In the age of disposable and electric razors, a proper wet shave is often a treat rather than a regular routine. Sadly, many men find the “treat” to be more of a nightmare – itchy, prickly and less smooth than what they can do at home. Why is that? The answer probably lies not in the sharpness of the blade, the steadiness of the barber’s hand or the quirkiness of how your beard grows. It might have everything to do with the shaving brush and what it’s made of.
A shaving brush’s primary job is to hold water so that the shaving soap can be whipped into a rich lather that will moisten and soften the beard. Without sufficient moisture your razor will drag and pull, causing an uncomfortable and none-too-close shave. The water and lather also serve as a lubricant that allows the razor to glide over the skin effortlessly, rather than skipping and hopping and missing hairs. Without sufficient moisture or a proper lather consistency, a quality shave is simply not possible. Hence the importance of the shaving brush.
Centuries ago, men used sea sponges to lather up. Fortunately, the French came to mankind’s rescue and invented shaving brushes in the 18th century. These days, men can choose between a wide variety of brushes, featuring either natural or synthetic hair
Although synthetic brushes have a number of advantages, shaving aficionados agree that natural is still best. And although boar and horsehair are options, badger remains the king of the shaving brushes.
The case for synthetic
The main advantages of synthetic shaving brushes are that they are PETA (vegan) approved and provide an alternative for men allergic and sensitive to the use of animal hair brushes. Morden advances in the field have led to bristles that are fine, soft, long-lasting and fast-drying. Synthetic shaving brushes furthermore require less maintenance and half the amount of shaving cream or soap compared to animal hair brush. They are also generally more affordable. However, price should not be the deciding factor. The pure synthetic materials used in widely available inexpensive brushes do not load and hold sufficient water to produce the moist lather needed for a consistent, quality shave.
The brilliance of badger
Nothing comes close to natural badger hair’s ability to absorb and hold water. In addition to doing an excellent job of whipping hot water and shaving cream or soap into a thick and emollient lather, badger hair softens and lifts facial hair, resulting in a luxuriously smooth and super-close shaving experience. The tips of the badger bristles also do a very good job of gently cleansing and exfoliating your skin.
Badger brushes come in several grades of softness, namely pure, best, super and silvertip. The latter is considered the ultimate shaving brush.