If you’ve ever had a relative pass down a vintage shaving brush, then you know that with proper care, a shaving brush can last a lifetime – if not longer. For a brush that gives you years of great shaves, regular cleaning and periodic deep cleaning are fundamental.
Here’s how to keep your shaving brush performing optimally:
Basic care and cleaning
Prior to a shave:
If you soak your brush in water before a shave, do so with warm water rather than boiling hot water, which can ruin your bristles.
During a shave:
Only apply light pressure, since using too much pressure (especially in a circular motion) can twist the bristles and cause them to break. Don’t push down so far that the handle is close to the skin. Lighter pressure will also allow you to use the entire brush loft rather than just the inner, longer bristles.
The ideal way to prolong the life of the brush is to use back and forth motions, but if you prefer lathering in circular motions, just remember to do so with a light touch.
After a shave:
Shaving cream and soap are slightly acidic, so be sure to rinse all product out of the brush. If some product is still left, the acidity will condense as the water evaporates. Over time, the acidity will eat away at the bristles. So make a habit of rinsing your brush thoroughly with warm water, followed by cold water. The warm water allows the bristles to absorb water more readily, while the cold water seals the bristles’ cuticles for strength.
Tip: Don’t use hot water, as hot water will open up the cuticles of the boar bristles, leaving them exposed and weak.
When you’re done rinsing, shake the brush dry and place it facing downward in a brush holder. Look for one that doesn’t grip the brush at the base of the bristles, as this damages the knot. Try MÜHLE brush stands, which typically grip the brush at a groove on the handle.
Storing your brush upside down not only removes the bristles of water, but also, more importantly, prevents water from loosening the glue that holds the bristles together. Place the brush in an area with good air flow, as confining a wet brush to a small space encourages mildew growth.
Even with a flawless technique, shaving brushes are subject to wear and tear from hard water, certain soaps and creams, and improper storage. You’ll know you need to deep clean when you notice crooked, stiff hairs or soap scum. Or you may find that your brush doesn’t produce lather as well as before.
It’s important to remember that shaving brushes are made of hair, similar to our own. And like our own hair, they need to be cleaned to stay soft and strong.
You should only need to deep clean your brushes once every couple of months. Select the method most convenient to you:
Method 1: Shampoo & conditioner
Start with a gentle, pH neutral shampoo, like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. Avoid any shampoo with silicones, as silicones cover the hair with a thin, waterproof coating that builds up over time. This can reduce the bristles’ ability to absorb water. Dimethicone, in particular, is a silicone that is water insoluble and very hard to remove.
Work a small dab of shampoo into the brush, then rinse with warm water. To make your bristles feel extra soft, follow with a dab of gentle conditioner, allowing the conditioner to sit for a few minutes before rinsing out with warm water. Finish with a cold water rinse.
Method 2: Vinegar and water
Mix a solution of 9 parts warm water, 1 part vinegar. Soak the shaving brush in the solution for a few minutes, swirling it around every now and then. Rinse the brush with warm water, followed by cold water. The vinegar should dissolve any calcium deposits, removing the coating from bristles.
Method 3: Borax
Mix a tablespoon of borax in a cup of water. Soak the shaving brush in the solution for a few minutes and then rinse in warm water, followed by cold water.