When shopping for a new shaving brush, there are several factors to consider, and a wide range of brush types to choose from. But don’t be overwhelmed! Selecting the brush that will work best for you may not be what works best for someone else; we are each unique, as our brush should be!
There are three types of shaving brushes available: badger hair, boar bristle, and synthetic, with badger hair largely the most popular choice. Badger hair has been used for centuries in the manufacturing of top quality shaving brushes, predominantly because of its heavy water absorbency. This is essential to accomplishing a clean, close wet shave, and leaving the skin fresh and smooth. Using a brush, wet from warm water, to mix your shaving soap or cream introduces air that will work up a rich lather, helping you get the consistency you desire without going through too much product. It massages the surface of your skin, raises the beard hairs and enables your razor to glide across your face with ease. Furthermore, many badger brushes are quality graded based off appearance and softness of the hairs, with the common classifications “Pure”, “Best”, “Super”, and “Silvertip”. Here is a breakdown:
Pure badger hair is the most readily available grade of hair since it covers a large percentage of the badger’s body. Because of its high availability, pure badger hair is the least expensive of badger types and makes a great starting point for a beginning shaver who wants to learn wet shaving before moving on to a higher quality and more expensive brush. Pure badger typically ranges in color from dark tan to black, and is usually coarser in texture than higher grade hair.
Brushes filled with pure badger are often manufactured with the tips trimmed to form the final shape of the brush loft. This makes the tips of the hair blunt and gives them a scratchier feel on the face that some men find appealing for exfoliation. The courser texture of pure badger also makes it very useful for lathering soaps well because of its ability to agitate the surface of the soap very easily. Some manufacturers offer variations of pure, such as black badger brushes, which comprise only the darkest hairs to create brushes that have longer lofts and more stiffness in the overall feel of the knot. Over time the tips of pure badger hair will soften and feel a bit more broken in, but will never be as soft on the face as higher grades of badger hair.
Best badger offers a significant improvement in feel and quality over pure. Best grade hair is harvested from large areas of the badger, including the belly area of the animal. The hair ranges in color from lighter brown to gray and has more color separation in the length of the hair, often referred to as “banded.” Best badger hair has better water absorbing capabilities than pure badger, making it a more ideal brush for creating quality shaving lather, particularly with dense creams that require more water to properly hydrate when lathering.
On the face, best grade hair has a softer feel and not as scratchy as pure; however, it still has some light scrubbiness to it and offers a good middle-of-the-road texture between the scratchy pure badgers and very soft super and silvertip grades. Many men have found that best graded brushes from reputable manufacturers, such as Edwin Jagger and Parker offer some of the best values in quality for the price. Many models in this grade are priced very reasonably and will provide outstanding results without compromising quality.
Super badger hair is a finer gauge of hair and has a softer feel than best grade hair. Super badger is not as readily available as best, and it is harvested from the back of the animal. The hair has a distinctive color pattern with a black banded midsection in the hair and whiter tips than the lower quality hair types. The white tips of super badger are very soft on the face and have little to no scratchiness on the skin.
Super badger hair is often color treated by some brush makers to further enhance the whiteness of the brush’s cap; however, the tips have the natural taper of the hair shaft and are not trimmed to form the shape of the brush loft. The white tips of the hair are often short and make up the smallest percentage of the length of the hair shaft. Because the brushes are filled with finer hair, more individual hairs are required to fill the brush’s knot making them very dense yet soft and luxurious in feel.
Proper care of the shaving brush becomes increasingly more important with super badger brushes. These brushes are filled with more delicate hair and are more susceptible to damage if the brush is abused or not dried properly after each use. The finer gauge of super badger gives it superior water absorbing properties over lower grades of badger hair. The density and water holding capacity of super badger brushes offers a noticeable difference in performance when lathering soaps and creams. These brushes are capable of easily creating some of the richest and creamiest lather making them a popular choice for men who want the finest quality of shaving brushes available.
Found only in the neck area of the badger, silvertip is the rarest and highest grade of hair. There is often a bit of confusion regarding the difference between super and true silvertip badger hair. The silvertip hair is sorted and graded based on very specific characteristics of softness and coloring. Like super badger hair, the silvertip has a very distinct color banding, yet it has the softest and most luxurious natural tips and usually the most defined contrast in color between the black and white color bands. It is also very delicate and caring for the brush properly is very important to prevent the hair from breaking or becoming damaged.
The tips of the hair are never color treated and are left in their natural white to off-white color. The hair is fine gauge and has the most superior water absorbency of any of the badger hair grades. Although the hair is more exquisite in color and feel than Super, they do create a very similar quality of lathering from soaps or creams. Both are capable of producing a rich and dense lather because of their ability to absorb water easily and infuse it with the product, but the Silvertip has a distinctive quality in the feel against your skin.
On the face, silvertip hair is gentle and luxurious, like a soft cushion that massages the lather on to the face. Many recognize silvertip brushes as the finest available in the world.
Years of luxurious shaving await you with harmonizing all aspects of your shaving routine. Revolucion provides that distinction with our collection of some of the world’s top quality shaving brands: Edwin Jagger, Kent, and Parker.
Sourced material: Shaving 101: Wet Shaving Education and Reviews; “Understanding Hair Grades of Brushes”: http://www.shaving101.com/index.php/education/shaving-brush-basics/105-understanding-hair-grades-of-badger-brushes.html
Edwin Jagger Official Site; “Shaving Brushes”: http://www.edwinjagger.com/