Most men know that the two shaving essentials are the razor and the shaving cream, but not many know that there is a third: a shave brush. This brush is one of the most important implements to use in the pre-shaving stage. When paired with warm shaving cream, shaving brushes can help provide the closest, injury-free shave available.
Benefits and Advantages
When used correctly a shaving brush can achieve a multitude of different benefits. Brushes are ergonomically made to be comfortable on your hands and face. The bristles are soft and thick to provide the best lather. When using warm shaving cream, these brushes generate a rich lather. When you use your hands to apply shaving cream, you lift hairs unevenly which can cause irritation. Brushes gently exfoliate your face, lifting and releasing trapped hairs evenly to prevent in-grown hairs and give you the closest shave possible. The bristles retain water to help bring much needed moisture to your skin to prevent razor bumps and burns. Shaving brushes provide a smoother, more even lather on your face, preventing areas from getting too much or too little cream, which can cause irritating razor drag.
Styles of Brush
There are three main types of shaving brush: badger, boar, and synthetic. Badger hair brushes, though fairly expensive, are the best style to use. Silvertip badger hair is the most expensive because of its high durability and luxuriousness. Most badger hair is imported from rural China where over-population has become a nuisance. Badger hair is extremely fine and soft, and retains the most water, which moisturizes your face and helps keep it from drying out after a shave. Silvertip brushes can run from $100 and $1200 per brush, depending on the quality of the hair and brush handle. Boar hair is another common brush style. Though it is less soft than badger hair, it helps to exfoliate your face better. Boar’s hair is stiff and pokey, but breaks easier than synthetic bristles. Though it retains much less water than badger hair, it is still more retentive than synthetic brushes. Boar hair is much cheaper to manufacture than Badger hair, with badger hair costing almost ten times the amount charged for boar hair. Synthetic brushes are made with nylon bristles and may sometimes be combined with boar hair to increase water retention. Synthetic brushes do not greatly enhance the quality of your lather; they are mostly used as an application tool.
Use and Care
When preparing to shave, lather your shaving cream with your brush and hot water to help open pores and soften the hairs. Never shave without cream as this can cause irritating razor drag. Run the brush in gentle circular motions in the area you wish shave. Even out the lather by running the brush horizontally and then vertically. Shave with the grain first, then re-lather, and shave against the grain for a closer shave. Once your shave is complete, thoroughly rinse your brush and hang it upside down to dry; shaving stands are best used to dry your shave brush. Drying it upside down makes the water drip off and prevents mold and other harmful bacterium from growing at the base of the bristles and making you sick.