In the past several years, millennials have been blamed for ruining just about everything in America, from cheese to the NFL. While it is easy to blame these reckless, Instagram addicted vegans for the destruction of the diamond industry and demise of the casual chain restaurant, it is also easy to overlook one area in which millennials have made on day to day life in America:
A renewed emphasis on quality over quantity.
This belief might look ridiculous when it results in fancy imported cheese being placed on a mass-produced fast food burger, or a part-time barista/slam poet having a weekly $300 bill from Whole Foods, but in other aspects, it makes a ton of sense. Increasingly, we are seeing millennials seeing things in terms of the big picture, and this has resulted in trends that place an emphasis on hand-crafted goods over factory-made alternatives.
This trend has extended to the bathroom cabinet. Young men with facial hair have disposed of their disposable razors and shaving gels in favor of long-lasting blades, quality shave soap and the badger shave brush.
The Return Of The Shave Brush
For the latter half of the 20th century, beards were a statement, but not necessarily a fashionable one. Bikers and Hippies wore them in contempt of society. The homeless wore them in contempt of hygiene. People of faith wore them for religious purposes.
Prior to the disposable razor, facial hair was a big component of a man’s individual style. Back then, shaving was done with a straight razor, a lather, and a shave brush.
Fast forward to today. Technological improvement has introduced electric razors and triple blade action for men who want to remove facial hair fast, but men who want to do the job right are turning back to the shave brush, a tool which is, not coincidentally, a throwback to an era when facial hair was in vogue.
When you ask for a shave at the barbershop, the barber doesn’t whip out a can of Gillette and a 3 pack of razors (at least we hope he doesn’t…). Barbers that know what they are doing will typically use wet shave soap and a shave brush to lather the beard. The process takes longer, but the results speak for themselves. It’s the difference between a fast food burger and something made by hand. There’s a time and a place for disposable razors and mass-produced gel (airport terminals, campground shower blocks, moving vehicles, state prisons) but when aiming for quality, the shave brush is king.
Badger Shave Brush
Shave brush quality itself can vary between brushes. The handles can be made out of anything from plastic to tortoise shell, but where the brush really differentiates is with the bristles. Brushes can be made with boar hair or synthetic material, but badger hair is typically the preferred option. In fact, the French refer to a shave brush of any material as a “blaireau” (or “badger”). Dating back to the 1800’s, the badger shave brush was a status symbol in Europe – the uncouth peasant class had to settle for mere horse hair.
Fortunately, today’s wet shavers won’t have to go looking for a horse. The shave brush might not have changed much over the past two hundred years, but the cost has dropped big time – you no longer need a distinguished gentlemen’s bank account to have a distinguished gentlemen’s shaving ritual. The bearded millennials get that.
Artisanal avocado toast aside, these guys are clearly doing some things right.
Ready to start shaving in style? Try out your own high-quality badger shave brush here.