This picture shows bristle flexibility and bristle types. Equal pressure was applied to each brush in this demonstration. The average for badger "bloom" is three to four inches with larger brushes having a wider bloom diameter.
Heat from warm water and lather is maintained in the bristles internal socket and the higher the bristle grade, the more pronounced these qualities are. Boar is stiffer and does not have the same characteristics as the badger. The order of bristle grades shown here reflect the order for price ranges starting from most economical and going to most expensive.
For more detailed information review the brushes FAQ and Anatomy of a Brush web pages and the additional information below.
Please Note: These are only examples as different brush sizes will yield different measurements and bristle shades can vary from batch to batch due to natural material.
Bristle Sourcing: As a company dealing in badger brushes the question about the source for badger hair comes up quite often. We have had conversations about this with many of the manufacturers we work with. Mr.Philip Watterson, former Managing Director, Progress Shaving Brush (Vulfix) Ltd provided us with what we consider excellent information on this subject, and is our basic understanding within the industry. He said this information could be shared as necessary and we think it would be educational here...
"Badger hair is imported from China. British, American and Canadian Badger are of no interest to brush manufacturers and cannot be connected with today's limited trade. China being the main export of Badger hair does so with very strict control on the amount exported each year, clearly displaying their awareness of environmental conservation. The Badger population is carefully monitored avoiding any decrease in its numbers. (It should be remembered that the badger is a source of meat to the Chinese people and is available in the markets). Chinese Badger are collected from the wild and are not in contravention of the Washington Treaty of Endangered Species."
"This has been an industry for the people of China for hundreds of years and it should be remembered that an increase in the Badger population would quickly be regarded as vermin and a pest to agriculture. The high prices paid for Badger hair, its removal being a costly operation, means that any significant growth predicted in its demand has little foundation. Such an expensive product will never be part of the mainstream fashion boom. Britain, Europe and America all operate very strict import controls ensuring that any Badger hair brought into these countries is done so with all legislative agreements being strictly adhered to. The ecologists in both the exporting and importing communities of Badger hair have created a system preserving the Badger, an important source of livelihood for hundreds of years in the Far East and ensuring that a small market does exist, creating valuable work in an industry which dates back to the time when wet shaving was first recorded."
In addition, sometimes a customer has mentioned hearing that badger are sheared like sheep and ask if this is true? Mr. Watterson indicated that from his vantage point badger are not sheared like sheep. Em's Place has never heard that from any of the other brush makers we communicate with either. In regard to boar brushes, our understanding is those bristles are primarily sourced from China, India and Russia.
Bristle Variances: Bristles for the different grades are gathered from different parts of the body as explained on the brushes Faq page. It is important to understand that badger hair can vary slightly even within the same category due to factors such as region, climate, health, age, time of year and other situations that play a part in this process. Natural products will always have slight variations because they are not synthetics. The highest grade in the silver tips category is what we refer to as upland or colder region badger (also sometimes referred to by a geographical region). These bristles are typically more stout and have tips with more lightness - as certain regions or upland areas are colder and can produce this grade of bristle which is more expensive.
Further, brush makers use considerable care and attention when grading and sorting the badger bristles used. This process aids in the consistency of bristle knots from one maker to another, taking into consideration these natural variance factors.