The shaving brush originated in France sometime in the year 1750s. The word blaireau/ “badger” came from the French word meaning shaving brush. This is because the bristles of the shaving brush were most commonly made from the hair of the badger, although cheaper brushes were made of boar’s hair or horse’s hair. The handles were often made from materials like ivory, precious metals such as gold, tortoise shell, unreactive metal like silver, crystals or ceramics like porcelain.
With wet shaving making a rapid comeback, shaving brushes are becoming an increasingly popular addition to the male grooming routine, even among men who don’t use a double-edged razor or a safety razor. Modern shaving brushes have not changed much in appearance, its components, and even its function. Synthetic handles made of nylon, plastic, and a wide range of other materials, are most popular as they have a greatly reduced chance of damage due to moisture. However, some men still prefer decorative materials like wood and tortoise shell.
The bristles are attached to each other in a knot, which is installed in the handle. The brushes that are knotted by hand are considered to be the highest quality in the market. The bristles of these brushes were made from either the boar’s or Badger’s hair, although synthetic brushes made of nylon are also available. Synthetic fiber brushes are actually more effective in creating a rich lather using a relatively small amount of shaving soap or shaving cream. They can also dry more quickly than natural fibers and are more durable for everyday use. Brushes with nylon-only fibers are manufactured in India.
Brushes made of badger hair come in three grades – pure, best and super (also known as “silvertip”). The hair is generally sourced from China since badgers are officially a protected species in Europe and North America. Boar bristles are supplied by China and India and are much cheaper than badger hair. Horse hair is also becoming increasingly popular because the horses are not harmed. Their hair is simply cut from the horse’s mane or tail.
A fibrous bristle holds large amounts of water, mixing with the soap or cream to create a moist, rich lather. This reduces the skipping, dragging and pulling effect of the razor. The shaving brush also produces a mild exfoliation of the skin, rendering the pre-shave process of applying lotion redundant.
However, the most useful aspect of a shave brush is its propensity to relax the skin and raise the facial hair prior to a shave. Smearing the shaving cream using your hand causes the hair to mat or to rise unevenly. Agitating the shaving soap or cream in a mug or a scuttle creates a rich lather, which makes it unnecessary to apply pressure to the razor while shaving for a close shave.
The first thing you need to decide is whether you want the brush solely for its function or also for its look. Let’s look at function first.
The function of a brush is to create a rich lather to prepare your face for the razor. So the only thing we will talk about is the brush itself – the bristles. As we have already said, badger hair comes in three grades based on quality. Pure badger hair is considered the most popular and is taken from the underbelly of the badger, the hair that covers around 60% of the badger’s body. It is coarser than the other two grades due to its large shaft.
Brushes made with pure badger hair generally cost the least. Best badger hair is finer and more flexible and is found on approximately one-quarter of the badger’s body. Lengthier and lighter in color than pure badger hair, best badger brushes have a higher hair density than pure badger brushes, resulting in a congruently superior lather. However, there are those who would contend that the difference between the two is insignificant. Super badger brushes are basically made from pure badger hair that is sorted and graded to such an extent that it outperforms best badger brushes. Silvertip badger is the costliest grade of badger hair because of its splayed bristle load, which gives the brush the capability to retain a large volume of water.
Boar hair is inexpensive when compared to badger hair, but can be of high quality as well. If you decide to use a boar hair shaving brush, keep in mind that it will need time to break in. Over the course of the first few shaves, the bristles will begin to split at the tips, resulting in a brush that is very soft but has a considerable backbone. Boar bristles are able to absorb water very quickly, so they need to be soaked in water before use.
Synthetic shaving brushes, most commonly made of nylon bristles, are available in a range of prices and qualities. They can quickly create a rich lather using a relatively small amount of shaving soap or cream. They also dry faster than natural hair and are more resistant to daily use.
If you are looking for a brush that also has a stylish look, then you will have to look at the handle. Synthetic handles made of nylon, urethane or plastic are the most common, even used in high-end brushes. However, for the purpose of fashion, you can get a shaving brush with a handle made of wood, tortoise shell or some other exotic material.
Let’s take a look at some of our favorite shaving brushes.
Made in Italy, this stylish shaving brush is made with high quality, natural boar hair, which offers lush, soft bristles for a close shave. Its classic chrome colored handle is comfortable and easy to hold. This is one of the favorite brushes of the professional barber.
Many reviewers refer to this product as their go-to brush. It breaks in very quickly and is very good at picking up the right amount of soap from the puck. It has a full head of bristles and a solid backbone, providing a more exfoliating shaving experience. The bristles start to split from the very first soak, making it more effective in whipping up a lather. The bristles also give a luxurious massage when you are lathering up your face. It builds lather quickly and enough for three full passes, and it dries up fairly quickly as well. It is much larger than the typical shaving brush, but it is lightweight nonetheless.
The main critique of this brush is the smell of the bristles, especially when wet. As pointed out by one reviewer, this is to be expected from a product that was very recently growing out of the back of a live animal. Besides, the smell fades away over the course of the first few soaks.
This synthetic fiber is similar to natural badger hair in its softness and quality and is a little softer at the tips. It is equally good in terms of performance, and the synthetic fibers are somewhat tougher and more stable. It is a good choice for people who do not like to use animal properties, and it also produces a particularly creamy lather.
According to reviewers, this brush is a lather monster. It does not have an odor like brushes with natural hair, it dries quickly, and it has softness and backbone.
Some reviewers had a problem making lather from shaving soap but works better with shaving cream. This is a problem with some synthetic materials, so if you are looking for a synthetic shaving brush, then make sure you do your research, and buy a brush that works well for you.
This synthetic brush bristle is a good alternative for men who prefer using products that are not animal based, or for those who have sensitive skin. The bristles of the brush can generate an outstanding lather, and the brush dries rapidly, making it perfect for travel and home use. It also comes with a stand that is made of resin which provides a suitable ventilation and storage for the brush.
One reviewer claims that this brush produces better lather with shaving soap than his old boar hair shaving brush was ever capable of. It spreads thicker and more evenly than boar hair. It is also highly effective in exfoliating the skin and opening up the pores. The blue handle is ergonomically designed, making it a very comfortable grip. Another reviewer reports that this brush has performed consistently for over five and a half years. Now if that’s not durability, then we don’t know what is!
Some reviewers complain that this brush does not hold water very well, but this does not seem to be the general consensus. Parker Safety Razor is a well-known and well-loved manufacturer of shaving products, and this shaving brush is very popular.
This product came from England and made by hand. This shaving brush is made from best badger hair, which helps soften and left facial hair for a closer, long lasting shave. It is a medium sized brush and is ideal for all wet shavers. Lathering in circles causes the fine tips of badger hair to raise and relax the facial hair to make a flat, rich shaving lather, rinse and massage the face gently resulting in a relaxing shave.
An excellent supplement for the double-edged razor, this brush produces a lather that is rich and thick and leaves the face feeling hydrated and silky smooth. It is also soft enough to whip up the lather directly on your face, saving you the trouble of buying and using a shaving bowl, mug or scuttle. It is not as soft as a silvertip badger brush, but the size and density of this brush are ideal so that after a three-pass shave, the brush is still full of lather! The bristles of this brush are strong, and you won’t lose more than a couple for the entire life of this product.
Some reviewers found that this brush loses all its hair over a very short period of time, but this is likely due to rough handling of the brush while making lather.
As the name suggests, this synthetic brush is perfect for travel use. It gives exceptional value and quality and comes in a chrome aluminum case with a twist-off cap.
Reviewers find this brush to be on par with the quality of best badger brushes. The material of the bristles is perfect for travel because it dries quickly but can also be packed wet without causing any problems.
Being a little smaller than usual for the purpose of travel, it does take a little longer to lather, but it works great. It also may not lather as well as larger or natural brushes, but this can be fixed by adding a little more water to the brush.
This product from Wet Shaving Company is made from authentic mountain badger hair. It has a solid backbone with super soft tips. The bristles are firm, they retain moisture, and they can whip up lather worthy of a king. The handle is handcrafted from faux ivory acrylic by highly experienced artisans to fit your hand comfortably. It works well with hard soaps and soft soaps, and it can produce lather in a bowl or directly on your face.
This high-quality brush blossoms out into a huge round head after its first soak. The bristles are extremely soft but firm, and they don’t contain the smell of badger that many other badger hair shaving brushes do. This brush produces an outstanding lather, and the softness of the bristles helps in providing a smooth and comfortable close shave.
It does take a little longer than usual to dry, but this can be remedied by storing it on a shaving brush strand.
This shaving brush is made with a faux ivory resin handle and the classic Simpson label. The loft is extremely dense and filled with high-quality badger hair, which provides a firm yet extraordinarily soft brush, ideal for both soaps and creams and good exfoliation of the skin prior to shaving. The loft has amazing water retention to ensure a luxurious lather. A sizeable handle, straight in design with a slightly overlapping base, which has an understated sparkle to perfectly finish off the classic look.
If you are keen on buying a shaving brush, then you should definitely go in for one of these. These brushes are very water retentive and are very good at softening and lifting facial hair before a shave. When you use a brush like one of these to agitate the shaving soap or cream in a mug or a scuttle creates a rich lather, you don’t have to apply force to the razor for a close cut.
Also remember to do your homework before making your choice. Decide between a brush with animal hair or synthetic hair. Weigh the pros and cons against each other. And most of all, find out how your shaving soap or cream will work with the brush you intend to buy.
If you can’t decide which brush to try first, then go for the Parker Safety Razor Synthetic Bristle Brush. It creates a lot of lather, is good for sensitive skin and dries up very quickly, making it ideal at home and on the road. This quality shaving brush could be a good starting point for the search for your ideal shaving brush. Happy hunting!