Thursday, January 15, 2009

Badger and Blade Essential shave brush review

(picture stolen shamelessly from Badger and Blade)

Badger and Blade recently offered a brush called "the essential" as a trial run to holding it as a normal stock item. The stated goal was to have the best possible all-around brush for the most reasonable possible price. Two runs were made - the first was a very limited test run, and the second was around 200 (though that number might be off - I'm going from memory). The first run came in and went through testing paces, at which point Joel and the other recipients declared themselves to be very, very happy with the results. The brush's hair was very, very thick and the overall efficacy was declared to be well above their expectations - on par with a brush costing 150 dollars or more, instead of the projected 50-60 dollar price.

Joel immediately ordered a large shipment and offered them up to the Badger and Blade forums. After a long process that apparently wasn't a lot of fun for him, Joel finally received the brushes only to discover that the new run wasn't as well-made as the first. After some debate, he offered them up for sale anyway. They sold out, predicably, within a few days.

When I received my brush, I noticed a few things right away. First, it's beautiful. I'm actually really happy with the overall look - I thought the acrylic handle would be cheezy in a bad way, but it's quite nice and understated. There's a great little picture of a badger on the side, too. Second, once I got the brush wet, it stank. Hugely. It smelled of seriously funky badger - and the only thing that lessened the scent was to shampoo the hell out of it with some very convenient pet shampoo I had under the sink.

It still didn't smell all that great the next morning, but I was determined to give it a shave. I loaded up with my "luxury-goto" setup, Art of Shaving sandalwood cream and a Gillette FatBoy with a new feather blade, and got to work. In terms of performance, I noted that the brush held a ludicrous amount of water even after being shaken out, which necessitated a bit more cream than I usually use in order to keep the ratio normal. I also noted that the tips of the bristles were a bit stiffer than I was used to on the Crabtree & Evelyn Best Badger brush, though not overwhelmingly so. It definitely did the job very well though, holding a great amount of lather and working wonderfully.

Later shaves included use of several creams (Proraso green and red, Speick, Castle Forbes lime) and soaps (Tabac, QED Chocolate, Crabtree & Evelyn Sandalwood), and overall I think the brush fulfilled the goal of being a great overall performer. I WILL say, however, that the brush absolutely excells with soaps in comparison to my old brush. Also, over time, the brush has softened up nicely, which makes face lathering a possibility now.

Unfortunately, there are no plans that I know of to re-run this line of brushes after all the trouble Joel and co. went through at Badger and Blade. I can't blame them - but I also feel badly that such a wonderful brush won't be available for a newbie starting out.

Thanks, Badger and Blade!

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