Review of Badger Hair Shaving Brushes
If you like to use a shaving brush, to soften up your bristles, along with a good quality shaving soap or cream, then which is the best type to buy? These brushes can be made of different materials which include badger hair, boar hair, horse hair and synthetic materials like nylon. Both boar hair and those synthetic brushes will usually be cheaper than the higher quality badger hair.
Why Is Badger Hair Considered To Be The Best?
There are a number of reasons for this assertion and in essence they all stack up pretty well. Two things make this type of hair better and they are of course vitally important features. The number one priority is the amount of water that the actual hairs can hold, known as bristle load, which ensures a rich creamy lather, and the second one is how these hairs feel on the face. They are naturally soft and yet firm enough to deal with the toughest of stubble.
Various manufacturers have tried to replicate this feel by trying out various types of man made fibres, but none of them have really cracked it. The shaving brush was first used as far back as 1750, and the first to make and use it were the French. They call a shaving brush the “blaireau” which is the French word for badger, so that should tell you something of its long history. There is certainly little doubt that these hairs are high on water retention, very soft and luxurious, and they last a very long time without falling out. The same can not be said for either boar hair or any of the synthetic variations.
Different Grade of Badger Hair Shaving Brushes
Not many people know though that not all badger hair brushes are exactly the same. Within the wet shaving community, they have indeed been graded into the following categories:
- Pure Badger
- Best Badger
- Silvertip Badger (sometimes called Super Badger)
(Note: Please note that there is no actual official grading, but within the large community of wet shavers, these are standard terms)
Some manufacturers will add slightly different names to describe their products, but for our purposes we shall stick to these better known descriptions. So why these different grades and what are the big differences?
These grades have been derived simply from where the hair comes from on the badger’s body. In many countries throughout the world the hunting of badgers is not allowed, so most of the brushes made have to import this hair from countries like China. Here in the UK it is not allowed to generally hunt and kill badgers, though there are certain exceptions to this rule. In addition to this at certain times a cull is allowed, but generally the hair is imported.
The pure badger hair comes from just over 50% of its body and typically the soft underbelly. This hair is the coarsest hair on its body and varies quite a bit in colour but is usually quite dark. Although still a good quality of hair, it usually requires some form of shaping and trimming, so is considered to be the lowest grade available. Don’t be put off by this though, as it is still very good quality.
Between 25-33% of the hair on a badger has slightly finer hairs and these are what are used to make these best badger hair brushes. If you buy one of these, you may notice that it appears to also have more hair than a pure badger brush. Now we like to be as honest as we can here at the Shaving Emporium, and to be truthful we would really struggle to tell the difference between these two types of brush. Some people say they can, but in all honesty, there is very little between them.
Super Badger and Silvertip
People slightly disagree on this term and actually split these into two categories. For us it is a minor detail and irrespective of the name given to them, they are considered to be the ultimate when it comes to badger hair. The essence is that the manufacturers select only the best hairs for these brushes. The silver tip element comes from the way the ends of the hairs actually look.
You guessed it the tips of the hairs on the brush look to be a silver or white colour. In some cases these are a natural look and at other times they have been bleached to give this appearance. A really high quality one of these will look flared at the end and are quite amazing for the amount of water they can hold. They are also a pretty crazy price as well. People do pay £400-500 for one of these. In truth, this is when it becomes more of a status symbol, than having the ultimate brush.
Personally I don’t own one, but I did get to use one at a shaving convention. It looked great and it felt great but would I spend the £375 the guy was asking for it? Sadly not for me as the difference between my pure badger and the one I used just did not warrant that at all.
Shaving Brush Handles
Well hopefully you now know a little more about why you should only use badger hair. Let’s have a look at handles though as they can also make a difference to your shaving experience. Going back in the day these were made from all kinds of materials ranging from wood, ebony, synthetic materials, silver and even gold. In the early days the type of handle you has was used as a means of demonstrating your wealth.
The reality is that what the handle is made from will have little or no impact on your shaving experience. They are either short handled or long handled and that becomes a matter of preference. On average though the length of the handle will be around 45-55 mm. The way we view it here is that if you like a lot of control get a small handle, and if you want to cover an area quicker, then use a longer handle. It can get very technical, and that would bore you to death if we tried to explain it. The differences are negligible and we think a more important consideration is the loft and the knot in conjunction with the overall height.
Shaving Brush Loft – The loft is the length of the hair from the top of the handle to the top of the hair
Knot – This is an indication of how much hair is packed into the handle
Overall Height – This is the loft plus the length of handle
These will give you a much better understanding of what size a brush is and how it will feel in your hand. People with larger hands or longer fingers tend to opt for a longer handled brush.
After that we think it comes down to what the brush actually looks like. Most handles today are made of some type of synthetic material as that makes them less prone to cracking or breaking. Some people will like to stick with the traditional wood look and others will prefer a different overall look.
Our Top 5 List of Badger Hair Shaving Brushes
|Name||Image||Hair Type||Rating||Average Price|
|Edwin Jagger 1EJ946SDS Traditional English Best Badger Hair Shaving Brush Faux Ebony Medium||Best Badger||4.6||Around £20|
|Luxury Frank Shaving Pure Badger Hair Shaving Brush||Pure Badger||4.0||Around £15|
|Kent Pure Badger Grey Bristle Shaving Brush Medium||Grey Badger Bristle||4.6||Between £30-35|
|Simpsons Wee Scot Best Badger Hair Shaving Brush in Imitation Ivory||Best Badger||4.3||Under £30|
|Edwin Jagger Super Badger Hair Handmade Small Shaving Brush with Drip Stand||Edwin Jagger Super Badger Hair Handmade Small Shaving Brush with Drip Stand||Super Badger||4.5||Average around £30|
Hopefully you are now a bit more enlightened about shaving brushes made from badger hair.