Sunday, May 17, 2015

Shave Brush Bristles

You might be wondering what is the big deal about shave brush bristles and why are some brushes more expensive than others.



There are many benefits of shave brushes:

Fibrous bristles hold water, the more water a brush holds the moister and more lather the brush will give.The more lather the less a razor will skip or drag on the skin.

The shave brush also acts as a mild exfoliation as you use the brush across your face. This replaces washing and applying lotion to your face pre-shave.

The shave brush also lifts and softens facial hair before a shave. applying shaving cream by hand flattens hair or raises it unevenly. A razor doesn't need to be pressed against the face to have a clean shave if a high quality straight razor or high quality safety razor is used. The use of multiple blades is not necessary.


Most of the time the brush price depends on the type of handle. They have been made from anything from wood to ivory, gold, nylon, plastic, urethane, tortoise shell, The handle has no to little effect of the brush's performance. Actually some very good brushes use plastic, nylon or urethane handle, so that the brush is very durable and not easily broken. 

The price of a brush can depend based on the what the handle is made from. Also how the bristles are knotted. Some of the best quality brushes have are hand knotted. 

The best quality brushes are hand knotted. Badger and boar brushes are the most commonly found animals used for shaving brush fibers. Badger species include the eurasian badger and the hog badger. Badger brushes and often referred to as two band, or three band. Perhaps all badger hair fibers have three bands, but those used in the brushes conceal the lighter bottom band. Nonetheless, both types of bristle make desirable shaving brushes. Lower-quality brushes are often machine made and the bristles may be trimmed, resulting in sharp, prickly tips.[Wikipedia]

Synthetic shave brush bristles are the usually made from nylon and can range in both quality and price.Synthetic bristles are usually less sensitive to everyday use and dry quicker than natural bristles.

Boar's hair shave brush bristles are relatively inexpensive and  will break in with time splitting hairs at the tips and making the brush softer. Unlike synthetic and badder hair bristles boar hair absorbs water. So, it should be soaked in water before use.

Badder hair shave brushes come in a variety of different quality bristles:

Pure badger are badger hair brushes that use the most common hair from the underbelly of a badger, the hair which covers around 60% of a badger's body. This hair varies greatly in softness, pliability and color. Pure badger hair is usually dark in color, but fluctuates from a light tan to a near-black or silvery sheen. The hair is coarser than 'best' or 'silvertip' hair due to its larger shaft. Brushes made exclusively with pure badger hair cost significantly less than finer badger hair. Most often, pure badger brush hairs are trimmed to shape, resulting in somewhat stiff, rough ends. [Wikipedia]

Best badger are brushes made with the finer and more pliable hairs from 20 - 25% of the badger's body. It is longer in length and lighter in color than 'pure' badger hair. A 'best' badger brush is more densely filled with hair than the 'pure' badger brush and will produce a correspondingly greater lather. However, some wet shavers argue that the variance between the quality of a 'pure' and a 'best' badger brush is negligible. Best badger and better quality brush hairs are often fit so that the ends do not have to be cut to shape.[Wikipedia]

super badger brush is more expensive than either 'best' or 'pure'. While some call this hair 'silvertip', it is often highly graded 'pure' hair bleached on the ends to resemble silvertip.
Though it is composed of 'pure' badger hairs, 'super' is graded and sorted to such a degree that its performance is superior to that of 'best'. The brush is not prickly.
One way to determine if a brush bears a 'super' or 'silvertip' badger hair load is to look at the color of the bristle tips. A true 'silvertip' brush has tips that are an off-white. A 'super' brush on the other hand has bristle tips that are a more sterile, slightly greyed white; moreover, the light color of the tips does not extend as far down the shaft of the hair.[Wikipedia]
Silvertip badger is the most expensive and rare type of badger hair. The tips on this hair appear white naturally, without bleaching. A "flared" bristle load gives results in the 'silvertip' brush's fluffy appearance and lends the brush its ability to hold a large amount of water. Due to its water retention capacity, a 'silvertip' brush can create well-formed shaving lather quickly and easily.[Wikipedia]
 The badger is mostly protected in North america and Europe, but not in China. Almost all commercial badger hair comes from mainland China. In China badgers are a big crop nuisance and are killed by licensed villages and they sell the hair to processors. 

Horse hair brushes are making a comeback after being non existent due to an anthrax scare during WWI.  They are still hard to find, but they are made from the mane and tail of the animal and the animal is not harmed.