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Other things you will need

When we described the shaving process we mentioned two essential items – the shaving brush and shaving soap or cream.

A brush is essential for two main reasons. Firstly it helps to make a much richer lather than can be made with just your hands. This means that the entire beard hair is covered in the lather and thus is lifted from the skin making it easier for the blade to cut through the hair. This enables you to get a close shave without irritating your skin. Secondly, the motion of the brush helps to exfoliate the skin by removing any dead skin and dirt that has built up in the beard. Dry skin can clog the blade making it more difficult to get an even action across the face.

Shaving brushes come in two types – there are those made with synthetic bristles and those made with animal hair, the most popular being badger hair. Brushes made with synthetic bristles are generally cheaper and can feel rougher on the skin. They also tend not hold as much water as natural brushes so it can take longer to build up a lather. Some travel brushes, however, deliberately use synthetic hair as it dries more quickly. Badger hair conversely actually soaks up water instead of repelling it making it perfect for making the thick lather required for wet shaving.

There are different types of badger hair used to make brushes – the difference between them is in the quality of the hair itself. The most common is pure badger. This hair comes from the body of a badger. It is coarser due to the thickness of the hair shaft and also because the hairs are often trimmed to make them fit into the base of the brush removing the natural tip of the hair. It usually varies in colour from a pale tan to a darker brown along the hair. Brushes made from pure badger are generally at the cheaper end of the spectrum. Best badger brushes are made generally from hair from the underbelly of the badger where the hair is longer and of better quality. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between pure and best badger brushes. It usually depends on whether the hairs have been trimmed to fit or placed in the base of the brush. Super badger hair is taken from the back of the badger. It has the distinctive dark mid- section and white tip. The hair is finer and has a tapered end making it feel much softer. The hair is generally placed tightly together into the base of the brush thus giving it a thick, dense feel. Silvertip badger hair is the rarest of all. It comes from the neck of the badger where the hair is very soft and pliable. Care needs to be taken with both the super badger hair and the silvertip badger brushes because the fragile hair can be easily damaged.

Whatever brush you choose you will need to take care of it if you are to get the best from it and ensure it lasts for many years. You should rinse the brush thoroughly in clean water after each time you use it to remove all traces of soap. Then gently squeeze or flick the brush into the sink to get rid of any excess water and allow it to dry in the open air. If possible hang the brush in a stand hair down so that any remaining water does not collect in the base of the brush.

The other essential item is a traditional shaving soap or cream. These are different from the foams and gels commonly used with cartridge razors, which are typically full of air and do not provide the necessary lather required for a traditional wet shave. They are generally alcohol based and use synthetic ingredients which can dry out the skin. A shaving soap or cream which contains quality ingredients and oils will soften the beard hair, protect and lubricate the skin and provide a smooth surface for the razor to glide over.

Shaving soaps and creams come in a variety of fragrances which can be combined with aftershave balms and aftershaves to add to the overall wet shave experience. We stock a number of shaving creams and soaps from a number of different manufacturers at SMOOTH SHAVING all of which we know to be of a high quality.