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The Best Shaving Brushes for the Perfect Shave

Best Shaving Brushes 00 Hero

A gentleman knows that a good shave begins with a good lather, and a good lather begins with the right shaving brush. You could just slap any foamed gel from a can onto your skin, and perhaps you’ll remove the unsightly stubble, but that method just begs to cause cuts, razor burns, and leave your skin feeling like a tenderized cut of meat. Don’t go to all the trouble of paying for a good straight or safety razor for a quality wet shave and then ruin it with a weak lather. Treat your skin right, and check out our best shaving brushes guide to find the right one.

Best Shaving Brushes Breakdown

Why should you use a shaving brush?

A shaving brush (or shave brush) is a small brush made with animal or synthetic hair meant to work your shaving soap/cream into a lather before you apply it to your face. The whole point of the brush is to have a texture that opens up your pores, lets your skin breathe, creates a quality lather, and transfers moisture.

Types of shaving brushes

The hairs on the top of a shaving brush’s handle are worked into a knot at the base, which is why they’re sometimes referred to as a knot (the highest quality brushes are hand-knotted).

Badger: A quality brush is most commonly made of badger hair since the combination of rigidity and softness will allow your whiskers to stand on end without irritating your skin. There’s a grading system that goes from pure, best, super, and silvertip, which denotes the hair’s quality in ascending order (silvertip badger hair being the best option overall). Two-band and three-band badger hair fall somewhere in the middle of these ratings, with two-band being a little thicker and three-band being a little thinner.

Boar: Boar hair brushes are probably the most common option and require a bit more work to get a lather compared to badger hair. That’s not to say this is a bad choice, as quality brushes can last a while, and the stiff bristles are good for exfoliating.

Horse: Horse hair is a great option if you want something cruelty-free but still want an animal hair brush, as the hair’s taken from the horse’s tail. It’s also about the same as boar hair as far as performance goes.

Synthetic: Synthetic options are usually made with nylon, or something higher-end if it’s a premium brush, and have improved quite a bit over the years. While not considered to be as good as animal hair options by purists, you can still get a good lather and they’re even dry quicker.

What to look for

Handle Material: The shape of shaving brush handles hasn’t changed much over its history, and the preferable material is also mostly the same, with synthetic handles (like plastic or nylon) being preferred. This is due to the low maintenance required and durability compared to natural options like wood, but there are some options out there with exotic and/or natural materials.

Bristles: Generally speaking, badger hair bristles are best. Some use boar and others use horse hair, though those tend to be coarser (which can be good or bad) and aren’t quite as consistent. For those who dislike animal fibers, there are also synthetics available – while these can have mixed results, they offer some different advantages.

How to use a shaving brush

Wet your brush with (not too) warm water, add your shaving cream/soap onto the bristles either directly or with a mug/bowl, and work it into a lather (again either on your face or a receptacle before applying to your face). After that, use your razor of choice and get to shaving.

Maintaining your shaving brush

After use, make sure to always wash with lukewarm water without messing with the bristles and let it air dry for at least a day (with deep cleaning once a month).

Omega PRO 48

Omega PRO 48
  • Excellent exfoliation
  • Made in Italy
  • Long breaking-in period

The Best Boar Hair Brush: The Pro 48 is soft enough to allow beginners to use it, and cheap enough that they won’t have to drop the coin necessary for a full badger brush. It’s a large brush, requiring fewer strokes to get a good lather, and holds moisture better than most of the notoriously dry boar bristles out there. The chrome handle is sophisticated and never looks cheap or out of place. Finding a drying stand can be complicated due to the longer bristle length, but this brush covers all of the bases for amateur and experienced blade masters alike. The rougher bristles will help shed dead skin and leave your face feeling refreshed.

Handle: Chrome ABS
Bristles: Boar hair

Stirling Kong Synthetic Shave Brush

Stirling Synthetic Shave Brush
  • Soft bristles
  • Good for beginners
  • Might be a bit big for some

The Best Budget Pick: For those of you who are just entering the space and want an affordable option that’s easy to maintain, then this brush is for you. Stirling Soap Company was started by a couple in 2012 who wanted to bring quality and environmentally conscious cosmetics to everyone. And this quality is undoubtedly found in this synthetic brush, which provides a rich lather, even with soft bristles.

Handle: Black resin
Bristles: Synthetic

Parker Shaving Brush

Parker Safety Razor Synthetic Bristle Wood Handle Shaving Brush
  • Soft bristles
  • Takes longer to lather

The Best Safety Razor Brush: The synthetic shaving brush market has made innumerable advances in the past few years as more users move away from animal products seeking something that can give them a great shave without harvesting from any beasts of the land. This offering from Parker is as high-quality as their safety razors and doesn’t come burdened with an animal smell or the lengthy shedding period of animal brushes. It has the same coloration as a silver tip brush with the quick-drying action and easy storage that synthetic fans have come to expect.

Handle: Black resin
Bristles: Synthetic

Vie-Long 04312

Vie Long 04312
  • Easy to use
  • Heavy for some

The Best Horse Hair Brush: This brush steps high and proud right out of the gate, allowing users to create a thick, foamy lather with minimum work. Horse hair allows the brush to bounce back and hold its shape longer, even for those whose facial hair has brought down many smaller kingdoms. Can be used with traditional shaving creams and gels, but also handles hard soap shaving for the guy who doesn’t need anything more than a cup and a bar to get his face smooth.

Handle: Wood and metal
Bristles: Horse hair

Edwin Jaffer Badger Shaving Brush

Edwin Jaffer Badger Shaving Brush
  • Rich lather
  • Rough bristles

The Best Badger Hair Shaving Brush: The craftsmanship on this brush is second to none, and the same process is used whether you buy the bargain basement of the Jagger line or the top dog. With a medium knot and moderate weight, shavers of any level can handle this shaving brush without mucking up the process. The transfer of heat and moisture is exceptional, despite the lower price, and the hand-made quality shines through with each subsequent use.

Handle: Imitation ivory
Bristles: (Best) badger hair

MÜHLE Purist Karelian Masur Shaving Brush

MUHLE Purist Karelian Masur Shaving Brush
  • Artisanally crafted
  • Wood handle requires some different care considerations

The Best Synthetic Brush: This brush has a handle engraved with carbon, used both for its resistance to moisture and dense weight, which enables you to control each stroke for maximum effect. As lovely as the handle is, it is easily put to shame by the pure silver tip bristles that adorn the interior of the brush. At once soft against your skin yet firm enough to moisturize and replenish by driving your exquisite shaving lotion against the base of each hair, you’ll feel invigorated each time you use it.

Handle: Black resin and Karelian Masur Birch
Bristles: Silvertip fiber

Simpson Duke 3

Simpson Duke 3
  • Hand-tied knot
  • Handmade in England
  • Price

The Grail Pick: Started in 1919, Simpson shaving brushes are widely regarded as one of the best choices in the industry. They have a long history in the shaving world and are often the standard for many experts in the space. So you can trust that the Duke 3, which is handmade in England with a hand-tied Simpson Best badger hair knot, will provide you with a classic and quality shaving experience.

Handle: Faux ivory
Bristles: (Simpson Best) badger hair

The Best Shave Soaps For Your Face

Best Shaving Soaps 00 Hero

Now that you’ve got the brush, it’s time to invest into a good shave soap for that perfect shave. Dive into our good to learn more about working up lather.