What’s the Deal With Shaving Brushes?

Of all the instruments we use to keep ourselves groomed, few are as mysterious as the shaving brush. To the untrained eye, they might look like that weird fluffy thing you see girls brushing their faces with every so often. Even to those who can clearly clock a shaving brush, they’re all too often passed off as nothing more than some ancient shaving tools that grandpa once used. Or worse— a shaving piece that only ukulele playing hipsters find useful.

But shaving brushes—despite their retro-cool, throwback appeal—have an actual use for men in 2014, or any year. “Brushes lightly exfoliate the skin and get the facial hair to stand straight from the face, which are both essential first steps in getting a smooth, rash-free shave,” says Kyle Hinton, founder of Prospector Co., a men’s grooming and lifestyle brand who just released a line of shave brushes.

Simple, except that there are choices and procedures you need to know in order to get the best use out of a shave brush. To get the facts straight, we asked Hinton to explain.

There are badger hair brushes and boar bristle brushes. What’s the difference?

The most economical option is the bristle fiber from the boar. Its thick coarse bristle is commonly used and easily sourced making it less expensive and when combined with either of our beechwood or plastic handles, the price is great for new wet-shavers. The badger is the most versatile, all-around quality fiber in shaving brushes. The price varies based on the grade of the badger. We offer the more expensive silvertip badger know for its deep changed ombre hues and incredible softness, durability and longevity. Pure bristle brushes are the best for travel.

What is the proper way to use a shave brush?

The proper way to use a shaving brush starts with the loft or height of bristle. The boar bristle is great for solid shaving soaps as its rigidity allows for a greater lather while the badger hair is best suited for a creamer shave with its softer, generally lower loft but does maintain a greater hold of product due to its thicker, heat retention qualities.

After soaking the brush in hot water, loosen excess water away from the top of the brush hair, and begin whisking the brush into your shaving mug or bowl to create a lather or spread a cream evenly across the face without a mug. Using a flicking, massage technique is key in getting facial hair to stand away from the face and also allowing for gentle exfoliation. Rinse the brush well after usage and clean throughly and hang to dry.

How should I be caring for my shave brush? Is it different for pure badger hair versus pure bristle?

The proper care for all shaving brushes begins with proper aeration. To insure sterility the brush should be hung bristles down allowing any access water to drain from the brush. Depending on the shaving cream used during the shaving process, brushes, especially non-synthetic, should be washed. Our Brummell Shave Cream has soap in it and with its lather, a brush is general fine with a great rinsing after brushing. Vegan or synthetic brush types are the easiest to take care of. Natural hair brushes need to be cared for to insure the bristles stay intact to prolong its life and performance.