Boar hair brushes are stronger and do a good job of lifting the hair from the surface of the skin. This makes it easier to get the lather underneath each hair for a satisfying shaving experience.
Boar hair is generally a good place to start if you’ve never purchased or used a shaving brush before.
- Will soften over time
- Less expensive than badger hair
- Effective at lifting hair from the skin
- Can be uncomfortably stiff for the first few shaves
- Retains less water than badger hair
- Sheds bristles quicker than other brushes due to the brittle nature of boar’s hair
HORSEHAIR SHAVING BRUSH
Horsehair shaving brushes are only now coming back in fashion. And while they don’t hold as much water as some synthetic brushes or badger hair, they are more than adequate to use if you’re looking for a middle of the road shave.
- Softer than boar’s hair
- Retains less water than badger hair and some synthetics
- Can smell a bit on the nose during the first few uses (pet shampoo can help remove any unpleasant odors)
- Horsehair requires more care than badger hair, meaning it has to be properly cleaned and stored when not in use to prevent premature bristle loss
SYNTHETIC FIBER SHAVING BRUSH
Mid to low-grade synthetic brushes are frequently touted as being either too stiff or too floppy. The good thing is that the quality of synthetics is getting better as technology improves, meaning before long we may see faux hair brushes that can compete with the most reputable badger hair brushes.
- Ideal for those who are vegan or allergic to animal hair
- There’s a huge range of synthetic fiber brushes, from cheaper options to those that feel similar to badger’s hair
- Synthetic fiber brushes have been known to last a decent amount of time before breaking down
- Can feel rough on the skin even after multiple uses
- Cheaper brushes hold very little water, which equates to a poor lather
- Top-end synthetic brushes are still regarded as inferior to silvertip badger hair brushes
BADGER HAIR SHAVING BRUSHES
Badger hair shaving brushes are the best type you can buy, hands down. Soft and durable, badger hair is regarded by barbers around the world as the creme de la creme when it comes to performance and appearance.
Badger hair brushes can last for years if cared for properly.
- Available in a pure, best, (fine) super or silvertip brush type, with the latter being top of the line
- Absorbs water better than any other type of animal hair or synthetic fiber
- Less coarse on the skin
- Badger hair is incredibly fine, meaning each brush has a high density of bristles that contribute towards a richer lather
- Can be hard to find an authentic badger hair brush with so many cheap imitations flooding the market
- Badger hair brushes have a reputation for being expensive, which means they’re probably not suited to first-time users
WHICH BADGER HAIR BRUSH IS BEST?
PURE BADGER HAIR
Pure badger hair brushes are the most readily available and least expensive out of all types of badger hair brushes. Hair for these brushes is picked from the neck, shoulders, abdomen, and buttocks of the badger, meaning they’re made up of the hair that covers the majority of the badger's body.
One of the benefits of using a pure badger hair brush is its ability to scrub and exfoliate your skin, thanks in part to the coarseness of the hair that is used.
- Colors range from dark tan to jet black
- Hairs are taken from the neck, shoulders, abdomen, and buttocks
- Typically seen as an entry-level brush
BEST BADGER HAIR
Fine or best badger hair brushes are a step up from pure hair. The hair for this type of brush is taken from the belly of the badger, where the hairs are longer, more pliable and finer. This means that best badger hair brushes retain water more effectively than pure hair, which in turn makes it easier to whip up a richer lather.
- Colors range from light brown to grey
- Hairs are extracted from the belly and other broad surfaced areas of the badger
- Regarded as a great value option when considering performance versus cost
(FINE) SUPER BADGER HAIR
Super badger hair comes from the dorsal regions of the badger and is much harder to come by than pure or fine. It is softer than fine badger hair but not as cushiony (or expensive) as silvertip. Super badger hair is often mistaken or simply lumped in with silvertip badger hair since the differences between the two are subtle.
The one drawback to super badger hair brushes is the amount of upkeep required to keep their delicate hairs in tip-top working order. This means you’ll have to ensure you look after them to get your money’s worth.
- Hairs are taken from the upper sides of the badger
- The color spectrum runs from mottled white to a light grey center and then white tips
- Expensive, rare and nearly indistinguishable in regards to performance when compared with silvertip badger hair brushes
SILVERTIP BADGER HAIR
Found in the neck area of badgers, silvertip hairs are used to make the most luxurious brushes around the world – silvertip badger shaving brushes. Their reputation as the best of the best is due to the fact silvertip brushes deliver the most cushiony type of shave and hold more water than fine brushes. Their cost is relative to the fact that a silvertip brush will last for years if it’s cared for.
To shave with a silvertip brush is an experience unto itself. More of a massage for your face, a silvertip will facilitate the gentle yet penetrating application of lather that can then be spread delicately across the face. One could say that once you go silvertip badger hair, you’ll never go back.
- Touted as being at the top of the shaving brush chain in regards to quality
- Hairs for a silvertip badger brush are extracted from the neck or cervical area of the animal
- The colors of this brush encompass a cream-white base with a jet black band and silver tips, hence the name
SHAVING BRUSH HANDLES
A shaving brush handle should fit snugly in your hand and offer adequate grip during the lather and application process. But let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a shaving brush handle crafted from polished timber or bison bone? Or, what about a handle made from chrome, brass, nickel, aluminum or synthetic materials?
Heaviness and shape come into play when looking for the perfect shaving brush. Too much weight and it may feel more like a doorknob. Too little and it’ll feel flimsy. You ultimately want something that gives the maximum amount of control to get in and around those hard to reach hairs on your face and neck.
The best way to figure out if a shaving brush is right for you is to simply pick it up. Whatever your decision, note that a shaving brush is only as good as its bristles.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’VE CHOSEN THE RIGHT SHAVING BRUSH
How do you know what a good shaving brush feels like if you’ve never used one? Upon trying a shaving brush for the first time, it’s important to consider the following factors.
Does It Have A Suitable Backbone? Backbone, or flex as it’s sometimes called, refers to the stiffness attributed to the knot of the shaving brush. The amount of backbone a shaving brush has is proportional to how stiff it is and how it performs when pumping and swirling to create a lather. Scrubbiness in a brush occurs with a stiffer knot, while flex is seen as being a result of a soft knot.
Does It Shed Bristles With Every Use? A few hairs left on your skin or in the sink over a month or so is nothing to be alarmed about with a lower grade boar or synthetic brush. Shedding is to be expected further down the track. For a good quality horse, synthetic or badger hair brush however, hairs should remain pliable and hold their shape for years.
Has It Been Ethically Produced? Another point to ruminate on is if the shaving brush in question has been ethically produced? While this may not have been a consideration for our fathers and grandfathers, there’s no excuse in the modern age for shaving or barber brushes to be made using anything but sustainable practices.
How Does It Feel In Your Hand? Does it have that telltale heaviness to it, indicative of a good quality brush? Or does the handle feel cheap and the bristles, prickly and sparse once applied to the skin. Sometimes, the only way to tell if you’ve selected the right shaving brush is to just pick it up and give it a try.
Did The Brush Promote A Clean, Close And Comfortable Shave? Last but not least, how did your shave feel and can you see the difference between simply applying lather using your hands or using the brush? The latter technique can stick hairs to your face, while a shaving brush lifts facial fuzz for a more efficient cut, while at the same time exfoliating your skin. It should hold moisture and comprehensively cover the entire area you’d like to shave with ease.
HOW TO USE YOUR SHAVING BRUSH
Time to channel your inner Karate Kid, except this time it’s not, ‘wax on, wax off’, but ‘lather on, lather off’. Before putting your shaving tools to work, we recommend dabbing your face with a warm towel to open up any pores. Conversely, you can shave straight after the shower which is generally much easier, as warm steam naturally relaxes your skin.
Grab your shaving brush and mug, bowl or scuttle and check out our step-by-step guide on how to use a shaving brush for a wet shave below.
You’ll want to first get a shallow shaving scuttle or bowl of cream or soap ready. This will be used in tandem with your brush to create the lather.
- Take your brush by the handle and wet it with warm water, then gently shake off any excess. You can also let it soak in the bowl with warm water. Use warm water – not hot.
- Dip the brush lightly into the bowl of shaving cream or soap and whip into a rich, foamy lather.
- Check that the lather is the consistency you’re after. A good lather is key to a close shave.
- Bring the brush to your face and slowly move it in a circular motion, making sure to cover all areas of your beard or stubble.
- After shaving, rinse the brush with warm water to remove soap or cream.
- Squeeze and gently shake off excess water before storing your brush (bristles down) in a stand.
CARING FOR YOUR SHAVING BRUSH
- After shaving, rinse the brush under warm water (never boiling) to ensure all lather has been removed
- Place the brush in a shaving brush stand so that the bristles are pointing downwards. This draws moisture away from the base and promotes drying
- Make sure your shaving brush holder is placed in a dry area and not in a cupboard or in a bag to prevent mildew
- Rinse the shaving scuttle or bowl and ensure all residual foam has been wiped away
- Never pull or tug at the bristles or attempt to dry your brush or shaving scuttle in front of a heater or with a blow dryer
- Leave your shaving brush in the stand to air out
GIVING YOUR SHAVING BRUSH A “SPRING CLEAN”
No matter how careful you are cleaning, drying and storing your brush, there’s a good chance it’ll still begin to look a little haggard after a few months of daily usage. Instead of putting up an unsightly and underperforming brush or discarding it for a new one, there are a few treatments you can try that may help restore it to its former glory.
Shampoo Simply add a dab of mild shampoo (or pet shampoo) to the dish, bowl or scuttle where you normally create your lather, then use the brush after it’s been run under warm water to whip the shampoo into a foam.
Afterward, massage shampoo into the brush head with your hand, paying close attention not to distress the bristles. Rinse with cold water making sure all suds have been removed, then add more shampoo to your brush and repeat the process, making sure to rinse it thoroughly once finished.
A final shake and flick of the brush plus a gentle comb will complete the clean and straighten out any frayed hair. Conditioner can be added as an added step in the process.