If you’ve read my shaving tips article, one of the things I recommend you get is a shaving brush.

And in this guide I’ll help you by going through the basics in choosing the right one that will fit your hand size, budget and other preferences that you may have.

A shaving brush can be the difference between a mediocre shave and a world class shave because it helps evenly spread out shave cream, lift up facial hair, exfoliate skin and retain moisture.

All of which play a huge factor in having a great shave.

Top help you navigate through this very long article I’ve included a table of contents section. Just click on a link to jump on a section that interests you…

The Basics

A shaving brush is has of two parts – the handle and bristles.

There are terminologies that you have to know to help you in choosing one.

Shaving Brush Parts

Loft

Overall length of the brush hair from the end to end.

Knot

The knot specifies how much hair is inside the handle. But take this with a grain of salt because it can be packed too lightly or loosely.

Total height

Overall height of the brush from the base of the handle to the tip of the bristle

Hair

Type of hair used for the brush such as synthetic, boar, horse hair, etc. (more on this below)

Typically measurements are in millimeters but unfortunately most sellers in Amazon don’t list these measurements but other online retailers like West Coast Shaving actually have these numbers listed for your reference.

Handle Material

Another thing that differentials these brush are the material for the handle. The most common material would be a plastic like acrylic or resin. Other brands would use wood or a combination of plastic with chrome plated accents.

Higher end brushes may use a metal handle, really expensive ones use real ivory.

Most consumers today would prefer a synthetic handle made from either metal or plastic and the main reason why is longevity.

Handle made from wood could split in half due to moisture accumulation. If you choose a brush with such, make sure to dry it thoroughly after every use.

Handles made from ivory are freaking expensive. Metal handles can possibly corrode if you don’t dry them properly.

In the end the handle you’ll choose will depend on personal taste.

Brush shape

The two most common are…

  • Fan shaped
  • Bulb shaped

Each type has their own fan base but really this is rather a subjective criteria that you alone can decide based on experience.

Handle size

Another criteria you should look into is the knot (or the width of the handle) and height. Most brushes will have a knot of 20 millimeters and a height of around 50 millimeters.

One way to find out the right handle height that will fit in your hands is to measure the distance between the palm and the pad of your thumb like this.

Measuring Brush Handle

Screengrab from mantic59’s video.

Types of Bristle

Shaving brushes typically use any of these four bristles – (1) boar, (2) horse, (3) synthetic or (4) badger brush.

Boar brush

Boar Shaving Brush

Boar brushes are usually the cheapest and most widely available in the market. Heck, you can find these brushes in stores like Walmart for as low as $5 but before you run off to the nearest Walmart you need to read the following point below.

  • Most boar brushes will not last long because of poor construction but there are gems
  • Boar hair generally has poor water retention
  • Because it has poor water retention it will not create a rich lather
  • Poorly made boar brushes virtually have zero heat retention (if you like your lather to be warm don’t get boar brushes)
  • Bristles aren’t as flexible and will break when you put too much pressure
  • It has a coarser texture which make it useful for lathering shaving soaps
  • Some poor made ones are “putrid” as Joe describes it in his post in Badger and Blade

Most of the points mentioned above apply to board brushes that are substandard. But there are brands that make good boar brushes like Omega.

Horse Hair Brush

Horse Hair Brush

Vie-Long horse hair brush – image courtesy of Amazon

Horse hair brush is a step up from a boar hair brush and a notch below their badger hair counterparts. It is softer than a boar but stiffer than badger’s hair.

And like its name implies, this brush uses hair from a horse – usually from the mane or tail. If animal cruelty is a big concern for you, this is a great option.

In terms of value for money it is hard to beat horse brushes because they provide better water retention than boar hair at a similar price point. Some even prefer this over more expensive badger brushes because it gives them a less “scratchy” feeling than badger.

There are three types of horse hair brushes:

  • Pure mane
  • Pure tail
  • Mixed brush that combines horse and badger hair

According to the Sharpologist, he prefers the pure horse hair brush because it broke in faster and feels softer on the skin.

The biggest downside to this is the odor that again the Sharpologist describes as ghastly. He recommends that you wash this with a pet shampoo thoroughly a couple of times before using it to remove the odor.

In terms of availability, these are harder to find but fortunately stores like Amazon carry a wide variety of these in stock.

Synthetic Brush

Synthetic Shaving Brush

Synthetic brushes use nylon bristles instead of animal hair. So there are no animals that perished just to make these. This is another option if this is a big concern for you.

What are the advantages?

In terms of price and performance, synthetics fall in between boar and badger brushes.

Biggest advantaged would be the knot consistency because every strand of fiber will have the same diameter and length. One big nuance of using animal hair would be the variances that naturally occur.

Another advantage is the ability of nylon to withstand higher temps.

Synthetic strands tend to stronger compared to their animal hair counterparts and should in theory last longer.

Unlike natural hair brushes that will have a certain odor, these usually don’t have any at all (at least the good brands).

There will be a break-in period when you use this. If it does not perform well the first time you use it, don’t worry. It should improve in subsequent uses.

Lastly, these brushes will dry faster, almost immediately after you rinse and wring out excess water which is great if you travel a lot.

How about the disadvantages?

These will not hold as much water compared to a badger hair brush so if you’re used to natural hair brushes, you will need to reload on shaving cream more often.

It won’t retain heat was well as animal hair. So if you like a warm lather, stick to a badger brush. But if that isn’t issue then this is a good alternative.

You’ll need to put more weight on the brush a bit more to achieve the same lather as natural haired brush because the bristles are stiffer and don’t flex as much so you will need to tweak your technique using this. If you have sensitive skin then this could be an issue.

I don’t know if this is a con but some shavers don’t like the backbone of synthetics because it only has one backbone feel. For natural hair, you can vary the backbone depending on how long you soak the brush.

Others like Nick Shaves say that they like how the backbone feels and it isn’t a big deal for them so it is personal preference.

The last disadvantage would be how it feels on your face. Unlike badger brushes that are soft, these brushes are much stiffer and will feel different on your face. Again, this will boil down on personal preference.

Synths are improving though at a fast pace in terms of performance with the added benefit of fast drying times and durability at a more affordable price.

Badger Brush

The badger brush is the crème de la crème of shaving brushes, these brushes hold the most water, retain the most heat, the most flexible which allows it to create a lather faster and usually the most expensive.

There are four grades here – pure, super or fine, best and silvertip.

Pure badger

Pure Badger

It is the lowest grade badger and most abundant because it comes from a badger’s body. This is the cheapest of the four.

Manufacturers will typically trim the edges forming the final shape of the loft which make it the coarsest.

These are great for lathering soaps and for exfoliating. If you don’t want to spend $100++ on a brush this is a great option for beginners.

Best badger

Best Badger

Badger brushes are softer compared to pure badger because some of it comes from the belly.

And these have more color separation compared to pure badger. It will retain more water and heat plus these brushes are softer which make it great for lathering up shaving creams.

In terms of coarseness, this will fall in between the pure, super and the silvertip. It will give you the best compromised of softness and price.

Super Badger

Super Badger

This is a step up from the best badger providing a softer feel. These brushes don’t need any trimming because of it’s natural shape which is already tapered.

The result is almost no scratchy feeling on the face.

These brushes usually have a light brown base followed by a black midsection and a light brown/whitish tip. Some manufacturers will actually bleach the tip to make it appear whiter.

The hair in these brushes are softer so more is needed to make it denser. More hair means more water retention and a better lather for both shave soaps and creams.

Make sure to dry this well because it will be susceptible to damage if it isn’t.

Silver Tip

Silver Tip Badger Hair

This is the highest grade badger brush that provides the softest and most flexible bristles.

These are also the most expensive brushes since it is rarest. Hair for this brush is taken from the neck area of the badger. It is characterized by a cream-colored base and tip with a dark band in between.

Having the softest brush means more water, heat retention and a soft massage like feeling on your face when lathering.

Manufacturers almost never bleach the tips so it will retail its cream color or dirty white hue.

While these brushes are the most luxurious, these are also the most delicate so you will have to make sure thoroughly rinse and properly dry this after every shave so that the strands of hair won’t break.

There is debate however between the silver tip and super badger on whether or not it is worth the premium you are paying for.

Travel Brushes

travel brushThese brushes are designed with the frequent flyer in mind. Along with the smaller loft these products come with a case that has a not and cover to protect the bristles from damage and dirt.

Make sure to that the brush is thoroughly dry before covering it so moisture or molds do not form.

Bristle source can also vary from a pure badger to a synthetic one. Remember that while synthetic brushes don’t hold a lot of water, they will dry almost instantly so if you’re on the go, this maybe a deciding factor.

Things to consider in choose the best shaving brush

With a very wide range of option available, how do you choose the best shaving brush? Take note that these are just guidelines, your preference might change as try out more and more products but I think these factors are a good starting point for anyone who wants to go into wet shaving.

Consumer Reviews

There are a lot of sources for this like forums, reviews in shopping sites, vendor sites and blogs

Price

Is it great value for money? (Set a maximum budget and go from there)

Brush Type

You’ll have to decide what you’ll get whether it will be a synthetic or an animal brush

Handle

For practicality sake, I’d go for something made from plastic because it will last longer. It may not look as good as wood which will easily degrade in a high moisture environment (the bathroom!)

Size

If you have larger hands, you’ll need a brush with a wider knot and longer handle

Here are our picks for the best shaving brushes in the market and the reasons why.

#1 Edwin Jagger – Large Silvertip

Edwin Jagger has been a world-wide leader and distributor of luxury wet shaving products in the Sheffield region of England since 1988.

The secret and appeal of the Edwin Jagger line is its owner and founder, Neil Jagger.

Neil designs every wet shaving piece with meticulous attention to detail, which goes into the manufacture of traditional English style melded with cutting edge design.

His family-owned and operated business is dedicated to integrity and Sheffield craftsmanship.

Edwin Jagger Large Silvertip shaving brush is an overall leader in the wide variety of badger hair brushes that the company produces.

The quality of this particular brush lies in its silver tip badger hair and its faux ebony handle, made of carefully selected and crafted polyester materials.

Natural, superior grade, fine, yet flexible badger hair, is the key with this brush as it absorbs hot water well, evenly dispenses it to the face as it softens and ensures consistent lathering and shaving results.

Silver tip is rare, soft and luxurious and is perfect for those with sensitive skin who prefer a gentle experience with lather and mild exfoliation.

This brush comes with a plastic drip stand, elegantly packaged in an Edwin Jagger box that includes tips and instructions on brush care.

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • Good size brush and ideal weight
  • Buttery soft bristles that absorb water, warmth and soap
  • Fast, easy and full lather formation
  • Softens and lifts beard hair for closer longer lasting shave
  • No usual break-in shedding period
  • Lasts a lifetime with proper care
  • No odor out of the box

Cons

  • Smaller than expected
  • Shorter handle
  • Very expensive
Bottom line: Edwin Jagger is one of the leaders in terms of manufacturing shaving products and this large silver tip brush is a great reflection of that tradition. It has great size, weight and lathers well without any odor out of the box. If you don’t mind paying more than $160 for a shaving brush but you only want the best, this is one of the best options out there.

#2 Mühle – Silvertip Shaving Brush Chrome Metal

Hans-Jürgen Müller GmbH & Co. KG is the proud owner and manager of the MÜHLE brand, which is based in Stützengrün, Saxony (federal state of Germany).

MÜHLE has been in the shaving industry since 1945. Driven by passionate experts with fervor for the high quality products possible.

Mühle in translation can mean a mill or milling machinery, and Hans Muller’s pioneering family definitely decided on an appropriate and work-related windmill design logo for their products.

While they make wet shaving products, they also sell body care and beauty products.

Also they’re committed to the environment and sustainability and work with suppliers who uphold the same standards.

Mühle’s Silvertip Shaving Brush is made of the finest materials coupled with craftsmanship that is hard to match.

This silver tip brush has luxurious badger hair and has a large knot size that provides for fuller and broader strokes when lathering the face.

Lathering is more effective because of the bulbous loft of the brush, which helps with raising and increasing the buildup of lather in a shaving bowl.

The chrome-plated, specially crafted handle is made with a brass core, then nickel plated and finally refined in galvanized chrome that has anti-slip engravings that aid in preventing hand slippage.

One user even commented that “the chrome metal handle is just amazing, great craftsmanship, great finish, and great weight; it feels very comfortable in my hand when whipping a lather.”

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • Warranty offered (3 months)
  • Reasonably priced for a high end brush
  • Solid, heavy balanced handle, but not unwield
  • Enjoyable feel and weight of the brush
  • Builds rich lather and rinses clean
  • Holds lather well
  • Very soft, compact head yet stiff backbone for standing up to harder soaps
  • Tightly knotted brush that spreads/splays well
  • No hair odor
  • Good stainless finish – limited stains/rust

Cons

  • Brush head shedding
  • Handle can be slick when wet
  • Handle shape not very ergonomic
  • Somewhat of a break-in period
  • Can be noisy (hitting side of shaving bowl)
Bottom line: If the Edwin Jagger is too expensive for you then this Mühle – Silvertip is a good alternative – only slightly cheaper though. It has a decent 3 month warranty, very balanced handle, gives you a rich lather and odor-less out of the box plus the handle comes in a nice stainless finish!

#3 Omega #10048 Boar Bristle/PRO 48

Omega is a family-owned and run Italian brush company that was founded in 1931.

Omega’s current Chief Operating Officer was just 13 when he started his work with the family, and he is now, at 90 years old still a part of the company.

Not only did Omega make shaving brushes and shaving sets, but they started with bristles, moved on to paint brushes, intervened with shaving brushes and ended with paint rollers, which were all part of the overall company plan.

Omega’s Greek letter trademark logo says it all as it means collections of items as well as greatness in number.

The company’s complete range of quality brushes in bristle, badger and synthetic fibers, which have been produced over the last 80 plus years, have been significant and varied.

Their products reach far beyond Italy as meticulous manufacturing processes and raw material selections have gained Omega respect throughout the world.

The Omega Shaving Brush #10048 is a good shaving brush at an affordable price and is a boar hair brush that is of high quality that is great for traveling and quick shaves.

It provides soft bristles for a close shave and is easy to hold with its chrome colored classically styled ABS handle. The brush is good for thick or coarse hair as well as for a luxurious massaging and exfoliating effects to the skin.

The firmer bristles make it easier to work lather into the beard past any long or coarse hairs. The top quality bristles are obtained from the finest boars in the German Black forest, which provide for good foaming action as well as retention of lather and hair firmness when the bristles are wet.

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Fairly large brush, yet lightweight
  • Go-to brush
  • Good rotation type brush
  • Dries fairly quickly
  • Good fit and finish
  • Usable with shave soaps and shave creams

Cons

  • Some bristle shedding
  • Bristles seem long
  • Easily scraped handle
  • Break-in time to remove boar bristle odor
Bottom line: Don’t let the low price fool you the Omega Pro 48 is definitely a keeper in our book. It has a fairly large brush that dries quickly plus it has a good finish, something that is very surprising from a brush at this price point. The low price point makes it very appealing as a daily driver sort of brush that you use and abuse without worrying about the cost.

Best Low Cost Shaving Brush

Omega Pro 49 – Slightly Shorter Slightly More Expensive

The Omega Pro 49 boar bristle shaving brush is an easy and less expensive way to initiate the wet shaving process, and it’s available in a number of colored faux-ivory handles.

The brush bristles are longer and firmer than usual and are made from natural boar hair that lathers well and are useful for exfoliating facial skin.

Its bristles are not as soft as badger hair but there is softening after a break-in period.

The brush has a good backbone, retains less water and is and is considerably larger than other shaving brushes, which helps in transforming harder soaps into denser and richer foams for face and bowl lathering.

If you are looking for a brush that is inexpensively priced, has a great backbone, long bristles, and holds a large amount of lather – this would be a great option.

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Good starter brush
  • Bristles hold the soap well
  • Large, yet not unwieldy or uncomfortable
  • Works well for face or bowl lathering

Cons

  • Stiff bristles (break-in period)
  • Holds less water
  • Plastic handle
  • Omega Sticker washes off
  • Some bristle shedding
  • Slight boar bristle odor
Bottom line: The Pro 49 is a slightly longer than the Pro 48, the choice between these two will depend on your preference. Since both of these are so cheap, you can buy them both and see which one fits your facial features the best. However, I must warn you that it has stiffer bristles which mean it will have a break-in period and it also has a slight odor.

Best Value for the Money Brush

Parker Pure Badger

The Parker Pure Badger Shaving Brush is of outstanding quality and utilizes pure badger in a wide and plush bristle head, which allows the brush to hold water in large amounts and produce a good lather and a comforting shave in a matter of minutes.

The brush is accompanied by a free drip/brush stand, which helps the brush to dry and preserve the life of the bristles. An eye-catching faux horn handle sets this brush apart from others and brings a classy look to the brush.

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • Moderately priced
  • Quality badger hair
  • Holds water well
  • Little to no shedding

Cons

  • Brush stand difficulties
  • Larger and heavier than appears
Bottom line: Parker not only makes decent safety razors but also shaving brushes. And this pure badger shaving brush is proof of that. It uses high quality badger bristles that has good water retention that provides a good lather. And priced at less than $30 it’s another great budget option.

Most popular shaving brush

Edwin Jagger Super Badger brush

This beautiful English medium-sized shaving brush is the perfect size and weight, and it contains super soft, yet not floppy, natural bristles.

The brush has a classic yet modern touch in its imitation ivory and ergonomically designed handle that is easy to hold and use.

The knot holds quality super badger hair that brings the perfect shave because of the soft and luxurious brush head backbone.

It generates good lather while retaining just the right amount of water to complete a full lather. The beard is softened and hair is lifted for a closer and longer lasting shave.

The Edwin Jagger Super Badger brush is determined as best in the “Most Popular Shaving Brush” category because the brush is well made, a good size, soft, but not floppy, and lathers well.

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • Soft but not floppy
  • Good lathering brush
  • Good water retention
  • Silky smooth bristles

Cons

  • Brush hair shedding
  • Smaller knot

Bottom line: This super badger brush is another great mid-priced option thanks to its soft natural bristles that retains heat well and products a great lather. The handle is great ergonomically – it’s easy to hold and use.

Best Travel Brush

FS (Frank Shaving) Travel Synthetic Brush

The FS Travel shaving brush is made of synthetic materials that are soft and similar to animal hair yet the brush is smaller and easier to care for and travel with because of its smaller loft, as opposed to the girth of larger and unwieldy brushes with natural hair.

This brush lathers well and is easily dried because of the synthetic fibers.

Storage is simple, with positioning the brush in the sturdy metal container it comes in and closing it.

Handle is smooth but it can be slipper in moist conditions. One trick that wet shavers use to prevent slippage is apply some alum on their fingers to make it sticky.

Though not as good at holding moisture as natural bristles, the brush dries out and stores quickly when you’re traveling.

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • Cleverly designed
  • Reasonably priced
  • Perfect size
  • Dries quickly
  • Smooth metal parts
  • Synthetic bristles soft, yet flexible

Cons

  • Some bristle loss
  • Density and softness issues
  • Moisture retention
Bottom line: This brush is a great option for frequent flyers because of its compact design and synthetic fibers that dries quickly. It only costs less than $30 so it’s a great affordable option.

Best Synthetic Shaving Brush

MÜHLE 39 K 257 Synthetic Shaving Brush

The MÜHLE 39 K 257 Synthetic brush utilizes the latest in synthetic “Silvertip Fibre” which is comparable to natural hair fibers in its quality, thickness and softness.

Everything about this brush screams quality from the bristles down to the handle. Muhle used premium resin ivory for it. It has a nice smooth finish and definitely screams classic with its cream finish.

The brush head is equivalent to natural silvertip badger, and brush users seem to think that the synthetic fiber performs just as well as natural hair.

Silvertip Fibre is extremely soft at the tip of the brush, and it is firmer and more stable than natural hair in the mid-section of the brush, which brings a soft sensation to facial skin and allows for density in the lathering process.

Vegan brush fibers are also easier to use as they produce creamier, thicker lather with the use of less soap.

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • Dries more efficiently
  • Comparable to natural hair bristles
  • Vegan Fibers – (produces creamier and thicker lather from small amount of soap or cream)
  • Very soft

Cons

Bottom line: The MÜHLE 39 K 257 made our list as the “Best Synthetic Brush” because of the high quality bristles that provide better performance compared to natural hair. It also dries faster and produces a richer lather with less soap usage.

Best High Performance Shaving Brush

WSP & Plisson “Monarch”

The WSP Monarch was designed to be the ultimate all-purpose shaving brush, and WSP is highly rated as America’s classic shaving brand.

This brush is versatile in that it can be use with a shaving soap or cream.

Unlike most cheap shaving brushes that come from China, this isn’t imported but is sourced locally in Arizona. It has the longest warranty in the industry at 1 year.

The brush itself is very dense thanks to the authentic “High Mountain White” badger hair that contains 30% more badger hair than other brands.

So this product is all about luxury and performance. WSP used ivory acrylic to make the handle that offers both durability and excellent grip.

The brush features a strong main backbone that can withstand pressure and force along with brush tips that softly caress the face.

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • High density knot
  • High performance
  • Holds moisture/not floppy
  • Exceptionally soft
  • Handcrafted and assembled in the United States
  • Backed by warranty (1-year)/returns accepted

Cons

  • High density knot may require additional soap
  • Some scritch (scratchiness)
  • Smaller than appears
  • Fairly expensive
Bottom line: The WSP & Plisson “Monarch” shaving brush is determined as best in the “Best High Performance Shaving Brush” category because of its all-purpose qualities as well as its strong backbone, high density knot, soft tips, and its warranty and money back guarantee.

Best “If-Price-Is-Not-an-Issue” Shaving Brush

Kent BLK12

The Kent BLK12 in silvertip is thought of as the finest luxury shaving brush available today.

This brush utilizes a large silver-tip brush along and smooth black barrel type handle that looks elegant with the “Kent” logo printed.

Kent has packed this brush with double the number of hairs of most shaving brushes and the feel of the brush and sturdy resin handle makes applying lather easy, comfortable and efficient.

Kent also provides a lovely red case (with gold accents) where you can store this beauty.

A few of the pros and cons of this top-rated product include:

Pros

  • Large, beautiful brush
  • Nice feel in the hand

Cons

  • Very Expensive
  • Long drying time
  • Heavy density of hairs that can shed
  • May hold excessive water and soap when lathering
Bottom line: The Kent BLK12 brush is one of the best in this category because of its size, comfy fit, soft silvertips quality and packaging.

Have you used any of these brushes? Do you have any recommendations? I’d like to hear from in the comments section below.