Deft as a Brush - Vulfix and Simpsons
The Isle of Man Connection
I'm sure you're aware that it's impossible to shave properly without a badger-hair shaving brush. But did you know the connection between shaving brushes and the Isle of Man?
Alexander Simpson started making his legendary Simpson's shaving brushes in the East End of London in 1919. Following the loss of his factory in World War II, he moved his business to the West Country. The brand became part of Progress Shaving Brush (Vulfix) Ltd in 2008, who also make Vulfix brushes. The company is located on the Isle of Man in the British Isles.
The home to two of the big guns in British shaving brushes - Simpson's and Vulfix - is now the Isle of Man, location of the infamous TT Races and its motorcycling close-shaves.
Anatomy of a Shaving Brush
The majority of Simpson's brush handles are made using an ivory-coloured resin that is hand-turned on a lathe. The handles of a Vulfix brush may be made of pewter, wood, onyx or silver. You can see a Vuflix Old Original in pewter with matching pewter soap dish above.
The handles are polished and filled by hand with a knot of badger hair in varying grades. The hair for each knot is sorted, weighed and tied by a skilled brushmaker.
Below we have a Simpson's Chubby, and the indispensable travel brush, stamped with the distinctive SIMPSON seal. Further below is the "Major", which was originally designed for the Himalayan explorer, Major Victor Beeching.
What Grade of Badger Hair Should I Choose?
The various grades of badger hair are categorised as Pure Badger, Best/Super Badger & Silvertip Badger.
Pure Badger hair is dark and silver in appearance. This grade of hair is firmer to the touch and helps exfoliate the skin prior to shaving.
Best Badger is softer than Pure Badger and has excellent water retention qualities. In appearance, it has a unique dark band capped by light tips. The tapered head shape of Simpson’s Best Badger brushes is achieved without the use of the trimming machinery (unlike other manufacturers), giving wonderfully smooth and soft tips.
Silvertip Badger is the finest Badger hair available in the manufacture of shaving brushes and originates from the neck of a badger. The hair is untreated and untrimmed, simply shaped by hand to give an exceptionally soft feel.
Simpson's Shaving Tips
Simpson's share their tips for a decent shave.
- Shower or bathe before shaving, or warm the face with a hot flannel.
- Use plenty of hot water and shave in a warm environment.
- Protect the skin with a good skin food or moisturiser. (Trumper's Coral Skin Food for example)
- Use a Simpson badger shaving brush with a quality shaving cream.
- Apply a North to South paint brush motion to lift the beard.
- Shave with the beard, never against the grain.
- Rinse the razor blade frequently in hot water.
- Rinse face with cold water and gently pat dry to close pores.
- After shaving use a good moisturiser or skin food.
- Avoid applying alcohol-based products to the face after shaving. These will damage the skin.
- Rinse shaving brush thoroughly and store in accordance with instructions.