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Badger brushes, are they really that good?

I have been using an Edwin Jagger badger brush for a while. It seems to perform okay, and the lather I get works well. But I never got the mountains of lather that I see on some posts here. I do get some nice lather on the sides of the bowl. I had chalked that up to my inexperience. Today, I was experimenting and I used my Fendrihan synthetic brush, which had been idle for a while. Both brushes were in the $30 range. Amazingly, the synthetic whipped up tremendous amounts of dense lather. I was able to make my brush look like a whipped up soft ice cream cone - as seen on some posts here.

A little research and I learned that some major shaving companies like Proctor and Gamble (owner of The Art of Shaving) and others have banned badger brushes. While the badgers are not killed to get their hair, they are kept in inhumane conditions. Given the performance of my synthetic brush, is there any reason to use the badger brush?

I'm not suggesting that this website change its name to polyester & blade, but I would like to hear both sides of the argument.
 
There are fans of badger hair brushes and there are fans of synthetic hair brushes. Of course, there are fans of both as well. Not to mention there are fans of boar hair brushes and also fans of horsehair brushes. As with pretty much all things shaving related, there's no one right way/answer. Instead, find what you like and what works for you.
 
Although it may be possible to catch, anaesthetize, and shave a badger, leaving it ready to regrow its coat and enjoy the fullness of badgerhood, my understanding is that they are given a more efficient treatment, step one of which is death. I understand the animal cruelty issue, but there are plenty of other examples, like Le Big Mac.

Badger brushes run the gamut from meh to superlative. Of course what you find meh might be superlative to me and vice versa. Personally I like my little silvertip Kent BK4. It is supremely soft, and I do not find it as floppy as I do some larger brushes. For about 1/6 the price you can get a Simpson T2 synthetic, about the same size, almost as soft on the face, and a little more backbone. I love it, too.

With regard to lather, I do not want it to look like mounds of whipped cream. I want it to be thick enough and slick enough to cushion and lubricate without clogging the razor. Any more is wasteful and undermines the business of shaving IMO. The Readi-whip look-alikes may photograph well, but I do not want to shave with them.

If what you have is easily making the sort of lather you want and it feels good on your face, if it happens to be your badger, great. If it falls short in some way, I'd try a synthetic. The T2 is highly recommended. If you decide to keep searching for the badger that tics all your boxes, it may be an expensive search.
 
For me - Badger rules!!
They hold more water and heat than any other type of brush IMO.
Great face feel given the right Badger of course.
I see they are starting to steer away from it so it may be time to source some great knots before they are no longer available.
 

ackvil

Moderator
Guys don't forget the Terms of Use of B&B.

Artice 12. Badger & Blade is not the appropriate medium to discuss save the whales/badgers type posts. We are a community of wet shavers, not a soap box for ethical debates. Therefore, discussion of the ethics of any product can/will be removed from the boards by the Moderation Team of Badger and Blade.
 
This post was intended to discuss the performance of badger vs. synthetic. The cruelty to badgers is an aside and it would be fair to strike that portion and leave the rest.
 

SharpieB

Contributor
Badger over synthetic every time for me. I have about 20 badger brushes and 10 synthetics. Rarely is a synth brush better than a badger in my case.
 
I have yet to find a Synth that matches the feel of a badger or even harder - that matches a boar for that matter.

Yes they work, yes they are soft right out of the box but missing out on breaking in a nice Italian/Portuguese boar? Not for me!

The downside of badger is finding the right one for you can be a pricy journey due to the various grades/hair treatments/build qualities.
 
I had just used synthetic and boar brushes. I liked them both. Then I got a Rudy Vey badger in the recent group buy.
I've barely used anything else since then. Soft but lots of backbone. The boars seem floppy to me now.
I would warrant, if you got a good quality badger, you'd be impressed.
 

Ice-Man

Moderator Emeritus
Badger all the way followed by horse then boar then synthetic seeing I only have 4 or 5 synthetics
 
My preference is unequivocally badger. I own 2 omega boar brushes and they definitely have a place when I use soaps which require great agitation off a hard puck. No way can face feel of a boar compare to badger IMHO.
I also own a few synthetics which I use with soaps that contain a high amount of vanilla which artesians warn might stain a badger brush.
Of the three materials I definitely prefer badger.
 
I have been using an Edwin Jagger badger brush for a while. It seems to perform okay, and the lather I get works well. But I never got the mountains of lather that I see on some posts here. I do get some nice lather on the sides of the bowl. I had chalked that up to my inexperience. Today, I was experimenting and I used my Fendrihan synthetic brush, which had been idle for a while. Both brushes were in the $30 range. Amazingly, the synthetic whipped up tremendous amounts of dense lather. I was able to make my brush look like a whipped up soft ice cream cone - as seen on some posts here.

A little research and I learned that some major shaving companies like Proctor and Gamble (owner of The Art of Shaving) and others have banned badger brushes. While the badgers are not killed to get their hair, they are kept in inhumane conditions. Given the performance of my synthetic brush, is there any reason to use the badger brush?

I'm not suggesting that this website change its name to polyester & blade, but I would like to hear both sides of the argument.
Some badger brushes are amazing, some are just OK. Im personally of the mind that synthetics are to the point where you dont really need a natural hair brush anymore but some people love tradition and will only buy a natural badger or boar brush.
About the treatment of badgers, its always been my understanding that badger hair comes from wild badgers in China who are considered to be pests and are killed for that reason and for food. Yes, they are killed for their hair but its not as if they are kept in cages their entire life.
To me, if they are going to be killed anyway, at least their meat is eaten and their hair is used for shaving brushes, so its not a complete waste.
 
I have an assortment of synthetics from all over the spectrum and have yet to find one I like more than virtually any badgers or boars in my collection. To me, using a synthetic is like kissing a sibling; it's just a formality. I use synthetics when I travel. I don't hate them, they're just uninspiring.
 
I think my synth produces lather more efficiently and effectively than either my badger or boar brushes. But I hate the way it releases water and how it feels on my face. It's soft but ... idk.

So like others have said, I use it when I travel. But never at home.

If you want the lather then imo synthetic is the way to go. Just not for me (yet).
 

SgtCrppls

Contributor
I have one synthetic a Simpson’s Chubby 2, I think it is one of the best synthetic’s made, but nothing compares to using my badger, boar 🐗 or Horse brushes, for making lather, bowl lathering or face lathering.
 
I'm going on the record as a synth fan. A bit more experimenting. And while I am not happy with the way the badger lathers, I now find that it retains the scent from the last soap. I washed it out thoroughly, running it against the sides and bottom of a clean scuttle with lots of hot water. And while the water runs clear and while I take my time, the scent remains. I think this is because of the absorbent properties of the badger hair. And while I don't have the most expensive badger brush, from what I've seen so far I won't go out and spend the big bucks for a better badger brush.
 
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