The historical significance of facial hair stems back further than you might have anticipated. There is archaeological evidence of removing hair dating back as far as 30,000BC with primitive tools like clamshells and flint being used.
However, facial hair has by no means been a consistent trend. From Ancient Egyptian nobles viewing beards as a sign of divinity, to Julius Caesar beginning a trend of plucking beard hairs – the course of the clean-shaven never did run smooth.
In modern history, the fashion of facial hair usually fluctuated based on the habits of prominent and powerful men.
In 1770, French barber Jean-Jacques Perret published The Art of Learning to Shave Oneself (La Pogonotomie) and the Perret Razor was invented with the safety precaution of a wooden handle designed to prevent as many casualties as possible among novice users.
Circa 1800, steel straight razors were prominent among the masses, and the practice of stropping (sharpening the blades of their straight razors on a leather strap) was commonplace among shavers.
In 1895, King Gillette (a name you might recognise…) invented and released disposable razor blades into the market. Thus, removing the requirement to sharpen blade periodically.
In 1928 the electric razor was invented by Jacob Schick, just in time for the U.S military’s decision in 1930 to prohibit soldiers from having a beard due to them posing a risk to the tight seal of a gas mask.
The electric razor has been an incredibly popular option since the time of its release. Perhaps due to ease of use and low risk of injuries and accidents.
1960 saw a small comeback for wet shaving with Gillette releasing stainless steel blades which didn’t require sharpening and didn’t rust. 1960 also saw Bic release the first fully disposable razors which were another convenient hit.
In 1971 Gillette released the first two-blade razor, seeing other companies adding more and more blades to their products as years go by.
Since the introduction of electric and disposable shavers, the popularity of the classic cut-throat shave had declined significantly. However, recently there seems to be a revival of straight razors and safety razors. Perhaps due to their features in TV programmes like Mad Men and films like James Bond. Regardless, companies in the cut-throat razor game have seen a significant increase in sales of their razors and equally, their accessories. The quick and convenient methods have been replaced by self-indulgent, pampering shaving sessions. Men are beginning to consider the process of a proper traditional shave less as a chore and more of a choice, and rightly so. There’s no shame in taking your personal grooming regime seriously – and straight razor sales reflect this. But how does this affect those who’ve grown up around the fuss-free alternatives?
Squirting a little gel onto the hands and haphazardly rubbing around the face is fine, for some. However, the shaving brush works up a much more luxurious lather and enhances the whole experience. If you’re getting into cut-throat shaving, you shouldn’t scrimp on this step.
- A good shaving brush will exfoliate the skin during the application of shaving creams and soaps, removing dead skin cells which might inhibit your ability to get the closest shave possible.
2. Creating lather
- A great shave depends on creating the thickest lather possible with your creams and foams. Using a dense brush with plenty of bristles allows you to generate adequate froth. The Lather builds a wall between your skin and the blade which helps the blade to glide and prevent any potential snagging – resulting in fewer nicks and cuts, as well as minimising redness and irritation.
3. Softening facial hair.
- The lather created with a great shaving brush softens the facial hair which, again, reduces any possible irritation, but also transforms the facial hair you choose to leave behind. If you use wet shaves to neaten your beard as oppose to remove it, the process of creating lather with a shaving brush will help to reduce the wire-like feel of facial hair and make it more manageable.
4. Warming of the skin
- Using a shaving brush will warm up the skin, opening up the pores and preventing snagging and catching of the blade.
To find out that the shave lather you have created is perfect, make sure that it is creamy rather than foamy. Foamy lather forms when you over rinse the shaving cream or gel. A few minutes of mixing is sufficient enough for forming a creamy lather.
As we have already discussed, shaving brushes are unique and efficient grooming equipment. However, there are a few things one should keep in mind before using shaving brushes.
It is no secret that you should have the perfect lather to achieve the perfect shave. For having the best shave lather, it is quintessential to have the best shaving brush possible.
Once you go out to buy a shaving brush, you will soon discover that there are a wide variety of shaving brushes available in the market. They are available in different materials, they have different handles, and all of them have different prices.
The weight and quality of the shaving brush play an essential part in the price range of the brush. In most shaving brushes, the bristles are tightly attached to their handles by knotting. There are slight functional differences in each shaving brush type. Let us discuss some of the most popular shaving brushes
Boar bristles are harder and coarser than badger hairs, which isn’t ideal for those with sensitive skin which is prone to irritation and redness. With continued use, the breaking-in period will soften the tips of the bristles of the brush somewhat – but not to the softness of badger hairs. However, some users will prefer the boar bristles over badger bristles due to their ability to move beard hairs and provide a better exfoliation.
As the name implies, horse hair brushes use horsehair. However, there are some varieties of horse brushes where badger hair is mixed in as well.
Horsehair is softer than boar brushes but again, still not as soft as badger. Some men prefer horsehair to badger hair as the bristles are softer but stiffer, which is ideal for users who prefer a vigorous shave.
These brushes are relatively cheap considering their exceptional quality, and they do not need any replacement for months or even years. These brushes are animal-friendly and no harm comes to horses as only a small chunk of the horse's mane is cut for use in the shaving brush.
Though synthetic was once synonymous with cheaper models, the quality of synthetic bristles has improved significantly in recent years. Some brands are producing synthetic hairs which mimic even the highest grades of badger hair to an incredibly impressive degree. Some swear that it’s impossible to tell a difference in the feel and effectiveness of these brushes.
They’re also an excellent way for vegan shavers to enjoy the experience of a cut throat shave without using any animal products. Synthetic brushes now offer better water retention than some high-quality grades of badger hair, and even dry faster than natural hairs can. On top of this, high-quality synthetic fibres require a fraction of the shaving cream that natural hairs will absorb, making these options far more cost-effective for men who use expensive shaving creams and soaps. For men who are allergic to animal hairs, these advancements are essential to their shaving routines.
Badger brushes are arguably the most traditional. Badger hairs have been used in shaving brushes for over two centuries and are the go-to for many shaving connoisseurs. There are four grades of badger brushes, and though there is a clear hierarchy in price, the right brush for each individual person isn’t necessarily the most expensive. The grades vary in price due to their scarceness, so you should opt for the grade most suitable to your skin type and shaving needs as oppose to the highest priced.
This is the most common and least expensive grade of badger bristle.
The hairs are more flexible than horsehair and boar bristles but are notably softer. For shavers who enjoy the scratchy massaging feel of applying shaving cream, this grade of badger hair is ideal. While perhaps unsuitable for incredibly sensitive skin, this grade will most likely suit most skin types. These brushes will last approximately three years with regular use. The pure badger hair brush is one of the best for creating a thick lather. These brushes also offer superior exfoliation.
Best badger is the next grade up. It is significantly softer than pure badger and has greater water retention qualities – this will contribute to a thick and luxurious lather. A benefit of this grade is that it’ll last approximately double the amount of time as pure badger brushes, an impressive average of six years.
The super badger grade offers improved softness and water retention again and is suitable for even the most sensitive skin types. However, for those who are interested in a brush which moves the beard hairs and can lift them up during the shaving process, this grade might be unsuitable to you. However, this grade tends to last up to ten years – making it a great investment for those willing to fork out a little extra cash.
This grade is the highest quality of badger hair that you can get your hands on. It is also the most expensive. A good quality silvertip brush will last more than 10 years with proper upkeep, and it is easily distinguishable from other grades. Silvertip bristles have a distinctive bright white tip which looks incredible in a shaving kit and feels incredible on the face. If you’re serious about your shaving equipment, this grade is the most gentle and luxurious badger brush you’ll find.
You should always hold the handle of the blade at a slightly slanted position as it will significantly reduce chances of bruises and cuts and make your shave smoother as well. In case you have a rough beard, you can always run the razor twice to make sure that no hair is left behind.
You should also sanitize your blade when before using it. Another thing one should be extremely wary of is never to use the same razor more than once. Used blades carry bacteria, and it tends to multiply in number as time passes. Therefore, get rid of it as soon as you are done using it.
We have discussed the history of shaving, and shaving brushes with great detail in this article. Not only that, but we have also considered the different types of shaving brushes and the correct way of using a shaving brush. You can also read about the comeback of the classic wet shaving technique.
That was the ultimate blueprint for anyone looking to gain knowledge about shaving and shaving brushes. Down below, we have provided you with the ultimate buying guide to make sure that you can buy the shaving brushes that would best suit your needs.