One of the questions that is often asked by people who has recently taken up the hobby is how to store a shaving brush when you’re not using it. Unfortunately there is not an answer that everyone will agree with. This article will go over the pros and cons of different methods so you can make a more educated decision.
First of all, if you’re not familiar with shaving brushes I recommend you take a look at Making sense of shaving brush knots and What’s a shaving brush and why should I use one? for a little background. Let’s get to it!
What are we concerned about when storing our shaving brush?
When we talk about storing our shaving brush, we are primarily concerned with preventing damage to three parts of the brush. These are the handle, the bristles/hair, and the base of the knot that holds the hair together.
Handles are usually going to be the least of your concerns. They are usually made from durable materials such as plastic, metal, or a stabilized wood. As long as they are kept away from high heat you shouldn’t have an issue. One thing that I have seen happen is that the handle can split in the upper area where the knot is housed. This is caused by the base of the knot (which is made up of a glue, epoxy, or in older brushes a natural rubber) swelling as it slowly absorb water over time. This slight, but constant, pressure can cause the handle to crack. To date I have only seen this in older brushes.
The base of the bristles is made up of a glue plug that holds the bristles/hair together. This was discussed above in the handle section. The bristles themselves are prone to having issues with tangling, deformation, and sanitation.
- Some brushes can have issues with the hair in the knot becoming tangled together and knotting up. This is usually believed to be caused by excessive circular motions when face lathering (which usually requires a bit more force on the skin than bowl lathering). I have personally seen this happen with my Vie-Long horse hair brush (good brush by the way).
- Deformation of brushes can happen when a wet brush is stored with the bristles bent or splayed and being allowed to dry. Imagine if you were on a trip and stuffed your brush in your dopp bag and forgot to take it out when you got home. I have seen quite a few old boar brushes that are bent to one side from this. Boar is more pliable than boar, so it wouldn’t be as big of a problem
- Sanitation… What happens when you mix skin cells, moisture, dark places? You get things growing where you don’t want them and the possibility of organic material breaking down (brush bristles, wood handles, natural rubber knots). To be honest, while I have heard about the horrors of things growing in your shaving brush it isn’t something I have actually ever seen myself. However, it is definitely possible given the conditions.
What steps can be taken?
Most of these problems can be eliminated, or at least mitigated, by minimizing the amount of water on your brush when stored and by proper storage location.
Minimizing “standing water” in your brush
There is an ongoing discussion (polite argument) about the proper orientation to store your shaving brush. The argument is that you should hang your brush upside down so that any residual water will, with the assistance of gravity, drain away from the base of the knot and have a better chance to let the bristles dry out. The counter argument to this is (usually) that standing the brush on its base with the bristles up (or on its side for that matter) is just as effective as the effect of capillary action will negate any benefit derived from the gravity assist of hanging it upside down.
taste great… more filling… Tastes Great… More Filling… To be honest, I don’t think the discussion will ever really end.
Proper storage location
This one is pretty self evident. Don’t leave your brush in a compromising position. If it is pushed, pinched, or squashed it’s not good for the brush.
Take a moment after your shave to take a comb and softly brush out the bristles and any minor tangles. This daily maintenance should keep your bristles from getting tangled and knotted.
My brush storage routine
In the end you need to find what works for you. My routine consists of thoroughly rinsing out the brush, “flicking” out the water a few times to get the loose stuff out and then placing it on my shelf base down/bristles up to await its next use. If I am using my one “nice” brush I will dry it out a bit more by gently brushing it back and forth on a towel before depositing it on my shave shelf. It works for me, though when I have more room I might pickup a few brush stands.
If you would like to find out some more about a wide range of brushes I would recommend going through the blog Bruce On Shaving.
I hope this helped broaden your knowledge base on how to store a shaving brush. If this was helpful please leave a comment or share it with someone who might benefit as well.
Have a great day and a smooth shave!