Sunday, July 13, 2014

Size matters? (Brushes, we're talkin' brushes.)

When I was in the throes of full-on acquisition disease, I would tour antique shops looking for vintage shaving gear. I never actually found much that I wanted to buy, but I remember seeing an old shaving brush or two. They looked pretty old and ratty, but one thing that struck me was they were a bit small.

VDH (left) and Tweezerman (right) shaving brushes shown lying on their side on the counter top. Both are nice, but the slightly-smaller and more rounded knot on the Tweezerman may be a bit better for both lathering and applying lather to face. The dark line on the bottom of the wooden-handled Tweezerman is a stick-on Velcro-loop pad. This allows me to hang the brush to dry from a corresponding Velcro-hook pad stuck under the bathroom medicine cabinet.
Today, almost everything is super sized: not only fast-food-serving sizes but also apples, bagels . . . even humans are generally taller and, unfortunately, of bigger girth than 80 or 100 years ago (often due to larger food-serving sizes). To a degree this super sizing includes shaving brushes.

I own two inexpensive shaving brushes: the Van Der Hagen (VDH), with boar bristles, and a Tweezerman-branded, inexpensive, badger brush. As I have written previously, I really like the VDH brush, with its thick, soft knot. Yet there is a difference between the two beyond type of bristle: the VDH knot of bristles is a little longer, of larger diameter, and flatter than the Tweezerman. As I pondered these differences during my morning shave yesterday, I noticed that the VDH  brush is just a little too big to be precise; with it I get a bit more lather on my ears and nose.

Is this a big problem? No, but it's worth thinking about the next time you make a shaving-brush purchase. Bigger isn't necessarily better. A smallish brush is not only adequate, but may actually be preferable -- allowing a smaller soap mug/bowl and more precision in applying the lather to one's face.

Happy shaving!

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