Gone are the days when shaving was nothing but a chore to tame unruly facial hair. Nowadays, more people are getting to know the art of shaving, and the interest in turning it into a hobby has significantly increased. And one thing that a wet shaving kit should never miss out on is the best shaving brush there is.
A shaving brush is often from animal hair bristles, famed for their high porosity. It is the ideal shaving accessory, especially if you are one avid fan of wet shaving. The brush assists in creating a thick lather, and it sure can hold water and stay wet throughout one’s shaving process.
As you may have suspected, shaving brush bristles do not only come from one animal. Not only that, but it can also be from a synthetic material, expertly made to mimic the benefits of natural animal hair.
In this article, you will find out if synthetic shaving brushes are better than badger shaving brushes along with the following:
- Different Types of Shaving Brush Hair
- How to Choose the Best Shaving Brush
- Synthetic vs. Badger Shaving Brush
Do You Need a Shaving Brush?
In a time where convenience reigns supreme, ready-made shaving lather can be quite a temptation. You can always get a canned shaving foam, so why bother creating your lather, right?
If you wonder why you probably have not had the chance to treat yourself to a shaving experience involving warm lather and serene shaving techniques. Most often than not, you are always on the go, splashing cold water, cold foam, and shaving in a rush with a disposable razor. There is nothing wrong with that, but you are missing out a lot.
But, trust us. Men who have tried the traditional wet shaving method have yet to go back to their old ways. And the secret to enjoying what can be a therapeutic grooming routine is to create a perfect, velvety lather, which you cannot achieve if you do not have a shaving brush at least.
Aside from that, here is why you need a shaving brush:
- It helps prep your skin and hair before shaving, separating the hair from sticking onto the skin for an even application of lather.
- If you use it to apply the lather in a swirling motion, it will exfoliate your skin to aid you in getting a clean-shave and removing beardruff and other debris that can infect the microabrasions on your skin, therefore leading to nasty razor bumps.
- The thick lather you whipped up using a shaving brush will condition your beard and skin, acting as a barrier against the sharp blades of your razor and accounting for a smoother shaving experience.
Case in point, it would be hard for you to get a barber-like shave at home if you do not have a shaving brush. Not to mention, if you are a straight razor beginner, the thick lather can be a comforting blanket to your doubts and fears as you wield a cutthroat blade onto your skin.
Different Types of Shaving Brush Hair
If razors can come in different sizes and shapes, sporting varying blades, then a shaving brush is the same. You will be surprised to find that there are so many varieties of shaving brushes today. But the most common one is usually according to their bristles.
Below are the different types of shaving brush hair:
Badger hair shaving brush
For decades, badger hair has long been a favorite material for making shaving brushes. Shaving aficionados celebrate them since they can create more and better lather quickly while staying warm and moist longer than other kinds of brushes.
Badger shaving brushes have different hairs from different areas of a badger’s body makes up for varying qualities or grades of badger hair shaving brush, which are the following:
- Lowest grade - often referred to as pure badger hair. It has a different dark hue and thick, stiff, and coarse-looking hair, which manufacturers often bleach to make them appear of higher quality. It may not be the best one out there, but it can still do the job.
- Fine grade - the most common kind of badger shaving brush, sporting finer, softer, and lighter bristles, which are better at retaining water and warmth notably more than the lowest grade of badger hair.
- Silvertip - the highest grade of badger hair put together through careful craftsmanship. It is the creme de la creme of badger hair, wearing an ombre of cream and darker bands. Its best quality is because of its flexibility, fine, and ultra-soft texture that can still surprisingly keep a bit more water and heat compared to its mid-tier counterpart.
Undoubtedly, many manufacturers like to cheat their way to win over the grading system by bleaching and manipulating the bristles' color. Nonetheless, the grade does not matter as long as you can find a soft shaving brush that can adapt to your shaving needs and skin type.
Boar hair shaving brush
The most accessible kind of shaving brush has boar bristles or natural bristles. These are the kind of brushes you often see in pharmacies, grocery stores, and on sale. However, due to large-scale mass production, you cannot guarantee the quality of these shaving brushes, which means there is a high likelihood that it will take more effort to produce a good lather. It does not retain as much water as a badger hair shaving brush and has stiff bristles.
But, if you are lucky to find a well-made boar hair shaving brush, it can last for years. Those with a high loft can help with water retention and provide you a good batch of lather. So, if you are tight on a budget, getting a boar hair shaving brush would be wise.
Horsehair shaving brush
Horsehair was at the top of the list for many decades when choosing the best shaving brush bristle. But, after World War 1, fear of an infectious disease from wild animals reduced the kinship of shaving fans with horse hair shaving brushes.
Today, many people prefer horsehair as it accounts for the more ethical production of shaving brushes. Unlike boars and badger shaving brushes, collecting the hair from the mane and tail of a horse does not hurt the animal. But on performance, it can be similar to how a boar brush can be.
Synthetic shaving brush
Another most common kind of shaving brush in the market is a synthetic shaving brush. It usually has nylon bristles that experts made to mimic natural hair. But there are also other manufacturers producing and developing specific kinds of composites for their shaving brush bristles.
How to Choose the Best Shaving Brush
Badger, boar, horse, or synthetic—what is the right choice?
Choosing the best shaving brush can be overwhelming as it can make or break your shaving experience. However, ask yourself what you want, your shaving routine, and your skin type.
Either way, here are the things you need to consider if you want to find the best shaving brush:
The face is one of the most sensitive areas in the body, and shaving can worsen, especially if you do not have the right tools. If you have sensitive skin or any allergies, it would be best to avoid natural hair shaving brushes. The bleaching agents and other ingredients that manufacturers use to hide the bristles’ wild funk can harm your skin.
Find the right knot
The knot is the actual bunch of hair on your shaving brush. It could vary in size, but on average, it ranges from 20mm to 25mm. The smaller ones are great for those shaving their faces. Meanwhile, the big ones are better if you shave your head, legs, and chest area, requiring more lather coverage.
Bristle softness and water retention
The key elements that make a shaving brush what it is are how well it can hold up moisture and how gentle it is to the skin. At first, you may think that coarser bristles are the best. On the contrary, you should find one that feels comfortable on your skin, something in between too soft, flexible and too coarse and stiff.
Nonetheless, if you are just a beginner, you can first try out synthetic brushes since they are easy to find and cheaper compared to other kinds of shaving brushes.
Synthetic vs. Badger Shaving Brush
When it comes to shaving brush trifecta, badger hair is superior in quality over the two, hence the favoritism among avid shavers. But after PETA released an alarming and gruesome video of how badgers go through exploitation, many started to seek a more sustainable and ethical solution and considered trying synthetic shaving brushes.
Here are the advantages of using a synthetic shaving brush from our Badger Hair Brush vs. Synthetic Hair Brush
Synthetic brushes are a great guilt-free alternative to badger brushes. The more people use a synthetic brush, the less demand for badger brushes, allowing local badgers to recover and thrive.
Because they bear synthetic nylon, they are not very absorbent. If you are always traveling and need to shave regularly during your trips, this is the kind of brush for you.
You can easily pack this without worrying about any dampness in your luggage.
Synthetic brushes are the closest you can get to the feel of a natural shaving hairbrush without breaking the bank. Why spend $20 more for a badger brush when a synthetic brush can produce a lather just as well?
Quick luxurious lather
Since they are non-absorbent, it takes minimal water and soap for them to start lathering. The quality of lather that a synthetic can produce is very fine and rich, giving that smooth and easy feel while shaving.
Synthetic brushes do very well in just about any environment with less care. A badger brush, meanwhile, will quickly give way to damage, especially the silvertip ones.
If you have ever left a badger brush standing upright after use, you will notice that its bristles will quickly fray or develop mold or even lose their shape.
This is not a big issue with a synthetic, although you need to store it in an upside-down position for even quicker drying.
Works on all skin types
The nylon bristles are crafted to be soft, and while this may feel thinner and bouncier during lathering, it is meant to be that way so that it won’t be abrasive to the skin.It does not mean that it can’t exfoliate as well as a badger brush.
In fact, for those with sensitive skin, a synthetic shaving brush is recommended because its soft bristles won’t inflame the skin.
When it comes to choosing the right shaving brush, natural is not always the best. Synthetic is still better if you are looking for a more sustainable and animal-friendly alternative. Aside from that, it is low-maintenance, easier to clean, and makes excellent lather!
Finding the Best Shaving Brush
Some friends at the Badger And Blade Forum on synthetic brushes complain that some synthetic shaving brushes are harder to use when creating a lather because the nylon bristles drip the excess water, making a light shaving foam.
On the contrary, synthetic shaving brushes can be your grooming best friend. All you need to do is find the right one for you. At Naked Armor, we have straight razor kits featuring everything you need—from durable and reliable straight razors to synthetic shaving brushes.
Naked Armor offers synthetic and badger-friendly shaving brushes using Futura technology, making the bristles withstand extreme heat and outlast animal hair. And because it has stiff bristles, it also absorbs enough moisture to keep your lather from getting over-drenched, hence the thicker and frothier lather.
Do not forget to partner it with our shaving scuttle mug to achieve the ultimate shaving experience. Add to Cart below.
More Naked Armor Reads: