There’s a misconception among people who use safety and straight razors that shaving this way is cheap. Yes, there are inexpensive components, like razor blades. A vintage razor like my Gillette Super Speed can cost less than $20, and you can shave a few dollars off your soap costs if you use something like Arko.
Shaver make up the price difference between consumables and more expensive cartridge blades by experimenting with a lot of different shit. This is mostly done in fun — it’s part of the experience of shaving for fun and pleasure vs the “old days” of just shaving to get it over with.
Shaving accouterments come in a wide range of quality and price. Especially price. Brushes are one thing that can get really expensive really fast. If you’re not careful (or don’t care) you can blow your margin between safety razor blades and disposable cartridge blades. My friend BigDubb has some high quality brushes and they’re as beautiful as they’re expensive.
But what if you’re a cheap bastard like me, who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on a shaving brush? Consider giving the #6 brush from Bestshave.net a try.
The #6 is a horse hair brush set in a wooden handle. It features a moderate-length brush and a moderate-length handle. If you’re new to shaving (or don’t care) these are good starting dimensions. Your personal preference may drive different handle and brush lengths. Brush handles come in a variety of diameters, and it’s all personal preference on that front. I don’t care about that stuff, and so here I am with a $3 brush.
What do you get in a $3 brush?
First off, you get a stinky brush. The #6 smells a lot for the first week or so of use. After the first week you’ll have to endure a mild stank, and then you’re in the clear. The smell won’t effect anything other than your nose, so don’t worry about the smell. Rinsing the brush every day before you use it for a week will also help. It’s one thing to have a stinky horse hair brush at arms length under a tap; it’s another to have it under your nose during a shave.
Secondly, you’re going to get a very stiff brush. If you lather from a puck this might be really important to you. The #6 brush was really good at whipping up a nice lather when I was using the Van Der Hagen starter kit from Target. The stiff bristles of the #6 are good for when I face lather with Arko. I am always surprised when the brush turns a thin layer of soap on my stubble to a Santa Claus-esque lather beard.
You’ll also get a cheap ass wooden handle. The knot of my bristles was glued to the wooden handle by a drunken one-arm chinchilla with depth perception problems. I see the glue blotch every time I pick the brush up, but all is forgiven when the soap starts to appear.
How do I get a $3 stinky brush that’s awesome to use?
The only place to get the #6 brush that I trust is from Bestshave.net. You can sometimes find resellers on eBay or at the Badger and Blade forum, but you’ll pay more per brush and at that point you might want to shop around locally for something less … odorous.
I’ve purchased things from Bestshave.net multiple times, and I totally trust them. Plus, it’s fun to set a $20 budget and see how much imported shaving crap you can get. You should also throw in some blades not commonly available in the US. Shipping costs are dependent on weight, and I found them to be very reasonable. Bestshave.net is based out of Turkey.
Orders are usually processed within a day or two. Shipping time can take awhile depending on where you live. Mine took two weeks to arrive.
Wear and tear
I’ve owned my #6 brush for over a year and have lathered up with it over 300 times. Here’s how a brand new one looks:
Here’s mine after about 300 uses:
Note that I do store my brush upside-down (handle facing up) and there’s a whole debate about if that’s right or wrong. Fuck it, it’s a $3 brush and it works great. I bought three more as back up brushes.
The #6 from Bestshave.net is:
- the stinkiest $3 brush you will ever own
- the stiffest $3 brush you will ever own
- will give you the best lather out of all of your $3 brushes
- the best $3 brush you will ever own
In all seriousness, this brush needs to be in your stable. Even if you don’t use it, it can serve as a beginner’s benchmark for what you like and don’t like in other brushes.