The brush

In this section:

The Shaving Brush

The shaving brush is a pivotal element of wet-shaving. If you’re serious about improving your shave and caring for your skin, pay close attention when choosing this particular shaving prop. Shaving brushes can be found in a variety of natural and artificial handles, filled with different grades of natural or synthetic hair.

Quality shaving brushes are filled with the finest grades of badger hair, particularly well suited to shaving with traditional shaving soaps and creams.

Prior to their first use, a new shaving brush should be washed well using warm soapy water. After daily use, rinse the shaving brush under clean, warm water. To dry, place the shaving brush in its holder with the bristles facing down. Allow the shaving brush to dry thoroughly before storing, as wet and damp may damage the bristles.

The most common denominations of badger hair, according to their origin and quality are silver-tip, super badger, best badger and pure badger.

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Silver-Tip Badger Shaving Brush

The softest, rarest and most expensive badger hair shaving brush with natural untrimmed silver tips is the highest quality available in shaving brushes worldwide. The pure coloring of this hair, enhanced by careful hand grading and filling, originates from the neck of the animal. The shape of a quality silver-tip filled shaving brush is created by hand, not trimming. The long hair is ultra soft and very flexible guaranteeing the most discerning wet shaver many years of luxurious shaving.

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Super Badger Shaving Brush

This is a very high quality grade of badger hair, only used in high-end shaving brushes. Visually, the badger bundle displays a distinctive dark brown band capped with pure white tips and is presented in a natural fan or bulb shape, using the natural hair end to create the shape. The shape of a good quality Super Badger filled brush is created by hand and is not trimmed to create the overall badger bundle shape, which is a time saving method but detrimental to the brush's performance. A Super Badger shaving brush constructed in the former way is very soft due to the fact that the naturally tapering tips of the hair have not been removed. A Super Badger shaving brush is very soft and flexible and will guarantee the wet shaver many years of shaving.

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Best Badger Shaving Brush

This is made of good quality pure badger hair best described as a combination of pure and super badger bristles. It is normally regarded as the benchmark standard of shaving brush manufacturers. The light brown color in a best badger shaving brush indicates an above average standard and also confirms that the mixture of hair is very pure. The hair is stiffer to the touch and is always very popular with wet shavers who use their brush to exfoliate their skin at the same time as preparing it for shaving. A good quality Best Badger shaving brush will also last many years, if maintained properly.

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Pure Badger Shaving Brush

These brushes are made, using darker, stiffer badger hair. The fibers are black in color and have less overall water retention than the other kinds of badger hair. These make good introductory brushes for new wet-shavers and for those who like a scrubbier action.

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Boar Shaving Brush

Boar bristle shaving brushes are of a light color and stiff nature. They make good starting brushes and exfoliating aids as well. Boar bristles are ideal lather-making instruments for use with shaving soaps. Some higher quality boar brushes are of selected hair that is treated and dyed to resemble badger hair. It is natural for boar bristles to lose their stiffness with time and usage.

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Shaving Brush Made of Other Types of Natural Hair

Other common types of natural shaving brushes are those filled with horse hair or combination horse and badger hair. Horse hair lends the brush sturdiness, while badger hair provides softness and good water retention, making the combination brushes quite versatile. Pure horse hair shaving brushes are similar in bone and texture to black or pure badger shaving brushes. Some of them feature bleached tips to simulate the look of higher quality badger hair.

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Synthetic Shaving Brush

Synthetic hair shaving brushes are a fine choice for vegans, and make good introductory brushes as well. Their fibers are soft, yet resilient, and since they are manmade their price is usually reasonable. Some high quality synthetic brushes closely mimic the look and feel of badger hair.

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How a Badger Shaving Brush is Made

The average brush will contain approximately 14,000 hairs, weighted precisely to fit the securing ring that holds the brush together. The manufacturing process is highly skilled and most of the work is done by hand using traditional tools.

The bundle of hair is combed to remove any hairs not lying straight. The hairs are then placed tip-first into a heavy metal forming block which has a concave interior to give it the distinctive dome shape of a quality brush. The end of the brush is tied securely with strong thread and then glued into a ring. This fixes the hairs in the finished shape of the brush.

The base or the shaft-end of the hairs are sheared off (the tips are never cut as is the fine tips that give the softness in a brush of true quality). The clamped bundle is then carefully cemented into the chosen brush handle, creating a luxurious toll that will last for many years.

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How to Look After Your Shaving Brush

A badger shaving brush is a natural product that with loving care should last ten to fifteen years. When you get a new brush it is quite natural for a few lose hairs to come away from the brush in the first few weeks; these are shorter hairs that did not quite reach the glue base and this should not be a cause for concern.

Wet your brush throughly before use, dip the tip of the brush into the shaving cream or soap and lather gently using an up and down motion; when applying the shaving cream or soap do not apply too much pressure, causing the badger hair to splay. After shaving, rinse the brush gently but throughly in clean water, flick the excess water away and place the brush in a stand with the hair pointing down. If you do not have a stand, leave the brush pointing up rather than horizontal, so that air can get to all hairs and dry the brush naturally.

Natural hair that is left wet can develop mildew; try to avoid enclosing a wet brush in a too small space. If you keep it in the bathroom cabinet make sure that it has sufficient space to dry. If you shave away from home and keep your shaving brush in a travel tube or kit bag, give it an opportunity to dry as soon as you can. If your brush becomes affected by mildew or a build up of soap, soak it in a solution of Borax, which can be obtained from a pharmacy.

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