The Best Shaving Brush For That Rich Lather
What is the best shaving brush? When I shave, I usually just use my hands to lather on shaving soap to my face…like a savage! But if you are more traditional minded and not quite as much of a Neanderthal as me, then you need to get yourself a decent shaving brush.
Why use a shaving brush?
Besides looking cooler than just using your hands, there are actually some distinct purposes to using a shaving brush. These include:
- A shaving brush creates a much richer and warmer lather than you would be able to with your hands.
- It lifts the hair on your face, making it easier for your razor to reach for a closer shave.
- The bristles/hair of the brush gently exfoliates your skin to get rid of the dead cells.
- It helps to open your pores and lubricates the skin.
So as you can see, there is actually a good few reasons for using a shaving brush! It is an important part in the prep phase of your shave. Besides, it is a lot more civilized!
The anatomy of a shaving brush
A shaving brush is just a brush, right? Turns out there are actually three distinct sections to a shaving brush, namely the loft, knot and over-all height.
The knot is an indication of the amount of hair packed into the handle, the loft is the length of the hair from the base of the knot to the tip of the hair. The length of the handle is factored in to determine the over-all height of the brush.
What are the different types of shaving brushes?
There are mainly four types of shaving brushes. And when I refer to the type of shaving brush, I mean what the brush hair is made out of. The four types of hair that you can look out for when searching for the best shaving brush for your needs are boar hair, horse hair, badger hair, and synthetic fiber. Sometimes you will see a “mixed breed” of hair knot, such as boar/badger or horse/badger. Each type of hair has its pros and cons.
Boar hair brushes
The bristle taken from boars are harder than badger hair and are at first very coarse, which is not so comfortable on the skin. Boar hair brushes (also sometimes called “natural bristle” brushes) are the most commonly seen in mass market outlets such as drug stores and groceries. They are not always necessarily the best shaving brush options as sometimes boar hair brushes are not that well constructed and the harder boar hair is not as soft on your skin as the other options will be.
Horse hair brushes
Horsehair is finer and softer than boar, but slightly stiffer than badger hair. Material for horse hair shaving brushes are simply cut from the horse’s mane and/or tail. Unlike other animal bristle brushes, the animal is not harmed. Many users find horse hair shaving brushes to perform better than boar hair and less “scratchy” than many “pure” grade badger brushes.
Badger hair brushes
Badger hair brushes are generally regarded as the preferred material for shaving brushes as they can generally make a lather more quickly, and retain more heat and water, than brushes of other types. However there are a number of different hair grades, and there is no standardized grading process between manufacturers. But here are the basic grades:
Pure badger hair is the least expensive of the four grades and ranges in color from brownish-grey to black. The hairs are more flexible than boar bristles and usually coarser in texture than higher grade badger hair. Their stable quality will perform well for wet shavers who like a massaging effect while preparing to shave. A pure badger lasts on average three years.
Best Badger offers a significant improvement in feel and quality over pure badger. The hair ranges in color from lighter brown to gray and has better water absorbing capabilities than pure badger. On the face, best grade hair has a softer feel and is not as scratchy as pure. Best graded brushes last on average six years.
The super badger grade is even softer on the face and has little to no scratchiness on the skin. The hair has a color pattern with a black banded midsection and whiter tips than the other quality hair types. The density and water holding capacity of super badger brushes offer a noticeable difference in performance. Super badger is significantly more expensive than best badger and can last up to ten years.
Silvertip is the best and the most expensive grade of hair. Like super badger hair, the silver tip has a very distinct color banding, but usually a more defined contrast in color between the black and white-silver color bands. Silvertip hair is gentle and luxurious, like a soft sponge that massages the lather on to the face. An average silvertip badger brush will last ten years or more. Silver tip hair brushes are the best shaving brush options as far as badger hair brushes go.
Synthetic hair brushes
The cheapest brushes still use relatively thick nylon bristles and are not particularly comfortable. But you can also find amazing products made from high-quality synthetic fibers analogously to the best natural badger hair. If you do not want any animal product than this is the best shaving brush option for you.
The handle itself is usually made of resin or acrylic (i.e. plastic), though wood and metallic handles are quite common as well. More exotic materials are also occasionally seen, particularly on high-end, artisan-made models.
Don’t worry about the shedding!
Even the best shaving brush options shed. When you start using your new shaving brush, you might notice at the beginning that your brush will be shedding some of its hair. Don’t worry, this is normal and should stop happening after about 10 to 15 shaves (if it is a decent brush of course).
The Best Shaving Brush Selection
Below I look at 5 of the best shaving brush options. I will look at a brush from each type of bristle, namely boar hair, badger hair, horse hair and synthetic. Obviously there will be guys with different thoughts on the subject to me, so if you have a brush in mind that you think is the best shaving brush and should be on my list, please post it in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you!
Escali 100% Pure Badger Shaving Brush
First on the list of the best shaving brush options is this pure badger shaving brush. If you want to go for a less expensive option, this brush is probably the best shaving brush for your needs. This brush is really affordable. The pure badger hair is soft enough to not be irritating on your skin. It might be a little prickly the first few times you use it, but as time goes by it will soften up more.
Feedback from users are that it holds a good amount of water and is easy to rinse. Some guys did mention that their brush smelled funny, however it seems the manufacturer has sorted this out as guys who have bought this brush recently says theirs don’t have a funny smell to it. There were also some complaints of shedding, with a few guys saying theirs shed a lot of hair!
If you want a well priced brush that is soft, then this is probably the best shaving brush for you. However keep in mind that this is a reasonably priced item, and so might not be the same quality as some of the other brushes.
Parker Safety Razor 100% Silvertip Badger Bristle Faux Horn Handle Shaving Brush
As I mentioned above, the silvertip badger brushes are the top of the range brushes as far as badger hair brushes go. And you can certainly see that in the price. This is much more expensive than the Escali pure badger brush I discussed above. What I do really like about this brush, is that it comes with a brush stand and is handmade! As it is handmade and with the silvertip hair, this brush should last you a really long time.
The brush has a high bristle density, which is nice for water retention and helps create a nice rich lather. Combine this with the silvertip hair’s softness, this brush will be like a luxurious sponge massaging your face.
There just are not much in the way of criticism for this brush. If you want a nice looking silvertip brush, then this is the best shaving brush for you to consider. It comes at a bit of a price though, so if you are looking for something cheap, you would probably be better off with the pure badger hair brush from Escali I talked about above.
Omega Professional Boar Bristle Shaving Brush
I talked about the pure badger hair brush from Escali as a well priced option if budget is your main concern. However the boar hair brush from Omega is slightly cheaper (but only slightly). And as I mentioned before, boar hair is not as soft as badger hair and is much coarser. However there are guys who like the boar brushes as the hair changes over time and can be “broken in” a bit. So if you want a bit of a project for a shaving brush, then this is probably the best shaving brush for you!
Vie-Long 04312 Professional Horse Hair Shaving Brush
This shaving brush is made in Spain, which I kind of like. It also has extra long hair for that luxurious feel. If you want a brush that you don’t have to worry about animal cruelty to, then a horse hair brush is probably a good bet. The horse hair used is typically gathered when horses are groomed and their hair cut.
The only real criticism that comes up for this brush is the smell. It comes with a bit of a smell, however after a bit of use it should go away. Other than that, this is a quality brush that you don’t have to worry that some poor animal suffered for it. This is not the cheapest brush on the list of the best shaving brush options, but is certainly not the most expensive either.
Parker Safety Razor SYNTHETIC Bristle Shaving Brush
Besides the horse hair option, if you really want to avoid any animal products, then this brush from Parker with synthetic hairs is the way to go. It is in a similar price range as the horse hair brush I talked about above. This brush also comes with a brush stand, which is great for letting the brush dry out once you have finished with it.
In the section higher up in this article where I describe the different types of hair used, I commented that synthetic hair is usually not as comfortable and soft as for example badger hair. However this brush’s hair seems to be pretty soft and comfortable. Do keep in mind thought that synthetic hair brushes will not retain water as much as the natural hair brushes will. But besides that, this is a quality brush that does not use any animal product and comes at a reasonable enough price for the type of quality that this brush provides.
If you want solid, animal product free brush then this is the best shaving brush to keep in mind.
What do you think – what is the best shaving brush?
A shaving brush can be a bit of a personal thing. Each of us will like a different type of brush and a different type of hair on the brush. So it is difficult to crown one brush as the best shaving brush ever in the history of the world! But if there is a shaving brush that you really like and think should be on the list of the best shaving brush options, please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you!