Bristle Grade and Brush Information

Where do you get your shaving brushes and supplies from: We work directly with a variety of manufacturers in order to obtain parts and components to provide you with a diverse selection of products. Em's Place assembles and turns handles for some of the shaving brushes. Others are imported by Em's Place, primarily from Germany, England and Italy.  There are a few items that are made in other countries which are imported from our other vendors. Please note that brush hairs used in shaving brushes are sourced from China and badger is imported under an Import/Export permit from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What is the difference in brush hair grades: All of the shaving brushes will provide a lathery shave. However there are several different and distinct grades that determine price and performance. Em's Place has identified the bristle type on our web pages either by category or by badger bristle grade as identified in "quotations". Information in parenthesis is to help clarify our understanding of the various terms used in the marketplace. Please understand there is no universal standard and bristle grading can be subjective.

A) Synthetic bristles - Come in a faux boar nylon bristle or a faux badger synthetic fiber bristle and are alternatives to natural hair for making lather.

B) Hog bristles "boar" (aka pure bristle, white or sketched) - Stronger and thicker than badger hair. These bristles are not as flexible as the badger. When water comes into the hog-bristles they are not as elastic as badger hair and the user cannot make the shaving soap as creamy as he could do with a badger brush. That's why hog bristles are the least expensive class.

C) Standard Badger "dark solids" (aka dark badger) - This kind of hair is the under-hair of the badger. It is not as elastic as tapers for example. But it keeps it's flexibility much better than hog bristles. This hair is dark (nearly black) and has a cylindrical structure. That means each hair is the same thickness at both ends. They are typically machine clipped to shape unless noted otherwise.

D) Standard Badger "greys" (aka pure or grey badger) - This explanation is used for the hair from the tails and the back of the badger which has nearly the same structure as dark solids although it is from the upper-hair. This hair is more light than dark solids - nearly grey. They are typically machine clipped to shape unless noted otherwise.

E) Premium Badger "tapers" (aka fine or best badger) - This hair has the typical sketch on it (light-dark-light). It comes from the back of the badger and its structure is conical. That means that the tips are thinner than at the base of the hairs. This provides a softer feel while in use. Moreover it guarantees better foaming of the shaving soap. This hair is much more expensive because it is more rare than the types c) or d). These brushes are hand assembled or handmade.

F) Premium Badger "silver tips" (aka super badger) - This explanation is used for the neck hair only which is the softest, rarest and most expensive kind of badger hair. In the winter this neck hair gets extremely light tips. These brushes are hand assembled or handmade.

Note: It is important to understand that natural hair can vary slightly as to shading and attributes, even within the same category. Natural products will always have slight variations because they are not synthetics and this is considered a normal part of the product range.

For more details and pictures on this subject visit the Bristle Types and Additional Information page.

~ Video: How to Clean a Shaving Brush
What are some shaving tips? Moisten area to be shaved with warm water to soften hairs, wet brush, shake off some excess water, rotate brush over shaving soap and apply in a circular scrubbing motion to shaving area - the lather is created on your face and the brush should not be dripping water. You can control the amount of lather created by how much water remains in the brush, how much soap is applied to the brush and the scrubbing motion used on the shaving area.

Why does Em's Place promote glycerin soap? Our glycerin soap is made using only the finest ingredients and essential oils for a masculine scent and beneficial for skin care. It lathers well and provides a nice shave while rinsing clean. We have had a lot of positive comments on this soap formulated for all skin types, especially sensitive skin. Not only is it a good shaving soap, you can bathe and shower with it too!

Do I need a stand to hold my shaving brush with bristles facing down between use? I have heard both answers to this question, Yes and No. While it makes sense that a brush will last longer when excess water can drain out, I have also noticed that a well rinsed brush that is shaken of excess moisture does not have dripping water. However, a brush with the bristles facing down in a holder will provide you with the longest brush life. We feel a stand is especially beneficial for wood and metal handle brushes.

What about wooden handle brushes? Wooden handle brushes and razors are water resistant and will be long lasting when properly cared for. Wood is a personal favorite at Em's Place and is why you will see a variety of wooden handle selections to choose from. Wood has its own personality and will weather over time. Sometimes wood may discolor by the rim near the bristles, especially if well used and the hairs remain moist most of the time. A damp cotton swab can be dipped in bleach and swabbed on the wood around the rim occasionally where the bristles meet the handle to help cut down on discoloration and keep things fresh. You can also spiff things up and add back oils to the handle by using a polish, wax or oil safe for wood items - test a small area first to check results.

What about metal: Chrome, nickel, gold and brass finishes are popular products and are long lasting when properly taken care of. Golded items are not of a high grade gold unless specified otherwise. Generally, most finishes are platting over brass. Be sure to keep items dry between use. For example, keeping metal in the shower would not be a good idea. Sometimes metal may discolor by the rim near the bristles, especially if well used and the hairs remain moist most of the time. You can use a metal polish and old toothbrush if helpful to clean brush handles, razors, stands and so forth to freshen things up. Test the kind of polish on a small area first. We find the carnauba wax types to be gentle and multi-purpose. Toothpaste on an old toothbrush works well to gently scrub razor heads and parts that have been soiled by soap buildup. ~Additional info: Metal Items, Care and Cleaning - info

Brush care & which kind of brush - boar or badger? Both kinds of bristles will work up a lather and provide a good shave. Typically, boar is stiffer and may even be preferred by men with coarse hair or when extra scrubbing action is desired. Badger is more expensive and comes in different grades. Badger is generally softer and more flexible. Some hair loss is normal with the shaving brush lifestyle, however should not be unreasonable. A brush needs to be thoroughly rinsed of excess soap and shaken of excess water after use. A properly shaken brush will only be damp and not dripping with water. See the detailed explanation about bristle types above.

Do not expose to boiling water, pull or tug as this can weaken the hairs. Shake off excess water and store between use – preferably with the bristles facing down especially for wooden or metal handles. Leave in open air to dry and never enclose a damp brush for any extended time. Rinse the bristles in a mild borax solution once or twice a year and let thoroughly dry as this will help prevent mildew from attacking the hairs and give longer life to the brush. Another technique to help remove residue is to swish the bristles in a 20% vinegar to 80% water solution, rinse, massage cream rinse onto the bristles and rinse again.

How long will my brush last: I have heard from men who are in the replacement market and have brushes that lasted many years. Quality brushes will provide long lasting service. While manufacturer defects are rare, we work with companies that problem solve any manufacturer defects that may occur after after purchase. There are many different grades and quality of brush, and each user will take care of it in a different way. In general, boar hair tends to have the most breakage and shedding with the shortest useful life. For badger, the higher the bristle grade the less hair breakage and shedding together with the longest useful life. A well cared for brush should provide you with many years of useful service.

Shave, Rinse and Enjoy!
Find out information about the craftsmanship and anatomy of a brush