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Is a Shaving Brush Necessary?

You may have recently noticed a trend of guys reaching for a classic straight or safety razor instead of the mass marketed multi-bladed cartridge razors. Well, there are several reasons why you may want to switch and many claim to get a superior shave. Regardless of your tool, you may have been tempted to look into getting a shaving brush, but is it really necessary? We speak to Jeremy Hood of Best Men’s Shaver to find out.

What Is A Shaving Brush? 

The traditional shaving brush is a tool used to help apply and whip up your favourite shaving cream. There are three parts to the shaving brush. The handle, which can be made from all kinds of materials; wood, resin, bone and metal. The type of handle you get really doesn’t affect the performance of the brush; it is purely a matter of preference. Another aspect of the brush is the knot; the knot is usually around 24mm plus or a minus a few millimetres. Usually the wider the knot, the shorter the loft and vice versa. The loft is the measurement from the handle to the tip of the brush. Together, the loft and the knot create the brush’s backbone - the level of stiffness the brush has. Guys who like a stiff backbone appreciate the exfoliation the brush offers. Others who like a soft backbone usually like that because it can hold more lather.

Thomas Clipper
Thomas Clipper

Types Of Shaving Brushes 

Badger - this is the most sought after type of shaving brush hair and therefore the most expensive. It is grade as pure, best or silvertip with the last being the best type. Badger brushes are sought after for the softness of the hair and the ability to hold large amounts of water. 

Boar - boar hair is more readily available than badger and usually much more affordable. Boar hair is stiffer and usually does not hold as much water. However, with use the hairs will soften over time so much that you may not be able to tell the difference. 

Synthetic - the main benefit of a synthetic shaving brush is that they don’t come from an actual animal. These can sometimes work just as well as the previous two types.

Photo: Dezeen
Photo: Dezeen

How To Break In Your Shaving Brush 

When you first get your brush it will smell like the animal it came from, especially when it gets wet. However, the scent dissipates over time and you can help speed up this process. You should first wash the brush with some dish detergent or your favourite shampoo. After that load your favourite shaving cream or soap onto the brush as if you were going to shave, then simply let it dry overnight. Wash it out in the morning and this should have taken care of most of the odour. If your brush is feeling a little stiff, you can simply simulate using it on your hand as many times as you like to quickly break it in. However, if you went the badger route it will probably be soft enough straight from the box.

Do You Need One? 

So, to answer the question we started with; no, of course not. You can continue to use your aerosol cans that are filled with who knows what. But if you want to add some enjoyment to your shaving routine it may be worth a shot. As we mentioned earlier, the brush exfoliates your skin, helping to remove dead skin cells and dirt. The brush also lifts your beard hairs up off the skin in preparation for your shave. Using a shaving brush opens you up to try many different handmade soaps and creams. There are several out there to try, almost like trying to find your favourite craft beer. Again, a shaving brush is definitely not necessary, but why wouldn’t you want to try one? Treat yourself to a better shave; your skin will thank you.

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