Let's talk brushes! In all the thousands of shaving "essentials", one product that you clearly don’t want to do without is a good shaving brush. Whether you continue to delve deeply into the wet shaving world or go back to your favorite cartridge razor, a good shaving brush can still be your best friend.
Brushes are a tool for creating a lather, applying it to your face, and exfoliating/lifting your facial hair. To that end, many brushes can fit the bill – from synthetic, boar, horse, or badger. However, there is general agreement that your badger brushes produce the best results in these categories.
Badger Hair: Pros
Why use badger? Badger hair is unique in that the strands are porous; therefore, they have better water absorption and retention that other types. This characteristic allows your brush to produce an exceptional lather. Depending on the grade of hair, badger can also have very soft tips so you experience less irritation when applying your lather, yet they can be stiff enough to exfoliate your skin and raise the hairs to ensure a close shave. And isn’t that what we are going for?
Badger Hair: Good, Better, Best
Because the industry doesn’t have a standard grading system, this can be the confusing part of picking a brush. And since you can’t always try one out, here are a few guidelines for understanding the language.
- Pure: This label is given to the hair that is harvested from a large percentage of the animal so it is usually the cheapest option. The tips will probably be cut to shape the loft and it might even have bleached tips to mimic the more expensive options. Some people really like the scritchy tips (shaving word of the day: scratchy/itchy) for exfoliating.
- Best/Fine: The next level up in quality, the Best grade is a middle-of-the-road option. It will be softer than the Pure option and still provide exceptional lather capabilities. Many find this a great mix of quality and value.
- Super/Silvertip/Finest: The highest quality of badger hair is called many things by manufacturers. The hair in these brushes is harvested from the back/neck of the animal and then often further sorted to remove short, twisted strands. These brushes are usually the softest on the market, with unbleached, uncut tips. The fine gauge also makes it exceptional at water absorbency and lathering. True luxury shaving -- with a price-tag to match.
Badger Hair: What we recommend
So, what do we suggest? Here are our favorites in each category: