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Now, how about the worst one? Are you still trying to forget about it?
I completely understand that finding a good and reliable shaving brush is as difficult as winning the lottery. I’ve been there! However, this doesn’t mean that it’s good to settle with the first shaving brush you find at the pet store across the street.
And there’s good reason why.
It was only after a disastrous experience -a bit exaggerating, that I understood the importance of using the best shaving brush one can get.
But before I get into this, I’d like to share with you a table with the shaving brushes we’ll review today. The table gives you a good idea on each brush’s specs, though it doesn’t tell you the entire truth.
That’s why I’ll get into more detail for each one of them later on.
The 9 best shaving brushes reviewed today
Now that you got an idea, let’s get back to the story.
As I was saying, I know why it’s important to get a good shaving brush.
I believe it was three years ago, during a weekend in March. I was visiting a nearby city with my girlfriend and everything was going perfectly fine until I got in the bathroom of the hotel.
Wait a minute…
There wasn’t any shaving brush. I turned it upside down, inside out but no shaving brush…
I took a deep breath and considered my options.
- Lather without a shaving brush.
- Buy a new one from the nearest shop.
- Don’t shave
I chose the second option.
Went out of the hotel and headed towards the convenient store -where else, at a convenient location across the street.
To my surprise and relief, they did have a shaving brush. A synthetic one which looked way better than I would have dreamt of.
Everything seemed to be working just fine up till that moment. But you see where this is going…
So, I started with a few swirls on the shaving soap for about 3-6 seconds and then continued lathering on my face since -I forgot to mention, I didn’t pack my shaving bowl as well.
And here comes the drama…
First, the synthetic bristles. It felt horrible!
It was the first time that I used a synthetic shaving brush with such rough bristles. They’re usually softer than any natural hair shaving brush. On the bright side, it’s good for exfoliating.
That wasn’t such a big deal but here comes another one.
Besides the unpleasant feeling -of almost sandpaper, on my face, I noticed that it was taking too long to build lather. After half minute of intensive swirling, the soap was still bubbly on my face. The shaving brush was literally just swiping the soap on my face.
I thought OK, maybe it needs a little bit more shaving soap.
I repeated the process and started swirling on my face again. This time, I was swirling the brush on my face like a maniac and the weird facial expressions of combined anger and frustration didn’t seem to help.
It was already time to give up.
I made one careful pass with my safety razor and it was more than enough to end this wet shaving nightmare.
Once I was done with it, I took the shaving brush and threw it towards the trash bin with an Abdul-Jabbar hook shot. Immediately, a sense of relief and happiness started filling my heart as I listened the brush falling… right next to the bin. Dammit!!!
Basketball wasn’t my strong asset anyway.
What I’m trying to say with this story is that experiences like these, shape our beliefs and help us take better decisions in the future. And speaking of valuable lessons, what could you learn from this?
I can quickly think of four lessons.
- Getting the best shaving brush possible builds a great lather.
- Gives you a peace of mind
- Helps you enjoy the entire ritual of shaving
- You need to get better in basketball
Without any further delays, let’s see what we’ll be discussing today.
- What is the best shaving brush you can choose from, based on my personal experience.
- Criteria to consider before buying a great shaving brush
- Types of shaving brushes
- Boar bristle
- Horse hair
- Badger hair
- Synthetic hair
What is the best shaving brush
It’s highly unlikely that I can really tell what’s the best shaving brush to choose among all those brushes and so many manufacturers and artisans. I’ve used quite a few already and constantly trying new ones out. This is also why I’m aiming to update this guide as soon as I use a new shaving brush.
The only fair way to classify the shaving brushes would be based on their bristles since you can’t really compare a natural with a synthetic one for many reasons.
So let’s get started with natural hair shaving brushes, shall we?
Boar Bristle Shaving BrushesParker Safety Razor Deluxe – Boar Bristle Shaving Brush
This parker shaving brush is one the latest on my shave den.
It’s got a firm backbone and the tips are considerably soft. The good thing about boar brushes is that they get softer as time goes by. Same thing with this parker boar brush.
Talking about bristles, they retain water and it takes a bit longer to dry out. But it’s quite common for boar shaving brushes anyway.
The handle has a nice grip with good balance and it’s made of rosewood which gives you a nice feeling. The size is not too big and it fit nicely on my shaving stand.
As for the performance?
I had experience with boar shaving brushes before and I know that they’re particularly good at lathering shaving soap. This brush is no different.
Just like with all my boar brushes, I tend to use them with a shaving soap and build lather in a bowl. After the break in period, this brush started performing very well.
In the first two weeks of daily use, it didn’t perform as well as you would expect from a shaving brush. But after 15-20 days, you see a big difference in lathering, in both speed and density.
As you would expect from a boar shaving brush, when I first took it out of the box it had a bit of smell but with soaking it in shampoo and conditioner for 2 days, I managed to get the funk out.
All in all, I believe that this Parker boar is the best shaving brush for a beginner. It comes at a good price, fairly soft and it lathers both soap and shaving cream very well. The more you use it, the softer it becomes and gives you better performance.Omega Professional Boar Bristle Shaving Brush
Omega might probably be among the most popular shaving brush manufacturers. I don’t think that there’s any Omega boar brush that isn’t good! And this Omega Professional is simply a steal for its value.
When you open the box of this brush you really get what you wished you wouldn’t experience. A stinky brush that you don’t even think of shaving with it. This is why it needs a little bit of time and preparation until you start using it. If you want to remove the funk, check out my article on how to use a shaving brush and get the best out of it.
Once you get the awful smell away, this brush is great!
Similarly to other boar brushes, it needs some break in period. However, I was surprised to see that even during the first few shaves, the lather was more than satisfactory. It will take some time until you get good performance but once you get there, it will give you a rich, dense lather very quickly.
During the first month of using it, you’ll feel that the bristles don’t retain enough water and they hardly bend. And this is not too far from what it’s going to happen.
That’s the beauty of this brush and generally of boar shaving brushes. The more you use them, the better they become. As for the tips? They were very soft as if the shaving brush was previously used. I was expecting way worse performance during the break in period based on previous experience.
Boar brushes take some time to reach their full potential. After a couple of months, the bristles will retain more water, the tips are going to split and they’ll get softer and softer.
As for the black resin handle, it’s almost as tall as the loft (approx. 60mm) which is considered quite big. It doesn’t feel as premium as a wooden handle but it doesn’t feel cheap either.
Speaking of value, this brush for approx. $10 is a no-brainer. You just get it and try it out and if you don’t like it, just don’t use it anymore. But I’m very positive that you’re going to love it when you use it frequently.
You’re going to be thinking back how much money you spend for this brush and a permanent (hopefully not so creepy) smile will be formed on your face.Semogue 620 Superior Boar Bristle Shaving Brush
By now you understand that if you haven’t used a boar shaving brush before, there’s some work to be done before you start using it. It can take a couple of weeks until you get the best out of it.
The Semogue 620 however, is something truly wonderful. Once you break this brush in, and you soften it for 10-15 minutes in warm water before shaving, it’s going to give you a feeling close to that of a badger hair shaving brush.
I noticed that after the break in period, the tips became very soft and the water retention was remarkable. It’s possible that the tight knot and the high number of bristles contribute to this. On all these, add the good backbone that this boar shaving brush has.
The lather that you get from this brush meets the needs of the most demanding wet shaver. No matter if you’re using a shaving cream or soap, the lather is great.
Talking about building lather, this is one of the few boar shaving brushes that I was able to use directly on my face and build lather without getting irritation. A pleasant surprise for me.
The handle is acrylic which is something expected for the low price tag but it doesn’t feel cheap in any way. Rather the opposite. It’s a short (22mm), solid handle with great balance.
If you want a cheap boar shaving brush (priced at around $17) with great looks and excellent performance this Semogue might be the one you’re looking for.
Other Boar Hair Shaving brushes to consider:
- Semogue 1305 Superior Boar Bristle Shaving Brush
- Semogue 1800 Superior Boar Bristle Shaving Brush
- Omega 10049 Professional Boar Hair Shaving Brush
- Omega 10065 Boar Bristle Shaving Brush
Badger Hair Shaving BrushesEdwin Jagger Best Badger Shaving Brush
I got this shaving brush mainly because I’m a big fan of Edwin Jagger, having already experience with the de89 safety razor.
This particular brush is made of best badger grade. Even though the density of the bristles isn’t very high and the knot doesn’t seem to be very tight, the performance and feeling of this brush are better than I anticipated. The bristles are fairly soft with not too much backbone and the tips are a bit rougher. Not rough really but not softer than a good super or silvertip badger.
Usually, badger hair doesn’t require long (if any) break in period. The Edwin Jagger seems that it needs a week or two.
When I first got it, the latherability wasn’t that great and the retention of water was a bit disappointing. Maybe was my high expectations that influenced my initial judgment but nevertheless, it didn’t meet my enthusiasm.
After shaving daily for around two weeks, I noticed that it got better and started producing great lather with a nice touch on my face. You would expect from a shaving brush that has such density and number of bristles to be no more than decent but it really works like a charm.
Sizewise, this shaving brush is fairly small and it doesn’t exceed 5 inches height. The handle is fairly thin and short. Personally, I use it as a travel brush but this doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work as your regular one. Maybe someone with large hands might not find it that comfortable but again, it’s up to your preference.
The particular Edwin Jagger best badger isn’t the best shaving brush there is out there. But the price/quality ratio is exceptional. For this reason, I think that it’s the ideal brush for someone who’s just starting out with badger hair shaving brushes. Not too expensive with great latherability and softness.Muhle Shaving Brush Silvertip Badger Hair
Just like with the Edwin Jagger, I got this shaving brush because I already own a Muhle safety razor.
If you like matching your shaving equipment, this silvertip badger brush will look perfect next to your Muhle R41. The polished chrome handle that this brush has, looks exactly the same as that of the safety razor.It’s a bit heavy, yet, very comfortable even when it’s soaked wet, giving you a steady grip.
The bristles and tips of this Muhle brush are fairly soft and the quality is top notch or better yet, Muhle standards. This brush feels amazing on the face. The bristles feel a bit floppy if you want to face lather, but for bowl lathering is perfect and you should expect to get a very nice and thick lather.
Talking about lathering, it can lather easily both shaving soaps or creams. Due to the fact that it doesn’t have a lot of backbone, shaving soaps challenge the brush but not at a level that you should worry about. In my personal experience, I found this brush better when lathering shaving cream than soap.
Even though it’s not such a high end shaving brush like Simpson, Kent or Rooney, this is one of the best badger shaving brushes that you can get with silvertip grade at this price tag. Quality is excellent while remaining quite affordable at around $110. Fair price for a silvertip badger shaving brush.Simpson CH1 Chubby Super Badger Hair Shaving Brush
What can I say about this shaving brush? The name Simpson needs no introductions.
Based in England, Simpson is one of the manufacturers that produce -if not the best, among the best shaving brushes in the world.
And speaking of the best, this is the best shaving brush and certainly the best badger shaving brush, I currently own. And it’s highly justified.
The Simpson shaving brushes are handmade by craftsmen, people that love what they’re doing. Those guys put their heart and soul into making this piece of art.
Or at least, I hope so.
This Simpson Super Badger is called Chubby for a reason. The number of badger hair bristles is a bit more than the smaller E2 or T2, and very tightly tied. In fact, the knot is so tight that gives the badger hair more backbone than you would expect from a badger hair shaving brush.
The bristles are super soft and the tips can’t get any softer. When you lather your face, you feel like you rub a baby bunny on your face.
Kids, don’t try that at home…
As far as concerned the latherability, it’s out of this world.
No matter where you want to build lather (bowl, face, hand), you’ll only get very rich, dense lather. Water retention is again, exceptional.
As for the size, it’s a brush that I consider handful and at the same time, very comfortable to use. I believe that it’s perfect for any hand size. The bristles are not very long but the knot has so many, that it looks as if it blossoms like a flower at dry state.
Is this shaving brush for everyone? Not really.
Even though we’re talking about an amazing badger hair brush, the price that comes with it, is definitely something that can put anyone off who just wants to shave. With about $200, you seriously consider spending it elsewhere rather than buying a shaving brush.
Most -if not all, Simpson shaving brushes target a very niche market, that of wet shaving enthusiasts that are willing to spend money on the best products for wet shaving. Those men that are willing to spend a little bit more and become proud owners of such an amazing shaving brush.
After all, wet shaving isn’t -and shouldn’t be, just about shaving. It’s a hobby and ritual at the same time and it happens that you get your facial hair shaved.
Some badger hair brushes that could definitely excite you:
- Simpson Duke 3 Best Badger Shaving Brush
- Rooney Heritage Beehive Super Silvertip Badger Hair Shaving Brush
- Kent BK8 Kent Shaving Brush Pure Silver Tip Badger
- Kent BLK12 Traditional King-Sized Pure Silver Tip Badger Shaving Brush
- Edwin Jagger Super Badger Hair Shaving Brush Faux Ivory
Horse Hair Shaving BrushesVie-Long 04312 Professional Horse Hair Shaving Brush
This is my one and only horsehair that I own and the only I’ve ever used.
I was lucky enough to select the particular horshair shaving brush after spending hours reading reviews and discussing in forums with fellow wet shavers. Not many use horsehair since the choices that prevail range between boar and badger, when it comes to natural hair shaving brushes.
Nevertheless, the Vie-Long horsehair was a great choice in the end..
First thing that you notice with this brush, is the size of the loft. It’s noticeably taller than boar and badger shaving brushes and the bristles consist of hair from the mane and tail of the horse.
You might think that horse hair wouldn’t smell that great right? You betcha!
This horsehair shaving brush gives you a certain funk when you first open it and it takes a few shaves until you get the smell away.
Just like boar shaving brushes, horsehair has good backbone -maybe a bit stiffer than boar, and the particular one, has fairly soft tips. Due to the long bristles, it feels very nice when you paint on your face. Having said that, the brush lathers nicely on face, offering your some skin exfoliation.
I found out that it’s good for both shaving soaps and creams. It performs nicely with both hard and soft shaving soaps. Both lathering products that I would normally use my boar shaving brushes with.
The handle is a combination of steel and wood which gives you a nice appearance and more importantly, nice balance and grip.
With a price tag of approximately $20, this horsehair shaving brush is a no brainer. It might be slightly more expensive -or even same price, than a boar but it’s totally worth it. You get a high quality brush while enjoying a different lathering and shaving experience than the one you get with other natural hair brushes.
Since it’s the only horsehair I’ve ever used, I’m not sure if this is the best shaving brush with horsehair you can get. Make sure you also have a look at the other shaving brushes that Vie-Long manufactures.
Lastly, I include the below horsehair shaving brush from Vie-Long which was the one that I wanted to buy instead of the 04312 model.
Synthetic Shaving BrushesSatin Tip The Purest – Synthetic Shave Brush
I’m not the biggest fan of synthetic brushes but the Satin Tip The Purest, lives up to its name.
Even though it’s a bit pricey for a synthetic shaving brush, this extra $5-10 make the difference. It’s pretty small and light, and can easily become a travel shaving brush.
There’s no break in period -just like all synthetic brushes, and works right out of the box.
The Satin Tip shaving brush has super soft bristles with some backbone -maybe a bit more than other synthetics, that make lathering fairly easy and quick.
It works better with shaving creams but with some soft soaps would work just fine. The soft bristles feel very nice on the face and build rich lather at a heartbeat.
As far as concerned the handle, it’s plastic with a soft texture which isn’t my favorite, yet it gives you a steady grip.
Similarly to all synthetic brushes, there’s no need to warm the brush with hot water and prepare it for shaving and once you’re done shaving, the bristles dry up very fast.
It’s usually priced around $20, which doesn’t make it expensive but it’s definitely not on the lower end of synthetic shaving brushes.Parker Safety Razor SYNTHETIC Bristle Shaving Brush
This was probably the first synthetic shaving brush that I was happy with. I consider this Parker among the best shaving brushes with synthetic bristles I’ve used so far. Maybe it helped the fact that, my previous experience with synthetic brushes wasn’t ideal and this is why this Parker made a difference.
When you first look at this Parker synthetic brush, you get the impression that it’s a badger (maybe best or super) hair shaving brush. Or at least this is the case until you touch it.
It’s got very soft bristles which are tightly tied at the knot and the loft reaches approximately 55cm. There’s not much backbone but due to the density of the bristles, you’re able to build lather easily in a bowl or directly on face. That said, you’re going to get rich lather fast and easily with no shaving brush preparation.
The hair tips are a bit stiff but at the same time it feels nice when you lather or paint on face.
The only downside -if you really care, is the fact that the letters on the blue wooden handle, fade away after a few uses and you’re going to end up with a handle that says nothing after a couple of months. I wouldn’t call it a problem but some may not like that.
For around $25, this Parker Safety razor synthetic brush is a very good choice even though it is priced a bit more than its peers -usually priced somewhere between $10-15. Again, there’s not such big price difference and you wouldn’t regret buying this Parker synthetic brush.
There are quite a few synthetic brushes to choose from and this is why I include a few of them to compare and select what is the best synthetic shaving brush for you.
- Omega Shaving Brush 90081 Syntex 100% Synthetic
- Omega Syntex Synthetic Fibre Shaving Brush
- The Body Shop Synthetic Shaving Brush
- Muhle Handmade Synthetic Bristle Black Shave Brush
- Muehle Rytmo Shaving Brush Black Synthetic Fibre
- Edwin Jagger Synthetic Silver Tip Shaving Brush
Criteria that determine a great shaving brush
It’s very important when you choose a shaving brush that it feels great on your face. Depending on the brand and type of brush, you get different grades of softness.
Some men prefer the brush a bit softer when they lather on their face while others may like a stiffer feeling which allows the brush to somewhat exfoliate the skin.
Men that shave with sensitive skin may prefer a shaving brush that has softer hair to reduce irritation. Same thing applies for me and this is why badger and synthetic are the best shaving brushes for my skin.
Normally, synthetic brushes are softer than natural hair shaving brushes. As for natural hair brushes, the softest tends to be badger hair brushes with horse hair and boar to be stiffer.
Backbone plays a very important role when you think about your lathering technique, pumping, swirling and painting.
If you prefer using a shaving soap to build lather in a bowl, you might prefer a shaving brush that has good backbone such as boar or horse hair brushes.
If you use shaving cream to build lather in a shaving bowl, all types of shaving brushes can do a great job.
Lastly, if you want to build lather directly on your face, a synthetic shaving brush as well as a badger hair might be more preferable since they are softer and have less backbone compared to boar and horse hair brushes.
However, this is what I’ve noticed from personal experience and you might prefer something different based on the backbone and softness of the brush that you like.
3. Ease of use
This is something subjective.
Depending on the type of brush that you choose, there are different ways to use each one of them.
Horsehair and boar bristle shaving brushes -and some badger, takes some time to break in, usually 15-30 days to start smelling like a normal shaving brush. On the contrary, synthetic shaving brushes can be used right out of the box.
Natural hair shaving brushes become better in lathering as time goes by, they retain water and they build nice and rich lather very quickly. Synthetic brushes on the other hand, they give you great lather right from the beginning.
4. Knot size and shape
Depending on the knot, a shaving brush will perform accordingly.
This is particularly useful to know when you buy natural hair shaving brush and depending on the knot, your brush will bloom accordingly as time goes by.
The knot of your shaving brush also determines the water and lather the brush holds when you shave. This is also one of the reasons why natural shaving brushes retain more water and lather.
5. Handle appearance and size
Normally, I wouldn’t consider it as a deal breaker but to me, it’s fairly important to use a shaving brush that I like how it looks and how comfortable it feels when I hold it.
I tend to like shaving brushes that have relatively short handle and a diameter of around 35mm. But again, this is personal preference.
If you’re just starting out in the world of wet shaving, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. Getting a shaving brush from a well respected brand, you know that most of the times quality is guaranteed.
Few of the brands that I like are as follows:
In most cases, you won’t be disappointed with any shaving brush that these brands have.
I wouldn’t say that the price is too important but more like the budget that you have available.
You can expect to pay somewhere between:
- $10-35 for a good synthetic brush
- $15-40 for a nice boar shaving brush
- $15-40 for horse hair shaving brush
- $50-250 for a good badger hair shaving brush.
My advice is to prefer badger hair shaving brushes with at least best grade while super and silvertip being the top grades (Next section will guide you through the different hair grades). I found that pure grades are relatively poor brushes with no backbone and average latherability.
Instead of getting a cheap badger hair shaving brush, better buy a very good boar or synthetic one.
Types of shaving brushes
Most synthetic brushes, if not all, are made from nylon fibers and they come in different qualities and grade. Though, not to be mistaken that all synthetic are the same.
Among the advantages of synthetic shaving brushes is that they build lather fairly quickly and they are durable compared to natural hair brushes..
In terms of softness, they are consider softer that boar and horse hair and maybe softer or at least equally soft to badger hair brushes. This again depends on the actual brushes that you’re comparing each time.
One thing that is both good and bad is the fact that the synthetic hair dries quickly. When you’re done shaving this can be seen as a good thing. But while you’re shaving, this might mean that the lather gets dry fairly fast.
Boar shaving brushes consist of natural hair from a wild boar. Most of them have a characteristic yellowish hair color.
These brushes tend to have good backbone and relatively stiffer hair compared to other synthetic and natural hair brushes. They are particularly good when you want to use shaving soap and build lather in a shaving bowl or mug.
Many of the boar brushes that I’ve used, they tend to have a bit longer hair compared to other types which makes them perfect for painting the lather on face.
If you build lather on face, I wouldn’t call them ideal due to the backbone and stiffer hair. It’s great for exfoliating your skin in such case but if you have a sensitive skin, either build lather in bowl or in your hand or prefer other type of shaving brush.
As the name suggests, this type of brush is made from the fur of badgers. Most of the times, the process of getting the hair of a badger isn’t animal friendly but more manufacturers are becoming more sensitive to this matter and prefer badger hair that doesn’t involve any animal harm.
Depending on the part of the body the hair comes, there are 4 different grades of badger hair shaving brushes.
This is the lowest grade of badger brush and it mainly comes from the belly of a badger.
Compared to other grades, the hair color is dark and it’s a bit corser.
In terms of latherability isn’t considered the best but it does a good job overall.
Badger shaving brushes with best grade tend to have longer hair and they are a bit softer than pure grade.
The tips of the hair are soft and as you reach the tips, the color of the brush become lighter.
The fact that the best grade brushes aren’t cut to fit -like the pure grade, it results to less stiffer ends.
This grade is the best together with silivertip.
Super badger shaving brushes are very soft with great latherability and water retention.
They tend to have lighter color at the tip compared to the other two grades and sometimes they look very similar to silvertip badger brushes.
This is the top grade. Silvertip badger shaving brushes tend to be a lot more expensive than the rest of the grades.
Companies such as Simpsons or Rooney have some amazing brushes that are very soft with outstanding hair density.
The tips of silvertip badger tends to be whitish and they get greyish and darker as you reach the knot.
The hair for these brushes they usually come from the mane or tail of the horse. The good thing is that no horses are harmed from the process.
They are fairly soft and I would say that they feel almost like using a boar shaving brush due to length and the backbone the hair has.
There you have it.
Shaving with a shaving brush is a joyful experience for every man. Once you get your first one, you are tempted to keep on going and try out new ones all the time. That’s what happened to me and now I don’t have any space left in my bathroom to fit all the brushes I bought over the past few years.
No matter what you buy, I hope you’ll enjoy it and if it’s not the best shaving brush, you can always get the next one.
Let me know your thoughts and I’ll be happy to use more brushes and include them in this guide. I’ll be updating this post regularly and help you make a great choice.
If you still have energy after reading through everything, you can also have a look at my other guide on the best safety razor to buy so you can nicely pair it with your new brush.