Best Shaving Brushes

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
65 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best shaving brushes

Last Updated November 2019

A shaving brush is more than an old-fashioned way to apply shaving cream – it’s a reliable tool for soothing and moisturizing skin and lifting hairs for a close, wet shave. A shaving brush is also useful for creating a lather and gently exfoliating the skin.

Though all shaving brushes are used the same way, they vary in the quality of the hair and handle style. Some people prefer the coarseness of boar hair, while others like the soothing feeling of an extra-soft badger hair brush. Brushes with a large knot and higher loft offer the softest experience, but they tend to be more expensive. Though most shaving brushes are quite affordable, lower-quality brushes may shed with frequent use.

A shaving brush is one tool that you may use every day for several years, so it’s important to find a well-crafted one that suits your preferences. Continue reading our shopping guide to learn more about the different styles of shaving brushes. When you’re ready to buy, check out our top recommendations, too.

While some shaving kits may include a brush, the best way to find a high-quality shaving brush is to purchase one separately.

Key considerations

Do you really need a shaving brush when it’s easy enough to apply shaving cream with your hands? That depends on the shaving experience you want. You can use a shaving brush to apply water to your face without having to splash it on with your hands. If you’re using lather, a brush can whip air into it to create a fluffier texture, which means you can use less lather with every shave. A shaving brush is also an easy way to apply cream or lather to your face without getting your hands messy.

The brush hair, loft height, and handle weight all major factors in the feel and function of a shaving brush. If you have sensitive skin, you should consider a softer brush that’s less likely to cause irritation. If you’re looking for gentle exfoliation, a coarser brush may be best for you.

Brush hair type

Synthetic, boar, horse, or badger? Choosing the shaving brush hair can be confusing, especially when you start looking at the different grades available for each type of hair. However, the hair on most shaving brushes varies in one significant way: coarseness.

Synthetic: These bristles are usually made of nylon and are more durable than animal hair. In addition, synthetic hair is the least expensive and is well suited to men with allergies or men who’d prefer not to use animal products. However, many people find synthetic brushes uncomfortably stiff.

Boar hair: This coarser option excels at whipping up a fluffy lather. In addition, boar hair is typically affordable. Boar hair may be stiff at first, but it can soften over time.

Horsehair: This is a good middle ground between boar hair and badger hair when it comes to softness and price. Though horsehair shaving brushes are less popular, they are available in a wide range of colors.

Badger hair: This is the most expensive choice, known for its softness and classic look. Badger hair comes in four grades. Pure badger hair is the least expensive and stiffest grade. The best and super grades are progressively softer. The most expensive grade of badger hair is silvertip, which gets its name from its distinctive color.

Loft and knot size

A shaving brush’s loft and knot size can determine the overall feel and add to the softness or firmness of the bristles, also known as the “backbone.” Some people with coarse facial hair prefer a firm backbone.

Loft: The loft is the length of the hair, which is an additional factor in determining softness. Longer loft feels softer on your face. The loft of most brushes is around 50mm (2.0 inches).

Knot: The knot size is the diameter of the base of the brush, where the bristles are held in place. Most knots measure around 20mm (0.8 inch). Like a longer loft, a wider knot indicates a softer brush.

Brush shape

The shape of the bristles determines how the brush comes in contact with your face and how the lather is applied.

Bulb brushes have a rounded shape and are the most common.

Fan brushes have hairs of equal length in a fan shape.

Flat top brushes have edges that allow you to precisely apply lather.

Hybrid brushes are a blend of bulb and fan shapes.

EXPERT TIP

Water is one of the most important elements in a good shave. Soak your shaving brush so it can transfer moisture to your face for the best possible shave.


Staff  | BestReviews

Shaving brush features

Aside from the brush hair, there are a few other considerations that can improve your overall comfort when shaving.

Handle

Style: There’s no “right” handle shape when it comes to shaving brushes, but you might find some to be more comfortable than others. The handle should fit the size of your hand and feel comfortably balanced. Most importantly, you should be able to grip the handle well. Some shapes include inverse tulip, which has a round base and narrower top, Persian jar, emillion, chubby, beehive, and urn.

Material: If you have other shaving tools, such as a brush stand or safety razor, you might want to find a shaving brush with a handle that matches your other tools. Common materials include wood (often pine, ash, or cherry), horn, plastic, glass, resin, ceramic, and metal. Some materials like glass and ceramic can be fragile, while some people find plastic uncomfortably light.

DID YOU KNOW?

You can use your shaving brush to build up lather in a shaving bowl or save a step and lather directly on your face.

Shaving brush prices

Inexpensive: Entry-level shaving brushes with synthetic or boar bristles are available for $10 to $20. While brushes in this range will work, they’re prone to shedding and may not last more than a couple of years.

Mid-range: These brushes cost from $20 to $60 and may have low- to high-grade badger hair and handles of metal or wood. These brushes should last you for several years.

Expensive: Shaving brushes that cost from $60 to $100 almost always have high-grade badger hair and well-constructed handles made of wood, horn, or other materials with a satisfying feel and good balance.

EXPERT TIP

Animal hair tends to absorb moisture better than synthetic hair.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

To produce a frothy lather, you’ll need a shaving brush, shaving soap, and shaving bowl.

  • Wet your face with warm water using the brush.
  • Fill the bowl with warm or hot water and soak the brush for one minute.
  • Shake excess water off the brush and set the brush aside for now.
  • Soften the soap with some hot water.
  • Empty the shaving bowl except for a small amount of water.
  • Move the brush on the soap in a circular motion.
  • Swirl the brush in the water in the shaving bowl to start building the lather. Continue swirling until most of the large bubbles disappear and the lather thickens.
  • Gently brush the lather onto your face, dipping the brush in the shaving bowl as necessary.

Other products we considered

While our top recommendations are excellent brushes, there are some other high-quality brushes available, including some that use higher-grade badger hair. We love the Parker Safety Razor 100% Silvertip Shaving Brush for its extremely soft bristles that rarely shed. Customers like the softer backbone and the classy faux-horn handle. The included plastic stand is also a nice perk. For a more budget-friendly brush, the Vikings Blade Luxury Shaving Brush has the signature softness of classic silvertip badger bristle but with synthetic hair and a heavy faux-ivory handle. Customers like the firm backbone and the hefty weight. The brush retains moisture and holds up well.

Use your shaving brush to create your preferred lather consistency, whether that’s fluffy, heavy, or thin.

FAQ

Q. Do all shaving brushes shed?
A.
Even high-quality badger brushes will shed for the first several shaves, but after a dozen or so uses the shedding will generally stop. Lower-quality brushes may continue to shed, however.

Q. How long should a shaving brush last?
A.
Most shaving brushes should last two to three years, but high-quality brushes may last as long as a decade.

Q. How and when should I clean my shaving brush?
A.
You should clean your brush before the first time you use it and after around six months to a year. Pet shampoo or diluted dishwashing detergent can be used to remove bacteria, oil, and dirt from the brush without harming the bristles.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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