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How do I Use a Shaving Brush?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated: May 17, 2024

For many years, men were able to achieve a smooth face using the combination of a shaving soap, brush, and straight razor. While the straight razor is much less common today, many men are rediscovering the joys and benefits of creating and applying lather with the use of a shaving brush. Here are some tips on how to use this time-honored shaving tool, as well as where to choose one of high quality.

The typical shaving brush is a simple device composed of a round wooden handle and a set of brushes attached to the bottom. Ideally, the brushes are flexible and somewhat soft, so they are not abrasive to the skin. A traditional shaving brush will sport a wooden handle and make use of badger hair for the brush end of the device.

It is important to note there are several different grades of badger hair used to create shaving brushes. Dark badger hair is flexible and has the same amount of thickness on the end. This grade of hair holds lather very well, making it easier to evenly distribute the lather over a thicker beard.

Pure badger hair, also known as gray badger, comes from the back and tail of the badger, and has qualities similar to those of the dark badger hair. Tapered badger hair comes to a point at the end of each hair follicle, and is more suitable for use with lighter beards. Silver tips are the softest of all types of badger hair and are ideal for men with skin conditions, as they are very easy on the skin of the face.

Using a shaving brush is a simple task. A small bar of solid soap is recessed into a shaving mug. After wetting the face with a small amount of water, the bristles of the shaving brush are also moistened. The wet bristles are applied to the surface of the soap and moved along the surface in a clockwise direction. This action helps to create the lather, which in turn clings to the bristles.

Once the shaving brush is loaded with an appreciable amount of lather, the brush is moved from the shaving mug and to the face. Again using a simple clockwise motion, the lather is gently applied to the wet beard. The clockwise application helps the lather to work into the beard, effectively coating each hair and causing it to rise from the skin. At the same time, the lather is creating a thin barrier that will help protect the skin from the abrasive action of the razor blade.

After applying a thick coat of soap over the beard, the shaving brush is placed back into the mug while the individual proceeds to shave. Once the task is completed, the bristles of the brush are rinsed thoroughly. Some men choose to wring excess water from the bristles using a towel. Others prefer to place the brush in a well-ventilated area so the bristles can air dry. In most cases, the brush is not returned to the shaving mug until the bristles are free of excess moisture. This helps to cut down on the development of an unpleasant scent within the bristles.

Today, it is possible to purchase a good quality shaving mug and brush at many pharmacies, supermarkets, and other retail outlets that carry men’s personal hygiene products. Many of these same outlets will carry shaving soaps that are enhanced with traditionally masculine scents. Beware of purchasing a shaving brush with bristles composed of synthetic fibers. They do not hold up as well over time and do not always provide the same quality of coverage as badger hair bristles. If necessary, forego the cheaper designs and order a quality brush at an online store that carries an assortment of men’s hygiene products.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
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Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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