Shaving brush knots are one of those things that are often seen as shrouded in mystery. What is a Silvertip? What is a Best? Should I choose a Badger? A synthetic? A boar? A horse?! And what is the difference?!
This mystery has been further purported by false claims, promotional hyperbole and misunderstanding.
Here is what we have been able to determine…
High Mountain White Badger
Because it comes from the neck and muzzle area of the badger, High Mountain White is the rarest and highest grade of badger hair. It has the softest and most luxurious natural tips and usually the most defined colour contrast with its distinct black band and white creamy tip. The hair is generally finer resulting in a denser knot that can hold more water, while remaining extremely soft. This allows it to easily produce a rich and dense lather, resulting in a superb shave. High Mountain White is the standard against which all other badger hair is measured!
Silvertip Badger knots are synonymous with high-quality shave gear! Very similar to the High Mountain White knot they are soft and luxurious and have the same characteristic colour contrast of a black band and white creamy tip. A top quality knot that easily produces a rich and dense lather, resulting in a superb shave.
Similar in looks to the Silvertip the hair for the Super Badger knot is normally plucked from the back of the badger. These are then graded and sorted to such a degree that its performance is superior to that of Best Badger. They feature soft bristles and natural tips with a strong backbone and a good ability to absorb water. Many people feel that after a break in period they are close in performance to Silvertip!
A Pure Badger knot generally contains hair from the underbelly of a badger. This hair varies in softness, pliability and color, which is usually dark tan to black. Its longer shafts make it coarser than other badger hair. Likewise, Pure Badger knots are most often trimmed to shape, resulting in somewhat stiffer, rougher ends. Because of its low cost Pure Badger brushes are suitable for the beginning shaver who wants to learn the intricacies and nuances of wet shaving before moving on to a higher quality and more expensive brush.
The bristle from Boar is stronger, thicker and less flexible than Badger and at first, very coarse. The coarser texture and stronger backbone makes it very useful for lathering soaps well. Over time, the natural, unclipped ends of the bristles will split into two or three individual tips connected to the same thick shaft. Known as “breaking in”, this will greatly soften the knot and make for a more enjoyable shave. Colours range from yellow to white, often with a dyed black imitation band. Boar bristle tends to dry quicker than Badger and therefore makes a great travel brush too!
Harvested from the tail and mane of the horse, Horsehair is often described as being between badger and boar; soft like Badger but with a stiffness similar to Boar. It is good for both bowl and palm lathering.
Black Tie Synthetic
The appearance of this knot reminds one of the natural look of a horse hair knot and therefore is often referred to as “faux horse”. We know that there’s nothing fake about the quality, the feel or it’s lather making ability so we prefer to call it Equine-Synth! The knot has hair that feels slightly thicker than that of the Tuxedo. Its extra density as well as its thicker hair provides it with a good amount of backbone for face latherers. A beautiful knot in both looks and use!