Can Circular Lathering Motions Damage A Shaving Brush?

Samut writes:

I have recently been told some interesting things I am very unsure about. I have told the person that told me these things that “a credible source”, you, has stated that what the person is saying is not necessarily true. What we were talking about was how to use a shaving brush in order to minimize the amount of bristles lost, since it was a boar, and just how many bristles are lost on average. I was told that almost every brush loses an average of 100-150 bristles or hairs in the case of badgers in the first 20-30 shaves. I was very surprised when I heard this as I have only heard this by one person in particular who says that he knows many brush makers and many master barbers….

He also said that a brush should only be used in a “paint brush” motion to only apply the lather and not create it on the face in particular. I told him that “a credible source”, once more I was referring to you, has demonstrated that face lathering in a circular motion doesn’t harm the brush and produces a great lather. However, this person said that he does not agree with my source and “even though he is entitled to his opinion, I would not say what he is saying is accurate.” Today I tried lathering in a paint brush motion using an italian soft soap or “shaving cream soap” as it’s called which I have recently purchased. I used the Omega 31064 boar brush because my Omega 636 seems to not produce the lather it used to after I left it in a highly concentrated vinegar solution mixed with water after I forgot that I had left it soaking and took it out 20 minutes later. It didn’t seem damaged and I rinsed it with some soap and water as someone recommended on [a shave forum], but it still doesn’t produce the lather it used to when I first got it and that’s why I decided to go with the Omega 31064 boar brush after reading about boar from LeisureGuy and at the recommendation of the person who tells me that brushes lose an average of 100-150 hairs or bristles in the first 20-30 shaves and using a brush in the circular motion can damage a brush. I had learned first to shave with a double edge razor using your videos, so now I just feel thoroughly confused as to what is true and what isn’t.

I have also heard the opinion that only “paint brush” motions should be used.  They say that circular or massaging motions will break the hairs.  I can say that it is a minority opinion based on several years of reading all the shaving discussion boards and that I have never had that problem myself.  It might be possible to eventually damage a brush with circular motions but the motions would have to be very vigorous and the brush would have to be pushed all the way to the skin.  Proper brush technique is to push down the on the brush just a little.  And for myself, I have always alternated the direction of the massaging circular motions as I lather–I will lather clockwise for a while then counter clockwise.  I will say however that I do not use circular motions for the entire lathering process: once the lather is fully built I will use a paint brush motion to even out the lather on my face.

Likewise I find the comment that “…almost every brush loses an average of 100-150 hairs…” is simply not accurate.  To be sure, almost all brushes will lose a few hairs in the first month or so of use, but I have never lost anywhere near 100 in any of my brushes (not even the cheap drug store boar brushes I have).  Every time I see a comment to that effect on the shaving discussion forums the general agreement is that the brush is defective and to be returned.

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  1. Jerome says

    Even if circular motions did cause damage to the brush, – and I think we can all agree that we’ve never seen that happen – a shaving brush is a tool, it’s not an ornament. Eventually you may have to (gasp) buy another. Oh, the hardship…

  2. Whorst says

    I just bought a Simpsons brush which came with a little pamphlet describing how to use the brush. It clearly states not to use a circular motion, but to use as a paint brush. Continual use of circular motion(depending on pressure) will flatten the hairs of the brush and weaken the core.

    • Johan says

      I’ve been wet shaving for almost 30 years, and always used an Omega boar brush. I’ve bowl and face lathered in circular motions, using paint brush strokes, and what not. I’ve used creams, soft soaps, and hard soaps. A good brush should be able to endure all that, without shedding excessively.
      I always soak my brush before shaving, and rinse it well after a shave. Then I hang it upside down to dry. A few times a year, I give it a gentle wash with regular shampoo.
      My brushes give me great service, and Omega creates quality products.

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