The shaving brush has been a staple of men’s grooming since it was first used in France in the mid 18th century. These brushes often became a status symbol, and throughout history have been made from exquisite materials such as ivory, whale bone, and precious metals. The bristles of a finely-made shaving brush are made from badger hair, and even today the best brushes can cost several thousands of dollars.
There are many less-expensive shaving brushes available for men, some of which are made of synthetic bristles or boar bristles. The badger hair brushes are still considered top-of-the-line, however, because of the rarity of the material and the quality of the hair. Among badger hair brushes, silvertip badger hair is considered the Rolls-Royce of materials. A badger hair shaving brush can cost between ten dollars and ten thousand dollars, depending on the quality of the hair and the material used to make the handle.
The shaving brush has two distinct purposes. The first is to gently exfoliate dead skin cells from the face and to gently raise the hairs on the face, allowing for better results. Applying shaving cream by hand pushes the stubble flat against the face, and the result is more irritation and an increased chance of nicks, cuts, and ingrown hairs.
The second purpose of a shaving brush is to create a rich thick lather. This is done with shaving soap (not a cream), and a scuttle. A scuttle is the technical term for a shaving mug. Shaving brushes, especially those made from badger hair, hold a significant amount of water. This water is mixed with the glycerin-based shaving soap in a scuttle, and is agitated by hand in order to produce a lather. High-quality shaving brushes will hold more water, resulting in a thicker lather.
If you are a man on the go, then a shaving brush may not be right for you. A shaving brush, straight razor, shaving soap and a scuttle are for those gentlemen who enjoy and respect the time-honored art and ritual of shaving. These are the types of refined gentlemen who savor the grooming experience, as opposed to rushing through it. Of course, top quality soaps, scuttles, and brushes are expensive, but most men who use them will agree that once you have mastered the fine art of shaving, nothing else will do.