How to use a Badger shaving brush

Discussion in 'Shaving Brushes' started by iamsms, May 19, 2017.

  1. iamsms

    iamsms Video Assistant Referee

    New Jersey, USA
    The question is a 'less' newbie than it seems. (And sorry for the long post)

    I am not the most experienced when it comes to traditional shaving (2.5 yrs only) or using Badger brushes. Currently I have two shavemac 2 Bands(24 and 26mm), one L&L 2 band (26mm), one AoS, One LS 30mm. In the past I have used a Thater, a Chubby 2.

    I prefer using a more yogurt like lather with tons of water as opposed to thick and creamy lather. My lather I assume is wetter than most folks( At least that's the idea I got from watching numerous shaving videos: I use more water than almost all of them: except may be a guy called Caleb who does straight razor shaving videos). And I make sure that the layer of lather that's touching my face is well lubricated, not just the top layer.

    Now, I have read that we are supposed to use paint brush like strokes with Badger brushes as circular strokes with pressure will damage the knot. I don't follow this principle with Boar (I love boar!) or synthetic (I like synthetic) - I practically abuse those brushes to make sure the lowest layer of lather is hydrated as well (If I run my finger over the lather to remove it, no soap residue is visible on skin).

    I am having trouble achieving this kind of lather with badger brushes with paint brush strokes only. If I don't use some pressure with circular strokes, my lather isn't uniformly hydrated: the top looks shiny and wet but the layer that's touching my face isn't. If I do the 'run my finger over lather' test, I see soap residue is left.

    Now, please help me understand what am I doing wrong/ thinking wrong. Don't be afraid to criticize my technique/understanding !! After all, it is Friday.
    Nishy likes this.
  2. halvor

    halvor Esquire

    I'm by no means an expert, but I guess the number one reason to use badger over boar, horse, synth etc is the combination of backbone and soft tips. You'll seldom hear anyone talk of "a wall of boar" or the word plush in relation to boar etc, and when you hear people praising synths it is often coined in badger terms, i.e it is so good because it emulates badgers. What I'm meaning to say is that it's not the lather building capabilities per se that makes badgers so popular. That said,

    That said, it's fully possible to achieve as slick a lather with badgers, but you may have to look at the way you load and build, and there are difference in flow through between badger brushes. You need to find YOUR ideal knot to loft to density combo.

    Btw, have you tried Eufros Tallow? No matter what I do with it, the lather turns out slick as an Italian casanova and shinier than 925 Sterling.
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
  3. iamsms

    iamsms Video Assistant Referee

    New Jersey, USA
    I haven't, yet. But Eufros will be the next soap I buy. My number one enabler in wet shaving praises Jabonman each time we chat over pm.
  4. R181

    R181 Forum GOD!

    I use a combination of painting and circular strokes to face lather no matter the type of brush used. Yes, I like a thicker well hydrated lather and add water slowly till I get it where I want it. I use the dry method described in this vid. I do not soak my brushes just swish them in water and shake the excess out. I also shave with cold water and that does not seem to hinder lather production either.


  5. Nishy

    Nishy Forum GOD! Staff Member

    I can definitely relate to your lather preference and issues. I have to use circular, as well as paint brush strokes to achieve the lather type you describe. I like to finish with a candy sheen from the surface of my lather. I only add a little pressure to the tips, if the brush serves well it should not hold the best lather at the base of the knot. Incidentally I prefer bulbs over fans (even thought I appreciate a fan ergonomically presents lather at the tips more readily) because I find a greater amount of lather remains in the upper half of the brush.
    Lord Fatboy likes this.
  6. celestino

    celestino Forum GOD!

    Vancouver, Canada
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  7. chrisbd

    chrisbd Forum GOD!

    Hampshire, UK
    Plenty of sound advice above, it's about finding what works for you. As per the consensus above I apply the lather with circular brush strokes and then spread it more evenly with paint brush strokes.

  8. The Gentleman

    The Gentleman Forum GOD!

  9. R181

    R181 Forum GOD!

    I have mixed feelings about "blooming" shave soaps. We all know it works well, especially for certain soaps, but why should it be necessary in the first place to get top performance from a shave soap? I can't imagine having to bloom a hand/bath soap to get the best performance from it. Just a thought and nothing more.

    Rowlers likes this.
  10. iamsms

    iamsms Video Assistant Referee

    New Jersey, USA
    I think in the video that Celestino attached, Nathan mentions that he only blooms Mystic Water. (His two videos in the past have helped me tremendously in improving my lather). While I don't do it, blooming certainly helps the loading process, specifically for soaps that some find difficult to load/lather. Again, I don't bloom any soap.

    Back to the original topic, my last two shaves have been great with my shavemacs. I just showed a little less love towards the brushes, used a little pressure.

    And I just bought a Paladin :/. So I will be using the tips given here for quite some time.
    halvor and R181 like this.
  11. R181

    R181 Forum GOD!

    I do not bloom soap either and really could not be bothered keeping any in rotation that do need to be bloomed. Why futz around when there are so many good soaps out there that don't need to be played with to make a good lather.

    There is a huge difference between exerting some light pressure while loading a brush with soap and mashing the poor knot damn near flat. I think the latter is what brush makers worry about and rightly consider abuse of their product. If you try loading a brush from a triple milled soap puck without any pressure you could be in for some amount of frustration. Using a slight amount of pressure really is necessary, just don't over do it.

    Rowlers and iamsms like this.
  12. chris.hale

    chris.hale Legendary Member

    Cumbria, England
    Me too.

    If you like doing it that fine, but to me it's just another way that some people needlessly complicate what should be a simple task. You should see the ritual some people go through with MWF, whereas I just attack it with a damp brush.
    Rowlers and R181 like this.
  13. R181

    R181 Forum GOD!

    I refuse to bloom any soap on the basis that it just should not be necessary. MWF can be a bugger to lather up and as a result I won't buy another puck of it. If I want a similar soap it will be Haslingers Scharfsmilch. That lathers easily like a good soap should. Life is too short to mess with finicky to lather soaps.

  14. Lord Fatboy

    Lord Fatboy Hirsute Lover

    I'm so used to synths now that when I go back to a badger or boar I'm a bit fingers n thumbs. I'm an inpatient latherer, and they could probably come out better if I gave them more time. Circular and painting strokes, even with a fairly thick home made pres-have on. Recently been using brushless cremes - not sure they are worth the effort TBH
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
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