If you use shaving soap or shaving cream, then you need a good shaving brush to apply the cream or soap and create a nice lather.
There is a wide variety of shaving brushes on the market these days, and you might not know which one to buy. There are horse shaving brushes, badger shaving brushes, boar shaving brushes, and also an ever-increasing palette of synthetic shaving brushes.
Badger and boar brushes are the two most common shaving brushes that are used these days, so we will focus on their advantages and disadvantages—but we will also have a brief look at the alternatives.
Badger shaving brushes—advantages and disadvantages
Badger shaving brushes are a lot more expensive than other brushes, which is one of the reasons why many men are not too eager to buy them. But are they worth the money?
Badger brushes of good quality do not shed a lot of hair and many men get at least 10 years of use out of one brush. If you calculate the cost over time, the initial cost does not seem so steep any longer.
Badger brushes stink when you first get them. However, the smell vanishes after a few uses, and soon the brush will simply smell like the soap or cream you used on it last. If you do not want to deal with the odor, soak the brush in water with hair conditioner overnight. Rinse. Problem solved.
The bristles of badger shaving brushes are flexible, and feel soft and comfortable against your skin. Badger bristles are also very good at creating a great lather with shaving soap and shaving cream.
A badger brush has good heat retention and you will be able to apply a nice warm lather on your skin.
Badgers need to be killed to get their fur. Most badger hair comes from rural China, so there is not a lot of information about the process, and it is unlikely that humane methods are used. The badgers, however, are not only killed for their fur but also for their meat, so most of the animal is used.
Boar shaving brushes—advantages and disadvantages
Boar shaving brushes usually cost a lot less than badger shaving brushes.
The scent of boar brushes is one big setback, especially if you are a fan of subtly scented shaving soaps; the scent of the brush will overpower subtle soaps. While the initially strong scent will become weaker over time, it will never fully disappear.
Boar bristles are stiff and firm, they do not bend—they break or permanently stay in a bent position. They can feel cold and rough against your face and might not be the best solution for men with sensitive skin. But the stiffness is great for very coarse beards as badger bristles might be too soft to deal with them.
It takes a bit more work to get a good lather with a boar shaving brush, and they work better with soap than with cream.
Boar brushes have no heat retention, so if you want your lather to be nice and warm, this is not the best choice for you.
The most outstanding advantage of boar shaving brushes is that they are excellent at lifting up beard hair, which will enable you to have a very close shave.
Boar hair is a bit like human hair; it can and will eventually split. This means that boar brushes become a bit softer over time.
Boar hair is also taken from the dead animal which is usually killed as a source of food.
What about horse hair and synthetic shaving brushes?
Horse hair shaving brushes are excellent, but are not as common as they could be because of an anthrax scare. If you are interested in using such a brush, you will find that they have the best qualities of badger and boar shaving brushes—but are a bit harder to find.
The good news about horse hair shaving brushes is that no animal needs to be killed to get the hair.
Vegans and other animal lovers who do not want animals to suffer for their own vanity can also choose from an ever increasing selection of synthetic shaving brushes. In the beginning, these brushes were of lesser quality than badger and boar brushes, but recently, companies have created some excellent synthetic shaving brushes that are just as good as a badger shaving brush.
Shaving Brush Badger vs Boar: Which one to use?
It is a personal decision as to what kind of shaving brush you would like to use. Badger brushes cost more but are better for sensitive skin. Boar brushes are great for men with very coarse beards.
In all cases, it is a question of quality. A high quality boar brush can be a lot better than a cheap badger brush. The intelligent thing to do is read the reviews before you buy a brush.
Do not immediately cast aside the idea of going for horse hair or synthetic shaving brushes. They can be excellent alternatives, especially when it comes to the scent. Badger and boar brushes both have a shocking scent when you get them; while badger brushes lose their scent, boar brushes only get a weaker scent that never quite disappears.
Badger brushes are usually the cheapest option—but if you go for cheap options, you will have to deal with a lot of shedding and having to buy a new shaving brush every three months or so. A more expensive shaving brush will last longer, and eventually turn out to be the cheaper option over time.