Table of Contents
- Mühle Silvertip Synthetic Shaving Brush 31M89
- RazoRock Chrome Silvertop Plissoft Synthetic Shaving Brush
- Mühle Hexagon 31MHXG Shaving Brush
- Mühle Black Fibre Thermo Wood Shaving Brush
- Paragon Shaving Black Fiber Synthetic Brush
- The Body Shop Shaving Brush
- EcoTools Sheer Finish Kabuki Brush
- What to watch out for – greenwashing and shaving brushes
So, you’ve got your shaving cream sorted and have invested in an eco-friendly safety razor, but what about the brush you’re using to whip up that lather? I often see brushes with a wooden handle and animal hair touted as the best option, but I bristle at that, given the cruelty likely involved in producing such brushes and the likely presence of toxic lacquers, varnishes, stains, and resins used in the handles. In some cases, the animal hair is sourced ethically, but in most cases, it’s not. As such, you’re better off going with a vintage brush (even if it has a plastic handle), and getting the knot (the bristles) replaced with synthetic bristles.
Synthetic bristles may seem anathema to those wanting a traditional wet shave, but they aren’t always a bad idea, even in terms of eco-friendliness. That’s because one synthetic fiber brush could easily last you many years, if not a lifetime, while animal hair brushes tend to deteriorate over time and need replacing.
Here are my top picks for cruelty-free shaving brushes with a high quality wooden or metal handle.
Highlights: Easy to clean and maintain with a soft, absorbent, synthetic fiber brush.
This stunning, easy to clean and maintain, synthetic fiber brush is soft, absorbent, and made by a well-respected company that’s been in the shaving business for more than 70 years. It is made with chrome and matches Mühle’s R89 safety razor to make a handsome shaving set. Great for creating a lather, this brush is made with several fiber thicknesses to create great backbone without scratchiness. The knot can be easily replaced, though it seems pretty durable, so should last a good long while.
Highlights: More budget-friendly than other options while still maintaining the ability to hold a decent lather.
Super budget-friendly and great for sensitive skin and finer hair, this shaving brush whips up and holds a decent lather even with harder soaps. It’s a good choice for a really luxurious and soft shave, is made of chrome with a Plissoft synthetic fiber knot and is a firm favorite for those new to wet shaving as well as old hands. This knot is one level softer than RazorRock’s standard Plissoft fiber knot with thicker, firmer fibers near the base for great backbone.
Highlights: More affordable than the badger bristle brush while providing a good grip and weighty handle.
The Mühle Hexagon shaving brush has a good grip, reassuringly weighty handle, and is a great fit for hands large and small. It’s much more affordable than a badger bristle brush and is made with a 21 mm Silvertip Fibre® knot of the same high-quality fibers as the knot used for the 31M89. The anodized aluminum and graphite handle has a cool pencil shape and the brush is made in Germany and is a great gift idea.
Highlights: Vegan-friendly option made with heat-treated ash and synthetic, soft-tipped bristles.
Not a fan of metal handle shaving brushes? This vegan-friendly option is made with heat-treated ash and high-quality synthetic, soft-tipped bristles with a great backbone. The knot is durable and strong, forms and holds a good lather, and the brush has a contemporary natural look and an affordable price tag. Mühle processes the ash wood with a special heating process to make it durable and water-resistant without using varnishes, lacquers, or stains.
Highlights: Made in BC using mahogany and cedar wood from Central America, and offered in three different handle designs to fit your preference.
Made in BC using mahogany and cedar wood from Central America, the Paragon Shaving Black Fiber brush comes in three handle designs and two colors, and also offers different knot diameter options, making this a great choice for shaving small and large areas of skin. The knot is made with synthetic fibers with a great backbone and soft tips, so you can whip up a lather and raise hairs for a closer shave.
Highlights: While not well suited for those with coarser hair, this shaving brush is a great choice for anyone with sensitive skin.
This inexpensive and widely available shaving brush is made in the UK and is best suited for those with finer or lighter hair (not for coarser hair). It’s a great choice for anyone with sensitive skin and is good for whipping up a lather, especially if you’re a beginner wet shaver. The handle is made from FSC certified Community Trade Russian birch wood and it sports a cruelty-free synthetic fiber knot. The handle may have been treated with stain or varnish though, but Body Shop provides no info and has not responded to queries.
Highlights: An excellent soft fiber option for beginner wet shavers, or those with very soft or fine hair.
Technically a cosmetics brush, this is also an excellent soft fiber option for beginner wet shavers, those with very soft or fine hair, and anyone with sensitive skin. It is made in the US with recycled materials by a company that insists on fair labor practices from their suppliers and the knot forms a good lather without dimpling. It is PETA certified and is made with bamboo, though the company doesn’t say if it’s been varnished or lacquered.
What to watch out for – greenwashing and shaving brushes
If you’ve been looking around for eco-friendly shaving brushes, you may have encountered Pakkawood, which is touted as being made with recycled wood and Earth-Friendly. The reality is that Pakkawood is a composite wood treated with resin. This almost certainly means it is laced with toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
VOCs are known to cause serious health effects, so I hesitate to recommend a shaving brush with a resin handle, composite wood handle, or any wooden handle with anything but natural oil as a finish. I do include some of these in my list of companies to consider and in product reviews but, as you’ll see, these companies get a Leaf Score no higher than 3.
In fact, most of the recommended products only achieve a maximum Leaf Score rating of ⅘ because all of the products contain plastic fibers and in some cases may have undisclosed glues, varnishes, lacquers, and stains used in their construction. For example, some companies use Danish Oil as a finish on their wooden handles. While this sounds good, being made with linseed or tung oil, the reality is that this product is a mixture of around one-third varnish to two-thirds vegetable oil, meaning it likely off-gases some serious VOCs.
Sadly, regulators in the US don’t much care if there are VOCs or other toxic chemicals in the composite wood products we use every day, with the exception of children’s products. (See my discussion about Consumer Safety Regulations and Why They Matter.) As such, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands and find out what’s in these brushes by asking companies direct questions. I’ve done that for the companies listed but am still awaiting answers or further clarification in many cases.
While I tried hard to find a truly non-toxic shaving brush, it appears that nobody is making them. This makes me question consumer demand for these items and seems like a perfect opportunity for men (and others) who are looking to begin wet shaving to create a movement in the grooming industry for non-toxic, eco-friendly goods. Instead of caring about toxic chemicals going into making these brushes, razors, shaving gels, creams, soaps, and foams, the focus is almost always on being hyper-masculine.
So, if you’re a person who shaves and you’d like companies to start making products that don’t ruin your skin and/or the Earth, step it up and demand better. If you need shaving cream/foam/oil/soap, check here. And don’t forget your razor!