So you’ve purchased your shave brush, now what do you do?  Well, if you have an animal hair shave brush you will probably need to prepare it for its first use.  More likely than not the first few times you use that brush you will be aware of an unpleasant aroma.  Its very common and should disappear after a couple weeks of use, but you can hasten the process several ways.  First, you can soak it in a solution of 1 part distilled white vinegar to 9 parts hot water for about 10 minutes, agitating the brush gently every couple of minutes.  Or you can thoroughly massage the brush hair with pet shampoo, a gentle dish washing liquid, or even some shaving soap or cream.  Then let the soapy brush stand for about 30 minutes.  But no matter how you prepare the brush be sure to rinse it very thoroughly with warm water, gently wipe the bristles dry with a towel, then allow to finish drying for 24 hours.  Don’t store the brush in an enclosed cabinet or it may not dry properly.

Now you’re ready to use your brush.  The general procedure is straight-forward, however there are some variables that can make a difference so consider what comes next as a starting point.  You may have to adjust some of the times given here based on the size of the brush, the hair type and quality, and the mineral content of the water you’re using.

There are 3 parts to using a shaving brush: loading the brush, building the lather, and applying the lather.

Sometimes you can combine parts, such as building and applying at the same time, depending on the products and techniques you’re using.

Loading the brush is simply the process of applying enough shaving soap or cream to coat the tips of the brush.  Before loading, wet the brush thoroughly.  Its best to let it soak in a basin of hot water for a couple minutes: that will make sure the brush is thoroughly saturated.  Then grab the brush by the handle and give it a couple good shakes to get rid of excess water: its better to start out with too little water and be able to add a bit than to start out with too much water and have to try to adjust the other variables.  Now you’re going to load the brush.  How you load it depends on what kind of product you’re using.  If you’re using a puck of soap or a tub of cream, place the tips of the brush on top of the open container, press down slightly, and swirl the brush on the product until the tips of the brush are well coated.  If you’re using cream from a tube, squeeze about a centimeter of cream onto the center of the brush.

Now you’re going to use the brush as a mixer to combine the soap or cream and the water to build a lather.  If you’re going to lather directly to your face, the building and applying process goes on at the same time.  Or you can build lather in a bowl or large mug then apply it.  Building lather in a bowl has the advantage of creating a warm lather if you use a heated container.  In either case, you’re going to use gentle massaging and swiping motions to mix water and product.  Don’t press the brush all the way down but rather use just enough pressure to spread the brush hair out slightly.  Pushing down too much will release too much water at once and it will be difficult and more time consuming to make a decent lather.  If the lather looks dry or sticky like white school glue, briefly dip the tips of the brush in water and continue lathering.  You’re looking for soft peaks of lather, sort of like a pie meringue, without a lot of foamy-looking bubbles.  This process could take a couple minutes depending on variables, so now is the time to enjoy the sensory feedback you should be getting from this process: the pleasant scent and the feeling of warmth from the lather, and the feeling of the bristles on the skin.  Now you’re ready to shave!

The Shaving Tutor