So when did it happen? At what time in history did modern man decide he was no longer going to use a brush in his daily shaving routine? Did he just wake up one morning and decide he couldn’t be bothered any longer or did society have a part to play in this humongous decision?
Perhaps now is a good time to look at plausible reasons for the above questions. With sales of badger hair shaving brushes and classic shaving paraphernalia on the rise, maybe we have finally realized, that nothing quite beats the real thing when it comes to a good shave.
Let’s step back for a moment and examine what may have affected our decisions in the past few decades.
The most prominent and most obvious reason I believe we stopped using the brush, was of course, pure laziness. Faced with all these new gadgets and convenient shaving gels, foams and mousses we suddenly ‘forgot’ how to shave like men. Jump out of bed in the morning and quick splash and a squirt from our favorite product and we were ready to cut our faces off and face a new day. All very well if you don’t mind having skin that resembles the surface of the moon and having to spend half a week’s wages on toilet paper to stick to your pebble-dashed face. I know there are those of you out there that will totally disagree with this opinion, but let’s face it a splash of water and a squirt of foam does not a clean shave make. Now, throw a brush into the equation, then maybe I can be persuaded.
So let’s look at what the cost of products has done to sway us away from the trusty badger hair brush. When all these fancy shaving gels and foams came on the market we saw a way to save ourselves a few bucks. Loading up on disposable razors and tubes and canisters of Walmart’s finest shaving products we were set for a year’s shaving at a fraction of the cost. But what was the true cost? The labour intensive manufacture of Badger Hair Brushes could only rise, as demand fell and those of us who were true to the shaving brush took the brunt of the fall. Now all is not lost, those of us that stayed with our brushes through thick and thin have reaped the benefits. To my mind, my brush is an investment, an investment in my face and in my future. With the demand for shaving brushes on the rise again, now others can also be rewarded with the benefits that come with investing in a truly classical piece of equipment. Spend your money wisely men, for when the time comes there won’t be a price you can put on young-looking skin and a face that turns the ladies’ heads (for all the right reasons).
Swings and roundabouts as they say, maybe the shaving brush just went out of fashion for a bit, left with the shoulder pads perhaps or the pink ties that went so well with my giant cell phone? History has proven more than once that there are cycles to life, cycles to fashion and most certainly cycles to habits. I for one, believe that we are at the beginning of a new age, an age that will once again allow me to grow my hair in the most ridiculous fashion, wear trousers that are way too tight and relish in a daily shaving routine that involves me and my trusty brush. Roll on the comeback kings, this after all is the decade of the comeback if fashion and music are anything to go by.
Another thought that struck me is that when I think of a man shaving using a brush, I automatically think of an English gentleman, you know the type. The classic looking gent who looks like he has never had stubble in his life. Hugh Grant anybody? Could this be because they have been using a shaving brush? I think it’s something I’d like to investigate further. Anyway I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent there, please do excuse me. What I started off by saying was that I associate the shaving brush with an English man, and perhaps on the flip side I associate shaving gels and mousses with our American selves. Could the fall of the shaving brush and classic shaving techniques be put down to the fall of the British Empire? I’m assuming the British soldiers and colonialists took their trusty shaving paraphernalia everywhere with them, thus spreading the technique throughout the empire. When the British Empire started to fall, did the use of the brush also start to decline? Did we rebel against our former masters? It’s definitely a very plausible explanation, but as we are all grown ups now can I request that we let the past lie and bring back the trusty brush please?
Alfred M. writes about all things shaving in his blog Perfect Shave Dispatch and dispenses grooming supplies and advice at the Fendrihan Shaving Shop. He also administrates Fendrihan’s page on Facebook.