Shaving brushes – Natural or Synthetic bristles?

All Shaving brushes fall into two basic types – Synthetic or Natural hair. Both types have different properties. Here we take a look at both to help you decide which type of shaving brush is most suitable for you

Silvertip badger hair shaving brush

Ask any Barber worth his salt –  when it comes to wet shaving a good shaving brush makes all the difference. You can read why here. But just what IS a good shaving brush? The primary variable component of shaving brushes aside from the handle is the type of bristles – the material can vary, from synthetic bristles, which tend to be made of nylon – to natural sources; varying grades of badger hair, boar, or in less common cases, even horse hair. Of course, like all barber tools, the cost and quality can vary – but usually in this case the type of bristle determines the price.

DID YOU KNOW? ‘Blaireau’ is the french name for a shaving brush. It means ‘badger’!

Traditionally, the shaving brush as we know it today originates from France in the 1700’s where the quality of the brushes varied greatly. As is still the case today, the more expensive shaving brushes used badger hair, with horse and boar bristles fetching a lower price. The material of the handle rarely affects the performance of the brush, but synthetic handles can boast a longer life span, a more affordable price tag and a greater resistance to moisture.

So what type of bristle is right for you?


shaving brush dark stag

The very handsome Dark Stag synthetic badger hair shaving brush

If you are concerned about the use of animal products, it goes without saying that natural bristle brushes are not for you – although note that horse hair brushes are taken from the tail or mane and the animal does not suffer, so if the objection is moral, this could be a good compromise for you. The downside to horse hair brushes in addition to their scarcity is that they do not smell very pleasant when water is added, for at least the first few shaves. The best thing you can do with this brush type is to wash thoroughly with animal shampoo, then rinse and repeat until it smells clean. Back to synthetic fibre brushes – these dry very quickly making them perfect for travelling, and the better types have comparable softness to the finest grade badger hair. Provided that you have the right tools, you will still be able to get a luxurious wet shave at home or on your travels. We actually find that fibre brushes tend to lather up more quickly, actually beating some natural bristle brushes, so the time taken to begin your shave is less. They also hold their shape for longer, with a decent product lifespan. All in all, a fibre shaving brush, such as the one Dark Stag offer, is a very good all round option and is cruelty free and wallet friendly to boot! Our brush is designed as the perfect partner to our razors. For an unbeatable home shave we have the right tools for the job: treat yourself to a shaving bowl, our brush, and select your favourite type of razor whether that be a cut throat, shavette, or safety razor.

DID YOU KNOW? In the 1800’s the shaving brush of a gentleman was seen as a status symbol!


For those who do not mind using natural products and want the finest quality (at increased cost, naturally), badger bristle brushes come in three grades: ‘Pure badger’, ‘Best badger, and ‘Super/Silvertip badger’.

Pure comes from the underside of the badger which is most often a darker colour and has a courser feel than Best or Silvertip due to the fact that the shaft of the bristle is wider. These brushes are usually trimmed to shape which can make the ends feel a bit rough and stiff. Something to bear in mind though is that the cost does reflect this, and you will find it to be significantly cheaper than the higher grades, whilst retaining most of the benefits.

Silvertip Badger Hair Brush

Best badger brushes are made with finer and more pliable hair and have a slightly longer length and lighter colour bristle, which is one of the subtle differences from Pure. You will also find that this grade tends to be more densely filled than brushes of a lower grade, which translates to a better lather. The shaping of the brush is usually done in such a way that it does not require manual trimming so the tips of the bristles feel softer, which impacts on your comfort dramatically for more subtle feel across your skin. This however does mean exfoliation suffers slightly.

Super/Silvertip is the most expensive type of bristle owing to the fact that the hair used is more scarce and comes from the neck of the animal, which results in superior water retention, beautiful softness and very good lather. Of course, this type of brush fetches a pretty penny, so you do pay considerably more for the luxurious experience.

DID YOU KNOW? The modern form of shaving brush can be traced back to the 1750’s!

Having the right tools makes wet shaving a dream!


Whilst every gentleman has a personal grooming regime with his own requirements and budget for shaving equipment, we think for the best overall combination of performance, comfort and cost that a good synthetic brush is hard to beat. We offer a very good synthetic brush here, which is also available early next year as part of a shaving set. Whichever style of brush you choose, the best advice we can give you to maintain your beard and moustache (aside from regular trips to your barber), is to keep it nicely trimmed, and get to grips with how to use your razor properly so you can wet shave at home.

Of course, if you are a barber we have other tools and equipment to help you in your barbering and make barberlife even better. We also offer supplies for you to retail in your barber shop, including our shaving brush, shaving bowl, and a good selection of razors, so your customers can take home the barber experience. For more on retailing Dark Stag in your barbershop, get in touch with us here.

Tight Fades, guys and gals.

Dark Stag Team

Share this article