All Hail the Badger!
No luxurious shave is complete without the caress of a bit of badger hair
Article by Rupert Watkins
I’ve spoken before about the benefits of properly hot water in regard to one’s early morning routine. With the face relaxed, pink and the pores open the ugly mug can be properly cleaned and cleared of facial fuzz. Whilst expensive oils and creams are not a necessity for this, there is one genuine investment any chap should make to ensure his morning ablution becomes a luxurious ritual rather than a bleary eyed chore: the shaving brush.
They’ve been about for ever, certainly since the late 18th Century. Hogarthian and later Victorian prints abound with images of soaped up barbers shop customers with the barbers wielding shaving brushes and cut throat blades. Yet 200 years later here’s the thing…… the old school approach is still the best one….
A frequently forgotten fact is that you clean your face when you shave. The big cosmetics firms definitely want you to forget this as they want to flog you face washes. With hot water on your face the pores open, the beard softens and you need something to drive the lather into the pores cleaning them out and to get in amongst the bristle – raising it for a closer shave. A shaving brush does this, exfoliating the skin. Applying a modern facial wash by hand does not get the friction to work the wash into the skin. It relies on abrasive ingredients to rub away dead skin and force open the pores.
There is no escaping the price of a good badger shaving brush – realistically between £50 and £120 for a pure badger or best badger brush (far more if you want the very best silver tip hair). However, given the 250 or more times a year a chap shaves, the resulting spot of luxuriousness is going to pay for itself over a couple of years of use. It also takes perhaps six months for a brush to be broken in and for the badger hair to be able to absorb and retain its optimum amount of water – improving the lather. Given jars of shaving cream last for months (I have to replace mine perhaps twice a year), there is a shaving cream or soap to match all budgets from the glass jars at Penhaligon’s at £45 or £9 for a jar at Taylor’s of Old Bond Street. In an age where style commentators talk about investment pieces (be it watches, bags, shoes or clothing), a badger shaving brush is probably amongst the most important, frequently used – and overlooked item.