Shaving brushes have been used for hundreds of years. Their shape might not have changed but the materials used certainly has. What your shaving brush is made of counts towards the shave you get.
Shaving Brush Hair Types
Badger’s hair is the most popular natural hair for a shaving brush. The hair of a badger retains water and creates a good lather for your shave. A good badger brush will last for years and be reliable to you every day.
Pure badger is badger hair brushes that use the most common hair from the underbelly of a badger, the hair which covers around 60% of a badger’s body. This hair varies greatly in softness, pliability and colour. Pure badger hair is usually dark in colour but fluctuates from a light tan to a near-black or silvery sheen. The hair is coarser than ‘best’ or ‘silvertip’ hair due to its larger shaft. Brushes made exclusively with pure badger hair cost significantly less than finer badger hair. Most often, pure badger brush hairs are trimmed to shape, resulting in somewhat stiff, rough ends.
Best badger are brushes made with the finer and more pliable hairs from 20 – 25% of the badger’s body. It is longer in length and lighter in colour than ‘pure’ badger hair. A ‘best’ badger brush is more densely filled with hair than the ‘pure’ badger brush and will produce a correspondingly greater lather. However, some wet shavers argue that the variance between the quality of a ‘pure’ and a ‘best’ badger brush is negligible. Best badger and better quality brush hairs are often fit so that the ends do not have to be cut to shape.
A super badger brush is more expensive than either ‘best’ or ‘pure’. While some call this hair ‘silvertip’, it is often highly graded ‘pure’ hair bleached on the ends to resemble silvertip.
Though it is composed of ‘pure’ badger hairs, ‘super’ is graded and sorted to such a degree that its performance is superior to that of ‘best’. The brush is not prickly.
One way to determine if a brush bears a ‘super’ or ‘silvertip’ badger hair load is to look at the colour of the bristle tips. A true ‘silvertip’ brush has tips that are an off-white. A ‘super’ brush, on the other hand, has bristle tips that are a more sterile, slightly greyed white; moreover, the light colour of the tips does not extend as far down the shaft of the hair.
Silvertip badger is the most expensive and rare type of badger hair. The tips on this hair appear white naturally, without bleaching. A “flared” bristle load results in the ‘silvertip’ brush’s fluffy appearance and lend the brush its ability to hold a large amount of water. Due to its water retention capacity, a ‘silvertip’ brush can create well-formed shaving lather quickly and easily.