Brush Knots and Wetshaving

Brush knots and Wetshaving


If you are new to Wetshaving, the idea of having to use a brush to whip up your lather might sound strange. It is essential to getting the most out of your shaving experience. There are 4 different types of knots used in shaving brushes and just like anything in the wetshaving world; your mileage may vary. Some of you will prefer synthetic brushes to animal-sourced knots while others will prefer a Boar brush to a badger brush. I will explain the differences between the knots, as well as provide tips on picking out a brush, maintaining them, and how to store them.

Synthetic Knots

The first type of brush knot one may choose is a synthetic knot. As the name implies, the knots on these brushes are manufactured using polyester. These knots are perfect for those of you who are vegans. The knot comes with many advantages for starters and veterans. On top of being vegan friendly, these knots are usually inexpensive, require no presoaking to work effectively, no animal smell out of the box, dry quickly, require little effort to break in, and offer some serious customization. They may come in different colors, such as black with silvery white tips, black with red tips, completely black or even colored to look like an animal-sourced knot. However there are some downsides to these knots. One of the top complaints is that knot lacks backbone. This refers to stiffness of the knot. While current synthetic knots have been improved, some believe it cannot match feel of animal-sourced knots. Nonetheless, synthetic knots are a welcomed addition to any wetshaver’s den.

Boar Knots

Up next is the first of animal knots: Boar. Boar bristles are a common type of knot, being used by both newbies and veterans. Boar knots have an advantage over synthetic knots in that they have more backbone. However, Boar brushes may sometimes carry an animalistic odor to them out of the box and they often require a break period that could be months. They must also be presoaked before to use to get the most out of your shave and they are not vegan friendly. That said, Boar brushes tend to be fairly inexpensive, costing only a bit more than a synthetic brush. It is a small price to pay for those who want a relatively inexpensive alternative brush with more backbone. Once broken in, a boar knot can work up a seriously dense lather that rivals our next type of knots.

Badger Knots

Badger Knots are another type of animal-sourced brushes that can be used for wetshaving and oft considered the best type of knot. Badger knots are classed into 3 different types of knots. They are: Pure, Finest, and Silvertip. Pure is the starting class of the badger family, with a nice soft feel to it and a good backbone. Finest is an improvement in those areas and will run a slightly higher cost. Silvertip is the top of badger knots, with a luxurious feel and a premium cost for what is objectively the best knot.  Much like the boar knots, badger is not vegan friendly, may carry the animal’s scent for some time. Unlike the boar knots, they don’t require a presoak before use and can be broken in much quicker.

Horse Knots

Before I give you some tips, there is another type of animal-source knot worth mentioning, that being the horse knots. Horse knots are vegetarian friendly, but not vegan friendly. This is because the hairs for these knots are taken during the grooming of horses. They have a decent amount of backbone and are in the small ballpark of cost as boar brushes.

Tips for buying a brush

  • When looking for a starting brush, go for a synthetic, boar, or horse brush. These types of brushes are cost efficient and will last you for years with good care.
  • Badger brushes should only be considered once one has acquired experience in wetshaving.
  • Furthermore, the best choice for a badger knot brush is the Silvertip class. That said, this would be a costly investment. In my personal experience, cheap badger is bad badger. If you see a silvertip badger brush going for less than $100, the quality is questionable. DO NOT BUT IT!
  • Synthetic brushes are your only option if you are vegan. If you are vegetarian, horse is another option. Animals are killed for their fur and bristles that are required for both boar and badger.
  • Brush knots require a good cleaning from time to time to last for years. Depending on how often you use the brush, you will have to clean it more often.

o   To clean your brush, use some dish detergent or purchase a brush cleaner. Lather the brush with the detergent/cleaner and leave the lather in for a few hours, perhaps a day if possible. Rinse the lather after time has pasted and your brush should be rejuvenated. Doing so will increase the longevity of your brush.

  • Every knot will come to end after several years of use accumulate. One may depose of the knot and keep the handle if they so choose and place another knot into the handle.
  • To help further increase the lifespan of your brush knot, leave it hanging after use. This will help dry it quicker.
  • Some shaving soaps may contain vanillin, a compound found in vanilla bean extract. Vanillin in high amounts results in a dark brown soap and can dye the knots sourced from animals. To prevent this, use a synthetic knot.
  • It is not required but having a small collection of different knots and brushes would be helpful, as it adds longevity to your brushes and adds variety to your shaving ritual.  Some soaps are softer than others and thus a brush with a soft backbone would prevent loss of product where a firmer brush might throw some product out the container.
  • Lastly, there is no true best shaving brush. Sure you may have heard that silvertip badger is best brush but it may not the best for YOU. Wetshaving offers you a custom experience with the wide variety of soaps, aftershaves, razors and brushes you can select from. What works well for someone may not work for you and vise verse. It is best for you to find what kind of brush you enjoy and what you don’t. May your shaving ritual just for you and you alone.




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