Why Pick a Badger Hair Shaving Brush?
Most guys will be familiar with what a shaving brush is. More and more men are making the return to wet shaving, and for those that are, one of their big decisions will be, which type of shaving brush to use? There are plenty of them out there all produced by the leading shaving brands. So which one should you pick and why?
At first you may think that this does not require a great deal of thought, but there is more to it than intially would meet the eye. A shaving brush is simply made up of the handle and the bristles, so hardly a complicated shaving tool. There are some things though that are well worth your consideration. Let’s start with the handle as the bristle part can get quite complicated.
Shaving Brush Handle
The traditional handle for a shaving brush is made of wood. In the past many of them were made from ivory but that of course would not be allowed today. These days many of the higher quality handles are made from simulated ivory or Lucite. Lucite is basically a type of engineered glass.
Many handles are also made from metals such as stainless steel. It really does come down to a matter of personal choice as to which type and style you prefer.
Watch out though for moulded handles as they are usually made from a cheap plastic. The tell tale sign for those is that you will notice a line in the middle of the handle. Never buy those as they are cheap and look dreadful. That is pretty much all you need to know about handles. The real quality of a shaving brush is in the bristles or hair.
Shaving Brush Hair
A shaving brush is all about applying a soap or cream to the bristles on your face to help soften them and prepare them for the blade. You want this to raise the hairs and also soften the hair and the facial skin.
So when you think about that, you need a brush that will be able to create a good quality froth and then get that pushed into the stubble on your face.
The most important element of a shaving brush is its construction. The “weak point,” for want of a better word, is where the hairs meet the handle. If that construction is poor, then over a few months, the brush will actually fall part, leaving you rather annoyed.
There are two methods used for doing this known as a full knot or a plug. The full knot is a much better construction type than a plug.
Different manufacturers use various methods to make a shaving brush. In most cases they press the hairs into the handle and use glue to hold them in place. A good test to use is push your finger into the centre of the brush and push down. The only thing you should feel is hair and nothing else.
One of the most important attributes of a good quality shaving brush is its density. It is so much better to have a brush with fewer hairs of very high quality than a brush with lots of hair that is a poor quality.
The simplest way to know if you are buying a good shaving brush is the price. Avoid really cheap ones like the plague as inevitably they are useless. They may use synthetic hair and cheap wooden or plastic handles, and they should be avoided. Here at the Shaving Emporium we would only ever recommend badger hair, as they make the best shaving brushes in the world bar none.
Badger Hair Grades
Fine Badger Hair – This type of hair is ideal for beginners. If you are just starting out and not sure if wet shaving is for you, then these sell at an affordable price. The hair is high quality and will soften over time and will last you for around 5-10 years if it is well looked after.
Finest Badger Hair – This is the most common choice and we think represents the best value for your money. You will find with this type of hair that it is hand assembled. It is very soft at the tip which feels great on the skin yet tough enough to last up to 10 years. Most of the guys here on the Emporium use this type.
Silvertip Badger Hair – Now for die hard wet shavers like myself, we would not use anything else other than the best. This really is the ultimate quality in badger hair. This has the softest hair, has been assembled by hand and will last for over 15 years.
There are, as I have mentioned, less expensive, synthetic versions available, and are usually made in India or China. To all intensive purposes they look ok, but they do not hold a lot of water and tend to fall apart. if you are lucky you will get a couple of years out of those.
We have done a full review of the best badger hair shaving brushes which you can read by clicking here.
How to Look After A Badger Hair Shaving Brush
The better you look after your brush the longer it will last. The golden rule is always keep your shaving brush hanging hair down to dry. Some brushes come with a string for proper storing.
I use a shaving stand. These stands are designed to hold the razor upright, and the shave brush downward to allow for proper drying and care of the wet shaving tools. They also happen to look great in a bathroom or on a dressing table.
It is a big mistake to set your shaving brush on its handle with the hair pointing upwards. Any water left in the hairs then runs down into the handle and weakens the glue over time.
You can see from the image to the left exactly how a shaving brush should be stored.
Using A Badger Hair Shaving Brush
After you have prepared your skin with a pre-shave oil, run your brush under warm water and then squeeze off any excess water. You want your brush to be wet but not dripping with water. Then dip the brush into a good quality shaving cream, or use a soap to create a rich cream.
This should then be applied to the face using short circular movements. That will help soften and raise the hairs ready for whichever type of blade you are going to use. Just make sure the blade is sharp and then shave in the direction of growth.
After the shave rinse off your skin, rinse out your brush and hang it properly.