Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brush density

Every picture tells a story. Here is the Simpson Duke Best and an Edwin Jagger Best.
Both have a 23mm knot. One cost £74 and the other was £36. The loft heights are 46mm and 54mm. A good example of a brush with a firm backbone and a floppy.

Density is mainly about the amount of hair in a brush but the firmness of a brush can also be increased by setting a lower loft. Dense brushes tend to be more expensive.

Fan or bulb shape head?

Rooney Heritage Stuubby 2  Shavemac 177

Here are two typical shapes used in brush heads. Opinion is divided about the relative merits of each type.
These are discussions I initiated on the shaving forums.


Me? I'm still not sure what I prefer!

How shaving brushes are made

If you really want to get a better idea of how a shaving brush is made here are some useful links:

A visit to Vulfix

Edwin Jagger video

Shaving brush craftsmanship

And if you are a real glutton:

Anatomy of a Simpson's brush.

Good old Mantic

Once you take an interest in wet shaving on the internet you will come across Mantic. His blog and U tube videos have made a huge contribution to stimulating interest in our hobby.
Take a look at Mantic's:

Shaving brush basics video

It covers some of the stuff I've covered here. And if you are looking for advice about how to lather and use your brush you will find plenty on Mantic's U tube site that I won't attempt to emulate here.

Bloggers united!

Knot, loft, floppy, backbone, stiff.

These are key words which define the characteristics of a shaving brush. Take a look again at this Jagger silvertip and Simpson Duke 3.

Both brushes have a knot width at the base of 23mm. Both are 92mm high. But the brushes are completely different. Partly because one is the very soft silvertip while the other is best badger. Simpson's best badger brushes are however surprisingly soft also. The difference lies in the height of the loft - the height of the brush head. The difference is just 4mm. If you have a 'floppy' brush, tie a piece of string round the base of the knot around 4-5mm thick to simulate a lower loft height and feel the difference. Suddenly, the silvertip will be much firmer. This may not suit you. But if you prefer a brush with some backbone which is preferable for face lathering look for a brush with a relatively low loft. Larger knot sizes can afford higher lofts. A firm brush in the 22mm knot size needs to be below 50mm. Rooney do an excellent silvertip 22mm/45mm loft which is an excellent face latherer. If you prefer the luxurious feel of a soft silvertip, mix your lather in a bowl with creams and paint it on, the loft for a medium size brush can comfortably exceed 50mm and you will be happy. If you prefer soaps and face lathering with circular motions go for a firm brush with a low loft. Always check dimensions before buying a brush. They are usually set out clearly on most web sites.

To explore further the opinions of shaving enthusiasts take a look at these threads about knot/loft preferences:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Badger grades

You will come across lots of grades when looking for a brush. There is no industry standard. Even the same so called grade varies with different makers. So you have terms that include words like finest, silvertip, super, best, pure and combinations of these words. They are all to do with the part of the badger they came from as well as treatments applied to the hairs.
There is a mass of information about shaving brushes on the shaving forums. Here is one which describes the grades of several of the famous makers and brands.


This is a term used to describe the number of bands of colours visible above the brush handle. Usually it's three: light, dark, light. But in recent times, particularly for short loft brushes, you come across two band brushes. These are usually very dark from the base with almost white tips. These are mostly made from long best badger hair which is quite stiff yet very soft at the tips. It makes a fine all round brush suitable for use with both creams and hard soaps.

Some boar brushes have hairs that are all one colour - a one band?!

Badger Grades explained - Badger and Blade Wiki

Badger v Boar v Synthetic?

Badger brushes are softer and more expensive than boar brushes which are generally firmer and great value. I have no experience with synthetic brushes. I will describe my experience with boar when I describe the few I have. You have seen some of my badger brushes. Here is the very popular Semogue 1305:

Here are some links to some discussion about the relative merits of badger and boar brushes:

And more about boar:

How much should you spend on a shaving brush?

Whatever you wish!

My first brush on returning to DE shaving a couple of years ago cost £5. I was perfectly happy with it until I discovered the world of shaving forums. There are hundreds if not thousands of brushes in all price ranges. They will all serve the purpose of mixing and applying lather. In the collection of brushes I will describe later you will find brushes from less than £10 to around £200. A brush can be functional or an indulgence. Pay your money and make your choice.

Vulfix 404 Boar badger mix - £8

Simpson Chubby 2 Best - £100 +

Plisson High Mountain White - £189

Rooney 1/2 Finest  £190

Choosing a shaving brush

Like people, shaving brushes come in varying shapes, sizes and characteristics. And we shavers have preferences for creams, soaps, or love both and have different preferences for making and applying lather. So brush makers try to meet these different needs. Some brushes are soft and floppy. People with sensitive skin may prefer them. They also work well with creams. If you like soaps, you may prefer a denser, stiffer brush to generate lather. Some people like to make lather in a bowl - any brush will do that. Others prefer an exfoliating scrub while building lather directly on their face. A firm brush is better for that. And then size. You can get very small or very large brushes. Most of us stick within a knot size range of 22mm to 24mm. (This is the size of the base of the knot)
All brushes can be used with soaps and creams but some are better at each job. So it's generally soft for creams and stiff for soaps. Something in between is a good all rounder.
Once you start using brushes, you will inevitably end up trying more than one. Only you will decide what's best for you. Once you decide the characteristics you want in a brush, any number or reviews will help you to identify a brush which may suit you. It may cost a bit to find out!

The photo shows a rather floppy Edwin Jagger Silvertip and the Simpson Duke 3 Best badger - a firm dense all rounder.

These threads are worth a look if you really want to get into detail:

A guide to choosing a brush

Picking and buying advice

Friday, January 29, 2010

Introducing my blog

This is a shaving brush bearing the name of one of the most famous shaving brush brands in the world.

It is a limited edition of 90 made to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Vulfix who now make Simpson brushes.It cost me £180. Now you know I have a serious interest in shaving brushes. I'll write more about this brush later. But let me first explain why I am publishing this blog.
I love wet shaving. But my favourite part of the ritual is using my brushes. I love the look, the feel, mixing up the lather, then the delightful sensation of running the brush round my face.As an avid collector of many things throughout my life, once I discovered my delight in shaving brushes it was inevitable that I would become a collector. Someone on one of the shaving forums has over 160 brushes. I might one day, but at present I have approaching 50 examples of brushes made by most of the well known makers.
Obtaining them has involved a lot of research. So this blog is the story behind my shaving brush collection. It's about the makers and how they are made. The different characteristics of brushes and indeed anything I found of interest which I think will be worth sharing.
There is an incredible amount of information on the internet about shaving brushes.It's all been done by someone. Where it might be of value, I'll provide links to other sites which have interesting facts, figures and opinions.And of course I will post photos of each of my brushes with full details together with my personal assessment of the performance of the brush.
It's going to take a while, but I hope it will be fun.

And this is my collection at present. I'll work out how to display them properly soon. They have a lot of bells to compete with in my room right now.