Contents of Page
- History of the Shaving Brush
- Benefits of Using a Shaving Brush During Your Shave
- How to Choose the Best Bristle Type in Your Brush
- Types of Shaving Brush Handles
- Loft Height & Knot Size
- Brush Shedding
- Handcrafted Quality
- How to Use a Shaving Brush
- A How-to Maintenance on Your Brush
- Conclusion: A Shaving Brush Only Enhances Your Shave
Whether you are a beginner to pro, having the perfect shaving kit is important. Right now 75% of men shave their faces every day/ Plus, 85% of those men preferring wet-shaving – it’s becoming important for men to have the best grooming gear.
When you’re looking into your kit, you may have already decided on buying a safety razor, electric razor and shaving cream. However, most beginners make the mistake of not having a shaving brush to start their experience. Picking the best shaving brush is crucial to having the ultimate shave.
In my previous post about shaving creams, I went over using a shaving brush to help with the lathering experience. If you struggle with coarse hair, you’ll need a shaving brush in your kit to help with getting the closest, knick-free shave.
There are going to be a number of shaving brushes on the market for you to choose. So here’s the all-inclusive guide to picking out the best shaving brush for a smooth shave.
History of the Shaving Brush
Many of the shaving tools we use today weren’t historically known or relevant until the 20th century. However, the shaving brush does add a little more flare, being one of the oldest existing shaving tools still used today.
Traced as far back as the 1750s, the shaving brush still remains a staple in shaving. Back in France, the earliest known shaving brushes were common for having expensive handles such as ivory, gold, shell or even crystal. The bristles for the shaving brush ranged from badger hair (most expensive) to a horses’ hair (cheapest).
With the invention of straight razors to follow in the 1800s, the shaving brush was popularized even further and made a permanent mark on the grooming industry. It allowed men the ability to left their mustache or beard hair to get the closest shave without having to visit the barber or worry about cuts and nicks.
Benefits of Using a Shaving Brush During Your Shave
Your shaving process should be the least time consuming with the greatest results. In order to achieve this, you will need to have a great shaving brush. Here’s why so many prefer to have these in their kits, including me.
Get a Thicker Foam
You can expect to have a much richer foam when you use a brush with your shaving cream. The shaving brush helps absorb the warm water on your face and disperse the foam correctly.
This is what gives that true lather you require during your shaving experience. Most guys don’t realize that using water, cream and their hand isn’t enough to create a lather without putting some work into it.
The bristles not only help with controlling the water during the lathering, it also adds more air to the ratio. This air helps to create a more comforting, fluffy lather that will help get that closer shave you want. If your goal is to have a thicker foam with less cream, a shaving brush is the only applicator to use.
Helps with Skin Exfoliation
You may have heard about exfoliation, but never really took it seriously. However, having a great skin exfoliator can dramatically increase the elasticity of your skin, reducing the number of razor burns and cuts you get on your face.
If you’re not that invested in getting a daily skin exfoliator, a shaving brush could be a great replacement for it. The bristles remove the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, making it smoother and easier for the blade to cut the hair, rather than the top layer of skin that causes razor burn.
Help Eliminate Acne and Hair Bumps
The bristles not only help with removing dead skin cells, it also helps prevent the pores from clogging. This helps with promoting healthier skin and preventing acne breakouts and hair bumps.
Too many guys struggle with acne and hair bumps and don’t realize that it could be from not using a shaving brush.
Opens Pores and Lubricates Skin
Shaving brushes add heat when you’re applying the lather in a circular motion. This heat stimulates your pores and opens them up. This helps loosen the hair follicles, making it easier and less resistant to pulling during your shave.
This is where it helps guys the most with coarse hair. Since coarse hair tends to be the most problematic during the shaving process — since it tugs the hair out of the follicle, rather than cutting it — you’ll need an effective shaving brush to help you get a pain-free shave.
The shaving brush also helps strengthen the barrier between the safety razor and your skin, providing it with the proper amount of lubrication to avoid cuts.
Delivers a Closer Shave
When you’re shaving and using a brush to apply the cream, you’ll notice how much closer the shave was for you. Combining the thicker lather, skin exfoliation and added lubrication alongside the brushes’ ability to lift the hair from your skin, you can expect a closer shave with your straight or safety razor.
You’ll be able to get more hairs in a single pass, causing less irritation to your skin. You’ll also reduce the amount of razor burn, cuts and nicks. There is nothing better than a pain-free shave.
How to Choose the Best Bristle Type in Your Brush
The quality of bristles uses for the brush will partially determine the effectiveness of your shave. You’ll be able to choose between synthetic fibers, horsehair, badger hair or boar hair. The brush you pick out should accommodate your needs and complement the best shaving cream in your grooming kit.
Synthetic Shaving Brushes
In the earlier years of the synthetic brush, not many guys were interested in these. They were cheap both in price and use, which made them undesirable for the average man. This stigma has changed drastically as the bristles have been remodified in recent years to be softer and long-lasting.
Whether you are vegetarian, vegan or allergic to animal hair, a synthetic brush will offer you a valuable product without compromising the quality of your shave. As the continued launch of these brushes continue to succeed on the market, certain ones are known for being softer than even the animal hair brushes. So any guys looking for a product that deals with their skin sensitivity, look into getting one of these brushes.
Badger Hair Shave Brushes
Badger hair remains notorious for the shaving brush and remains the first known bristle-type for it. Badger brushes come with four different grades of bristles: silver tip, pure, best and super. Similar to shopping for a ring, each grade differs and some are much more expensive due to the quality.
Silver Tip Brush
The silver tip bristles are the highest grade for badger shaving brushes. When shopping around for a good silver tip brush, you’ll need to look at the bristles closely. They will look similar to a black and white-silver color bands, but will usually have a more defined contrast that sets it apart.
Silver tip bristles are known for being extremely soft on your face, acting as a soft sponge as you lather your face. These high-quality features coupled with the over 10-year lifespan makes them more expensive than most other brushes. Most of these brushes start no lower than $150 but also depending on the handle and brand, can be upward of $500.
Super Badger Brush
A step below the silver tip, the super badger still delivers during the shave with its soft bristles. When shopping for a super badger brush, look for a colored pattern with a black banded midsection. You’ll also notice that the super badger grade has tips that are much whiter as well.
You can often find that this brush is significantly less expensive than the silver tip, with most ranging from $75 to $150. If you’re looking for a great investment that’s not too expensive, you’ll find the super badger grade to be the ideal brush. You’ll also get the same 10-year lifespan that you’ll get from a silver tip brush.
Best Badger Brush
The best badger grade stands as an average-grade brush. It’s not as soft or durable as a silver tip or super badger grade brush, but it’s great for a guy looking for a reliable shaving tool.
The bristles of the brush range from gray to light brown in color and work better than the lowest grade of badger brushes, the pure badger grade.
You can expect to get a six-year lifespan from one of the best badger grade brushes. Plus, expect to pay only between $50 to $100 for it. It’s a small investment for a decent product.
Pure Badger Brush
The pure badger brush remains both the most inexpensive and lowest grade of a badger hair brush. So, for men who are just starting their shaving regimen, but still want a quality badger brush to test, this is going to be a perfect fit for you
With an average lifespan of three years and price ranging between $35 to $70, you won’t have to invest too much into your shaving tool.
If you’re also working on a budget, get a pure badger brush if you prefer a better quality brush. Pure badger still triumphs the effectiveness of horsehair brushes and boar brushes.
Horsehair falls short of the quality offered by badger hair but triumphs a boar hair brush. Horsehair brushes are recommended for guys looking to enhance their travel shave kit since they tend to be small enough to fit in the bags. And, not to mention they are inexpensive ($20 to $40).
This way if you lose it, it isn’t a huge loss for you. Horsehair brushes may not be the greatest, but they are still a good option for a man on a budget.
Boar Hair Brushes
The last type of bristle you’ll encounter are boar brushes, which will be the most inexpensive for shaving brushes. As you go through your journey of picking the perfect shaving brush for your face, you’ll see that boar brushes are the most common type around and cost under $10 for a good boar brush.
The discomfort involved with a boar brush from the coarse bristles can make for an uncomfortable shave. If you suffer from sensitive skin, a boar brush may initially cause skin irritation until the brush breaks in and softens.
If you’re using a soap rather than a cream, this brush-type is going to help penetrate the soap better. So, it’s something to consider when purchasing the best shaving brushes.
Types of Shaving Brush Handles
If you’re a guy who enjoys adding some style to his shaving experience, you’ll find that shaving brushes have an abundance of handle types that you can select. These handles can be partially the reason why shaving brushes can be more expensive if they have the same type of bristles.
You’ll want to pay close attention to the handle you’re selecting. First, when you’re picking out the handle, you want something that will fit your hand comfortably, give you a good grip and add balance when applying a shaving cream or soap. You’ll find handles that are synthetic, horn, metal or wood.
Synthetic handles can be crafted from anything that’s man-made. As the synthetic materials have reformed and refined themselves, the unkempt man can find that these handles are much more durable than they used to be in the past.
However, they don’t give you that “timeless” feeling that other handles give you. So if you’re looking for a nice piece to put in your shaving kit, you’ll want to reconsider this handle-type.
Wood is as classic as it comes. You can find a handle that is made from any wood type including pine, ash and olive wood. If you look hard enough, you can find even more exotic wood such as bog and red oak, which makes for a timeless piece. These exotic woods can be 100s of years old, adding authenticity.
Not to mention, wooden handles give you better water resistance, especially if you go with a Thuja or Blackwood material. But, if you have minimal knowledge or expertise with wood, it’s worth doing some research on the different types.
Be sure to take the color, durability and benefits of the wood into consideration.
Most of the metal handles you’ll find will be made of brass and plated with nickel or chrome for an added protection and durability during use. If you find that most handles tend to be too light and unbalanced for you, a metal handle may offer you a solution with a sturdy piece.
Chrome-plated handles appear brighter but are more prone to scratches than other materials. Nickel doesn’t offer the shine of other handles, but it does give a nice dark, warm tone to your shaving brush. Aluminum-plated handles aren’t as popular, but they do offer more protection again water damage and scratching.
If you choose a metal handle, you’ll need to focus more on the aesthetics that appeal to you than anything else.
If you’re interested in purchasing an expensive brush, a horn handle could be the exquisite piece you’ve been looking to add to your beard kit. While they aren’t as common, men compliment them for their sturdiness and durability during use.
Horns can range from buffalo to elephant but will be much more difficult for you to get your hands on.
Loft Height & Knot Size
Nowadays, you’ll find that most of these shaving products come with different loft heights and knot sizes. The knot size is going to be the diameter of the base and will determine how comfortable the brush is going to feel in your hand.
Men with larger hands will find a larger knot size to be more comfortable. Meanwhile, men with short hands will find a smaller knot size to be more comfortable.
Also, loft height determines the length of the entire piece, from bottom to top. Generally, higher loft heights will give you more length on the bristles. Some men find this to be softer on their skin, especially if they struggle with thick, coarse facial hair.
The preference on the loft height and knot size will depend on each person. So, take the time to see what guys, similar to yourself, prefer to use and start there with the size determination of your shaving tool.
It’s inevitable for your shaving product to shed. When you purchase a new brush, it will often start shedding as quickly as the first use.
This isn’t something to be concerned over because you’re wearing in the bristles as you use it initially. However, the length of the shedding will determine more on the quality of your brush than anything.
If you chose a high-quality bristle (badger type), you should expect the shedding to stop after a week or two. While most people like to run their shaving brushes under water to help it shed quicker, you don’t have to worry about doing this. With use, it’ll stop on its own.
Choosing a lower quality bristle, like boar or horse brushes, will result in a longer shedding period that can extend up to a year. For you, this could mean you’ll be shopping for a new quality brush sooner than you’d expect. This is why it’s important to invest in a quality brush for your wet shaving.
As you look through each product on the market, you’ll want to look specifically at how the product was made. Shaving brushes are one of the few things left in the world where authenticity is appreciated. So, you should never settle for any product that doesn’t guarantee a handcrafted brush.
The craftsmanship gives each brush an individual personality and you’ll know there are no other brushes out there like your own. It might be even the subtlest nick in the handle that could give your product its character. Any good brush worth having will be handcrafted.
How to Use a Shaving Brush
Using your brush with your natural shaving cream or soap can be done easily. Here’s a quick tutorial on your shaving brush.
Using It with a Shave Soap
- Fill a small cup with hot water and soak the brush for a minute or two. You want your brush to absorb as much water as possible during this process to help you lather your face.
- Wet your face with warm water to promote your pores to open more.
- Remove brush from hot water. Don’t tap the excess water from the shaving brush.
- Apply the soap to the brush, making circular motions on the shaving soap to help create a rich lather. The longer you whisk at the soap bar, the richer the lather.
- Use the brush to apply the lather to your face. Shave as normal.
Using It with a Shaving Cream
- Open the center of your brush and add an almond-size amount of cream to the center of the brush. Since creams are concentrated, you won’t need to use as much.
- Submerge the brush inside a small cup of hot water for around 30 seconds.
- Rinse your face with warm water to allow your pores to open.
- Remove the brush from the water and begin to lather with your pick of the best shave cream on your face, dipping it back into the water as needed to get a richer lather.
- Shave your face as normal.
Using this shaving tool won’t add any additional time to your shaving experience. It will only benefit it with a closer, smoother shave.
A How-to Maintenance on Your Brush
You’ll need to wash your new brush thoroughly when you get it. Use only warm water and dish soap to clean the brush out. This will help with eliminating some of the odor involved with a new shaving brush.
So, be sure to avoid using any detergents that contain harsh chemicals. Otherwise, you could potentially risk ruining your shaving brush. After a few uses, the smell will fully dissipate from the shaving product.
Always make sure to rinse out your brush thoroughly after using it. This process only takes about 30 seconds for a thorough rinse and can prevent any soapy residue from damaging the bristles.
Then, you want to remove any excess water from it and pat dry with a towel. Remove as much water as possible and hang it upside down for a more thorough dry.
This prevents mold and mildew from growing on it, which can cause the handle to loosen itself off. Even worse, this could cause the mold and mildew particles to go inside your pores. So, make sure you clean your shaving brush often to ensure its longevity.
Conclusion: A Shaving Brush Only Enhances Your Shave
So you may have one of the best curly hairstyles for men. But without a good shave, even the best haircut is overlooked by most.
If you want to enhance your grooming toolkit, you may want to look into a shaving brush. It will help provide you with the closest shave possible and gives you the confidence you want to pick up the ladies. As a man avoiding an unkempt lifestyle, a good shave is a perfect way to complement your lifestyle.