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The Best Shaving Brushes – Reviews and Buying Guide
In this article we will help you finding the best shaving brush for your preferences and needs.
Wet shaving has been around for a long time, but for some time it has dropped off the radar screen and is just recently finding its way back to the hearts of many. The on and offs with the use and popularity of this shaving technique is no reflection on its efficiency. As a matter of fact, though an old-school product, it is one of the best and most efficient shaving tools. Ask your grandfather or any man who shaved back in the day and they will definitely testify to this.
- 1 Some Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Brush
- 2 The Best Shaving Brush 2018 – Our Picks
- 3 Top Budget Pick
- 4 Best Horse Hair Shaving Brush
- 5 Best Synthetic Hair Shaving Brush
- 6 Best Travel Shaving Brush
- 7 Background
- 8 5 Easy Steps on How to Use it
- 9 The Difference Between Various Types
- 9.1 Boar Bristle
- 9.2 Horse Hair
- 9.3 Badger Hair
- 9.4 Standard Badger/ Pure Badger/ Fine Badger/ Best Badger
- 9.5 Silvertip Badger
- 9.6 Horsehair
- 9.7 Synthetic Hair Brushes
- 9.8 Synthetic Fiber vs. Natural Hair
- 9.9 Travel
- 9.10 Maintenance
- 10 How We Made This List
- 11 Conclusion
Shocking right? How does this tool affect the quality of wet shaving? Well, believe it or not, it does. And many people tend to disregard this vital piece in a kit. This page is all about shaving brushes, all the ins and outs and how you can choose the top pick in the market for your specific needs and preferences.
In this article, we’ll give you our recommendations for the best shaving brushes based on your preferences for 2018 – including our Editors’ Choice, the Edwin Jagger Large Silver Tip Badger Hair Shaving Brush.
Some Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Brush
|Edwin Jagger Large Silver Tip Badger Hair||Silvertip Badger Hair||Ideal size and weight, Soft bristles, No break-in shedding period like other brushes, Great quality, Zero odor out of the box, Drip stand incl.||Relatively short handle, Quite expensive|
|Edwin Jagger Best Badger||Best Badger Hair||Handmade, quality construction, Helps prepare your face for the closest shave possible, Drip stand incl.||Takes a bit longer to break in than some brushes|
|Parker 100% Pure Badger||Pure Badger Hair||Reasonably-priced, High-quality badger hair, Holds large water amounts, Little to zero shedding, Drip stand incl.||Has brush-stand difficulties, Bigger and bulkier than it appears|
|Muhle Shaving Brush Silvertip Badger Hair||Silvertip Badger Hair||3-month warranty, Firm, heavy-balanced handle, Comfy-feel grip, Rich lather buildup, Zero hair odor, Great stainless finish/limited stains and rust||Brush head shedding, Handle can sometimes be slick when wet, Handle shape not ergonomic enough, Somewhat of break-in period, No drip stand incl.|
|Escali 100% Pure Badger||Pure Badger Hair||100% pure badger hair, Works up a superb lather, Excellent construction||Handle is smaller than on many brushes, No drip stand incl.|
|Parker Safety Razor 100% Silvertip Badger||Silvertip Badger Hair||Silvertip badger hair bristles, Durability, Drip stand incl.||Does not work well with aerosol creams|
|Omega Professional Boar Bristle||Boar Hair||Builds an excellent lather, Quality handle with good grip, Bristles get even better with time||Strong odor at the start, No drip stand incl.|
|Vie-Long 12705 Horse Hair||Horse Hair||Durability, Animal-friendly, Excellent design||Strong odor (that goes away after several uses), No drip stand incl.|
|Frank Shaving Pur-Tech Synthetic Hair||Synthetic Hair||Surprisingly soft for a synthetic brush, Solid construction, Produces a nice lather||Doesn’t retain heat very well, No drip stand incl.|
|Frank Shaving Synthetic Hair Brush Travel||Synthetic Hair||Clever design, Reasonable pricing, Perfect shape and size, Dries quite quickly, Smoothed metal parts, Soft synthetic bristles, yet flexible||Some bristles lost in use, Has softness/ density issues, Relatively poor moisture retention, No drip stand incl.|
Why in the world would anyone with fingers need to use a brush? This is a concern that many of you might have. One can lather up the hair using their hands. But the question is, is this as effective as using a shaving brush?
Honestly, no. Take it from a professional.
Getting a quality shaving brush is one of the signs that you are taking your wet shaving routine seriously. But in addition to this, it also is a clear indication that you are intent on getting a close and clean shave. That said, below are some of the advantages of using this tool.
- First and foremost, it will help to whip air into the shaving soap or cream which will help to create a richer lather
- It will soften as well as lift the hairs from the skin
- Using a brush creates some bit of friction which in turn not only helps in lubricating the skin but also helps to generate enough heat to open up the pores
- Bristles of the brush exfoliates the skin gently and rid the face of dead skin
- You will need less shaving cream or soap to create a good lather
- No harmful gases or by-products from a pressurized container
It is a given, wet shaving is similar to what your Grandpa did. We all agree to this. However, the finer things and moments in life have value to many of us and it is without a doubt that classic shaving is an important niche in the market.
Now that we have that of the way and you are clearly ready to purchase a top shaving brush, whether for the first time or not, there are several things that you have to consider before you spend your hard-earned money on any product.
The 5 Most Important Factors to Consider Before You Buy
The type or kind of hair the brush features is probably the most important decision that you need to make. There are our main types/ kinds of bristles that you are bound to come across. These include boar hair, badger hair, horse hair and synthetic hair.
Each of these bristle types come with their own positives and negatives. But be it as it may, as a golden rule of thumb, the boar hair bristle is by far the most popular and easy to find in drugstores and supermarkets. Horsehair, on the other hand, is slowly increasing its popularity in the market. As its name suggests, it has been made from a horse’s mane or tail.
At this point, I feel it is important to point this out. Getting boar or badger hair means that you will have to kill the animal.
That is the price paid. As such, if you have a problem with this, then you are obviously better off buying a horsehair or synthetic brush.
2. Price – Your Personal Budget
An important part about this piece of equipment is the fact that you will always be able to find one that will suit your budget. There are high-end ones going for $150 and affordable ones that go for only $30. Heck, there are some that can go for as low as $10. However, even with the variation in prices, you should still consider the quality of the brush.
The shape and size of a brush is also another really important factor that one needs to consider. The dimensions are measured in millimeters. They are usually divided into 3 parts; the height, knot, and loft.
The loft refers to the length (millimeters) of hair. It is measured from the handle’s top to the ends/ tip of the hair. The Knot, on the other hand, refers to the amount or bulk of hair that is packed into a handle. The overall height adds the handle length to the loft.
Generally, the large brushes are best as they tend to lather fast and cover a large surface area as well. On the flip side, small ones tend to have a bit more control when applying lather to the face.
4. Handle Fit and Material
The handles of the brushes come in different weights as well as sizes. These variations are determined by the manufacturer. When choosing the handle size, consider the actual size of your own hand. You should grip the handle comfortably.
Handles are also made of different materials. These include horn, wood, metal and synthetic materials. The metallic handles are mostly made from brass and plated with nickel or chrome to enhance their durability. The wooden handles, on the other hand, are made from pine, ash or sycamore. As for the horn handles goes, the best and by far the most popular is the buffalo horn. This horn has lots of good attributes and has longevity.
5. Shedding of Bristles
It should not come as a shock when the brush starts to sheds some of its bristles in the first few days of use. The shedding will stop soon enough. However, you may wish to hasten this process by cleaning the brush using a shampoo or even combing it.
Later on, we shall have a more in-depth look at the brush bristles.
Before You Buy – Remember This
Our best shaving brush list is not a rating per se – it all comes down to:
- Your experience level with wet shaving
- Your skin type
- Your beard coarseness
- Your personal preferences – for instance, are you ok with using hair from animal products?
- And finally – your budget
All the models on our list that we have reviewed to find the best shaving brush are great choices, it is just a matter of your personal opinion and the above-mentioned factors.
The Best Shaving Brush 2018 – Our Picks
(Drip Stand Included)
Ever since it was established in 1988, Edwin Jagger has been a global leader and pacesetter in the distribution of luxury wet-shaving products, mostly serving the Sheffield area’s shaving market in England, with the brand’s secret to the captivating appeal being its founder and owner Neil Jagger.
Neil designs and crafts himself every single piece of wet shaving product by Edwin Jagger. He is highly meticulous to every detail, in the end producing some of the greatest traditional English-style pieces melded with avant-garde design. The family-owned and operated firm is dedicated to high integrity levels and the famed Sheffield craftsmanship.
Among the many badger hair brushes manufactured by Edwin Jagger, the Large Silvertip is the most acclaimed when quality-wise. Its silvertip badger hair and ebony handle are made with cutting-edge technology using succinctly-picked and crafted polyester materials. The badger hair is also natural, fine and superior-grade yet flexible. While its absorption of hot water is superior, the brush also evenly distributes it to the face to soften it and make sure your lathering and
shaving is consistent and smooth.
If you have a highly-sensitive skin or just want to experience gentle shaving, a soft and luxurious touch, as well as even lathering and a mild exfoliation, then the Large Silvertip is your ideal choice.
The brush comes with a plastic drip stand that is beautifully-packed in an Edwin Jagger box, with guidelines on how to use and care for it.
(Drip Stand Included, Ivory Imitation)
The Edwin Jagger has been designed and built specifically to cater the needs of wet shavers then world over. The company was founded back in 1988. Over the years, it has gained popularity courtesy of its high-quality design and manufacturing. Its high-quality accessories have also played a big part in making this brand one of the top picks in the industry.
The company manufactures a brush called Edwin Jagger Best Badger Shaving Brush that comes with a drip stand. This is expected since after all the company brand prides itself on manufacturing products of high quality.
Edwin Jagger makes a big chunk if not all of its shaving brushes from the Meles Meles badger hair. This is a sustainable source of the brush hair. As it has been pointed out, badger hair is one of the most common choices for shaving brush bristles. It has been the preferred choice by many companies for several centuries now. Why is this so? Well, it tends to absorb water better than all other bristle types.
When you combine this quality brush bristles with high-quality shaving soap or cream, you are guaranteed to have quality lather and subsequently the best wet-shaving experience ever.
But enough of that- let us get down to the nitty-gritty of why this shaving brush is the top choice in the industry.
- The badger hair the shaving brush features has been designed to absorb hot water prior to shave. This helps you to whip up a rich and creamy lather for your wet shaving. In addition to this, badger hair brush has also been proven time and time again to provide great results when working with a hard soap. This is especially advantageous to the individuals who prefer getting a closer feeling when they lather or those who have somewhat coarse hair.
- Edwin Jagger, unlike most wet shaving brush producing companies, handmakes their product. They combine their unmatched craftsman skills with some of the most up-to-date technology in the industry to provide its consumers with the top quality.
- This brush is a bit shorter than most on the market. But nonetheless, it is comfortable to hold and has great control when mixing and lathering. As a matter of fact, its size makes it a perfect travel wet shaving brush.
- The Edwin Jagger Best Badger is designed with a drip stand. This provides a storage area in which the brush dries after use. Speaking of which, it is imperative to rinse the brush with warm, but not to hot water before hanging it to dry.
Top Budget Pick
Parker Safety Razor "Long Loft" 100% Pure Badger Bristle Shaving Brush with Ebony Handle & Free Stand
(Drip Stand Included)
This superior quality brush uses pure badger material in a relatively wide and plush bristle head. This feature allows it to hold lots of water and produce a great lather buildup to give you a comforting shave experience in no time.
When you buy this brush, you get a free drip/brush stand that enables the brush to get dry faster and preserve the bristles for longer. With its avant-garde horn handle, the brush stands out due to the classy look.
Headquartered in Stutzengrun, Saxony State, Germany, Hans Jurgen Muller GmbH & Co. KG owns and manages the MUHLE brand. Having been in the global shaving industry since establishment in 1945, this brand is steered by passionate experts enthusiastic about crafting top-quality products.
The German word “Muhle” means a mill or a milling machinery. The Hans Jurgen Muller pioneering family, therefore, decided to settle for the most fitting, work-related windmill design when creating their products logo.
Apart from manufacturing wet shaving products, Hans Muller also sells beauty and body care products. They are also very committed to environmental conservation and sustainability and, therefore, partner only with suppliers that uphold the same high standards.
The Muhle Silvertip uses the finest of materials in the market and is manufactured with an almost unmatchable craftsmanship. Its luxurious badger hair and huge knot size are perfect for broader and fuller strokes during the face-lathering process. What’s more, the brush’s bulbous loft also makes lathering more impactful since it helps enhance the buildup of lather in your shaving bowl.
The Muhle Silvertip has a specially-designed, galvanized chrome-plated handle that is made using a brass core before then being nickel-plated. While also very comfy in the hand, its anti-slip engravings ensure a firm grip thus safeguarding against accidental slippage.
(no Drip Stand Included)
As the name suggests, the Escali is made of 100% pure badger hair. There isn’t any synthetic bristle in the brush. The pure badger hair does a great job of exfoliating the skin and preventing skin irritations. If you are the kind that has sensitive skin, you will benefit greatly from this shaving brush. You, however, have to couple it with quality soap/shaving cream and razor.
While not all synthetic-made bristles cause skin irritations, they usually are weaker than the boar and badger bristles. As such, they tend to break easily. With badger hair, especially the pure kind, it is very hard to beat with regards to producing creamy and rich lather.
This particular wet shaving brush comes with several attributes that are worth pointing out. These include its budget-friendly price tag. It is common to find brushes with a lower quality compared to the Escali 100% Pure Badger costing a fortune.
The lather gotten from the Escali 100% Pure Badger is rich and does not take ages to produce. In addition to this, and like all high-quality badger hair brushes, the Escali 100% Pure Badger bristles retain water perfectly. The bristles are not only very absorbent but also really easy to rinse after use.
Also worth mentioning is the solid and well-made construction it features. It comes with a natural wood handle which fits perfectly and comfortably in the hand. and while you may lose a few bristles at first, the brush is generally designed to last long.
(Drip Stand Included)
Parker is yet another brand that has earned itself a solid reputation over the years. It has made it its business to provide only quality shaving brushes to its consumers. Of its list of shaving brushes, the 100% Silvertip Bristle is the top pick of all.
It has been designed with high-quality bristle. The brush bristles have an extremely soft feel and are better than many of the brushes that have a high price tag. While it is not the cheapest in the stores, it is considerable lowly priced in comparison. The bristles can retain lots of water making it easy to create superior lather.
At the top, the bristles have a light color. They also come with a clear black band that stands out. In comparison to other competitors, they feature reduced break-in time. And while they are soft, they are incredibly tough and resilient to wear and tear. It will be years before you think of buying a replacement.
Like many high-quality models, the Parker 100% Silvertip features excellent exfoliating abilities. In addition to this, it is perfect for sensitive skin courtesy to its soft bristles. It is common for shaving brushes to shed during their first use. The Parker Silvertip is no exception. However, is shed rate is low.
The Parker 100& Silvertip Badger Bristle Brush is handmade. The quality of this brush is renowned and can be felt when held in the palm of your hand. The handle proves comfortable with regards to its length. It is not too long nor too short.
Another cause why the Parke Silvertip has grown in popularity is its chrome shaving brush stand. This provides for excellent storage and drying. Those who have had the luxury of using this brush have given it positive reviews. They also have recorded that the brush is slightly loose closer to the handle. This makes it not perfect for aerosol creams. This is because some of the creams will get stuck in the brushes bristles and therefore may never get to your face.
But then again, it doesn’t make sense to invest in a high-quality shaving brush and skimp on the shaving cream. For a great wet shaving experience, purpose to get a high-quality shaving kit.
(no Drip Stand Included)
Omega started its operations back in 1931. It has over the years climbed to the top of the ladder and is now considered one of the top brush manufacturers in the world. The brushes produced by this company are not just of high quality but they are also reasonably priced. They are without a doubt worth every dime a consumer spends on it.
This shaving brush has been made from natural boar hair. It features a black handle made of resin that is almost similar in length to its loft. This makes it one of the biggest handles available on the market. Sure the resin handle has got nothing on the premium wooden handles other brushes feature, but nonetheless, the handle’s quality is undisputed. The grip is great and superior to other handles.
As is the case with the boar bristles, the Omega Professional does take some time to break in. But on the flip side, the more the bristles are used, the better they become. Compared to other boar bristled brushes, the Omega Professional bristles are softer.
The bristles will provide you with superior lather which covers the area intended to shave with great ease. They are great in exfoliating and in getting rid of the dead skin cells. They will leave your skin feeling refreshed and smooth.
The Omega Professional is affordable. At its price and even higher, there are very few if any brushes that and match its high quality. That said, this review would be incomplete if we did not mention the strong odor the Omega Professional features. The odor, however, vanishes with time as you continue to use the brush.
Best Horse Hair Shaving Brush
(no Drip Stand Included)
The Vie-Long is a Spanish shaving company. It is one of the dominant brands that provide horse hair shaving brushes. All other brands follow suit at a distance. The Vie-Long features a great line of shaving brushes. The 12705 is by far the best they have available.
Now, horse hair is a perfect alternative for individuals who cannot stand the thought of killing an animal for personal gain as is the case with boar and badger brushes. But even then, these same individuals still want a rich and creamy lather that can only be achieved with a shaving brush.
Those who decide to turn to hose hair brushes because of their concern of harming the animals are usually astonished by the quality of the brush bristles. The horsehair proves to be strong as one would expect and the brush can last for a considerably long time when it is accorded proper care and maintenance. As though that is not enough, the brushes are soft at the tips and really helps to produce a rich lather.
Those consumers who have used both horse hair and badger hair shaving brush greatly commend the quality of horse hairs. This is a big plus for the horsehair brushes.
It is also worth pointing out that the Vie-Long 12705 experiences a reduced amount of shedding. This as such, helps to extend the life-span of the shaving brushes.
The Vie-Long 12705 looks great right-out-of-the-box. This is courtesy of the red acrylic handle which compliments the overall beautiful design. The Vie-Long 12705 brush features a square shape and the handle is easier to hold while you shave.
The Vie-Long 12705 brush works great with all kinds of shaving creams and soaps. It, however, specifically excels with the harder kinds of shaving soaps.
Best Synthetic Hair Shaving Brush
(Drip Stand Included)
Synthetic shaving brushes have grown in popularity in the recent years. With synthetic brushes, however, there are several factors that you need to consider.
- First and foremost, the synthetic brushes are a great alternative to the shaving brushes that are made from animal hair. They are such considered to be ‘animal-friendly’.
- The quality of the synthetic models, when compared to those of their animal hair brush counterparts, raises lots of debate. Individuals in different camps support their brushes to the death. But generally, synthetic ones usually do not command great respect in the wet shaving industry like the animal hair brushes do. This is probably because they do not feel natural despite the manufacturer’s efforts to make them feel so.
- With all that being said, a high-quality synthetic brush will provide you with a rich lather. It is for this reason that you ought to purchase a premium synthetic shaving brush. At the very top of the list of premium synthetic models, is the high-quality Frank Shaving Pur-Tech Synthetic Hair Shaving Brush. This is by far the best one in this segment of the market.
The very first thing you are bound to notice when you handle the Frank shaving’s signature synthetic brush is the soft bristles. Many consumers who have had the opportunity to review this synthetic brush as shocked at how soft the bristles feel. They almost are like the animal hair brushes. They are not bristly as many expect them to be.
The Pur-Tech brush is designed to be sturdy. It features a black handle that has a comfortable fit despite your hand size. It performs great with shaving soaps since it requires a great deal of water. In addition to this, it also works well with the shaving creams as well.
The fact that synthetic brushes require slightly more water compared to animal brushes means that compared to animal brushes, they require a shorter soaking time prior to whipping up a rich lather. All you need to do with synthetic brushes is wet them and get on with the wet shaving.
The Frank Shaving Pur-Tech brush in addition to providing quality lather also spreads it evenly over the face. The bristles spread the perfect amount of shaving cream and soap on the face providing a decent amount of shaving foundation. With this, the skin, in the end, feels soft.
The Pur-Tech synthetic brush does not come cheap. It costs about $30. However, compared to other shaving brushes, it cannot be categorized with the expensive brushes either. But considering the fact that the brush comes with a drip stand, the price is understandable.
Frank Shaving is a company that has built a name for itself over the years. While it produces this high-quality synthetic brush, it also is known for producing boar and badger hair brushes. Needless to say, they are committed to producing quality and cost-effective products.
Best Travel Shaving Brush
This brush is manufactured using synthetic hair that is as soft as animal hair and similar, yet it is relatively smaller and easier to use, take care of and travel with. This is made possible by its smaller loft, unlike the girths of bigger and unwieldy shaving brushes that are made of natural hair.
The FS Travel Synthetic Shaving Brush lathers well and easily dries because of its synthetic fibers. Its storage is also simple, being easily positionable and locked inside the sturdy metal container that comes with it.
Although with a smooth and comfy-to-hold handle, the brush can slip rather easily when moist. You can, therefore, apply some alum on your fingers to make the handle sticky and avoid accidental slippage.
The bristles of the FS Travel Synthetic Brush may not be as good as natural ones at holding moisture but it dries out quickly for and storage when traveling.
This essential tool for achieving a good shave was invented in the 1700s in France and was something every man owned until relatively recently. Because of shaving foam in cans and other disposable products, the use of a brush quickly become yesteryear’s art. Fortunately, men worldwide have started paying far more attention to how they treat their skin these days.
5 Easy Steps on How to Use it
Using a brush for wet shaving is not a complicated thing. Sure it can be slightly difficult to get a hang of, but it is not something that will have you thinking of quitting. There are some techniques that are involved in using a brush and that guarantee a great wet shaving result.
1. Prepare the Bowl And Brush
Get a bowl or a mug. There are some that have been specifically designed for wet-shaving if you, however, do not have these specific ones, a normal mug/bowl will work just fine. Fill the bowl/mug with some hot water. The water should not be boiling, warm will work perfectly.
Dip the shaving brush in the water and ensure the entire length of the bristles is under water. Allow it to soak for several minutes.
You can be doing something else during this time, probably taking a shower. Soaking softens the bristles all the more and makes the lathering process a breeze.
2. Drain Some Water
After the brush has soaked in water for a while, you should raise it from the water and drain the bristles of the excess water. You just need to squeeze it slightly, applying just enough pressure that your brush is not dripping water but still is very moist.
3. Build the Lather
Now it is time to lather up. The process you will use will depend on whether you are using soap or shaving cream.
With Shaving Cream
If you are using shaving cream, there are several ways in which you can build the lather. First, you need to put some cream in a shaving bowl (it can be the same one you used to soak the brush) and add some drops of water. Mix the shaving cream with your brush until you get the thickness and the texture you are looking for.
It is important to remember that you are looking to have just the right amount of water and air mixed into the cream to form the lather. You will know when the lather is good for use as it will be cream and rich as opposed to being foamy. The process of building a great lather takes about a minute or so depending on your skill in the technique, the brush you use as well as the shaving cream used.
The other technique you could employ is applying some bit of shaving cream to a cavity in the hairbrush. You can make this cavity in the bristle by pushing down on the shaving brush.
While the latter process is faster, you should note that it still is a great idea to mix the cream in a bowl before you apply it to the brush.
Add a small amount of shaving soap in a bowl and add a small amount (think drops) of water onto the soap it to moisten it. Swirl the brush on the soap for a bit until it contains a sufficient amount of the soap.
4. Lather Your Face
Now, this is the fun part. Or at least the fun is starting. Apply the lather on your face generously using the shaving brush
When doing this, you should ensure that your skin on your face is wet before you lather it up. It is best to shave after you have taken a shower since then the facial hairs are softer and are more pliable to the effects of your razor.
The motion to use are swirls. You do not need to use a lot of pressure on the face but just enough to lather the face and still exfoliate.
After you have covered the desired area with the lather, use up and down motions to smoothen the cream on your face.
This will provide you with a nice and slick shaving surface.
5. Reapply the Lather
After you have had at least one pass over your face with your preferred razor, it is important that you lather up again. The initial lather usually goes with the hair shaved. The lathering process should be the same as described in the above process. This step will ensure that you get a close, smooth shave.
While shaving, you should ensure that the cream or soap you use does not dry up. As such, keep applying a little water as needed to keep it moist for the shaving process.
So Which Is Better, Your Hand or a Brush?
If you are one of those men who is wondering why one should go through all this process while they can still use their hand, you are not alone.
For a long time, men have been using their hands to lather and their fingertips to apply the lather to their faces. This is not something that is about to change overnight.
True, using your hand to lather up is a simple process. After all, you do not have to warm water, soak the brush and follow the five-step technique explained above. In addition, with palm lathering and when using dense creams, you do not have to worry about the cream sticking to the edge of your shaving bowl rather than your shaving brush.
Some men may argue that it is the simple and easy things in life that prove to be much more satisfying than the complicated processes. While this might be true to other processes, but it does not hold true in the shaving process. How is that?
Well, shaving brushes are good for the skin. When you apply lather to the face using a brush, you also be exfoliating the skin and getting rid of the dead and dry skin cells Shaving brushes also help in raising hair and making them softer for shaving and last but not least, with a bowl and brush, you get a richer higher quality lather.
What Are the Different Parts of a Shaving Brush – a Brief Guide
The dimensions of a shave brush can be divided into three sections; the knot, the loft, and the overall height.
- The knot is the amount of hair contained in it – which can either be loosely or tightly packed
- The loft is the length of the hairs in the knot
- The height is the length of the whole brush – from the bottom of the handle to the tip of the hairs. In order to determine the overall height of it, the length of the handle is the determinant factor.
The handle can either be made of resin, acrylic, wood or metal. However, some more creative artisans sometimes come up with other materials to make it unique or to fit a particular preference for specific people.
Size and Shape
Size and shape, being the primary criteria, contain other factors which might be much more complex.
To start with, the shape of the handle could be a matter to consider. Some people prefer wide and short handles, others long and slender ones.
However, in the case where you are torn on the best one to buy, your pick should not have a longer handle than the size between your palm and the pad of your thumb.
On the other hand, loft tips are in different shapes; some are fan-like, while others are bulb-like; this is a personal choice that you will refine over time.
Sizes can vary a lot but the average loft is usually about 50 millimeters long and the average knot is around 20 millimeters in diameter.
The brush is made using different types of bristles. The four most common are boar hair, horse hair, badger hair, and synthetic fiber. In some instances you will come across mixed types of bristles; badger-horse hair and horse-synthetic hair are two common examples. Just to let you know, boar and badger hair is obtained from carcasses of animals that are used for both meat and their hair. This is unlike the harvest of horse hair which does not harm the animal.
The Difference Between Various Types
I promised to get back to this, and here we are. Without beating around the bush, let’s get into it.
Shaving brushes are available in different types, please note that this article relates only to what kind of bristle or hair and grades of hair that is being used, not to the form or function it. Shaving brushes mainly use either boar bristle, badger hair or synthetic hair. There are also versions with horsehair, but this is rarer.
Boar (AKA hog, AKA pig) hair is relatively stiff in use but not in price. These are by far the most affordable and common shaving brush type in today’s wet shaving market. Also referred to as natural and pure bristle. With regards to their price, they are comparable to the synthetic brushes. This is the most common type of choice and it is usually found in well-stocked grocery and drug stores. After some time, a boar bristle gets split ends, and you will find that it becomes softer and easier to make a lather.
To get the best results with a brush made from boar hair, leave it in hot water for some time, such as while showering. When the bristles have become completely saturated with water the hair (bristle) will be noticeably softer. A boar bristle brush need not be sub-standard and is perfectly suitable for those who want to get started with classic shaving at a reasonable price.
Their most common drawback is the fact that the bristles tend to be harder and more given to breakage. In addition to this, they do not retain water like other brushes do.
With prolonged use, they do get softer.
As said earlier, you do not have to harm the horse to obtain its hair. This is an important factor for many of us. Horsehair alternatives have received many positive reviews in that they are soft and not scratchy like other types made from some other bristles. Although they don’t hold quite as much water as high-quality badger options, they are more than adequate for the job. Horsehair is usually quite reasonably priced for their performance and construction quality. The downside here is availability: they are not found as easily as other alternatives. And they smell – horse hair needs at least 2 or 3 times washing with pet shampoo, rinse and dry before being put to use.
The preferred type of hair used in shaving brushes is from a badger. This is because the hair has an excellent absorption capacity and additionally is very soft. There are distinct differences between different quality levels of badger bristles, but please note that there is not a formal or universal classification. If an unethical producer wants to say their product is filled with Silvertip Badger, then there is nothing stopping them. Is also fairly common to bleach budget hair to give it a look of a higher grade, but the texture, performance, and feel of the hair remain unchanged. We therefore only recommend products from reputable manufacturers such as Mühle, Parker and Edwin Jagger and therefore will use their classification.
Standard Badger/ Pure Badger/ Fine Badger/ Best Badger
Standard/ Pure/ Fine/ Best Badger is made of hair that grows on most parts of the badger, such as the belly, tail and the back. This is the cheapest type of badger hair and is characterized by the dark color of the hair. The hairs are being inserted in your brush as one bundle and are then being trimmed to a round end.
Brushes in this category can be machine made unless otherwise noted. After the trimming the hairs get blunt ends, you will feel that they are rougher against the skin than a finer grade badger. That being said, the hairs are far softer and will create nicer bubbles in the foam than pig bristles. A brush in this category is highly recommended to start your wet shaving experience.
Pure Badger Hair
These are the bottom of the badger hair heap in terms of quality. The good news is they are at the bottom of the price range as well. They feature a dark brown color and are derived from the belly of a badger. Their low price does not mean they are completely undesirable. As a matter of fact, they do feature softer bristles.
Best Badger Hair
These are a grade higher to the pure badger hair. The brushes made from this hair type are longer and the bristles have a lighter color. The softness is perfect.
Super Badger Hair
The bristles are very soft – softer than those of the above-mentioned types.
The Rolls Royce of shaving brushes. The hair comes from the neck on the badger, where each hair is a little thinner and softer than the rest of the coat. Thus there needs to be more hair to replenish the knot of the brush, giving even finer bubbles and thicker foam.
Hairs in Silvertip Badger is not trimmed to get the recognizable form but inserted one by one by hand to the correct length. The soft tip of the hair is preserved, making Silvertip Badger softest against the skin while further down the hair is stiffer to rapidly whip up foam.
It is, however, harder to find as it only grows on the badgers during winter. Many of these cost $100+. Silvertip is more expensive than the before mentioned bristle types but makes the best lather with the most comfort.
These are probably the hardest to find except in Spain where they are actually a preferred this type. Softness is considered to be between that of boar and badger hair. While there are some parts of the bristles that are hard and stiffer than other hairs, the tips are impressively soft.
Synthetic Hair Brushes
Additionally, there are options made of synthetic material that imitates badger. Previously, the synthetic versions were noticeably poorer in performance than their biological brothers, but current technology and production methods make today’s synthetic alternative the equal of Badger versions.
It has been a long journey for synthetic brushes to get to where they are today. Most who prefer synthetic versions are after a brush that is not expensive and that an animal did not have to die for them to have it.
While most of the issues with the synthetic shaving brush have been handles over the years, some still say that they are not great in holding lather in comparison to the other brushes. Also, the synthetic models tend to be a bit stiffer than all other brush hairs.
Silvertip Fibre has gotten plenty good reviews by experienced shaving enthusiasts and is perceived by many as good as the best Silvertip Badger.
There is also Black Fibre that corresponds to Pure Badger in use and price range.
Synthetic Fiber vs. Natural Hair
There are some very distinct pros – and cons to the synthetic hair vs their natural counterpart.
Synthetic Fiber Pros
- Strength – Synthetic fiber is a lot stronger than natural hair
- Maintenance – Synthetic fiber involves more or less zero maintenance
- Consistency – If you have two brushes with the same knot, handle and loft, there is almost no variance on synthetic brushes whereas on natural hair there will be some slight variance even with the same hair grade
- Temperature range – Synthetic fiber will withstand hotter (though not extremely hot or boiling) water that would damage natural hair
- Drying – Synthetic fiber will dry much faster than natural hair
Synthetic Fiber Cons
- Water retention – Synthetic fibers do not retain water like natural hair, so you must modify your lather procedure to accommodate this lack of retained water
- Heat retention – Synthetic fibers will lose heat faster than natural hair (a bit like down vs. synthetic fibers in clothing), so if you like warm lather throughout the shave – a natural hair bristle may be more your preference
- Feel at the tip – Good synthetic fibers are soft at the tip but they do not “feel” the same as natural badger hair brush
- Backbone variation – Synthetic fibers have one consistent backbone feel whereas you can vary the backbone in a natural brush by the amount of time you let the brush soak in water
Synthetic alternatives are therefore no longer something you just buy to avoid using animal products, but a good alternative for a Badger shaving brush!
You may want a dedicated brush for your travels. Some larger versions – while perfectly suited for home use – may cause minor packing issues. A travel alternative will have a considerably shorter handle with a smaller loft. This helps in ease of packing, and there are numerous special choices on the market in which the container protecting the knot transforms to become the handle.
A good brush can last for years with proper care and maintenance. Be careful when you rinse it after use and make sure you get all the soap residue out. Rinse from the top down with warm water and squeeze the knot gently to circulate water through all the hair. Once you have got rid of all the foam, shake it well until no more water comes out and then put it away. If you hang it upside down in a rack it will dry faster, this is also a convenient way to store it. It almost never drips water from it, if it is shaken well.
If you are going to travel it’s smart to carry a container suitable for the job. The container should have a hole in the bottom so that the moisture being released from the hair can escape.
NOTE: Do not boil the brush after you’ve bought it. This will damage the hair and handle, which comes factory sterilized anyway. The hair or bristle will smell a bit in the beginning, but this disappears after a bit of use. There is usually no need for special detergents for cleaning the hair since it constantly being cleaned by the shaving soap. It is common that they all lose a few hairs at the start, and all shaving brushes expand or “bloom” over time.
How We Made This List
There are several factors that I put into perspective when reviewing the items on this list. But for me, the most important of them all is the type of bristle it features. This is the number one way of determining the quality of a shaving brush. While badger brushes take the lead in this, I also wanted to consider other popular brushes that feature different bristles for purposes of diversity.
When considering the value of brushes, we have done our outmost to find a perfect balance between the between quality and price. Not all expensive brushes made the list simply because their quality and price did not complement each other.
We also considered the construction of the shaving brushes. With regards to this, I zeroed in on the handle of the brush. If the brush is not comfortable to hold, then there are high chances it will be uncomfortable while shaving as well.
Last but not least, we spent a great deal of time reading through reviews of the products. I did my due diligence and sifted through quite a pile of reviews to help ensure that the list is a compilation of nothing but the top picks.
But as I stated at the beginning of the article this list not a ranking list per se – as in most cases it all comes down to your personal opinion based on 5 factors:
- Experience level
- Skin type
- The coarseness of your beard
- Personal preferences
Hopefully, you have found this review helpful in your best shaving brush purchase process and the information provided has been informative and assists in making your choice the correct one.