Anyone who appreciates the contemplative side of a good wet shave won’t want to pass on the sensation of a badger hair shaving brush. Gently steeped in the bowl, combined with a good dollop of shaving cream or foam, and then gently applied ... Read More
Anyone who appreciates the contemplative side of a good wet shave won’t want to pass on the sensation of a badger hair shaving brush. Gently steeped in the bowl, combined with a good dollop of shaving cream or foam, and then gently applied in circular movements, the soft and lush lather that a shaving brush produces can hardly be surpassed – especially when you choose a brush with silvertip badger hair trimming.
Fine and resilient: Badger hair for shaving brushes
Admittedly, shaving brushes made from badger hair are quite costly. Despite this, they are certainly more popular than the alternatives made from pig bristles, synthetic fibres, or even horse hair. The dominance of the badger hair shaving brush lies in its outstanding material properties, because the quality of the lather produced by a shaving brush is determined solely by the quality of the hair used. Both the form and the texture of badger hair truly set the standard for every wet shave enthusiast.
Ultimately, badger hair – in any form – is more flexible than the alternatives and therefore produces a particularly full and fine-pored foam.
However, badger hair is not just badger hair, and those who explore the subject further will come to find that different types of badger hair can vary in quality. To start with, however, it is sufficient to distinguish between three distinct types. The simplest category is the dark pure badger hair from the animal's underbelly, which is uniformly grey or black. This hair doesn’t moult, but is sheared from the animal. This stronger hair provides shaving brush bristles with a greater diameter, which results in a more soothing massage effect during shaving preparation.
Close shave enthusiasts with sensitive skin, however, will be better off with a shaving brush made from either the finer best badger hair or the premium quality hair, the so-called silvertip. Both types are either brushed or plucked out and are characterised by the three colour tones in the hairs. The more clearly distinguishable the pattern of lines, and the brighter the tips are compared to the black band, the higher the hair quality. When the tips are almost grey or white, you’ve found the exceptionally soft silvertip hair type. This type of hair comes from the bushy belly and neck areas of a badger and is of especially high quality during the winter months, particularly just before the animal begins its winter hibernation.
The handcrafting process of a shaving brush
Today, good shaving brushes are still made by hand by professional brush makers. First, the hair is sorted and selected by hand, and then weighed with a fine scale. A single gram of good quality badger hair consists of 1,000 hairs – but a single gram won’t get you far. A skilled artisan will combine many thousands of hairs into one knot and then carefully comb through that knot in order to remove any imperfections.
Afterwards, the knot is attached to the handle, which is one of the key processes in shaving brush production. This metal cylinder, which internally corresponds to the contour of the brush, holds the inserted hair follicles in their final shape. The brush is inserted head first into the handle and carefully pushed through until all the hairs align in a row. Once the hairs are firmly tied off with a thread, the brush maker must prove his or her true ability in the final step.
In the plucking process, the course of the hair pattern is traced by hand. The more uniform and parallel the band, the better the craftsmanship. However, in the case of a hand-made shaving brush, the tips of the hair are never cut, as they are running upwards to the top, and only this property enables them to produce the wonderfully soft foam that your skin deserves.
Only the shaft of the hairs are trimmed after plucking, and then attached to the handle by hand with a water-resistant resin. On the other hand, with machine-made shaving brushes, the hair tips are often trimmed, which robs the badger hair of all its strengths and creates a prickly end product.
All of the men’s shaving brushes we stock at Manufactum are handmade by our German-based manufacturers –Thäter Manufaktur, the Hans Baier shaving brush factory, MÜHLE, and Merkur Rasierer.
Cleaning and caring for your shaving brush
When properly maintained, you can use your badger hair shaving brush for a good ten years before you need to replace it. Always be sure to wet the brush thoroughly after shaving with lukewarm water, shake the brush after rinsing it through, and finally let it hang to dry.
The more expensive the shaving brush, the more care it will need. A high-priced silvertip model is usually more tightly packed, which makes for the excellent lather effect and the soft feeling on the skin, but can also make the brush more difficult to clean. Treat your shaving brush just as carefully as you would wish to be treated by it. Abuse, such as excessive bending or squeezing, or even the use of sharp tweezers, will lead to premature hair loss. And nobody wants that.