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Did Conditioner Ruin My Boar Brush?

I shampooed my Semogue 810 and applied cheap Kirkland hair conditioner and now it does not absorb water and kills lather in no time. I washed it again with Dawn dish detergent and did a brief soak in dilute white vinegar and it still doesn’t develop lather and the weak lather it does produce is gone before my first pass.
After several tries I am about ready to toss this brush. Any suggestions for fixing this disaster? My Simpson Trafalgar 1 synthetic runs circles around this ailing Semogue.


Ask me about shaving naked!
You might try several lathers with brush cleaning soap or a pure coconut oil cream or soap like MdC. If all fails, you might give the bristle ends a quick rinse in ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, though I’ve never tried this as I haven’t had the problem. Rinse well with water afterwards.
Have a look if the conditioner has any silicone oils in it. If so stop using it, ideally for all applications.

My 610 was full of soap residue but a quick soak in water and dish soap brought back to normal.
I'll admit my experience with boar brushes is only a few years and only with three brushes. That noted I have not had any problems with breaking them in simply by using them. I have two inexpensive boar brushes (Wilkinson Sword and Omega 10005) and one more expensive one; cherry Semogue Owner's Club.

I've been using the Omega for a while now. If I let it dry out for two days it's pretty stiff. If I use it every day it stays more flexible. By the end of a shave, all of them are quite flexible. They all build excellent lathers.

All I do is presoak the brush in a cupful of warm water for about 10 minutes when I'm getting things out to have a shave. It just doesn't seem like a problem in search of a solution to me, but I recognize that others may have different experience.

I'd say to the OP just wash it out, let it dry for a couple of days, and then start simply using it. At first you may need to use up a lot of soap to get the brush back in tune, but that's a good excuse to use up that soap that you don't like all that much. What does a "broken in" boar feel like? Good question. Mine are all just as stiff now as they were when I bought them, but they soften up with water and use. I'm OK with that, since it's what I wanted anyway.

For anyone looking to break in or get the animal smell out of a brush:

DO: Use it normally or test lather it a few times
DON'T: Try any other method.

These posts are from years ago, but I'm guessing @Rudy Vey or @ChiefBroom or any other brush maker would agree.

Guys, a word of warning about the bad habit of soaking a brush overnight!
I just got an email from a customer who soaked his brand-new brush with a wooden handle overnight in water. Although the wood was resin stabilized, it is not meant to be soaked in water for a long period of time, like over night. The hair or bristles act as wicks and will soak water up and into the depth of the knot and eventually into the handle material. The stabilized wood is pretty much impervious to water and moisture in the normal use, i.e. soaking the hair in water prior to a shave while you take a shower - I do the same - does not do any harm.
There is absolutely no need to soak a brush over night! If you afraid your hair knot might be a bit dirty, don't worry too much. Just do a hand lather with a soap or cream a couple of times and you are fine! The knots are sterilized. I never understood why some guys soak brushes over night. As I said already, there is no need for it.

Any natural material, i.e. wood, horn, ivory etc can be harmed - I had a guy once destroying his brand new ivory brush by soaking it overnight in water as well because he had read it on shaving forum.

None of the big companies, like Simpson, Shavemac, Rooney, Kent etc do recommend this anywhere!!

Edit: There is also right now a discussion in the Shaving brushes forum, and someone posted a link to a discussion we had before on this issue, thought it cannot be wrong to put this in here, too:

A warning! - http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php/248708

This is a post in regards to breaking in a new brush "to get the funk out" - please see also the following post:

What not to do with your Parker Pure Badger Rosewood Brush - http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php/248622-What-not-to-do-with-your-Parker-Pure-Badger-Rosewood-Brush

People, people, please, please do not soak brushes overnight in water, with or without soap (dish soap, shampoo, shave cream).
There is no reason to do so, absolutely not.

I highly advise not to do this with any natural material: wood, horn, ivory etc. These materials are prone to soak up water that will eventually destroy the material. I also would not do this to any resin as well, just to be safe.

I have no clue why this was recommended anyhow here.

In my stash of brushes from Simpson, Rooney, Saville Row, Thaeter, Shavemac and TGN knot in my own handles, M&F, Semogue there was not one brush that stank, smelled or had an unpleasant, i.e. animalic scent! I am going through a lot of knots in a year, and not one knot smells - believe me I often hold them to my nose just to see if I can detect any unpleasant scent.

Here is what I recommend to do:
* soak your brush knot for a few minutes in warm (!) water
* lather up with soap/cream etc in your hand
* rinse the lather out
* repeat a couple of times

Use a good scented soap or cream, I normally use Salter's Vetiver cream or QED Sandalwood soap. More than three times should not be needed to get any scent out of a knot (swine's hair might be different, but I do not own a boar brush).
I actually had an ivory brush crack on a guy who followed the recommendation of soaking a brush overnight.


"Self appointed king of Arkoland"
@TrivQuad : just go back to using it. Everyday till it fixes itself.

Or speed along the process of removing whatever residue is in it by soaking for 5ish minutes, lathering it up with some cheap soap, and repeat until you are happy with it.

That's just my 3¢ worth my friend. But don't toss it. It'll come around.


Slays On Fleek - For Rizz
I did this to a Srmogue when I was new here. I just kept lathering dawn with it every other day and it came back. Best of luck.
At least I can be a cautionary tale. I read somewhere here that conditioner was the right thing to do, “but I am two and twenty and oh, ’tis not true, not true.”
People have tried all sorts of things over my years here.

Soaking in lather or dish soap for days on end. Putting them in the fridge. Rubbing them on sandpaper. Using conditioners and animal shampoos. They all risk damage to your brush.

Hopefully your brush will bounce back. Test lather, rinse, completely dry (24-48 hrs) and then repeat the process a few times.
May I suggest that you start using another brush to shave with, but still lather that brush up at the same time each morning. Rinse it our thoroughly at the same time as the brush you are using and allow it to dry out until the next day. I'm guessing it will return to normal in about a week. Do it every other day if you run short of time or want it to dry more thoroughly.
Try a soak in some higher pH water. Teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and see if that helps. If your heading the right direction the bristle will feel different during the rinse. I've done this with gelled boars. It took the slimyness from treating it away.
I'm thinking that brush can probably be rehabilitated. Many hair conditioners have silicone in them to give hair shine. It coats the hair and that might be your problem. Silicone can usually be stripped with isopropyl alcohol. Your brush may need some agitation to get the silicone off.
I agree with what everyones posted so far, I think its a matter of slowly rinsing the conditioner out of the hollow bristles and things still (hopefully) return to normal. Good luck, let us know how you make out.
Speaking as a guy with naturally curly hair, the easiest way to reverse the effects of conditioner would be to shampoo the brush out, something like Mane and Tail works great, but any shampoo should work, and then dry the tips with a rough towel and hit the whole thing with a hair dryer (things I would NEVER do to my own hair). Then just make lather on a daily basis with the brush until it starts working again.
Speaking as a guy with naturally curly hair, the easiest way to reverse the effects of conditioner would be to shampoo the brush out, something like Mane and Tail works great, but any shampoo should work, and then dry the tips with a rough towel and hit the whole thing with a hair dryer (things I would NEVER do to my own hair). Then just make lather on a daily basis with the brush until it starts working again.
Explane, why use rough towel? why heat brush with hair dryer?
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