Shaving brushes are an essential item as part of your grooming regime. They allow you to create a lather of shaving cream or gel and apply it easily to your face and neck. The cream then enhances your shaving process and should help reduce irritation and cuts but also allow you to get smoother end results.
There is an incredible range of shaving brushes to choose from and this can make it difficult. Which one is suitable for your skin? Is one type more effective than another? These are tricky questions and in the below guide we aim to clear up the confusion.
Two common types of shaving brush are synthetic and badger hair. Both have their pros and cons and could be an excellent choice for your male grooming. We look at the differences below, and see if there is a clear winner.
Synthetic Shaving Brushes
Synthetic brushes are a much more recent development and are taking the shaving world by storm. These brushes aim to recreate the texture and feel of real hair bristles like badger and horse without the potential harm and cruelty to animals.
The nylon fibres are pretty good quality and many high-quality synthetic shaving brushes do feel incredibly similar to traditional badger hair knots. The following are some of our best-selling synthetic shaving brushes:
- Roche Black Acrylic Synthetic Shaving Brush
- Bluebeards Revenge Vanguard Synthetic Shaving Brush
- Omega BLACK Hi-Brush
If you want a cruelty-free option that only uses manmade materials then this is the best choice. It does have some drawbacks however and we feel that the manufacturing process can’t quite recreate the feel and quality of real badger hair. For more insight we have listed the pros and cons below.
- Cruelty Free: The main benefit of synthetic shaving brushes is that you know 100% that you aren’t contributing to animal cruelty. These brushes are manmade and do not use any real animal hair. In some cases, the manufacturer also aims to operate sustainably and make a positive contribution to the environment.
- Fast Drying: Generally synthetic brushes dry quicker than any real-hair alternatives. They aren’t very absorbent and thus any water and shaving cream will dry off quickly. If you travel regularly and need to pack your kit away quickly after a shave this is the best option.
- Effective: Like badger hair, synthetic brushes are also effective and you can create a great lather. You can also use them to exfoliate your skin, just to a lesser degree than the badger and real-hair alternatives.
- Economical: Usually, synthetic shaving brushes are much cheaper than real-hair alternatives like badger. This means that you could potentially splash out on more expensive equipment like a high-quality razor or strop instead.
- Retention: The main drawback is that they do not absorb water as much. This means that they do not quite create as good a lather as badger hair bushes. You might have to work harder to get the same results.
Badger Hair Shaving Brushes
Traditional shaving brushes have always been made using badger hair or horse hair. The hairs look fantastic and this is why you get the characteristic silver, white, and dark contrast in the knot – it’s essentially the pattern on a badger’s coat.
There are several grades of badger hair shaving brushes from pure badger up to silver tip badger. The silver tip hairs are regarded as the best quality because they are incredibly dense and are much softer on your skin.
The main issue with badger hair as with any product that uses items from animals is the potential for cruelty. Historically there has been much protest and negativity towards the badger hair industry. Not all manufacturers use unethical practices however, but there is no denying that it is a grey area and a relative unknown. Some of our top real badger hair shaving brushes include:
These brushes are an excellent quality and arguably create the best lather out of any hair types. They do have some drawbacks too and we discuss the pros and cons below.
- Retention: Badger hair is excellent at absorbing water and this allows you to create a lather much easier. They are simpler to use and allow you to work your shaving cream quicker.
- Longevity: If stored correctly, badger shaving brushes will also last for ages. You just need to keep the bristles from getting frayed and you are good to go. We advise using a dedicated shaving brush stand that will keep your product upright. This allows you to hang it with the bristles facing downwards so it dries quicker too.
- Effective: Out of the two, badger hair is usually seen as more effective. It creates a better lather, but also exfoliates your skin which is great if you have a sensitive complexion. Badger hair typically feels softer on your skin too.
- Slower Drying: The fact that badger hair retains water and cream better also has a downside and it means they take much longer to dry than synthetic options. If you travel regularly, therefore, they may not be the best choice.
- Potential for Animal Cruelty: The main drawback that is difficult to ignore is the potential for animal cruelty. Countries like China have been known to simply kill badgers to farm their pelts. We advise checking with the manufacturers to see if you can find any information on how they source their badger hair.
Which Shaving Brush is Better? Synthetic or Badger Hair
We hope you now have a clearer idea of the pros and cons of these shaving brushes. There is no denying that synthetic brushes represent the more ethical choice. Many manufacturers like Dovo simply don’t provide info on how the badger hair is obtained. As a result you can’t be sure either way if any cruelty was involved.
Regardless, if there is a clear indication that the badger hair was obtained responsibly and without cruelty, then they generally are a superior option that helps create a better lather.