boar bristle brushes do a great job of retaining water and making a foamy lather. They are a bit coarser than badger hair brushes but do become softer with use. Out of all the brush types these have the best exfoliating effect.
If you are just starting out with wet shaving or you don’t want to spend lots of money on a brush then this is a perfect pick for you.
For these brushes, I recommend Omega and Semogue.
These brushes are curiosity and are not used often as boar or badger brushes. They are popular in Muslim countries since boars are considered “unclean” and badger brushes tend to be expensive.
Don’t worry, no horses are harmed in making these brushes. When the horses have groomed their tails are parts of the main are clipped, and it is that hair which the manufacturers use for the brushes. They are primarily produced in Spain and Portugal.
They are a little bit more expensive than the boar. They usually cost about 10 – 30$. Horsetail brushes are softer than the boar but coarser than badger brushes. As for water retention, it is almost the same as the boar brush.
The gold standard of brushes. They are the softest type of brushes and their ability to retain water is unmatched. They are also expensive, with the cheapest ones being 25$ and more.
Badger hair usually comes from China or East Europe. Badgers are considered pests that can do serious damage to a village household, and are hunted as such.
Badger hair brushes have their own classification which is determined by the part of the body from which the hair is harvested:
This is the most common and least expensive grade of badger brushes because the hair used makes 50% and more of badger‘s body. The color ranges from grayish brownish to black. Pure badger is the most coarse badger hair but it is softer than horse or boar brushes.
If you want to try wet shaving with a badger brush these types of brushes are for you. They usually cost about 25 – 40$.
Hair used for these types of brushes comes from the belly of the badger. Sometimes you can‘t even make the difference between pure and best badger hair, it really depends on the manufacturer and the amount of effort they put in making the knot and the construction of the brush. They are a bit pricier but they are softer and retain more water.
They are in the 40 – 100$ range
I actually own a super badger brush, and let me tell you, they are really soft and they make a good creamy lather. The hair comes from the back of the badger. Super badger brushes have a black mid – section.
They cost 60$ and more.
This is shaving brush royalty, and also the softest type of brush you can buy. The hair comes from the neck part of the badger which has a silver tip when it is made into a brush. With the softer hair, you need to be careful, with boar brushes you can be a bit rough, but not with these types of brushes, they can break really easily if you are not careful.
Silver tips brushes are in the 100 – 150$ range, but can cost 500$ and more. The price depends on the manufacturer and the handle material.
A decade ago synthetic brushes were low quality and not even worth buying. Today the story is quite different. A lot of companies have vastly improved the process of making these brushes. Nylon which is the main component of the brush can be as soft as a badger brush. Omega Hi brushes, for example, are quite soft and can retain water quite well.
Synthetic brushes don’t retain water and heat as well as their natural counterparts.
The price of these brushes varies. Quality brushes start from 20$ and can cost up to 100$
Personally, i prefer either the wood or plastic handle. The most important this is that you can hold the brush firmly.
Some manufacturers use gold plating, metal, and bone. It is understandable if you want to have a good locking brush but you really don‘t need to spend 400, 500 or 600$ dollars on a brush with ivory or gold plated handle.
As you start to shave your brush will lose some hairs, but after 10 or so shaves it should stop. If it doesn‘t stop shedding return it immediately because it is a low-quality product.
When you buy a new brush made from natural materials especially boar and badger brushes it will have a strong smell when soaked in water. You need to use soap and make some lather with the brush to wash it. After washing leave the brush to dry. When you shave for a couple of times the smell will go away.
Don‘t forget when you finish shaving dry shake the brush to remove any excess water and leave it to dry. With proper care, a good brush will last you at least 5 – 10 years.