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WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush Review-West Coast Shaving

WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush Review

The WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush is a classic wet shaving tool with a vintage look and modern performance. The tortoiseshell handle is a throwback to tools of centuries past, while the large knot of badger hair will whip up a voluminous lather that will last for a multiple pass shave.

Shaving brush with tortoiseshell handle and badger hair knot

WCS Tortoiseshell Pure Badger Shaving Brush Specifications

  • Knot (diameter of bundle of hairs): 26mm
  • Loft (height of the hair): 53mm
  • Handle Height: 52mm
  • Total Height: 105mm
  • Price: $35 (or less)

About West Coast Shaving

Since their humble beginnings in the spare bedroom of a two-bedroom condo, West Coast Shaving has been about making wet shaving accessible to as many people as possible. They started with sourcing and sorting razor blades to create samples packs to help new shavers find their perfect blade. Today, WCS is creating their own line of branded shaving products. 



Anatomy of a Shaving Brush

shaving brush diagram with parts indentified

WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush Handle

  • History/attraction of tortoiseshell

Although it has been used since ancient times as a material in tools, tortoiseshell gained prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries as an exotic material that appealed to the wealthy. It was desired for its mottled appearance, its durability, and its organic warmth. Decorative handles, boxes, and more were made from the carapace (shell) of turtles. Although tortoise (in taxonomy) refers to land turtles, most of the “tortoiseshell” used in decorative arts came from marine species, commonly the green sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle. 

Skilled artisans use the turtle scutes to embellish items for wealthy patrons. The scute’s transparency and shininess were coveted as inlays and overlays in cabinetry, handles (combs, knives, fans, brushes), and furniture. In order to harvest the raw material, however, the turtle was hunted and killed. As access to turtles declined, it became more expensive and increasingly rare to use this material and a number of imitations developed.

Horn became a common copycat material as early as the 17th century. It could be heated and shaped around hot irons to form imitation tortoiseshell. However, it never quite had the brightness and transparency of the real thing. In the 1850s, Englishman Alexander Parkes began using the first synthetic material, cellulose nitrate. This anticipated the imminent growth of plastics to replace natural materials like the tortoiseshell.

Today’s tortoiseshell is likely all imitation as the hunting of turtles has a near universal ban. You can still find the lovely mottled character of tortoiseshell but in a synthetic material. WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush is made from a synthetic resin that resembles the classic, mottled appearance of tortoiseshell. It leans more toward the greens of a green sea turtle rather than the amber/orange tones of other tortoiseshell imitations. 

  • Shape/Size

The WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush has a solid, squat handle that is perfect for wet environments. The cylindrical shape isn’t quite a curvaceous as other shaving brush handles but it’s wide, solid footprint make it great for standing upright as it waits for another round of lathering. 

WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush isn’t a terribly tall handle but it is similar to many brushes today. At 52mm, it is large enough to have some hefty but short enough to be grasped firmly for whipping up lather. 

This shaving brush is great for all types of lathering. It is great for palm/face lathering because it is small enough to be grasp near the knot and still fit in the hand. It is also great for bowl lathering. It is a little bit tougher for mug lathering. Depending on the size of your mug, you might need a taller brush.

In a nice touch, the bottom of the WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shave Brush handle is stamped with the WCS logo. It shows up nicely if you have your brush drying knot-side down on a shaving brush stand. 

Shaving brush laying down with West Coast Shaving showing on bottom


WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush Head

  • Hair

The WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush is loaded with natural badger hair. Badger hair has long been considered the perfect hair shaving brushes. It is particularly good at retaining water which helps to hydrate your lather correctly. Badger hair has a firm backbone for whipping up lather from a shaving soap (or shaving cream). Lastly, badger hair feels good on your skin. 

There are a number of grades of badger hair that generally increase in price and softness. Different companies many give the grades different names so you might have to do a little research into what you are getting. West Coast Shaving’s pure badger is their mid grade badger hair (as opposed to their top-of-the-line Silvertip hair). Pure badger is a great, economically way to get a phenomenal badger brush.

Pure badger hair is excellent at water retention and back bone. It will whip up lather well. At a slightly less luxurious grade, it isn’t quite a soft on the skin as it’s premium counterpart. However, some shavers actually prefer a slightly more “scritchy” brush that helps to exfoliate the skin and raise the hair. 

  • Knot

The knot of this WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving brush is 26mm. The knot is the measurement of the bundle of hairs where it is set into the handle. That “knot” of hairs gives you an idea on how much hair is in the brush. The bigger the knot the more hair, of course. 

Modern shavers have been trending toward bigger and bigger brushes, so 26mm has become more the norm than it would have been in decades past. This substantial knot is large enough to whip up copious amounts of lather, but not so big that it hogs the lather. The danger with some bigger knots is that they load up the lather but then won’t release it from the bulk of hair. 

  • Loft/Shape 

The loft, or hair exposed above the knot, of this WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving brush is 53 mm which gives you plenty of hair to work up a lather. The hair is shaped in a common bulb shape which is preferred for shavers who like more precision in applying their shaving lather.

The round type shape leaves shortened hairs around the outside and allows a more compact footprint of longer hairs in the center. Since these hairs do not spread out as widely it makes applying the lather more precise. This bulb shaped head works really well for whipping up a lather in a bowl.  

Shaving brush laying down showing the pure badger hair

Maintenance

Taking care of a shaving brush is not difficult. Just be sure to rinse it well between shaves. Warm water is sufficient. You should avoid using really hot water as that can compromise the glue knot/soften the epoxy and you can get more shedding as the hairs loosen from the knot. Gently squeeze/press to get out any excess water. But avoid vigorously rubbing the head. Then wipe the rest of the handle with a damp cloth. Finally, you can set it in a stand to dry or at least leave it out to air dry. Don’t throw a damp brush into a drawer or cabinet. Allow it to dry completely between shaves or storing.


Affordability

West Coast Shaving has worked hard to bring wet shaving products to all. With that in mind, they have priced this shaving brush in a range that brings as many people into the game as possible. You can always find it for around $35 on the website (and often on sale for under $30.) You can’t go wrong with a price like that. 

Pro: Con:
Lovely, retro handle Mid-grade natural hair might not appeal to all
Natural, badger hair Large knot might not work for some
Great price 

Bottom Line:


Start - or add to - your shaving brush collection with the WCS Tortoiseshell Collection Pure Badger Shaving Brush. It is an affordable, attractive, all-around great performing shaving brush. Check it out today at West Coast Shaving.

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