What Are The Different Parts of a Shaving Brush?

Let’s unpack the vocabulary surrounding the ubiquitous shaving brush found all over our site. If you are just getting started on your wet shaving journey, your head might be swimming with all the jargon. We’ll help you get your head around, well, these heads with some helpful definitions. And since a shaving brush is such an integral part of classic wet shaving, you’ll likely find yourself grateful for this quick lesson on all things shaving brush. 

Defining the Shaving Brush:

  • Handle – The grip on the shaving brush which holds the knot of hair. It can be made of a variety of different materials – resin, plastic, horn, metal, wood. This can also be a fun opportunity to find the size (tall or short, squat or lean), color (myriad of options), shape (curvaceous or cylindrical), and more to grace your countertop.
  • Knot – This refers to the hair of the brush, the top portion of the shaving brush. (Knot comes in natural (badger, boar, horse) and synthetic hairs in a variety of grades and attributes. 
  • Knot size – This measurement of the knot is at the base of the hair (where the fibers meet the handle). Using calipers the diameter of the knot is measured in mm. A monster brush is 30mm. Most brushes fall within a range of 20-28mm. This is how shaving brushes are measured or sized. So when you are looking for a brush it will usually be indexed by its knot size.
  • Glue bump – Refers to the area of the brush head where the fibers were glued together. Usually this is recessed into the handle so as to not interfere with the lathering process. Some glue bumps are more obvious than others. A low profile bump is usually preferred.
  • Knot Loft – The loft is the distance from the base of the knot (where it meets the handle) to the top of the knot. It refers to the hair sticking out of the handle. Loft hair is all the hair above the glue bump that can be used and manipulated to produce a lather as it is free to move. 
  • Splay – Splay occurs when you push the brush hair against something, like your face, and the hair spreads out. How far out the fibers spread will tell you how much coverage you can get for lathering.  
  • Backbone – The amount of resistance felt when the brush is splayed on your face.
  • Scritch – The roughness of the fiber when lathering against your face. Some shavers like more roughness to exfoliate and raise their hair. While others like no scritch, just soft tips. 

Hopefully, this quick foray into shaving brush vocabulary will stand you in good stead as you continue on your wet shaving adventure. Are there any terms we missed? Something else that needs definition? Let us know in the comments below.

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