The Humble Shaving BrushWritten by Shavers' Advice Team on October 27, 2015
With the rise in barber shop shaving, old school shaving techniques and tools are making a comeback and none more so than the humble shaving brush. Contrary to popular belief, the shaving brush is not just limited to razor shaving, they are also just as relevant and useful when used with wet electric shavers. So take a page from the history books and give one a go - you won’t be disappointed.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. The pre-prep treatment, or lack of it, really does make or break the shave. The right pre-shave product applied in the correct way will literally stop your morning shave from being a drag.
If you are like most men you squirt shaving cream into the palm of your hand, slap it on your face with you fingers and rub it in a bit with the heels of your hand. At best this delivers only a superficial layer of protection and at worst it mats the hair, raises it unevenly or totally flattens and traps it between the cream and your skin making it impossible to cut at all.
Switching to a brush is the single biggest change you can make to your shaving routine in order to achieve a superior shave. Yes it costs a bit of money and yes it takes more time but you will get a much closer shave, experience less razor burn, it feels great and it looks super sophisticated on your bathroom shelf!
The brush serves multiple functions: - it absorbs hot water and infuses it into the shaving cream whipping it up into an impressive lather which will provide a protective layer between the blade and your skin. The thicker and creamier and lather the less the razor will skip and drag - it naturally exfoliates the skin keeping it smooth and hydrated reducing soreness and ingrowing hairs - it lifts the hairs and suspends them in the cream in readiness for cutting for a more even shave and removing the necessity for repeat passes - it softens the hair leaving them moist, smooth which will make them easier to cut neatly rather than being pulled out of the skin.
Shaving brushes come in a range of materials, shapes and sizes and of course price points. Undoubtedly, the real connoisseurs of wet shaving give their preferences to badger hair brushes due to it’s amazing ability to absorb and retain water combined with the softness and strength of the bristles, followed by boar hair brushes. If the idea of using animal hair rubs you the wrong way, synthetic hair brushes are also available.
Many people inadvertently damage their brushes during and after their shaves but with the right care and attention, a good quality brush will last for decades. The biggest mistake that many men make is using excessive pressure when creating lather. By pushing the brush heavily into the bowl you will crush the inner core of the shaving brush damaging the bristles and risking breaking them off. Ensure your shaving brush is well soaked and use a light pressure to whip the cream. If you’re not creating a full lather simply add more water, not more pressure.
It is also important to take care of your brush after the shave. Rinse your brush thoroughly to remove all of the soap or cream and then leave it in an open area where it can dry completely. If the brush isn’t completely clean and dry it will rot from the inside out, so be warned. If you’re investing in a good quality brush it’s worth paying a bit more for a compatible drip stand. This allows your brush to dry properly upside down which stops the bottom of the bristles from rotting and lengthens its lifespan - a no brainer as it will protect your investment and enable you to enjoy your smoother shaving for many years.