So you got yourself a shave brush. Congratulations! Your grandfather and I welcome you to a better shave. If you learn to take care of your brush, there’s no reason it shouldn’t last for years and years to come. Here are some simple steps to keep it in great condition.
1. Wash the Brush
When you first get your brush home, wash it. Wash it with shampoo. Yes, the same shampoo you use for your head. I’ve also heard people say they use a pet shampoo. I don’t have a pet, so I use my own.
Most brushes are made from animal hair and when you get them wet, they smell like, well, a wet animal. Give it a gentle shampoo and rinse. Some of my brushes have taken a few shampoos to fully get rid of that “wet dog” smell. You may also notice a few hairs fall out when you wash it. This is totally normal. Not every brush sheds, but it’s not uncommon to see a brush shed the first four or five times you use it.
2. Lather Gently
One of the most common mistakes first-time wet shavers make is that they smash the brush into the bowl as hard as they can to make a lather. Instead, try to focus on finding the right ratio of soap and water. If it’s looking dry in the bowl, add a touch of water. If it’s looking watery, lightly dip the tips of the brush in the soap again and remember to leave less water in the brush next time you begin your lather. You can always add more later.
You do need some pressure to produce a lather, but you don’t need to smash it so hard that the bristles are almost at a 90 degree angle from the handle. If you continue to use too much pressure when lathering, you’ll see a divot in the center of your brush from broken bristles and the outer rim of bristles will remain unused. You may also see more shedding than normal because you’re literally breaking the hairs. Have a little patience, use a nice medium pressure when swirling the brush in the bowl, and watch the cream turn into a cushy, pillowy lather.
3. Rinse It Fully
You’re done shaving. Whether you’ve used your brush for a quick single pass shave or a full three pass shave for that extra smooth feel, it’s time to rinse the brush. Put the brush under the faucet and let it fill with warm water. Then squeeze out the water. The water will be cloudy from the soap. Repeat this until the water you squeeze out of the brush is completely clear. If you leave soap in the brush it can carry dirt, oils, and bacteria that will compromise the longevity of your shave brush.
4. Use a Stand
For every guy who comes into the store and claims he’s been using the same brush with no stand for 25 years and it’s as good as new, I see two guys who wish they’d spent the extra few dollars to purchase a stand, because it could have saved their brush. Get a stand. After you rinse your brush, hang it on a stand with the bristles facing down. This will ensure any remaining moisture heads out of the brush, not into the brush. If water goes into the base of the brush and it doesn’t fully dry, it could compromise the core of the knot and eventually lead to the demise of your beloved shave brush.
If you follow these four steps, your shave brush should last for years to come. Proper technique and drying are key to preventing the premature deterioration of a quality brush.