Thursday, 7 January 2010

Grooming: The Usefulness of Badgers

I can't say I particularly like shaving. Spending time making myself look nice is one thing, but spending time every morning simply returning myself to the same state of grooming I was in 24 hours earlier is just a bit depressing. Still, I suppose one can at least take a certain amount of pleasure in the ritual of shaving, and using the right tools and products for a good result.

Unchallenged at the top of the list of 'right tools' sits one at least two hundred years old, and still unbeaten for achieving the best possible result. A good quality badger hair shaving brush is an absolute must for any man, and if you're thinking of spending money on designer grooming products then I'd seriously recommend a trip to one of the traditional Gentleman's Perfumers of St James's to pick up a shaving brush. I highly reccomend Taylors of Old Bond Street or Geo F Trumper, but there are a number of others in the area.

A shaving brush is traditionally, and best, accompanied by a dish of solid shaving soap, which is then worked into a lather with the brush and applied to the face. This isn't tradition for tradition's sake - the advantages of shaving with a brush are myriad: The shaving soap cleanses your face as you shave, and is far better for it than most gels or foams. Badger hair is chosen specifically because it holds large amounts of water - applying the soap with lots of hot water softens hairs, making for an easier and more comfortable shave. At the same time, the action of the brush lifts hairs, allowing you to get a closer shave.

There are several types of badger hair brushes; the main difference being where on the badger they were taken from, which affects the softness and water-retention of the hair. This is undeniably important, but it also greatly affects the price and a large silvertip brush can cost over £100. On the other hand, for only around £20 you can easily pick up a small pure badger brush and still get the best shave you've ever had.


  1. I can't agree more on the subject of brushes, it amazes me electric razors (pluckers) are still a commercially viable option.

    In search of the real deal a while back I discussed an open blade with the crowd in Trumper's .

    'Oh yes, as you learn you'll regularly cut yourself' they informed me with brandishing a very mean looking but outstandingly ornate blade at me.

    Very tempting thing, but on the grounds of claret before breakfast I left it.

    For me, the time in the morning post shower to shave and take in the headlines are invaluable; there after I know the mayhem will start...

  2. Sadly, there's an ever-increasing market for people who want things done quickly more than they want things done well.

    Like you, I'm occasionally tempted by a open blade razor. I believe both Trumper's and Taylor run training courses in their use but, at least for now, I think dicing with death before I've even had my morning coffee is a step too far.


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