Badger Shaving Brushes
From Reasonably Priced to Ridiculous
There are many different prices for badger shaving brushes. Most of the price difference comes from the quality of the hair and how much the market is willing to spend. Another reason for the extreme price range is the construction and materials used. However, with the exception of using precious metals or gemstones in handle construction, there is little difference between a $200 brush and a $1200 badger shaving brush. It isn't even necessary to spend $100 for a high quality brush.
Badger Shaving Brush â€“ Handle Material
Most badger shaving brushes today have handles made out of wood, metal or some man-made material. These are less elegant and less expensive than many of the brushes from the past which had handles made of ivory, bone and antlers. Before other items became status symbols for a man's wealth and opulence, his shaving brush is what he used to boast of his status.
Today's shaving brush handles are less important than the badger hair that is used in the brush. Many brushes are made with simple wooden handles while others are truly a work of art. The one concern with wooden handled shaving brushes is that if the brush is not allowed to dry properly, the wood can get saturated with water and crack. It is important to always allow the brush to dry with the bristles down.
Man-made materials that are used for shaving brush handles are plastic, nylon or other synthetic compounds. Many times these materials are less likely to crack or be damaged with mistreatment. However hard plastics may break if dropped onto a tile floor.
If using a porcelain, ceramic or clay shaving mug, one should be careful while using a metal or ceramic handled shaving brush. These are heavier and harder materials which can chip or break the shaving mug or bowl. Because they are heavy, these feel nicer in the hand.
With the exception of personalized or handcrafted handles, most of the cost of a good shaving brush comes from the bristles of the badger hair that is used to create the brush. Many of the extremely expensive badger hair shaving brushes increase in value by having some kind of exotic or specialty crafted handle along with the best quality badger hair.
When buying a badger shaving brush the obvious interest is to buy a brush that uses badger bristles. However there are many other materials that are used in the creation of shaving brushes. The least expensive shaving brushes use man-made synthetic fibers for the brush. The next level up, before getting into badger hair, are boar bristle brushes. The problem with lesser quality bristles is that they will not absorb as much water as badger hair. To produce the lather that is necessary, as well as moisten and soften the beard, a brush needs to load a large amount of water. Synthetic materials do not have the water loading capacity to create a luxurious, wet lather. Even less expensive boar bristle brushes do a better job than man-made synthetics.
Real badger hair is relatively inexpensive and readily available. There are different qualities of badger hair which is determined by the part of the animal the hair comes from. These are commonly called pure badger, best badger and silvertip badger.
Badger hair known as pure badger covers more than half of the body of the animal. It is a medium length hair and is often light tan. Though the color can vary quite a bit. Pure badger hair is coarser and stiffer than best badger or silvertip badger. Badger brushes made completely with pure badger hair is the least expensive badger shaving brush one can buy.
The term best badger refers to bristles which are finer and softer than pure badger and covers about 25% of the animal. It is lighter in color than pure badger hair. Because best badger hair is thinner, the brush is more dense. This results in more water load and a better foam when the soap is worked into a lather.
Silvertip badger hair is the most expensive type of hair that is used for shaving brushes. These are naturally off-white in color and come from the badger's neck. Silvertip badger hair loads even more water than best badger hair and provides a better quality lather. Better lather means a closer shave. Silvertip badger hair is the longest and softest of the different types of badger bristles used in badger shaving brushes.
There are significant differences between the performance of synthetic fibers and boar bristle brushes. Moving from the coarse boar bristles to even the lowest quality badger hair (pure badger) will result in a large leap in quality and performance. There are also badger blends which have a mixture of pure and best badger bristles. Those are better quality, but may not justify a large price difference between them and pure badger. The biggest quality difference is seen when moving up to silvertip badger hair.
Badger Shaving Brush â€“ Price Differences
There is a wide range of prices for badger shaving brushes. There are three main elements which help determine the cost of badger shaving brushes: the quality of the badger hair used, the craftsmanship of the handle and supply and demand. A good quality brush can last a lifetime. It is necessary to determine which of the elements is most important when purchasing a badger shaving brush. If actual use is important, then it is worth paying more for better quality hair, even if the handle is not personalized or unique. However, if showing off the brush for beauty's sake, then a handcrafted handle should be the determining factor in the value. Just because a brush has a higher price does not mean it is of significantly better quality. If people are willing to pay, manufacturers will continue to raise the price of their products.
There are many places where quality badger shaving brushes can be found. Looking at local specialty shops will give one a chance to feel the difference in quality, but usually the brushes come at a higher price than buying online. Barber supply stores have significantly better prices, but don't always have the greatest range of options. Most online stores carry just one or two brands with the exception of Amazon which has a wide range of badger shaving brushes.
Each badger shaving brush will have its own characteristics. One should be able to find a quality shaving brush with the supplied information. While it is not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars on a great shaving brush, those are available if one chooses.