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The 2015 Badger & Blade Awards – Shaving Brush Over $150

2015 Winner – Shaving Brush Over $150

Pearlescent Grey Plisson No 12, High Mountain White $256

SB150Winner

Around eight or so years ago, two banded badger brushes became all the rage. Since they were marketed as uncommon, the assumption was they were special and in some way superior to three branded shaving brushes. In short order, three branded shaving brushes were largely dismissed as inferior, which simply put, is not the case. In fact, the most desirable attributes of a shaving brush have little to do with the appearance and are all about performance; the feel against your face, the speed at which lather is created, how the lather flows from the brush to your face, and so on. I had to find out the hard way that many of these two banded “super special” grades of hair, weren’t in fact special at all. Plisson isn’t immune as for me, their two banded High Mountain White falls into this category as well.

150-2So what makes a good shaving brush? Well – it’s actually not that complicated, technical or exotic:

  1. Soft tips. The softer the better and be damned if anyone convinces you otherwise. Leave exfoliation to an exfoliating facial scrub, but it’s not the job of a shaving brush… that is, unless you’re into using a screwdriver as a hammer. They don’t work as well to generate lather, they waste product and frankly, they’re not as luxurious. Can they be fun? For sure and they definitely have a place in one’s collection to change things up, but the best? No. Just like wristwatches the size of wall clocks, it’s a fad… eventually people will come around full circle. Go for the softest tips possible and swaddle your face in a pillow of silky luxury.
  2. Speed at building lather. Cranking away at a cake of soap and loading it to death, then fighting the darned thing against a lathering bowl is so 2010. Get with the times fellas. If your brush doesn’t create shaving suitable lather in less than 10 seconds, it’s time for a change. You’ll see an endless “use more product” and “work your brush more” as responses to folks struggling to build better lather. While it is true, more product and brushwork will often prevail – it shouldn’t have to be that hard, and you shouldn’t have to use much product. These are good techniques to make overly dense/stiff brushes perform well, but the best shaving brushes should be ridiculously forgiving to use, and quick and easy at generating lather. Why else would you part with a bag of cash for a premium brush? Looking fancy isn’t a good answer.
  3. Lots of flex to the shaft of the badger hair. I can sense the sneers and jeers as some of the “needs to be stiffer than an iron bar” crowd read this, but it’s true. To get lather from the brush, to your face, the hair needs to be flexible and open up and let the lather move from the core of the knot to your face. Having a fist full of lather in a brush that doesn’t let any of it out is entirely useless. Flexible shafts also allow the brush to feel even softer than it is, as instead of forcing the tip of the hair against your face with full force, it splays against your face, and distributes the force across your face, instead of into it. While some may use the infamous F-word and call these brushes floppy, I say so what? Call them whatever you want, they make the best lather, they put the most lather on your face and they feel the softest. Checkmate.
  4. Balance and ergonomics. If it feels like a brick in your hands or is strangely weighted, it detracts from the overall experience. For instance, the Pils Silvertip badger brush is phenomenal, the hair being every bit as spectacular as the three banded Plisson High Mountain White, but the overly weighted handle is too cumbersome and awkward. Just like a fine sports car, balance matters – especially when a well maintained shaving brush can last decades.
  5. Luxury. At the end of the day, wetshaving is all about this one word. An excellent brush needs to exude luxury and offer a first class experience every time and nothing does this more than incredibly soft badger. Modern synthetics however, are coming terribly close.

 

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The Plisson in three-banded high mountain white excels in all five categories and never disappoints. With best face feel in the industry, outstanding heat retention (tested with probes – more on this in the 2016 brush buyers guide), excellent performance and an added bonus of coming from a classic firm with a deep history, Plisson offers the ultimate experience, for the purist and collector alike.

 

 

Highs:

  • Unsurpassed luxury
  • Tremendous lather, with minimal product
  • Outstanding heat retention
  • Puts the lather where you want it… on your face

Lows:

  • Nowadays anything over $150 for a brush is excessive, especially when last years winner under $150 offers a startlingly similar experience.
  • Handle materials on some of Plisson’s shaving brushes, like the “burlwood” are hollow and feel incredibly cheap, which for a brush this expensive, is downright offensive.

You can purchase a Pearlescent Grey Plisson in HMW here. Make sure you mention you’re a member of Badger & Blade for a 20% discount!

Joel

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