How Long Do Shaving Brushes Last?
In our highly disposable, one-use, use-it-and-forget culture, wet shaving is revolutionary. It asks you to slow down, meditate on the process, and buy quality goods that last. . . a lifetime? Well, just maybe. If you are wondering how long your shaving brush should be expected to last, then read on.
How long your shaving brush will last depends on a number of factors including both controllable and uncontrollable variables. But with the right brush and the right care. . . well, you better pick a brush you like because it might just be with you for the long haul.
Factors for longevity
- Quality of the shaving brush & types of hair
The old adage “you get what you pay for” has some truth here. A quality shaving brush with a well-set glue bump, firmly secured, and top-of-the-line hair is certainly going to last longer than its shoddily constructed counterpart. In addition to manufacturing issues, the type of hair can also affect its lifespan.
- Badger: Badger hair is one of the most common types of natural hair for shaving brushes. It is known for its absorbent properties which assist in creating a frothy lather. This also means that it holds water, so it is essential to give this brush room to dry.
- Boar: Also a natural hair common in shaving brushes, it can last a long time with proper care (numerous wet shave aficionados claim 30+ years on their boars).
- Synthetic: Theoretically, these plastic-based materials could last a lifetime (and beyond). And with their ease of care, they could easily be an heirloom, as long as they are maintained and lack manufacturer defects.
- Frequency of use
Another factor that comes into play is how frequently your brush is getting used. If it is your daily driver, the wear-and-tear will certainly shorten the life of the shaving brush. However, if it is part of a rotation that allows it to dry completely and get used less frequently, it will certainly increase its lifespan. (Come on, guys, it’s an excuse to get one.more.brush.)
Believe it or not, how you ply your brush will also impact how long it lasts. If you lather with aggression that causes quite a bit of splay, you might be damaging the glue bump, breaking the hairs, or driving soap scum and bacteria deep into the knot. A gentler touch could go a long way in lengthening the life of your shaving brush.
- Maintenance & Storage
The final factor that we will look at in keeping your shaving brush going strong for years (even decades) is how you care for your brush. It’s true: we care for what we want to keep. (There’s a life lesson in there, I’m sure). In fact, there is a better chance that someone will ruin their shaving brush (by fall damage or lack of maintenance) before it gets worn out.
- First, rinse & dry completely after each use. Having more than one brush allows this to happen more easily. (Really, I’m not kidding. You need another brush. Does this make me an enabler?)
- Second, periodically clean your brush. A mild shampoo and conditioner usually works well, especially with badger hair as it closely mimics human hair.
- Third, if you find hard water has created a scaly build-up near the base of the knot, soak the brush in vinegar to break down the calcium/magnesium.
- Fourth, if you are planning on storing your brush, ensure that it is completely dry before packing it away. (It might just become a special gift for your son. . . or grandson.)
So, how long will my shaving brush last?
Keeping in mind that there are a considerable number of factors involved, even as a conservative estimate, 10 years is a pretty reasonable and typical lifespan of a quality shaving brush. But it is not unheard of for wet shavers to extol the virtues of their brushes 30, even 50, years down the road. In fact, there are some using heirloom brushes out there passed down from father-to-son.
Of course, we haven’t even touched on personal preferences, styles, and trends. It is likely that you will find another knot or size or handle that you want to try out over the course of time. And that isn’t a bad thing, is it? Bottom line: Love your brush and it will love you back!
What is your go-to shaving brush? How long have you been using it? Anyone in the 3 decades club? More? Let us know in the comments below.